PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — In a one-on-one interview with KOIN 6 News, Gov. Kate Brown talked about what Oregon may do as the spike in COVID cases continues and about the ongoing demonstrations in Portland that now include federal officers confronting protesters.
The governor is weighing whether to shut down businesses that are gathering spots to slow the spread of the coronavirus, but she hasn’t yet made a decision. What could be first to close again is indoor restaurant seating and bars.
Brown told KOIN 6 News places where people are congregating is where the virus is seen to be spreading. Earlier this week she banned indoor gatherings of more than 10 people and ordered a mask mandate for everyone outside if they can’t stay at least 6 feet away from others.
The governor said a closure will depend not just on a continued increase in people infected by the virus but other factors that would lead to closures.
“I mentioned hospital bed capacity, insuring we have an adequate supply of healthcare workers across the state as well as the infection rate” are some factors Brown said would influence any decision.
She said she’s aware of what’s happening in California, where doctors are sending patients hundreds of miles away because their hospitals are overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.
Brown on federal troops
Gov. Brown said the actions of federal officers are making the violence in Portland worse. She told Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf by phone to get the officers out of here.
“I was clear with the secretary: Having federal troops here is like pouring gasoline on a fire.”
There was confirmation Friday from the acting head of the US Customs and Border Protection that their officers were sent to Portland as well. They’re among the federal officers in photos tweeted by Wolf from his Thursday visit to Portland.
Their message is President Trump wants them here fighting “the criminals, and they will restore law and order.”
Brown believes that’s that not the help that’s needed.
“This is appalling,” she told KOIN 6 News. “When we need help from the federal government, testing supplies, personal protective equipment, they are missing in action.”
But while the governor wants the federal troops gone she can’t stop them.
“I have no authority over troops coming into Portland, federal troops,” Brown said.
As federal officers continue to engage on Portland streets and violence grows, she said this is all a distraction from what’s important.
“Violence offers nothing and solves nothing, answers nothing, frankly. It’s a distration from the critically important work we need to do. We need to be at the table talking about how we eradicate racism.”