PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - Gov. Kate Brown, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury addressed Oregonians on Friday night regarding COVID-19 and social distancing, urging people to “stay home and stay healthy.”
Brown called it an “order and a public awareness campaign,” while Wheeler said an additional official order is likely to follow, possibly on Monday.
"Here in Oregon we all see that a storm is coming, but we still have time to change course.” Governor Brown said. "Social distancing done well and done early saves lives. We have agreed on a plan called 'stay home, stay healthy. It's both an order, and a public safety campaign."
Wheeler said the order will not be called “shelter in place,” as that phrasing is typically used for natural disasters, such as earthquakes. But he said it would follow similar directives that have been issued in California, New York and Illinois.
“This is not a lockdown,” Wheeler said.
However, all three officials made it clear dramatic action was necessary to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
Schools have been closed statewide through the end of April, restrictions have been placed on dine-in food and beverages at businesses, gathering of more than 25 people are prohibited, and health care providers have been ordered to only perform emergency procedures to conserve supplies.
“The power of these orders to limit the spread of the virus is diluted when we gather,” Kafoury said.
Kafoury said people just cannot do all the things they’re used to doing in the way they are used to doing them. She said there should be no gatherings, no parties, and people should avoid games like basketball, soccer or frisbee with people who are not in their household.
She said walking, jogging, cycling and skateboarding are all OK, when social distancing is observed, however she said people should avoid crowded trails and parks.
Brown said there is no additional forthcoming statewide executive order, referring to the number of executive orders she has put in place this week, however Wheeler said he’s ready to act independently on an order for the city of Portland, but he would prefer a more broad agreement at the county or state level.
When asked if such an additional order would lead to enforcement, Wheeler said it’s not a good use of police resources for officers to be spending time monitoring social distancing. However, using an example of a bar full of people, Wheeler said citations could be issued.
“What we’re trying to do is change people’s behavior,” he said.
Wheeler asked people to use common sense.
“Let’s look out for each other. Let’s look out for the most vulnerable amongst us,” Wheeler said.
Brown reiterated the importance of social distancing measures to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19 cases.
“Your actions right now mean the difference between life and death,” she said.
There were 114 diagnosed cases of COVID-19 in Oregon, as of Friday.
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