Crowds flock to Oregon beaches despite deadly outbreak
The sun is out, mom and dad are working remotely and junior won't stop singing that "Baby Shark" tune. Time to hit one of Oregon's pristine public beaches — right?
Thousands have packed up and headed to the Oregon Coast this weekend, ignoring pleas from local and state leaders to stay home to stop the spread of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic caused by a new strain of coronavirus.
"These are not normal times. Please respect the health of our community and safety of our public places," said Nan Devlin, executive director for the Tillamook Coast tourism agency. "Visit us when it is safe to do so. We will welcome you with open arms."
No doubt widespread lay-offs in the service and retail sectors — as well as orders to work from home at many white collar businesses — have given many Oregonians more free time than usual. And after a long winter spent cooped up indoors, it's normal for tourists to surge toward the surf.
But this year is different. As of Saturday, Oregon's reported COVID infections hit triple digits, and four people have died. National public health officials have said it is crucial to flatten the curve and lower the rate of coronavirus transmissions so hospitals don't reach max capacity.
While some recreating — such as hiking — is still allowed, walkers are asked to keep six feet of distance from others at all times.
These pictures are from my Facebook friends from back home in Pacific City, OR. No one canceled their plans for spring break. #stayhome #SocialDistancing #shelterinplace REPS: we need action - shut it down. @OregonGovBrown @duckwilde @RepPeterDeFazio @RonWyden @SenJeffMerkley pic.twitter.com/W42nJ6F1pX— Whitney Hoshaw (@whitneyt1) March 21, 2020
The mobbing of the sands only adds to the pressure on Gov. Kate Brown to enact stricter quarantine measures. Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis and 24 others have implored the governor to put in place a travel ban and ban gatherings of any size.
Whether Brown will do so as early as Monday is unknown, but Bemis, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and other metro area mayors have said they will act if the state does not.
@OregonGovBrown you really did the Oregon Coast a disservice yesterday stopping short of â€˜shelter at homeâ€™ order. We have people FLOODING in from the valley and Washington. The rural health system here will become overwhelmed. #ActNow #StayAtHome #govonerkatebrown pic.twitter.com/zl8JpEUnxA— Todd Williams (@twilli77) March 21, 2020
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.