Oregon Health Authority drafting ‘permanent’ rules for indoor mask requirements: report

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Despite many Americans now chalking up masks to a thing of the past, The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) convened a committee on Thursday to go a different direction and plans to make its indoor mask mandate permanent.

“Permanent means indefinite. It doesn’t necessarily mean permanent,” OHA’s medical director for communicable diseases and immunizations Dr. Paul Cieslak said according to KATU.

The Rules Advisory Committee (RAC) is comprised of community stakeholders including representatives from faith-based organizations and the hospitality sector. Their purpose is to discuss the contents and potential impacts of the “indefinitely permanent” proposed rule.

“We can repeal it as well, but we are only allowed to have a temporary rule for 180 days, and anything that goes beyond 180 days, we cannot extend it temporarily, it’s either adopt it formally or let it [go],” Cieslak explained.

The two-hour meeting OHA had with RAC concluded the committee’s involvement with the rule-making process, although stakeholders may still choose to make public comments when the rule is formally proposed.

The potential implementation of a permanent mask mandate generated some clearly tongue-in-cheek responses indicating how easy it will be for Oregonians to get their freedoms back once permanent rules is in place.

Others were ready to throw the towel in on freedom forever, stating that “It’s also really not that big of a deal even if it is forever.”

Outdoor masking in Oregon was a requirement for several months until the OHA repealed the mandate in November, although they retained indoor mask requirements.

Johns Hopkins Professor and health expert Marty Makary is opposed to indefinite mandates due to the potential unintended consequences of being overly cautious.

“We may have a baseline rate of COVID cases hovering around where they are now in the Southeast forever,” Makary explained in November according to Fox News. “We are entering an endemic phase and the question we need to ask as a society is, do we want a perpetual society with people masked?”

“And the marginal benefit of masking is diminishing as the prevalence declines,” Makary continued. “Also, in many instances we’re requiring masks of people at the absolute lowest risk and by insisting on throwing the kitchen sink at virus transmission we will have to pay the piper somehow. That may come in the form of a loss of human connection, more increased mental health problems, and in children a series of problems including issues in development and speech development and other downsides.”


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