People Pack the Oregon Coast Despite Warnings to Stay Home

The governor directed Oregonians to remain at home in a March 20 press conference but declined to order them to do so.

Cannon Beach webcam on March 21, 2020.

On Friday night, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown pleaded with citizens to stay home. Today, many of them went to the beach.

Oregon is attempting to stem the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, which threatens to overwhelm hospitals. More than 137 people have tested positive for the virus, even though the state is conducting few tests. Four people have died.

The governor directed Oregonians to remain at home in a March 20 press conference but declined to order them to do so and didn't clearly say if she would issue such an order. Mayor Ted Wheeler said he would order Portlanders to stay home, but not until Monday, March 23.

It appears many Portlanders—anxious and jobless after an unprecedented shutdown of bars and restaurants—took that as a cue to enjoy one last hurrah on the Oregon Coast.

Images on coastal webcams and on social media show big crowds at Cannon Beach, Pacific City and other coastal destinations.

Traffic along Highway 26 resembles that on a summer holiday weekend.

The mayor of Warrenton, Ore., told KPTV he wants tourists to go home and fears the limited medical resources on the coast can't handle an outbreak.

Asked for comment on the crowds by WW, the governor's spokesman Charles Boyle reiterated a call for people to stay home.

"We are urging all Oregonians to stay home as much as possible, avoid gatherings larger than 10 people, and to maintain proper social distancing in grocery stores and other public settings," Boyle said. "Doing so will save lives and prevent further economic impacts to Oregon families and businesses. As the governor mentioned at last night's press conference, additional guidance on this will be forthcoming soon."

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler decried the coast trips.

In related news, doctors treating the worst cases of COVID-19 say their patients look like near-drowning victims.

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.