A consortium of 25 metro area mayors are urging Oregon Gov. Kate Brown to issue a stricter quarantine order, known as "stay at home," to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
In a letter delivered on Saturday, March 21, the mayors implored the governor to issue an immediate travel ban and to prohibit all gatherings — a move that would ratchet up the current ban on get-togethers with 25 or more people.
The Metropolitan Mayors Consortium met via conference call on Saturday, with chairman Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis leading the charge.
"There can be no room for equivocation from the governor's office on what we're telling Oregonians," Bemis said in a phone interview. "The press conference last night only confused people even more."
Bemis was referring to the media briefing held by Gov. Brown, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury on Friday. The leaders reiterated the need for Oregonians to remain inside their homes, but stopped short of issuing a new directive or penalties for those who continue about their day-to-day routine.
It was a muddled message, with the officials first saying they were issuing a written order, then saying they weren't, then later implying it might be forthcoming on Monday.
Bemis said the metropolitan mayors were fielding concerns from their constituents throughout the night, with many residents unsure "what was actually in place and what was not actually in place."
The consortium includes much of the tri-county area, including Portland, Beaverton, Canby, Forest Grove, Gresham, Hillsboro, Lake Oswego, West Linn, Wilsonville, Oregon City and others.
Sources tell the Tribune the vote was 18 to 1 in support of the proclamation, with the mayor of Gladstone voting no and several others were not available to join the call on short notice.
The letter to Gov. Brown includes a plea for the prohibition on non-essential travel and the immediate halt of non-essential business operations. While many have wondered what businesses would meet the qualification, Bemis said it's up to the governor to create that list.
"Every small business owner is going to believe that they have an essential business, but again we're going to call on the governor to make a list that works for Oregon," he said.
Bemis said, if no statewide action is made, many mayors in the metro area may issue their own orders enforceable within city limits.
"It is a time for unprecedented collective action, and strong leadership at the local, state and federal levels," Bemis added in a Saturday news release. "The nature of a viral pandemic means that no individual city, particularly in a metropolitan area, can defeat this foe alone."
Other recommendations include:
• Directing Oregonians to reasonably comply with social distancing requirements at all times.
• Shutting all non-essential businesses, except "minimum basic operations," as well as those tasks that can be completed remotely
• Encouraging essential businesses to remain open, while complying with social distancing requirements.
• All public and private gatherings would be prohibited, with unspecified exceptions.
• All non-essential travel prohibited.
The mayor's group says these actions also will ensure the safety of the region's supply chain, medical professionals and first responders.
Earlier this week, health care officials urged the governor not to issue a stronger "stay at home" order saying such orders are difficult to enforce and tough to define. Later on Friday, other health care leaders urged the exact opposite.
"Collectively, the region's mayors are doing everything in our power to protect the health, safety and livelihood of more than 1.7 million Oregonians," Bemis said.
Members of the Metropolitan Mayors' Consortium:
Mayor Denny Doyle, Beaverton
Mayor Brian Hodson, Canby
Mayor Jeffrey Dalin, Cornelius
Mayor Gery Schirado, Durham
Mayor Brian Cooper, Fairview
Mayor Peter Truax, Forest Grove
Mayor Shane Bemis, Gresham
Mayor Tom Ellis, Happy Valley
Mayor Steve Callaway, Hillsboro
Mayor Ken Gibson, King City
Mayor Kent Studebaker, Lake Oswego
Mayor Mark Hardie, Maywood Park
Mayor Mark Gamba, Milwaukie
Mayor Teri Lenahan, North Plains
Mayor Dan Holladay, Oregon City
Mayor Ted Wheeler, Portland
Mayor Walt Williams, Rivergrove
Mayor Keith Mays, Sherwood
Mayor Jason Snider, Tigard
Mayor Casey Ryan, Troutdale
Mayor Frank Bubenik, Tualatin
Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle, Vancouver (ex officio)
Mayor Russ Axelrod, West Linn
Mayor Tim Knapp, Wilsonville
Mayor Scott Harden, Wood Village
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