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Oregon official proposes rule making state’s COVID mask mandate ‘permanent’

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The far-left state of Oregon is being accused of “medical fascism” over reports that the state’s top health official has been considering making coronavirus restrictions for workplaces/businesses ostensibly “permanent.”

The proposal by Michael Wood, the administrator of the Oregon Department of Occupational Safety and Health, was made on Feb. 1st, but it’s just now receiving widespread attention from the media.

At the time, the Oregon OSHA published a press release claiming that, because of a technicality, the state’s current restrictions for businesses would expire unless the rule was made permanent.

However, the release promised that the rule would eventually be repealed the moment restrictions were “no longer necessary to address the effects of the pandemic in the workplace.”

“Although the rule must be adopted as a permanent rule because the law does not allow a temporary rule to be extended, Oregon OSHA expects to repeal the permanent rule once it is no longer needed to address the coronavirus pandemic,” it read.

In a statement, Wood argued that this step was necessary because Oregon had “not yet defeated” the coronavirus.

“The public health emergency triggered by COVID-19 remains a significant concern in Oregon – as we know, we have not yet defeated this disease and we clearly will not have done so by the time the temporary rule expires,” he said.

“As a result, it is critically important that we carry forward measures that we know are effective at combating the spread of this disease and reducing risks in the workplace. Failure to do so will undoubtedly leave workers far less protected and leave employers with far less clarity and certainty in terms of what is expected of them.”

A final decision won’t be made until May 4th. In the meantime, Wood briefly allowed comments from the public until April 2nd, and according to the Associated Press, the comments “from parents to teachers to business owners and employees” were overwhelmingly negative.

Tweets about the proposal have been equally negative, with some going so far as to accuse the state of engaging in “medical fascism”:

It doesn’t appear Wood even cares about the criticism, though.

“The majority of comments were simply hostile to the entire notion of COVID-19 restrictions. The vast majority of comments were in the context of, ‘You never needed to do anything,’” he dismissively said to the AP.

But complaints haven’t just been limited to random people. One was left by Justin Spaulding, a doctor at the Cataract & Laser Institute of Southern Oregon.

“I do not understand these new guidelines for business. If we put these into effect we will only continue to blunt the recent drop in business. We have a large subset of patients that are unwilling (or) hostile with the current guidelines, and making them permanent will only make it worse,” he reportedly wrote.

State Republicans have also spoken out.

“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?” state Sen. Kim Thatcher reportedly said this past week.

“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.”

If the rule does wind up becoming permanent, it’ll be a cookie-cutter copy of the original rule.

According to OSHA, the original rule had governed everything from social distancing to “use of face coverings; regular sanitation; employee notification and training; maximization and maintenance of existing ventilation systems; and formal exposure risk assessment and infection control planning.”

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Vivek Saxena
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