Benton County urges mask use

Benton County urges mask use

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Benton face mask

Damian Taylor-Brown wears a balaclava in downtown Corvallis on Thursday afternoon. 

CORVALLIS — Benton County has passed a resolution strongly recommending face coverings by residents both indoors and outdoors.

The Board of Commissioners, meeting in their role as the county Board of Health, voted 2-0 Thursday for the resolution. On hand and voting yes were Commissioners Xan Augerot and Pat Malone. Commissioner Annabelle Jaramillo was not present, but Augerot noted that Jaramillo “had strongly indicated her approval when we discussed the matter at Tuesday’s board meeting.”

The Benton County action mirrors a recommendation on the subject released Thursday by the Oregon Health Authority.

The Benton County ordinance “strongly recommends” face coverings indoors and outdoors unless 6 feet of distance can be maintained and “strongly recommends” that businesses consider requiring masks for customers and employees.

The resolution now must be considered by the county’s four cities: Corvallis, Philomath, Monroe and Adair Village. The cities could choose to reject the county recommendation or ramp it up by requiring masks.

Individual businesses also can choose to require masks for its customers or employees.

The Corvallis City Council likely will consider the resolution at its July 6 meeting, Mayor Biff Traber said during Thursday’s weekly Corvallis COVID-19 remote briefing.

“Making a clear, firm statement is important as well as understanding the tradeoffs,” Traber said.

Corvallis City Manager Mark Shepard said that enforcement and applying the restrictions could be challenge.

“A restaurant can require it, but it is harder for the city to do that because we want to be open to everybody,” Shepard said.

Shepard added that “there will be a small segment of the population who will say, ‘You can’t force me to wear a mask.’”

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