Mayor Ted Wheeler Declares a State of Emergency in Portland

The city will limit large gatherings, provide additional sanitation for homeless people and maintain city utility services for non-payers.

Mayor Ted Wheler at COVID-19 press conference. (SIPA USA/ Justin Katigbak)

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler this morning declared a state of emergency in the city.

"This is a decision I don't take lightly given the broad implications, but due to COVID-19's progression on the West Coast, I believe that it's in the best interest of public health to declare a state of emergency at this time," Wheeler said at a press conference Thursday morning. "Portlanders have always looked out for each other, but now I'm asking you particularly at this time to help your neighbors who might need help."

Here's how his office described the effect of that declaration, which comes on the heels of similar actions by Gov. Kate Brown:

The declaration gives the City additional powers to properly address the threat of infection and harm including—but not limited to—limiting mass public gatherings if necessary to stop the potential spread of infection. It also gives the City the tools necessary to support the County, the State and city employees. Portland City Code—viewable at this link—describes the powers afforded the Mayor in a declared State of Emergency.

Here are the latest actions the City is specifically taking:

During the State of Emergency, water service will not be disconnected for non-payment of sewer/stormwater/water bills.

We will convene a COVID-19 Economic Impact Task Force to generate ideas for a stimulus package to help small and large businesses recoup losses from canceled events and loss of business.

We are expanding community hygiene stations citywide.

We are assisting shelter providers to keep winter shelters open.

We are protecting the thousands of city employees and its visitors by postponing or canceling non-essential work gatherings.

We are stopping non-essential travel for meetings and conferences and encouraging vulnerable employees to stay home for as long as they need to.

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