SALEM, Oregon - Pressure continues to mount for Oregon Gov. Brown to call a statewide stay-at-home order as the coronavirus outbreak widens.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler appealed to the governor directly, calling on social media for a statewide order and saying he was ready to implement a Portland-specific directive on Monday if Brown didn't act. His appeal came the same day Oregon health officials announced another coronavirus death, the state's fifth, and 24 new cases of the virus.
All this brings Oregon's number of known cases of the coronavirus to 161. Oregon now has five known deaths from COVID-19.
OHA reported new diagnosed cases of the virus Sunday in the following counties: 13 in Washington County, three in Marion County, two cases each in Benton and Yamhill Counties and one case each in Clackamas, Deschutes, Lane, and Multnomah counties.
Oregon's fifth COVID-19 related death was a veteran in his 90s living at the Oregon Veterans' Home in Lebanon. He tested positive on March 11 with underlying health conditions.
Oregon health officials also announced Sunday $4 million in state funding for local public health authorities, nine federally recognized tribes in Oregon, and the Native American Rehabilitation Association (NARA) to support their COVID-19 response.
The novel coronavirus, a relative of other viruses like SARS, was first identified in Wuhan, China, late last year.
Tri-County chairs join call for Oregon-wide "stay at home, stay safe' order The chairs of Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties joined 25 Portland-area mayors Sunday in a call for a statewide stay-at-home executive order, increasing pressure on Oregon Gov. Kate Brown to enact one.
In a letter to Brown, Washington County Chair Kathryn Harrington, Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury and Clackamas County Chair Jim Bernard urged Brown to take action.
"As the chairs of the most populous region in the state, we are preparing to be hit hardest. But here's what we know: our public health officials, as well as our hospital systems, are telling us the time to act is now," reads the letter.
The letter follows a press conference Friday with mixed messaging from Brown, Portland mayor Ted Wheeler and Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury on social distancing measures.
Brown has repeatedly declined to issue a shelter-in-place order, despite urging Oregonians to voluntarily stay home. Wheeler has been preparing a possible unilateral order for a stay-at-home measure for Portland. Kafoury, who is married to Brown's chief of staff, stressed the importance of a statewide policy. Through a letter from the three-county chairs, Kafoury has formally called for stronger action.
More than 1.8 million residents live in the tri-county region, according to the letter, representing nearly half the population of the state of Oregon.
The Metropolitan Mayor's Consortium that comprises 25 Oregon mayors advised Brown that she should require Oregonians to comply with social distancing measures at all times; order non-essential businesses to cease all activities except basic, minimum operations — not including businesses in which employees can work from home; prohibit public and private gatherings, with exceptions; and prohibit non-essential travel.
Governors in California, New York and Illinois have issued shelter-in-place orders within the last week. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has yet to issue a similar order.
Gov. Kate Brown halts Oregon evictions Residential evictions in Oregon for failing to pay rent will be on hold for 90 days, under an executive order issued by Gov. Kate Brown on Sunday.
"Through no fault of their own, many Oregonians have lost jobs, closed businesses, and found themselves without a source of income to pay rent and other housing costs during this coronavirus outbreak," Brown said in a statement. "The last thing we need to do during this crisis is turn out more Oregonians struggling to make ends meet from their homes and onto the streets."
Under Brown's order, law enforcement officers in Oregon are not allowed to act on eviction orders for nonpayment of rent, making the case that evictions could further spread COVID-19.
"This is both a moral and a public health imperative. Keeping people in their homes is the right thing for Oregon families, and for preventing the further spread of COVID-19."
The order doesn't consider the potential fallout for landlords, however Brown's office has convened a task force that is tackling economic damages from the novel coronavirus.
Metro Council joins Portland-area mayors in call for stay-home orders The Portland-area regional government Metro called on Gov. Kate Brown Sunday to issue stronger orders telling Oregon residents to stay at home.
"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," the Metro Council wrote in a letter to the governor, noting that it does not have the authority to issue a stay-at-home order.
"Therefore, we are asking you, please, to issue a Stay Home, Stay Healthy order that ensures maximum compliance with the isolate-at-home directive," the council's letter continued. "Such an order should follow the lead of other states like California, New York, Illinois and Nevada, limiting travel, closing all but essential businesses, and ending public gatherings."
