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Portland drafted potential shelter-in-place policy to not ‘get caught flat-footed’ by coronavirus, mayor says

The Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems on Thursday said it would support a shelter-in-place order.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said the city drafted a shelter in place policy to try to prevent a massive spike of coronavirus cases in the city.

In a statement Thursday, Wheeler said city officials are talking with Multnomah County and state authorities, but ultimately he wants Portland to “stay ahead of the virus.” Gov. Kate Brown told reporters Thursday morning that she doesn’t plan to issue a statewide shelter-in-place order, which would prohibit people from leaving their homes for non-essential reasons.

The Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems on Thursday said it would support a shelter-in-place order. Multnomah County has not publicly stated a position, but county commissioner Sharon Meieran told Willamette Week there should be such a statewide policy in place. County chair Deborah Kafoury told The Portland Tribune that the county is “evaluating hour by hour what the next steps should be.” 


Wheeler said activities allowed by the city’s draft order include going to the grocery store, the doctor or the veterinarian’s office; traveling to care for a family member or a pet in another household; or picking up food from a restaurant. Social distancing guidelines would still apply. 

“We cannot afford to get caught flat-footed,” Wheeler said. “Days, or even hours, can make a difference.” He didn’t say if or when a city policy would be put into place, how it would be enforced or how it would affect people experiencing homelessness.

Examples of non-essential activities barred by the order would include going out to browse around an open hardware store or host social gatherings either outside or at home, said Sonia Schmanski, one of Wheeler’s deputy chiefs of staff.

She said she didn’t know if the city would implement its own shelter in place order if the governor continues to decline to issue a statewide order, “but it’s on the table.”

“Throughout this event we have looked to our state and county partners to take the lead on social distancing and other public health directives.” Schmanski said.

“We are doing our very best to keep people safe and keep people solvent and we are proud of how our community is coming together.”

This article was originally published by The Oregonian/OregonLive, one of more than a dozen news organizations throughout the state sharing their coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak to help inform Oregonians about this evolving heath issue. 

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RELATED: Gov. Brown: State not moving to shelter in place order -- for now

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