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LOCAL NEWS: Astoria City Council votes to support county-wide mask requirement

LOCAL NEWS: Astoria City Council votes to support county-wide mask requirement

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In their online public meeting Monday, the Astoria City Council addressed the idea of requiring masks. The council has received quite a bit of public comment recently on the topic. Mayor Bruce Jones said that while information about the coronavirus has evolved since the pandemic was declared in Oregon in March, it’s become clear that mask wearing is sound science:

Bruce Jones: “But consistently over the past many weeks has been a consensus among virtually every expert that the virus is spread primarily through the air, through aerosol, through the droplets that come out of people’s mouths and noses and are then ingested into other people’s mouths and noses. And there is more and more less concern about surfaces. It’s primarily being in close contact with other people for an extended period of time. And it’s really about proximity over time. Especially in an indoor environment.”

He said current data shows that masks protect people from contracting the virus in settings where people are within six feet of one another in enclosed spaces.

Jones reference the recent action by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, who issued an order last week that masks be worn in indoor public spaces, in seven counties in the state. He said with many visitors flooding into the Astoria, some wearing masks and many not, the burden of enforcement and protection is falling on local small businesses.

Bruce Jones: “Businesses don’t like being the bad guy. And it’s been expressed to my by some of our business leaders recently that they would prefer the city or the county be the bad guy so it takes the onus off of them to have individual requirements within their shops.

City Manager Brett Estes said the governor’s order for specific counties defines public space in clear terms:

Brett Estes: “… describes requirements…”

This week the City of Cannon Beach and the Clatsop County Commission will also meet to discuss mask wearing requirements. The County Commission will consider whether Clatsop County should be added to the governor’s list of counties where masks are required in public spaces. The governor’s order contains a provision allowing other counties to opt in. Clatsop County is currently not on the list.

The council, rather than passing an ordinance that would only affect Astoria, voted unanimously to urge the county commission to add Clatsop to the state’s list of counties that require masks

For people and businesses who need masks: The Astoria Fire Department and Clatsop County Emergency Management will be giving out KN95 masks free of charge to people who come to their event at the Astoria Aquatic Center this Thursday, June 25th from 4-7 pm.

People who would like masks should show up and get in line in their vehicle, and request the number of masks they need when it’s their turn. Masks are supplied by the state of Oregon. The Astoria Warrenton Chamber of Commerce is also handing out masks to local business owners for staff use, and depending on supplies, will make them available to businesses to provide to customers.

I’m Joanne Rideout in Astoria.