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Will mask mandates return if Delta variant surges in Lane County?

Dr. Patrick Luedtke with Lane County Public Health said mask wearing regulations could return.

Posted: Jul 21, 2021 1:34 PM
Updated: Jul 21, 2021 6:40 PM

EUGENE, Ore. – While the number of Lane County residents infected with the Delta variant of COVID-19 is small now, health experts say we could see a surge in those cases.

The question on some minds is whether mask mandates would return if this comes to pass. KEZI 9 News talked to Lane County Public Health’s Dr. Patrick Luedtke to learn more.

"We were expecting an increase in cases as we open up society more. We saw this same thing last year when in Oregon on March 23 the governor closed down society for a while," said Luedtke.

Right now, the total number of Delta variant cases in the county is at nine, according to Luedtke. This number is so low due to the sequencing process, so the number in the next few weeks could be much bigger.

"The odd issue or the change, the challenge, is this really transmissable Delta variant and we're starting to see cases here in Lane County, and we're going to see more," said Luedtke. 

Doctors at PeaceHealth are also concerned. Vice President of Medical Affairs for PeaceHealth Oregon Network Dr. James McGovern discussed the connection between the unvaccinated and hospitalizations. He told KEZI 9 News more than 100,000 Lane County residents are still unvaccinated. 

"Hospitalizations tend to be a late development when COVID is spreading through the communiy. So by the time hospitalizations start to increase, typically the community spread is much larger than is recognized," said McGovern.

As far as returning some regulations like mask wearing, Luedtke said it’s a possibility, especially in the fall when the virus may thrive.

And there are still many chances to get vaccinated, including at the Lane County Fair. Every day from 3 to 7 p.m., LCPH will be offering free COVID-19 vaccines. 

Luedtke said he thinks this should push more people to get vaccinated, but there’s still some hesitancy from the public.

"The vaccines are out there and they're effective, the pipeline is full and there's no shortage, and it's very convenient. There are so many places that you can go today to get those vaccines," said Luedtke. 

To find out more about where you can get your vaccine in Lane County, you can go the the Lane County Public Health website

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