PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — On the eve of moving back into a High Risk COVID category, the Clackamas County commissioners appealed to Oregon Gov. Kate Brown to re-think her decision before it takes effect on Friday.
“Our residents have been through much – three declared disasters in 11 months. While our communities are resilient, many businesses and their employees are on precipice of collapse,” the 5 commissioners said in a signed letter sent to Brown Thursday night. “Please allow us the two week caution period and focus the efforts of education and enforcement on the populations where the spikes are occurring.”
Read the entire letter at the bottom of this article
Chair Tootie Smith and Commissioners Paul Savas, Sonya Fischer, Mark Shull and Martha Schrader signed the letter when they met Thursday night.
“I’m sure employees have already been told not to come to work tomorrow (Friday). That’s a big deal,” Savas said. “This is going to shut some businesses down permanently and those employees have no place to go other than the unemployment line.”
Oak Grove resident Yvonne Lazarus called into the commission meeting and became emotional as she told the commission her fears for businesses and their employees.
“Please tell her they’ve got to open. They’ve got to open,” Lazarus said. Business owners “also have a conscience and a love for those people who work for them. And when they have to hand them a pink slip over and over, what do you think that does to everybody?”
Leaders of Canby, Oregon City, West Linn and the North Clackamas Chamber of Commerce spoke, as well as a representative from Business Recovery Centers.
The CEO of the North Clackamas Chamber of Commerce, Laura Edmonds, asked the board to request better information from the state about where the virus is spiking.
“We are asking for clarity on contact tracing,” Edmonds said. “When we look at where the spikes seem to be originating, schools seem to be the highest rising numbers. Yet the business community is being punished for that. We want to know why.”
In their letter, the commissioners did that — and more. In the end, they made a simple plea to Brown.
“This is about economic justice for people. Please allow us the two week caution period and focus the efforts of education and enforcement on the populations where the spikes are occurring.”