Updated July 26, 2021

Along with vaccines, masks are one of the best ways to protect ourselves and our communities from COVID-19. 

As of July 26, Multnomah County Health Department strongly recommends: Wear a mask when indoors around people you don’t live with, whether vaccinated or not. This applies to everyone 5 years old and up.

COVID-19 is still spreading, mostly among unvaccinated people. But even if you are vaccinated, a mask will provide an extra layer of protection against COVID19, including the Delta variant. If you are unvaccinated, it is very important to continue to protect yourself and others by wearing a mask in public spaces.

Everyone still needs to wear a mask in some places

Some settings must follow rules set by the state and federal governments and will continue to require everyone to wear face masks. These include:

  • Childcare operations

  • K-12 schools

  • Healthcare settings such as hospitals, long-term care facilities, clinics, and doctors’ offices

  • Airports, airplanes, and trains

  • Public transit

  • Adult and youth detention facilities

  • Shelters and transitional housing

Local businesses can continue to require customers to wear masks. Be prepared. Continue to carry your mask with you when you are out just in case.

If you are not fully vaccinated, or if you live with someone who is not fully vaccinated

It is important to continue to wear your mask if you are unvaccinated, even if it is not required. COVID-19 cases are rising, and the more contagious Delta variant is spreading locally and nationally. 

If you are able to, the best thing you can do to protect yourself is to get vaccinated. Otherwise, continue to wear a mask when indoors around people you don’t live with to protect yourself from serious illness.

It is okay to keep wearing a mask

Many people will continue wearing masks and that’s okay! Wearing a mask is especially important for:

  • Anyone who is not fully vaccinated 

  • Children under 12 years of age who are not able to get the COVID-19 vaccines yet 

Other reasons people may continue wearing masks include:

  • Some vaccinated people are at more risk for severe illness or have underlying health conditions

  • Parents want to model wearing masks to help their children feel comfortable and safe

  • Some people who have frequent contact with people with health conditions may choose to continue wearing masks for peace of mind

  • Masks protect against allergens or other respiratory illnesses as well, including flu and cold

 Oregon's mask requirement website»

If you are vaccinated and choose not to wear a mask, it’s important to remember to respect and support others who are still at risk. 

How do masks keep us safe? 

COVID-19 spreads mostly person-to-person through respiratory droplets when someone coughs, sneezes, sings, or talks. If you’re wearing a face covering, you will keep your droplets to yourself. You might not have symptoms if you have COVID, so it is important to keep your face covered.

A face covering may also protect the person wearing it. If your face covering is made of the right fabrics and worn properly, it may block droplets from entering your nose and mouth.

Masks work best when everyone wears them. Bring one with you whenever you go out.

The two most important things you can do to protect yourself and others when wearing a mask are

  • Pick a mask with multiple layers to keep your respiratory droplets in and others’ out. A mask with layers will stop more respiratory droplets getting inside your mask or escaping from your mask if you are sick

  • Make sure your mask fits snugly against your face. Gaps can let air with respiratory droplets leak in and out around the edges of the mask

The CDC has a lot of advice on how to wear a mask, how masks protect us, and what kind of mask to wear.

Discrimination is against the law

Everyone deserves respect.

Violence and discrimination are a daily experience for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities. Racism and racist reactions to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color wearing masks is a reality. And yet we know masks can help people to stay healthy and save lives.

Multnomah County does not tolerate discrimination or violence toward individuals because of their race, ethnicity or identity. Report discrimination or racist incidents>>