Portland leaders: ‘We’re all in this together’

Coronavirus

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland city leaders spent an hour Tuesday morning updating the public on their efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Mayor Ted Wheeler said the State of Emergency will last in 2 week increments as the pandemic continues.

“We’re still on the upside of the contagion curve, so this would not be a good time for us to suspend the emergency declaration,” Mayor said. “We collectively control how deep and how long this crisis lasts through our own behavior. My actions impact your health, your actions impact my health. 

Emergency responders remind people not to call 911 unless it’s truly an emergency. It may be best for you to call your regular doctor’s office or the police non-emergency line — 503.823.3333.

PPB Chief Jami Resch said though dispatched calls have dropped overall in the past two weeks, the Bureau has experienced an alarming rise in suicide calls. In the past ten days, calls have gone up 23%. Resch called on people to reach out to others when they need help.

Another concern Resch urged people to consider was food supply. Requests for emergency food boxes have increased more than six-times for the same time period in 2019, she said. Moreover, requests are up eight times from the 10 days prior to the emergency declaration.

But the common theme among all speakers: We’re all in this together.

“I want you to know we will get through this,” Wheeler said, “and get through it together.”

Prior to Mayor Wheeler’s extension, the State of Emergency was due to expire at 8 a.m. on Thursday, March 26.

Earlier information

Wheeler’s briefing follows the announcement of Governor Kate Brown’s official “Stay Home” order. He spoke with media via video conference call on Monday and reiterated that all of the city’s playgrounds, outdoor courts, and skate parks are closed.

After the governor’s Friday message fell short of an enforceable order, and tourists overran the coast, city leaders like Wheeler implored Brown to take concise action. On Saturday, the Metropolitan Mayors Consortium, composed of 25 of the region’s mayors, sent a letter to the governor asking for a statewide order. On Sunday, Wheeler said via Twitter, “We cannot wait any longer…We remain hopeful you will act. But if not, I’m ready to act for Portland tomorrow.”

“The governor needed to take action, and she did,” said Wheeler. “The reason we needed this to be a statewide order was made crystal clear when we saw what happened on the Oregon Coast this weekend.”

Now that the order is unequivocal, state, county, and city leaders can focus on how to help our hospitals as well as the countless people out of work.

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