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Wood Village Mayor Scott Harden criticizes Kate Brown as 'slow to respond' with latest proclamation

PMG FILE PHOTO - For now, Wood Village City Hall is open but with those city employees not working remotely spaced apart by 20 feet or so, in an effort to curtail the spread of coronavirus. The mayors of Gresham's neighboring East Multnomah County cities are — for the most part — applauding Gov. Kate Brown's Monday orders for Oregonians to stay home for all but essential needs like fetching groceries and medications, going to work and exercising.

"I am issuing a new executive order further requiring social distancing measures because we know this is the most effective way to flatten the curve and slow the spread of (novel coronavirus)," Brown said. "I hope everyone in Oregon abides by its core message: stay home unless absolutely necessary."

The Stay Home to Stay Healthy Executive Order, put into effect Monday morning, March 23, closed more businesses, imposed penalties for failing to comply and required that open businesses enforce social distancing guidelines.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Troutdale Mayor Casey Ryan "It's good that she did this," Troutdale Mayor Casey Ryan said after the annoucement. "Our cases in Oregon are so relatively low, we need to keep it that way. Whatever we need to do to change our life, we need to do that for awhile."

Ryan, Fairview Mayor Brian Cooper and Wood Village Mayor Scott Harden were among a consortium of 25 Portland-area mayors who — after meeting via conference call on Saturday, March 21 — urged Brown in a letter to issue a stricter quarantine order, known as "stay at home," to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The mayors — all of whom declared a State of Emergency in their respective cities last week — implored the governor to issue an immediate travel ban and to prohibit all gatherings. The move ratcheted up an earlier ban on gatherings of 25 or more people.

Mayor Cooper shared his support of the governor's actions in the upcoming edition of Fairview Point, the city's monthly newsletter.

"As the governor enacts a new set of orders, we must come together (but no closer than 6 feet and less than 10 people) to keep our community healthy," he said in the statement. "Please do everything in your power to limit your contact and give the health professionals the time needed to treat the sick."

Curve flattening

With the order, all non-essential social and recreational gatherings of individuals are prohibited, regardless of size, if a distance of at least six feet cannot be maintained. Gatherings of members of the same household are permitted.

All shopping at specific categories of retail businesses, for which close personal contact is difficult to avoid, is prohibited: arcades, barber shops, hair salons, gyms and fitness studios, skating rinks, theaters, and yoga studios are all affected.

Businesses not closing must implement social distancing policies to remain open, and requires workplaces to implement teleworking and work-at-home options when possible.

While activities outside the home are permitted when social distance is maintained, playground equipment, sports courts and skate parks are all off limits. New guidelines for child care facilities and rules on the amounts of children allowed in care are also in place.

Failure to comply with the stay-home order will be considered an immediate danger to public health and lead to a Class C misdemeanor.

"This order is designed to flatten the curve over the coming weeks, preserving scarce hospital space and equipment," Gov. Brown said. "It is designed to be more sustainable over time, to allow Oregonians to keep their jobs when their work does not add to the growth of COVID-19 in Oregon."

'Nimble and responsive'

While he supports the governor's Stay-at-Home declaration, Wood Village Mayor Scott Harden said she was

"slow to respond" and criticized Brown's approach to the crisis.

"Declaring during her Friday (March 17) press conference could have limited the Spring Break crowds at the coast and in the Columbia River Gorge," he said, referring to crowds that flocked to the Oregon Coast and Gorge trails amidst inviting spring weather last weekend. "I do not think any of the conference calls with elected officials have been clear or concise. I think the list of essential businesses or businesses allowed to stay open with proper social distancing is too broad."

Harden added that he is "thankful for the pressure that the metro area (leaders) put on the governor to get her to act faster and more decisively. I sincerely hope that her order mirrors the advice she is getting from the state's disaster preparedness and health professionals," he said.

Despite his frustration with Brown's handling of the crisis, Harden said he was "proud" of how Wood Village's staff is handling a trying situation.

"They have managed to stay safe and well all the while keeping City Hall open and continuing to serve our residents. Our emergency declaration was the right move to make if for no other reason than we are able to waive water and sewer shut-offs and late fees during the crisis," Harden noted. "We are more nimble and responsive because we have all of the emergency options at our disposal."

To read details on the businesses listed in the governor's executive order, visit go.aws/2QECucS.

Outlook reporter Christopher Keizur contributed to this story.


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