Brown: ‘We have far more needs than we have resources’

Coronavirus

Gov. Brown held an 11 a.m. press call

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Governor Kate Brown held a conference call with members of the media on Tuesday morning, a day after issuing a stricter order on social distancing guidelines.

Governor Brown issued Executive Order 20-12 on Monday. The order directs everyone in Oregon to stay at home to the maximum extent possible. It also adds a batch of new businesses that must temporarily close to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In the Tuesday conference call, Brown discussed the various measures she’s taking and answered questions concerning her stricter social distancing order.

“The reason we did our executive order the way we did is because I want to save lives and save peoples livelihoods,” said Brown. “I’m not interested in unnecessarily closing businesses if we don’t need to do that. My goal is to balance those competing demands.”

In terms of resources across the state — such as personal protective equipment and hospital beds — Brown says there is still not enough, but she that she is extremely grateful for those braving the crisis in healthcare.

“We are so incredibly grateful for healthcare workers across the state. Thank you, thank you, thank you,” said Brown. “You are literally putting your lives on the line to keep Oregonians safe and we are grateful.”

Brown said at this point, about 25% of her initial request for more resources from the federal government will be fulfilled. But, she says she is committed to doing anything she can to make sure healthcare workers have what they need.

Brown also said that the state is relaxing medical board rules to allow retired physicians to reactivate their licenses. 

“The bottom line is we have far more needs than we have resources,” she said. “As you are aware, the economy is tumbling down. I am cautioning legislators to be extremely fiscally prudent. I am extremely concerned about our ability to administer basic services in the next 6 months to a year.”

Brown said next week’s special legislative sessions will focus on adequate resources for COVID-19. She said the state needs $250 million for an adequate response — and they need to address funding for the upcoming fire season.

She also addressed thoughts President Trump may want to lift social distancing restrictions after he said yesterday “we can not let the cure be worse than the problem.”

“I honestly don’t know what the president’s authority is to supersede my executive order, I will have our legal team do a little research,” said Brown. “When I was on the phone with him earlier this week he said these difficult decisions are in the hands of governors, so I would expect it would stay that way.”

She also addressed questions about people and businesses who aren’t complying with her stay at home order. Brown said she “can’t have police in every office in the state” enforcing the order. She is relying on people taking personal responsibility.

In a statement issued Monday, Brown said her decision to execute the order was fueled by the crowds that formed over the weekend.

“I started by asking Oregonians to stay home and practice social distancing,” Brown said in the release. “Then I urged the public to follow these recommendations. Instead, thousands crowded the beaches of our coastal communities, our trails, our parks, and our city streets, potentially spreading COVID-19 and endangering the lives of others across the state. Now, I’m ordering it. To save lives and protect our community.”

She spoke with members of the media on a closed call on Monday afternoon and repeated her calls for Oregonians to stay home. “This is an instance that each one of us can make a difference…and truly save lives,” she said.

Responding to questions about confusion over which businesses are closed, Governor Brown said she felt the order was very clear. Any business not ordered to close is allowed to remain open as long as it complies by the social distancing rules.

She said she wrote the order after speaking with governors around the country.

“We’re being more prescriptive than a lot of other states because we wanted people to have clarity,” she said. “The reality is that governors all over the nation are wrestling with how to do this. We were able to learn from other states and watch the confusion that happened.”

These are the new restrictions, including what penalties offenders face:

  • All non-essential social and recreational gatherings of individuals are prohibited immediately, regardless of size, if a distance of at least six feet between individuals cannot be maintained. Gatherings of members of the same residential household are permitted.
  • It closes and prohibits shopping at specific categories of retail businesses, for which close personal contact is difficult to avoid, such as arcades, barber shops, hair salons, gyms and fitness studios, skating rinks, theaters, and yoga studios.
  • It requires businesses not closed by the order to implement social distancing policies in order to remain open, and requires workplaces to implement teleworking and work-at-home options when possible.
  • It directs Oregonians to stay home whenever possible, while permitting activities outside the home when social distance is maintained.
  • It closes playgrounds, sports courts, and skate parks, among other types of outdoor recreation facilities. Those that remain open are required to strictly adhere to social distancing guidelines.
  • It outlines new guidelines for child care facilities, setting limits and rules on amounts of children allowed in care, and outlining that child care groups may not change participants.
  • Failure to comply with the order will be considered an immediate danger to public health and subject to a Class C misdemeanor.

Continuing Coverage: Coronavirus

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