Oregon’s statewide mandates are back

Senator Lynn Findley


Over the last two weeks, Governor Brown has reinstated a number of mandates for Oregonians due to Oregon Health Authority’s reporting that COVID-19 cases are on the rise. This newsletter is heavy on links and mandates, but I hope you’ll find it a helpful resource as we navigate the newest changes and next steps dealing with COVID-19 in Oregon.

As a state legislator, it’s my responsibility to share information and resources with you without bias and with full transparency, and I try my best to always do so. Many of you have reached out to ask where I stand on the new mandates and so I’m sharing those perspectives today.

The health and safety of Oregonians is a top priority, and we all need to do all we can to stop the spread of COVID-19…but the new mandates are a gross overreach of authority.

We’ve been here before—masks mandates are difficult to enforce and put an undue burden on our businesses who become responsible for implementing a mandate at their doors. Our focus must include broader and more thorough education on how we can each take personal steps to help prevent the spread of the virus and its variants. 

I believe the decision to get the COVID-19 vaccine is a personal, private matter between an individual and their physician. Oregonians who want to get vaccinated should do so, and those who choose not to have that same right.

In addition, I draw the line at a mandatory vaccines, vaccine passports or any sort of vaccine verification system being considered in Oregon. It’s beyond what’s necessary, it’s an invasion of privacy, places undue burden on businesses to execute, and it shows the government has an inherent distrust in the ability for Oregonians to make decisions for themselves.

I have been and will continue to be supportive of taking every step possible to slow the spread of COVID-19, to keep each other safe and healthy, and to thoughtfully re-open our state for business and our schools for our kids. I’ve shared many of those recommendations and resources over the last year.

This is not where any of us had hoped to be at this stage and I recognize this is another challenging transition after an extremely challenging year. I ask you to join me in committing to being patient with each other and to supporting our families, students, small businesses and communities however we can.

Lynn Findley
Senate District 30

Masks mandated in K-12 schools

Last week, the Governor announced a statewide mask mandate for all K-12 schools across the state and the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) unveiled some elements of what the mandate means for the upcoming school year.

Representative Owens and I sent a letter to the Governor, ODE Director Colt Gill and OHA Director Patrick Allen with three main requests regarding these new mandates:

First, scientific data specific to Oregon necessitating the statewide, schools-wide, grade-wide mask mandate needs to be made public and accessible immediately.

Second, officials within the Governor’s Office and Oregon Department of Education (ODE) hold a series of public, in-person town halls and listening sessions throughout our counties immediately over the course of the next several weeks.

Third, we need clear and precise metrics for when the statewide mask policy may be lifted,

I invite and encourage you to read our letter HERE in its entirety.

I do not support the Governor’s statewide mask mandate for our schools, not because of a position on the efficacy of masks or whether they are needed to stop the spread, but because I’ve been consistently and firmly vocal about my stance that these decisions should be made by local school districts and local public health authorities.

Here are the requirements for face coverings in K-12 schools.

ODE and OHA to Host Public Town Halls

In response to our letter, ODE and OHA have announced they are hosting three virtual events for the public to join state education and health officials in a Facebook Live town hall event. They are all open to the public, but the first has been specifically arranged for eastern Oregonians on Monday, August 16, 2021 from 6-7 p.m PDT.

Participants will be invited to share questions during the event and can also submit questions ahead of time by using this Google Form:

Two additional town hall sessions will be held for a statewide audience, scheduled for Tuesday, August 17 and Wednesday, August 18 (for the Spanish speaking community), both beginning at 6 p.m. PDT.

While our request was that these be held in-person, we see this as one small step to opening a much-needed dialogue about these requirements and to hear from Oregonians about the impacts the mandates will have on students, schools and families in preparation for the 2021-2022 school year.

New Statewide Mandates for Masks and Vaccinations

Masks required statewide indoors beginning August 13
During yesterday’s press conference, Governor Brown announced masks will be mandated statewide again in all public indoor settings beginning Friday, August 13. This mandate applies to all adults and children older than 5. On public transit, also includes children older than 2.

More information about the statewide mask mandate for public indoor settings can be found here. As more information about this mandate is available, I will share it with you.

Mandatory vaccinations for Oregon Executive Branch and state workers
In addition to reinstating the statewide masking mandate, Governor Brown also announced that all state workers will need to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18, or six weeks after the COVID-19 vaccines receive full U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.

This requirement applies to all executive branch employees, including employees working for all Oregon state agencies, and in consultation with Oregon’s statewide elected officials, employees of the Oregon State Treasury, Oregon Secretary of State’s Office, Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries, and the Oregon Department of Justice—regardless of remote work status

Health care workers required to get vaccinated or undergo routine testing
On Aug. 4, Governor Brown announced that she would direct the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to issue a new rule outlining required health and safety measures for personnel in health care settings.

The new rule specifically states, “In order to work, learn, study, assist, observe, or volunteer in any healthcare setting healthcare providers and healthcare staff must:

  • Be fully vaccinated; or
  • Undergo COVID-19 testing at least weekly, by molecular or antigen detection for any week the provider or staff person intends to be  present at a healthcare setting, on a schedule established by the healthcare provider’s or healthcare staff person’s employer, contractor or responsible party, or in the case of a self-employed healthcare provider, on their own schedule.”

You can read more about the new rule here.

Vaccine Eligibility
All Oregonians age 12 and older are now eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Individuals meeting these criteria can use the following resources to get linked to vaccine information in their communities:

Email: Sen.LynnFindley@oregonlegislature.gov
Phone: 503-986-1730
Address: 900 Court St NE, S-403, Salem, OR 97301
Website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/findley