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Benton County To Require Masks At OSU Football Games

Chris Lehman

Fans attending OSU football games in Corvallis this fall will need to wear face coverings, even when they’re sitting outdoors. That’s because of anew public health order approved this week by Benton County commissioners.


Oregon’s reinstated mask mandate only applies to indoor public settings.  Public health officials in Benton County think that doesn’t go far enough, especially as the number of COVID-19 patients in the local hospital is now at its highest point during the pandemic.


“It has become apparent to our public health experts, as they have run modeling, that we needed to find further interventions to curb the surge of the delta variant," said county spokesperson Alyssa Rash.

The outdoor mask mandate applies to settings where physical distancing cannot be maintained. That could potentially include farmers markets, fairs, music concerts, sporting events and more.


It will definitely include home games for the Oregon State University football team, which draw thousands of students and non-students to Reser Stadium each fall.


"We intend to comply with this ordinance as part of the university’s ongoing efforts to help reduce the risk and transmission of COVID-19," said OSU spokesperson Steve Clark in an email to KLCC. 


The Beavers have six home football games scheduled this year, with the first coming on Sept. 11. The team will also hold a scrimmage this Saturday that will be open to the public.

Fans were not permitted in the stands at all during the 2020 season, though spectators were allowed to attend an intrasquad game in May of this year.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December 2018 and became News Director in March 2023. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”
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