Metro's request comes after 25 Portland-area mayors issued their own call Saturday for a statewide stay-at-home order.
"It is a time for unprecedented collective action and strong leadership at the local, state and federal levels," Metropolitan Mayors Consortium chair and Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis said Saturday.
The mayors consortium advised Oregon Gov. Kate Brown that she should require that Oregonians comply with social distancing requirements at all times; order non-essential businesses to cease all activities except basic, minimum operations — not including businesses in which employees can work from home; prohibit public and private gatherings, with exceptions; and prohibit non-essential travel.
Oregon State Parks, Multnomah Falls closing Oregon State Parks announced Sunday the closure of all state parks by Monday, March 23 at 5 p.m. The directive follows Gov. Kate Brown's call for Oregonians to "stay home and stay healthy" late Friday. Brown has yet to issue an official statewide shelter-in-place order.
The parks department had initially planned to close April 3, and advised travelers to avoid day trips to full parks. But the agency said people weren't following guidance from public health officials, and that statewide closures were now necessary.
All daytime park services will be closed, including parking areas and restrooms.
Multnomah Falls also announced Sunday that it would close its plaza, viewing areas and trail indefinitely beginning Monday, March 23 at 6 a.m. The decision is based on the latest public health guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to promote social distancing.
"It has become clear that some platforms and viewing areas at Multnomah Falls attract groups, making it nearly impossible for people to practice proper social distancing," said National Scenic Area forest supervisor Lynn Burditt in a statement. "All federal agencies have been asked to do their part to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, so after observing the behavior of people at the site we determined we had to take action to help protect the community."
Some trails in the Columbia River Gorge will remain open, but scenic area leadership will "conduct assessment of risks at other "close proximity' recreation sites" and will update health and safety measures as necessary.
Coastal towns plead for relief from inland tourists The Astoria City Council voted Sunday to ban visitors from staying in hotels and other commercial lodgings to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Astorian reports.
The city gave visitors until the end of the day Monday to leave hotels, home-stay lodging and other short-term rentals.
The move follows a similar decision by Warrenton on Saturday to ban recreational camping, homestay lodging and hotel stays in city limits through the end of April. Warrenton and Seaside declared emergencies Saturday, with Seaside ordering hotels to shut down.
Willamette Week reports that despite warnings from Gov. Kate Brown to "stay home and stay healthy" Friday, thousands of Oregonians opted to visit the coast the following day for spring break. Astoria city councilors said coastal workers have sacrificed, with many being laid off or closing their businesses in the wake of COVID-19, despite an influx of people.
"We cannot let those sacrifices be in vain by allowing thousands of visitors passing through our city, and many stopping in our city or vacationing in our city, during this time," Mayor Bruce Jones said before the vote.
Jones posted on the city's website before voting on the order, pleading that visitors stay away.
"We have been appalled by the sight of tens of thousands of irresponsible vacationers flocking to the coast, as if this was just another spring break week, with callous disregard for residents' health and safety," Jones wrote.
The mayor said the city order targets vacationers, and does not apply to essential workers like doctors, or to patients getting treatment at the cancer center.
Burgerville workers walk off in protest Portland Burgerville workers at the Southeast Powell and 92nd Avenue location went on strike Sunday to protest safety concerns, reduced staffing and a lack of benefits amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The strike comes as the Burgerville Workers Union issued demands to the company for an additional $2 an hour in hazard pay, including paid sick time and severance pay in the event of layoffs.
Clark County announces new COVID-19 case Clark County Public Health Sunday announced one new diagnosis of the novel coronavirus. That follows three cases announced Saturday, bringing the total number of known cases in the county to 10, with three known deaths.
The new case is a man in his 70s. He had contact with a confirmed case in Clark County and was quarantined. According to Clark County Public Health, he's recovering at home.
Washington coronavirus cases continue to climb As of Sunday, the Washington Department of Health has announced known 94 deaths from COVID-19.
There are 1,793 known positive cases of the virus in Washington as of Sunday morning, according to the state health department.
All Washington counties have at least one confirmed case.
KUOW reports a resident of the Chandler's Square Retirement Community in Anacortes has tested positive for COVID-19. The individual is hospitalized at Island Hospital and is expected to be released to stay with family in isolation. One additional resident is hospitalized and being evaluated.