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Douglas County Sheriff's Office Won't Enforce Mask Mandate, Sheriff Says

Karen Richards

The Douglas County Sheriff says he won’t be enforcing Oregon’s mask mandate that goes into effect Aug. 27. The county has one of the highest rates of COVID-19 in the state.

In a two-page memo posted on the Douglas County Sheriff's Facebook page on Aug. 25, Sheriff John Hanlin, who has been photographed getting the vaccine, and has stated he wears masks in some places, said people should choose on their own whether to vaccinate, wear masks, or go out in public.

Hamlin criticized Gov. Kate Brown’s actions as being inconsiderate of rural counties and local governments."I believe it is in the best interest of Douglas County, and all Oregon counties to retain local control over decisions affecting the public health and safety and to protect the individual choices of those we represent," he wrote.

Meanwhile, Douglas County has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the state, according to the Oregon Health Authority. In the past week, there were more than 1,200 cases and 14 confirmed deaths with the victim's ages ranging from 48 to 95-years-old. 

Local healthcare providers have struggled with the surge of cases and deaths Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg has been inundated with COVID-19 patients leading the hospital to postpone surgeries, and restrict visitor access. 

Members of the Oregon National Guard and FEMA paramedics are helping staff. On Wednesday, the Douglas County Medical Examiner sent a request to Douglas County Commissioners for a temporary increase in morgue space.

 Sheriff Hanlin's full statement is posted on the Douglas County Sheriff's Facebook Page.

Copyright 2021 KLCC. To see more, visit KLCC.

Melorie Begay
Melorie Begay is the Diversity Fellow for KLCC News. She has a bachelors in Multimedia Journalism from the University of New Mexico. She previously interned at KUNM public radio in Albuquerque, NM and served as a fellow for the online news publication New Mexico In Depth.