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Lane County Issues Emergency COVID Health Advisory But No Mandates

Lane County Government webcast

The Lane County Board of Health voted unanimously Tuesday to take up emergency public health recommendations released over the weekend. The board stopped short of issuing a mandate but called on the community to heed the COVID-19 safety advisory.

County Commissioners listened as public health officials described the near critical state of area hospitals. Sixty-five percent of all ICU beds are occupied by COVID patients. Each day, new case counts—predominately caused by the Delta variant-- remain in the triple digits.

The updated emergency guidance includes masking indoors and outdoors for all people (vaccinated or not) when distancing isn’t possible. It also encourages employers to continue allowing remote work.

Public Health Officer Dr. Patrick Luedtke had a clear message for the community: “Masking and physical distancing manage the pandemic. Vaccine is how the pandemic ends.”

Credit Tiffany Eckert
Masks are recommended indoors and outside when adequate distancing is not possible.

There are currently only two ICU beds available in Lane County.

Commissioner Laurie Treiger voiced concerns that residents might ignore a health advisory yet comply with a mandate.

“Given the information we’ve been presented with this morning about the growth of cases, I need to feel better about us issuing an advisory versus a mandate.”

However, the county lacks any enforcement mechanisms for a mandate. Officials say neither the sheriff’s office nor the Eugene Police Department will enforce public health rules.

The Board of Health voted 4-0 to issue the health advisory.

Lane County Public Health has made the following recommendations for all Lane County residents effective immediately:

For individuals, regardless of vaccination status:

• Wear masks in indoor spaces with other individuals outside of your immediate household;

• Wear masks in outdoor spaces when maintaining six feet of distance is not possible from other individuals outside of your immediate household;

• Carry masks and hand sanitizer with you when leaving home and wash your hands as often as possible;

• Avoid crowded public spaces, whether in or outdoors;

• Avoid unnecessary business or leisure travel;

• Respect other’s space and maintain at least 6-ft. distance from others;

• Limit activities that could lead to injuries requiring hospital care;

• If you are an unvaccinated adult, stay home and avoid public interactions as much as possible;

• Get vaccinated!

Additionally, the LCPH Administrator will bring a draft board order to the Lane County Board of County Commissioners sitting as the Lane County Board of Health (BOH) on August 24th. The second draft Emergency Public Health Advisory will add immediate recommendations for businesses, organizations, and employers to implement to curb ongoing community spread, defend dwindling hospital capacity in the county, and save lives.

LCPH says while the advisory won’t be presented until Tuesday, they’re calling on businesses, organizations, and event organizers to consider the following recommendations ASAP:  

For Businesses:

• Ensure indoor masking consistent with previous LCPH advisories and Governor Brown’s masking order

• Ensure outdoor masking for those older than five years of age (two and older if tolerated) - regardless of vaccination status - when in outdoor public spaces in which six feet of distance cannot be consistently maintained;

• Limit capacity to facilitate social distancing, particularly when customers will be eating and drinking without masks;

• Prominently post appropriate signage to remind customers to observe COVID-19 safe practices;

• Prominently post signage about the vaccination status of your business and staff.

Public Venue Owners, Operators, and Permitting Authorities:

• While peer-reviewed evidence of outdoor transmission risks associated with the Delta Variant of SARS-CoV-2 is incomplete, we believe that the safest strategy is to avoid public events greater than 200 people indoors and outdoors for at least the next two weeks. We strongly consider postponing events until a later date when transmission risk is reduced. If this is not possible, we recommend taking the following steps:

• Require indoor and outdoor masking, regardless of vaccination status;

• Consider requiring proof of vaccination for entry;

• Consider capacity limits to facilitate distancing, whether in or out of doors;

• Provide ample sanitation stations for handwashing;

• Consider entrances, exits, and other areas where people tend to clusters – ensure that attendees have room to queue that facilitates spacing. Use signage and staff to remind people to maintain distance and use masking, indoors and outdoors;

• Consider touchless vending options, if possible;

• Prominently post appropriate signage to remind customers to observe COVID-19 safe practices; reinforce via public address announcements throughout the event.


• Ensure that employees follow public health measures outlined above;

• Encourage remote telework for employees for whom this is possible;

• Ensure that workplaces can facilitate distancing where possible;

• Limit unnecessary travel for employees;

• Encourage and provide support needs

Tiffany joined the KLCC News team in 2007. She studied journalism at the University of Missouri-Columbia and has worked in a variety of media including television and daily print news. For KLCC, Tiffany reports on health care, social justice and local/regional news. She has won awards from Oregon Associated Press, PRNDI, and Education Writers Association.
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