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Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis leads the way for actions against spread of COVID-19

PMG FILE PHOTO - Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis and the Metropolitan Mayors Consortium called for a stay at home order Saturday morning, March 21. Local mayors have sounded the alarm and called for a statewide "Stay at Home" order in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The decision was made by an overwhelming majority vote from the Metropolitan Mayors Consortium Saturday morning, March 21, via a conference call convened by Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis to discuss the region's response to the novel coronavirus.

"The region's mayors are doing everything in our power to protect the health, safety and livelihood of more than 1.7 million Oregonians," said Bemis, who helms the Mayors Consortium. "Republican or Democrat, big city or small, we are in clear agreement — the time for action is now. Delaying this order puts our residents, our first responders and our healthcare system at extreme risk."

Citing the need to learn from nations across the globe who are struggling with the spread of the novel coronavirus, local mayors agreed urgent action is needed to prevent hospitals and clinics from being overwhelmed and to ensure all patients have access to treatment. While the mayors are prepared to enact orders in their cities if necessary, they cited the importance of a unified statewide approach.

"It is a time for unprecedented collective action, and strong leadership at the local, state, and federal levels," Bemis said. "The nature of a viral pandemic means that no individual city, particularly in a metropolitan area, can defeat this foe alone."

The group has advised Gov. Kate Brown's Stay at Home order should include:

— Oregonians directed to reasonably comply with social distancing requirements at all times

— Non-essential businesses to cease all activities except minimum basic operations — businesses can continue to operate if all employees are working from home

— Essential businesses are encouraged to remain open, while complying with social distancing requirements

— Public and private gatherings prohibited, with exceptions

— Non-essential travel prohibited

The region's mayors urge Oregonians to stay home, noting these actions can help ensure the safety of critical medical professionals, first responders, and those keeping the supply chain moving.

"Heed the advice you have been given to stay home," Bemis said. "It may very well save your life, and it will save the lives of the people you love the most: your friends, family members and loved ones."

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