Updated: Mar 31, 2020
Photo: Beth Nakamura, Associated Press
Dear Friends, Today, right now, please join many health experts in asking Governor Kate Brown to declare a statewide shelter-in-place order. Use this online form to contact Governor Brown. Here is why. We are entering what may turn out to be the most difficult phase of this pandemic. Our voices need to be heard now by those elected to represent us. There is a much wider safety net that must be put in place ASAP; and, it’s strongest thread must be one of prevention. The federal government’s inadequate testing program has left us virtually blind as to how pervasive our local infection rate. So we must act to prevent asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 from unknowingly spreading it to others.
Today, please join many health experts in asking Governor Kate Brown to declare a statewide shelter-in-place order. Use this online form to contact Governor Brown. This is what most experts say we need.
“A study published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science found that asymptomatic people - or people whose symptoms were so mild they didn’t realize they were infected- were a major driver of the disease from its epicenter in Wuhan, China, to the rest of the world.” – from oregonlive. What could a stay-in-shelter order mean? This is the California example: “The mandatory order allows Californians to visit gas stations, pharmacies, grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks, convenience stores, takeout and delivery restaurants, banks and laundromats, to care for a relative or friend or to seek healthcare.” – from The LA Times I believe three key goals that can be achieved with the right kind of stay-in-place order from the Governor:
Keep Oregonians healthy and safe, provide excellent care for those that get sick.
Keep people working to support themselves and their families whenever that can be done safely.
Provide protection and expanded benefits, like childcare, to our frontline workers and their families.
If we can work from home, we should, and employers should invest in the software that can ease this transition to working remotely. Small businesses should get grant to do this if they need it. Businesses and nonprofits that produce core products and services, along with their workers, should be declared as “essential” and be allowed to operate, but adopt social distancing practices that the governor would establish. These core essential operations could include:
Healthcare; food production and sales; transportation; transit and rides for hire workers; construction; communications, data and e-commerce; lodging and shelters; power, water, garbage and recycling, and sewer; from the waste stream; key manufacturing; legal and professional services; pet services; real estate and property management; drive-thru, delivery and take-out food and beverage services.
A special note about not-for-profit organizations: nonprofits are an economic cornerstone of the Portland regional economy, employing tens-of-thousands of workers, and they should get access to emergency state funding along with for-profit businesses. For those businesses and nonprofits that cannot conduct their work remotely, and are defined as essential, a stay-at-home order should provide them opportunities for grants, and their workers unemployment and other benefits. If the state won’t act, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler is prepared to issue a Portland local shelter-in-place order, and that is good. “Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler Plans to Move Forward “Soon” With Shelter in Place Order Regardless of Others’ Hesitation ‘We will move forward if the state and county do not act, but we are hopeful they will.’” – from Willamette Week
But a statewide order would be more effective than a city order. As California has learned, a statewide order is a critical step for ensuring safety for Portland and Oregon. Together, over the past couple weeks, we pitched in to help local nonprofits caring of our most vulnerable. We advocated for the safety of front line workers. We helped workers keep their jobs at our vulnerable small neighborhood businesses. And now we need to advocate to our leaders for ourselves, our loved ones, and our community as a whole. Today, please join me in asking Governor Kate Brown to declare a statewide shelter-in-place order. Please use this online form to contact Governor Brown. Take care of yourselves and your loved ones. We are in this together.
Update: Governor Kate Brown issued an order Monday, March 23rd, requiring Oregonians to stay home in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The order instructs people to stay home except when traveling for essential work, buying food and similar critical supplies or returning to their own homes. Recreational travel is now forbidden. More here.