(Salem, OR) — With declining case rates and hospitalizations across the West, California, Oregon, and Washington are moving together to update their masking guidance. After 11:59 p.m. on March 11, California, Oregon, and Washington will be adopting new indoor mask policies and moving from mask requirements to mask recommendations in schools.
State policies do not change federal requirements, which still include masks on public transit.
Statement from Oregon Governor Kate Brown: “Two years ago today, we identified Oregon’s first case of COVID-19. As has been made clear time and again over the last two years, COVID-19 does not stop at state borders or county lines. On the West Coast, our communities and economies are linked. Together, as we continue to recover from the Omicron surge, we will build resiliency and prepare for the next variant and the next pandemic. As we learn to live with this virus, we must remain vigilant to protect each other and prevent disruption to our schools, businesses, and communities––with a focus on protecting our most vulnerable and the people and communities that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.”
In Oregon, the Oregon Health Authority rules requiring masks in indoor public places and schools will be lifted after 11:59 p.m. on March 11. Other state and federal requirements, such as those for health care settings, public transit, and other specialized settings, will remain in place for a period of time.
Statement from California Governor Gavin Newsom: “California continues to adjust our policies based on the latest data and science, applying what we’ve learned over the past two years to guide our response to the pandemic. Masks are an effective tool to minimize spread of the virus and future variants, especially when transmission rates are high. We cannot predict the future of the virus, but we are better prepared for it and will continue to take measures rooted in science to keep California moving forward.”
In California starting March 1, masks will no longer be required but will be strongly recommended for unvaccinated individuals in most indoor settings. After March 11, in schools and child care facilities, masks will not be required but will be strongly recommended. Masks will still be required for everyone in high transmission settings like public transit, emergency shelters, healthcare settings, correctional facilities, homeless shelters and long-term care facilities. As always, local jurisdictions may have additional requirements beyond the state guidance.
Statement from Washington Governor Jay Inslee: “We’ve continued to monitor data from our state Department of Health, and have determined we are able to adjust the timing of our statewide mask requirement. While this represents another step forward for Washingtonians, we must still be mindful that many within our communities remain vulnerable. Many businesses and families will continue choosing to wear masks, because we’ve learned how effective they are at keeping one another safe. As we transition to this next phase, we will continue to move forward together carefully and cautiously.”
In Washington, indoor mask requirements will be lifted as of 11:59 p.m. on March 11. This new date does not change any other aspect of the updated mask requirements Gov. Inslee announced last week. Masks will still be required in certain settings including health care, corrections facilities, and long-term care facilities. The Washington State Department of Health will be issuing new guidance for K-12 schools next week so schools can prepare to implement updated safety protocols.
OHA holds media briefing on lifting of mask requirements, marks second anniversary of Oregon’s first COVID-19 case
Today, Dean Sidelinger, M.D., health officer and state epidemiologist at Oregon Health Authority, and Colt Gill, director of the Oregon Department of Education, held a media briefing to announce the lifting of the general indoor mask requirements statewide and for schools on March 12.
Dr. Sidelinger’s comments, which include comments recognizing the second anniversary of Oregon’s first COVID-19 case, are here. Director Gill’s comments are here. A recording to the media availability is here.
The latest masking guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is designed to be less disruptive to people’s daily lives, recommending masks in fewer places and raising the threshold for what counts as “high” level of virus spread in the community.
Check what virus transmission is like in your community. The CDC recently launched a helpful website for this, available here. Enter your state and county to find out whether your area is at low, medium or high risk for infections. In medium-risk areas, people with underlying health conditions should consider wearing masks and taking other precautions, according to the CDC. In high-risk areas, everyone should do so.
Here’s what to know about the new recommendations as you continue to navigate your day-to-day life in a shifting pandemic. And here’s a rundown of how the guidance affects travelers.