Coronavirus, Government, OREGON

Gov. Brown pleads with Oregonians to take aggressive social distancing measures, with Portland set for “stay at home” order by Monday

The Oregon Capitol building in Salem. Photo: Chas HundleyCoronavirus resources: CDC on the coronavirusOregon Health Authority resourcesWashington County resourcesOregonian reporting on the coronavirusOPB glossary of coronavirus termsNYTimes free reporting on the coronavirus

OREGON – Governor Kate Brown, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, and Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury wanted to make one thing clear to Oregonians during a Friday evening press conference: stay home, and avoid gatherings to slow the spread of COVID-19.

That was one of the clearest things that came from the conference.

Gov. Brown began the conference by noting the drastic changes Oregonians have faced since the pandemic — and a series of executive orders by the governor — began.

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“Since the first case of COVID-19 was discovered in Oregon, life has changed for all of us,” said Brown.

With schools, businesses, churches, government buildings, and more abruptly closing to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus, that much is true.

But additional orders mandating more aggressive social distancing measures, similar to those in California, from the state and Multnomah County may or may not be coming, based on the statements made Friday by Brown, Kafoury, and Wheeler.

Brown said that the ‘”Stay home, stay healthy,” campaign as the governor dubbed it, was both an order and a public awareness campaign.

It’s unclear if Brown was issuing an actual order, though, despite the governor stating that she had been very clear.

For Wheeler, his constituents can expect some restrictions barring nonessential travel by Monday.

And Wheeler would really like it if other jurisdictions would join Portland in those actions, he said, bit hinted that his city would move forward with or without a similar order from Multnomah County or the state of Oregon.

If the order for Portland follows similar guidelines taken in California, residents would still be permitted to leave their home for essentials, such as groceries, gas, traveling to essential work, and caring for a family member.

The details for the order were still being hammered out, but, in essence, it would be “to stay inside your house unless absolutely necessary,” Wheeler said.

With California asking their citizens to stay home except for essential travel, and hundreds of physicians in Oregon asking Brown to put measures in place to restrict movement by citizens, pressure mounted on Gov. Brown to more heavily restrict every day, nonessential movement.

But it’s not yet clear what exact actions the governor will take. As of 8:30 p.m., Friday, no executive order regarding the items discussed during the press conference had been posted on the state website.

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Chas Hundley is the editor of the Gales Creek Journal and sister news publications the Banks Post and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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