GRESHAM, Ore. — The Metropolitan Mayors Consortium, a body comprised of 25 Oregon Mayors, voted with an overwhelming majority that a stay home order for the state of Oregon is necessary to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 spread.
“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. Republican or Democrat, big city or small, we are in clear agreement. The time for action is now. Delaying this order puts our residents, our first responders and our healthcare system at extreme risk,” said MMC Chair and Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis.
The MMC is encouraging Gov. Kate Brown to take a statewide approach but said in a press release that each mayor is prepared to take action in their own jurisdictions to keep people home and healthy.
“It is a time for unprecedented collective action, and strong leadership at the local, state, and federal levels. The nature of a viral pandemic means that no individual city, particularly in a metropolitan area, can defeat this foe alone,” Bemis said.
The MMC advised Governor Kate Brown that a Stay at Home order should include:
- Oregonians directed to reasonably comply with social distancing requirements at all times.
- Non-essential businesses to cease all activities except minimum basic operations; businesses can continue to operate if all employees are working from home.
- Essential businesses are encouraged to remain open, while complying with social distancing requirements.
- Public and private gatherings prohibited, with exceptions.
- Non-essential travel prohibited.
“Heed the advice you have been given to stay home. It may very well save your life, and it will save the lives of the people you love the most: your friends, family members and loved ones,” Bemis said.
On Sunday, the county chairs of the three metro-area counties also wrote a letter to Gov. Brown asking her to issue a statewide "stay-at-home" order.
"As the Chairs of the most populous region in the state, we are preparing to be hit hardest. But here's what we know: our public health officials, as well as our hospital systems, are telling us that the time to act is now," the county executives said in a joint statement.
The letter was signed by Washington County Chair Kathryn Harrington, Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury and Clackamas County Chair Jim Bernard.
This comes in the days after Gov. Brown and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler held a joint press conference where they said they would be working together on a stay-home policy.
It was unclear from the press conference whether that would be a statewide order or not.
In an interview with KGW on Saturday, Mayor Bemis said he and other mayors in the Portland Metro area heard from residents that the directive and messaging from Gov. Brown was confusing.
"I think a lot of people were confused by the press conference. I think a couple different things were said a couple different times. That really was the impetus of making this emergency phone call today from the region's mayors was to say, listen, there is no ambiguity between our jurisdictions, there's no equivocation. It is now the time to issue a very strong order that closes businesses and tells people to stay home," Bemis said.
Involved the restaurant industry for years, Bemis says he knows first-hand how difficult this is. He says no elected official wants to shut people's businesses but it is undoubtedly the right thing to do at this time to stem the spread and ease the overwhelming of our healthcare system.
Metropolitan Mayors’ Consortium includes the following mayors:
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