As Oregon seeks a new normal at the close of the COVID-19 pandemic, masks and vaccines essentially provide a double layer of protection against the virus. But what if some people reject both?

Oregonians who aren't willing to cover their face to prevent the spread of infection, as well as those who don't want to be vaccinated, present a hurdle to ending the pandemic.

If the anti-maskers and vaccine skeptics overlap, as some evidence suggests, the problem gets worse. Republicans have been among the most vocal opponents of face masks, and they also report relatively low support for getting vaccinated. According to polling figures released in January by Oregon Business & Industry, 48% of Republicans in the state were willing to get vaccinated compared with 88% of Democrats.

These numbers are a sign that without a major shift in public opinion, more challenges remain for the future of public health.