Pressure continues to build on Oregon Gov. Kate Brown to issue a strong statewide stay-at-home order to limit the spread of COVID-19, the potentially deadly disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
The chairs of Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas county sent a letter to Brown calling for such an order on the morning of Sunday, March 22.
"We ask that you move boldly to protect the residents of this great state by issuing a clear Stay at Home, Stay Safe executive order," according to a letter signed by Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury, Washington County Chair Kathryn Harrington, and Clackamas County Chair Jim Bernard. "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 that the time to act is now."
Also on Sunday afternoon, Mayor Ted Wheeler tweeted that he will act Monday, March 23, for Portland if Brown does not issue such an order by Monday. "We remain hopeful you will act," Wheeler tweeted. "But if not, I'm ready to act for Portland tomorrow."
We cannot delay any longer.@OregonGovBrown, we need a statewide #StayAtHome order.— Mayor Ted Wheeler (@tedwheeler) March 22, 2020
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 letter followed a similar one from 25 mayors in the region on Saturday, March 21. Together, they are known as the Metropolitan Mayors Consortium. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler had previously said he would issue such an order if Brown doesn't.
Brown said such an order was being drafted during the weekend and would be released on Monday during a Friday evening press conference with Wheeler and Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury. But she created some confusion about how strict it would be by only using the word "order" at the end of her statement and not providing any details at the time.
She expressed frustration at many people not following her previous guidelines in a Sunday morning tweet: "On Friday night, I asked all Oregonians, on the eve of spring break, to stay home and stay healthy. Unfortunately, our trails and beaches were packed this weekend. I want to be absolutely clear, you are endangering all Oregonians when not following social distancing orders."
On Friday night, I asked all Oregonians, on the eve of spring break, to stay home and stay healthy. Unfortunately, our trails and beaches were packed this weekend. I want to be absolutely clear, you are endangering all Oregonians when not following social distancing orders.— Governor Kate Brown (@OregonGovBrown) March 22, 2020
Here is the text of the Sunday letter to Brown:
To the Honorable Governor Kate Brown,
It was just over three weeks ago, on February 28, that Washington County learned of our first positive result for coronavirus in our jurisdiction.
Since then, we have moved as quickly as possible as individual jurisdictions and jointly, as the tri-county region, to protect our residents. Now we believe it is time for us to act as a state.
As the Chairs of Washington, Clackamas and Multnomah Counties, we represent more than 1.8 million residents — nearly half the population of the State of Oregon. We are home to five institutions of higher education, host the state's two major sporting teams, and are the home for the largest manufacturing plants in the state. We also are home to the state's largest port of entry, the major airports, as well as one of the largest and most productive agricultural centers.
But we are also home to the largest homeless population and during the very best of times, have struggled to provide the services needed for the most vulnerable among us. During this crisis, we will need every tool available to us to serve our community's most vulnerable.
That's why today, we have joined together to support the Metropolitan Mayors' Consortium (MMC) letter dated March 21, 2020. We ask that you move boldly to protect the residents of this great state by issuing a clear Stay at Home, Stay Safe Executive Order.
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 that the time to act is now.
We agree with the direction being requested by the MMC and look forward to working with you and your staff to ensure we are taking every measure to protect the health and safety of our residents.
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