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Lane County recommends indoor masking as crowds converge on the area for Oregon22

Rachael McDonald
Lane County Public Health is once again recommending that everyone wear masks in indoor public places.

As thousands converge on the Eugene area this week for the World Track and Field Championships, public health officials in Lane County are recommending indoor masking in all public places for everyone.

It’s not a requirement. But Jason Davis with Lane County Public Health said a rising number of COVID cases have put an increasing strain on local hospitals, prompting the recommendation.

"When we look at the numbers that we do have, we understand that that's just a fraction of what is probably out there, knowing that with at-home tests, we're missing quite a few of those cases," said Davis.

The masking recomedation comes despite the CDC’s rating of Lane County as “medium” for COVID-19, which doesn’t include a universal mask recommendation.

"While we value our CDC partners, they really look at a macro level view of our nation and are not quite as in touch as we are as a local public health authority with all the goings-on of our county," said Davis. “For instance, they have no idea that the World Athletics Championships are happening in our community, and that doesn’t factor into their recommendations.”

Davis said mask usage outdoors generally isn’t necessary, though he said if you end up in a crowded grandstand at Hayward Field, you might consider putting one on.

"Whenever you have a high volume of people packed into a small space ... there is an elevated risk," he said. "For folks who are worried about getting COVID or have a pre-existing condition, we absolutely do recommend masking up (outdoors) if they can't maintain six feet of distance."

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018. 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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