Before leaving the home for work in the morning, some city employees in Oregon will need to remember their wallet, keys — and KN95 mask.
Hillsboro, Beaverton and Tigard, Washington County's three largest cities, will join several other Oregon cities in implementing more stringent mask policies on employees to combat the latest coronavirus surge driven by the delta variant.
Starting Friday, Sept. 17, Beaverton public-facing officials and employees who are unvaccinated will be required to either wear a city-provided KN95 respirator, a double mask or face covering, or a mask brace or fitter that improves the efficiency of the mask.
"We are encouraging our employees to lead by example and practice actions that will help reduce the spread and transmission of the coronavirus," said Beaverton City Manager Jenny Haruyama, who took the reins at City Hall late last month. "This is an opportunity to further health and safety within our communities and avoid unnecessary closures as we continue to stress access and availability of vaccinations."
Hillsboro city employees who are unvaccinated are required to wear a city-provided KN95 respirator.
"The health and safety of our city personnel and community members during this pandemic remains a top priority, and this enhanced mask policy provides an opportunity to amplify this effort while also supporting the state's efforts to combat the spread and impact of COVID-19," said Hillsboro City Manager Robby Hammond. "At its core, we are asking staff to employ stronger measures to protect colleagues, their families, and community members, and we are grateful to all of our city employees for everything they are doing to stay safe during this challenging time."
Beaverton and Hillsboro officials said that because the vast majority of their city workforce has public-facing roles, an enhanced mask policy to curb the delta surge seemed more prudent than ever.
Tigard has instituted a similar policy. Officials said that starting Monday, Sept. 13, all unvaccinated city staff in Tigard will be required to wear a KN95 mask while at work.
While Washington County has the second-highest vaccination rate in the state, COVID-19 cases are the highest they've been since early January, when the vast majority of the nation was still unvaccinated. New hospitalizations continue to trend upward as well, with the seven-day average recorded at 104 hospitalizations on Thursday, Sept. 2.
Visitors who enter city buildings are required to wear face coverings that meet the Oregon Health Authority's guidelines. They are also encouraged to maintain physical distancing and practice effective hygiene.
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