Sources: Impact of virus on Portland politics unclear
The COVID-19 crisis likely will play a huge role in two City Council primary election races, but exactly how has yet to be determined.
Practically all media coverage of the campaigns has ceased because most debates have been canceled and political reporters have shifted to covering the response to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease.
But the two incumbents on the council — Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioner Chloe Eudaly — have frequently been in the news lately. Especially Wheeler, who has pushed aggressive social distancing measures to slow the spread of the virus.
The questions include: Do voters support this as strong leadership; blame Wheeler for contributing to the deteriorating economy; or think it's still not enough?
Eudaly is probably on safer ground because she has mostly advocated for more renters protections.
Pandemic disrupts public meetings
The COVID-19 crisis also has disrupted the public decision-making process. Elected bodies are moving to online hearings, and advisory committee meetings are being canceled because of technical and other difficulties.
Locally, the Portland City Council, Multnomah County Commission and Metro Council all held remote meetings with no public participation last week. Only audio feeds were available on their websites, and the sound quality was uneven at best.
Mayor Ted Wheeler has promised the meetings soon will be streamed live with real-time public participation, but it is unclear when or how that will happen.
In the meantime, all the governments are still posting their agendas and urging the public to submit testimony online. This is expected to continue at least until Oregon Gov. Kate Brown rescinds her ban on public gatherings to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes the potentially deadly disease.
Shortages go beyond toilet paper aisle
By now everyone knows that toilet paper is hard to find because of the COVID-19 crisis. The shortage apparently caused by panic buying prompted memes, jokes on late-night talk shows, and social media accounts with pictures of empty store shelves.
But Portland-area pharmacies also are out of thermometers, as a trip or call to any of them will confirm. Not only the stores, but their warehouses, too. Apparently a lot of people are feeling the sudden urge to check their temperature.
Following up on a suspicious fever is hard, however, because novel coronavirus test kits also are in very short supply.
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