Wheeler to Brown: Issue statewide stay-at-home order

Coronavirus

Portland mayor ready to issue city-wide order

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler is ready to issue a city-wide stay-at-home order on Monday but urged Governor Kate Brown not to wait any longer on a statewide order.

In a Sunday afternoon tweet, Wheeler said “We cannot delay any longer. @OregonGovBrown, we need a statewide #StayAtHome order. The # of cities, counties, electeds, health care groups, joining me in pushing for this continues to grow. We remain hopeful you will act. But if not, I’m ready to act for Portland tomorrow.”

The mayor’s tweet came about 36 hours after a Friday night press conference with Gov. Brown that unveiled the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” plan — but not an order.

On Saturday, regional mayors demanded the state do a better job of enforcing the newly-implemented “Stay Home, Stay Healthy.” Then on Sunday, Portland Metro issued a letter of its own Sunday to Governor Brown with the same sentiment.

County chairs, Metro join mayors call for ‘Stay home’ order
Local mayors call for statewide stay-at-home order

“We are writing to ask for a legally enforceable ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ order that will help to slow the spread of COVID-19,” the letter states. “Even though the majority of Oregonians are staying home and staying apart, it is evident that many people are not observing the pleas from our leaders to hunker down.”

‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ plan announced Friday

On Friday night Brown, Wheeler and Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury announced a new campaign with a clear message: “Stay home, stay healthy.”

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown speaks at a press conference, March 20, 2020. (KOIN)

“We are standing here together on the eve of Spring Break with a very important message for Oregonians: social distancing, done well, and done early, saves lives,” Gov. Brown said at that time. “We have agreed on a plan called ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ which is both an order and a public awareness campaign. We have put into place aggressive social distancing orders to protect you, our neighbors, and our most vulnerable Oregonians.”

Kafoury emphasized that while people can go outside, they must maintain a safe distance from anyone outside their immediate circle. She compared the “6-feet apart” rule to roughly the length of a bicycle.

“You’ve heard and read the term ‘shelter-in-place’ and what we’ve learned is that the term is not clear and it’s often confusing to people,” said Wheeler during the Friday evening briefing. “It makes people think of lockdowns for earthquakes and natural disasters and the like—that’s not what this is. I want to emphasize this: this is not a lockdown. This will be a ‘stay at home unless it’s absolutely necessary’ order.”

He went on to say that people can still go to the grocery store, walking the dogs, get gas and take a hike. Wheeler and other local leaders said they will be working through the weekend on the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” directive and planned to bring more details to the public on Monday.

But coastal mayors, such as Warrenton Mayor Henry Balensifer, told tourists to leave after throngs of people were seen congregating in traditional Spring Break spots.

Mayor Henry Balensifer speaks to the Warrenton community via Facebook live after the state of emergency was declared on Saturday. March 21, 2020 (Mayor Henry Balensifer/City of Warrenton)

The City of Warrenton held an emergency meeting Saturday afternoon where local leaders declared a state of emergency and passed a resolution to evict tourists after the coastal city saw a massive influx of guests over the weekend.

“What does this resolution do? It orders vacation of all vacationers—tourists and anybody that is not a resident, camp host, or employee,” said Balensifer. “We can’t handle having thousands of people flood the city.”

Continuing Coverage: the Coronavirus

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