August 9: Multnomah County issues new indoor mask mandate
Officials in Multnomah County instituted a new indoor mask mandate for all people aged 5 and older—regardless of their vaccination status—that took effect Friday, Aug. 13, according to AP News. Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines said of the new mandate, “The more contagious delta variant has changed the game. Our hospitals are full.” Those who violate the mandate could face a warning or a fine of up to $1,000, OPB reports. The mandate comes after a surge of COVID-19 cases amid the spread of the contagious Delta variant, with Multnomah County seeing up to 1,000 new cases a week.
August 9: Freedom Foundation sues to block Oregon legislative staff from unionizing
The Freedom Foundation, a group that seeks to undermine public sector unions across the West Coast, filed a lawsuit in Oregon Appellate Court to block the efforts of Oregon legislative staff to unionize, according to OPB. AP News reports that Jason Dudash, Oregon director of the Freedom Foundation, called the union “fundamentally incompatible” with legislative work. The Freedom Foundation’s argument against the union is nearly identical to objections made by the Oregon Legislature in Dec. 2020, per OPB. Oregon legislative staffers voted on May 28 to join IBEW Local 89 by a vote of 75–31, forming the first legislative staff union in the nation, according to the Northwest Labor Press.
August 10: Gov. Brown declares state of emergency ahead of “extreme heat wave”
Governor Kate Brown declared a state of emergency Tuesday ahead of another heat wave, as the National Weather Service announced a heat warning from noon Wednesday to 10 p.m. Saturday, The Oregonian reports. “I encourage Oregonians to take proactive steps to keep themselves and their families safe, including drinking plenty of fluids, taking advantage of cooling centers, and checking in on neighbors, friends, and loved ones,” Brown said in a statement. Oregon fire officials have braced for high temperatures, dry air and lightning storms as they prepare for more forest fires during the extreme heat, OPB reports. A New York Times analysis of the previous Pacific Northwest heat wave in June found that about 600 more people died than would have been typical—a number three times higher than states’ official estimates.
August 12: Newberg school board bans Black Lives Matter flags and other “political” items
By a vote of four to three, the Newberg school board decided Tuesday to enact a ban on “broadly ‘political’ signs, clothing, and other items,” The Oregonian reports. The board’s three-member policy committee will decide what items are considered “political,” according to OPB. The ban includes Pride flags and Black Lives Matter flags. The policy contradicts state efforts to support students of color and LGBTQ+ students, including the 2020 Black Lives Matter resolution from the state Department of Education in 2020. According to AP News, discussion on “replacement language” for the district’s anti-racism policy and rescinding the district’s “Every Student Belongs” policy was postponed until the next board meeting. If the district repealed “Every Student Belongs,” it would violate state standards.