PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN/AP) — White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany called the decision for states to enforce partial lockdowns “Orwellian,” specifically citing Oregon’s two-week freeze.
In the press briefing on Friday, which was the first one since Oct. 1 and 17 days after the presidential election, McEnany was asked about mixed messaging coming from the White House and its coronavirus task force, which during its briefing on Thursday Vice President Mike Pence said they supported state and local decision making.
“Well two things can happen at once. And it’s this taking covid seriously, engaging in aggressive mitigation, but also recognizing that the American people have certain freedoms. And it is, by definition, Orwellian for a state like Oregon to say, if you have more than six people in your family congregate in your home, we can jail you for 30 days. That’s not the American way,” she said.
She continued, saying Americans know the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has come under criticism at times for reversing its guidance.
“We’ve been talking about this for 10 months,” McEnany said. “But the American people still have certain freedoms, still have autonomy and still can make important self-responsibility decisions themselves.”
Meanwhile, several state Republican politicians and other officials are pushing back against Democratic Gov. Kate Brown’s orders to stem the spread of the coronavirus, even as Oregon suffered the highest daily number of COVID-19 cases and deaths.
Under Brown’s order, all restaurants and bars are closed except for takeout and public places such as gyms and museums are also temporarily closed. Social gatherings are limited to no more than six people from two households, both inside and outside.
Brown’s order is also enforceable with fines and possible jail time; however, law enforcement agencies have said they will continue to take an “education first” approach.
State Sen. Dennis Linthicum decried Brown’s actions on Thursday as an attack on Thanksgiving and personal freedoms, and incoming Clackamas County commissioner Tootie Smith also lashed out against the partial lockdown, making headlines for an appearance on Fox News for saying the freeze will treat Oregonians as “second-rate slaves in our own homes” after declaring she would celebrate Thanksgiving with “many family and friends.”