Oregonians for Medical Freedom, an advocacy group that opposed vaccine mandates well before COVID-19 descended, is adding to its platform: It’s against masks being required in schools.
Following guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown left the masking decision to individual school boards earlier this summer—but with COVID case counts rising, spurred by the Delta variant, she reversed the decision and is requiring them in school.
“We express extreme opposition to Governor Brown’s latest waffling decision,” the Aug. 3 press release from Oregonians for Medical Freedom reads. “Stripping control from local elected school boards after she had just returned it on June 25, 2021, is poor leadership. We call on Oregon Democrat leaders to issue a common sense statement telling Governor Brown that she must end her emergency rule of one.”
Anti-mask stances are popular among Republicans, but it’s a notable step in the anti-vaxx group’s rightward trajectory. In the past, anti-vaccine sentiments were found on both the left and right.
“Choice is paramount and we will do all we can to preserve the choice to wear a mask or vaccinate,” said Oregonians for Medical Freedom executive director Nicole De Graff in a statement.
Vaccines provide protection to those who take them, but are far more effective when the community reaches herd immunity, a level where the disease can no longer spread easily. Masks are more beneficial for protecting others, though they have been found to provide some protection against COVID-19 to those who wear them.