Thousands of Oregonians are ripping a proposal to make the state’s mask mandate permanent, flooding the state government with “openly hostile” comments on the idea.
Democratic Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s health department has proposed a permanent masking rule as the current regulations are set to expire next month. The proposal has received a record number of public comments — five times more comments than the previous record holder, according to the Washington Examiner.
The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division, led by administrator Michael Wood, received 5,000 comments on the proposed rule before the public comment period ended.
“The majority of comments were simply hostile to the entire notion of COVID-19 restrictions,” Wood said. “The vast majority of comments were in the context of, ‘You never needed to do anything.’”
Wood floated the proposal to keep masking requirements in place until “no longer necessary to address the effects of the pandemic in the workplace” last month. Wood said that the new “permanent” rule is needed to keep the current regulations from expiring on May 4.
Republican state Sen. Kim Thatcher ripped Brown’s administration for the proposal, accusing the governor of throwing more uncertainty at business owners who have already been hammered by the COVID-19 pandemic and heavy-handed regulations.
“When will masks be unnecessary? What scientific studies do these mandates rely on, particularly now that the vaccine is days away from being available to everyone?” Thatcher said. “Businesses have had to play ‘mask cop’ for the better part of a year now. They deserve some certainty on when they will no longer be threatened with fines.”
Over a dozen states have removed mask mandates as Americans continue to be vaccinated against COVID-19. President Joe Biden and top health officials continue to urge Americans to keep masking and social distancing, even after one gets vaccinated.
Last month, Biden mocked states that have been lifting mask mandates, saying that their leaders were following “Neanderthal thinking.”
“I think it’s a big mistake,” Biden said reacting to the decisions of Texas and Mississippi to lift mask mandates. “Look, I hope everybody’s realized by now these masks make a difference. We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way in which we’re able to get vaccines in people’s arms. We’ve been able to move that all the way up to the end of May to have enough for every American, to get every adult American to get a shot.”
“The last thing, the last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that in mean time everything’s fine, take off your mask,” Biden continued. “Forget it. It’s still matters. … And it’s critical, critical, critical, critical that they follow the science. Wash your hands, hot water, do it frequently. Wear a mask and stay socially distance. And I know you all know that, I wish the heck some of our elected officials knew it.”
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