News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

To mask or not to mask when mandate is lifted

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently introduced an online tool at to help you decide whether to continue to wear a mask in indoor public spaces so that you can reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19.

The CDC’s timing is excellent because Oregon is poised to lift its indoor mask mandate on March 12.

The CDC’s COVID-19 “Community Levels” identifies risk levels in each county in the U.S. based upon current data on hospital beds being used, hospital admissions, and the total number of new COVID-19 cases in an area.

According to the CDC, “In Deschutes County, Oregon, community level is Medium.” They recommend:

•?If you are at high risk for severe illness, talk to your health care provider about whether you need to wear a mask and take other precautions.

•?Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines.

•?Get tested if you have symptoms.

The CDC also states, “People may choose to mask at any time. People with symptoms, a positive test, or exposure to someone with COVID-19 should wear a mask.”

The World Health Organization identifies those at greatest risk of severe illness: “Older people (more than 81 percent of COVID-19 deaths have occurred in people over age 65), and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.”

Individuals who are obese have also been more susceptible to severe illness from COVID-19.

You might also consider wearing a mask when you are in close contact with someone who is at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

If you do decide to wear a mask, free N95 masks are available through local pharmacies such as Walgreens, CVC, and Fred Meyers. N95 and KN95 masks provide a higher degree of protection than cloth or surgical masks.


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