Latest reopenings mark return to business in mainland US

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon and Washington on Wednesday lifted most of their COVID-19 restrictions to become two of the last states to broadly ease virus orders put in place in the very first days of the pandemic.

New Mexico is set to reopen Thursday, marking a return to business throughout the mainland U.S. following 16 months of disruption and more than 600,000 lives lost. The last holdout — Hawaii — has loosened some rules but is slated to maintain others until 70% of its population is fully vaccinated.

The reopenings come as concern grows about a new coronavirus variant that threatens to set the country back in the months ahead. In California, health officials in Los Angeles County this week strongly recommended that people wear masks indoors in public places — regardless of their vaccination status — to prevent the spread of the highly transmissible delta variant.

In Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown called the day a “truly a historic moment for…

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