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.”

A deserted Pioneer Courthouse Square on March 16, 2020. (Justin Katigbak)

Mayor Ted Wheeler's communications director, Eileen Park, tells WW that Wheeler is prepared to move forward with a shelter in place order whether or not Multnomah County and the state of Oregon are prepared to join him.

"We will move forward if the state and county do not act, but we are hopeful they will," Park said in an email.

Her comments came in response to questions whether concerns expressed by the Portland Business Alliance about such an order were causing the mayor to pause.

"We hear and respect the input of the Portland Business Alliance, but we must act with public health in mind first," Park said.

Wheeler first floated the idea of issuing a shelter in place order on Wednesday, following the imposition of such an order in the San Francisco Bay Area. But at that time, Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury and Gov. Kate Brown declined to join him. Since then, California Gov. Gavin Newsom has extended the shelter in place order to cover his entire state.

"Slowing the spread of COVID-19 is the mayor's first priority for the protection of public health," Park said. "The sooner we can stop the spread, the faster businesses can be back up and running. He is talking around the clock with public health experts, businesses and hospitals about his shelter in place consideration—many of whom are in support of it."

Park said she couldn't specify when Wheeler would act but said it will be "soon."

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