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Stan Pulliam calls on Gov. Kate Brown to move up reopening timeline for rural cities

PMG PHOTO: BRITTANY ALLEN - This is Stan Pulliams first term as mayor of Sandy. Sandy Mayor Stan Pulliam is calling on Gov. Kate Brown to speed up her timeline for reopening the state for the sake of the economy, and further wants greater latitude for communities to customize their timelines that best fit their particular situations.

Brown on Thursday, April 23, announced guidelines for hospitals to reopen for elective procedures beginning Friday, May 1. The move is the first step toward reopening the state following more than a month of mandatory social distancing.

"I think some of us rural communities in Clackamas County are worried that we'll be lumped in with the Portland Metro community and open later," Pulliam said.

Pulliam has been discussing what reopening in rural communities should look like with leaders from the Rural Clackamas County Alliance, such as Mayor Sean Drinkwine of Estacada.

"I know several of us want to reopen," Pulliam said. "I just believe strongly that needs to begin now — sooner rather than later. We're hearing people are still waiting for financial assistance. I remain incredibly nervous that these businesses are not going to be able to return once the stay-home order is pulled back."

The city of Sandy created an Emergency Small Business grant program and within four days, more than 90 businesses had applied.

Pulliam argues that Sandy, as a smaller, rural community, should be able to maintain social distancing while still opening businesses earlier.

"We don't have the high-density housing and restaurants of Portland," Pulliam explained. "We have the ability to social distance more. We also haven't had near the cases of Portland. The case could be made that with 60% of our residents commuting and working in the Metro area, we could be contributing, but with the business sector closed in Portland, I don't foresee that being a problem.

"This was not going to cure the pandemic," he added. "This was always going to slow the growth of it and allow our hospitals time to adjust and let our manufacturing industry get the equipment out. Now, we've done that. We've been successful. It's time now to restart this economy."

Pulliam is advocating for a phased approach to reopening Sandy businesses, implementing social distancing throughout.

"I'd start phasing in social distancing with places like local restaurants, bars, the cinema and health clubs," Pulliam explained. "I'd also try to allow barber shops to open by appointment only and using protective gear. Phase two would be to allow gatherings of 50 or more people. It would be a phased, strategic approach where we're looking at benchmarks and science, but we need to get that started now."

Pulliam added that he's spoken to several business owners in Sandy throughout the COVID-19 closures and has "gotten a lot of support for standing up for the local business community" in this time.

Pulliam also suspects that the topic of reopening options will be discussed by the Sandy City Council in the near future.


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