Benton County requires face coverings in all public indoor and crowded outdoor settings to slow COVID-19 transmission

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

The Benton County Board of Commissioners, acting in their capacity as the Board of Health, issued Order #D2021-063 today, August 17, 2021. Effective immediately, the order requires all individuals ages 5 and above, regardless of vaccination status, to wear face coverings when in indoor public settings and in outdoor public settings where a physical distance of six feet cannot be maintained.

“The health and safety of Benton County residents remains the number one priority,” said Benton County Board chair, Xan Augerot. “We cannot pretend that we live on an island. Individuals from different parts of Oregon and the United States are coming to Benton County to visit and recreate. We needed to take further action to ensure the health and safety of our communities and protect our hospital systems.”

During Tuesday’s Board of Commissioners Meeting, County commissioners and leadership heard from Laura Hennum with Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center as well as Benton County’s public health administrator, April Holland, and public health officer, Dr. Bruce Thomson as they detailed the impacts of COVID-19 to regional hospital systems and the community at large.

“We’re averaging between three and four ventilated COVID patients in our ICU. When you look at these individuals, you see that they’re critically ill. You think about their loved ones and how their community is impacted,” said Laura Hennum, CEO of Good Samaritan Regional Medical Regional Medical Center. “I also think about the caregivers that are experiencing death and loss at a much higher rate. We talk a lot about clinician burnout, but now it’s taken on a much different meaning in terms of what these individuals are experiencing.”

View the August 17, 2021 Board of Commissioners meeting at https://youtu.be/WLDSVI1aVX0. The discussion regarding COVID-19 begins at 7:25.

Benton County urges everyone to take steps necessary to protect themselves and our entire community. Wearing a mask in public, frequently washing hands, and getting a COVID-19 vaccine are important measures to prevent the spread of illness. COVID-19 vaccines are safe and provide the best protection against the Delta variant, most importantly against severe outcomes including hospitalization and death. To see a full list of COVID-19 vaccine opportunities in Benton County visit: https://bit.ly/BentonCoHealthDept-FindAVaccine.

The Board of Commissioners’ order can be read in full below, and accompanying guidance is available online.