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.
These pictures are from my Facebook friends from back home in Pacific City, OR. No one canceled their plans for spring break. #stayhome #SocialDistancing #shelterinplace REPS: we need action - shut it down. @OregonGovBrown @duckwilde @RepPeterDeFazio @RonWyden @SenJeffMerkley pic.twitter.com/W42nJ6F1pX— Whitney Hoshaw (@whitneyt1) March 21, 2020
Traffic along Highway 26 resembles that on a summer holiday weekend.
My buddy took this time lapse video driving from the #OregonCoast to Portland today.— Morgan Romero TV (@MorganRomeroTV) March 21, 2020
In the middle of a pandemic, this doesn’t look like social distancing to me. pic.twitter.com/8VZJv1PvR6
@OregonGovBrown you really did the Oregon Coast a disservice yesterday stopping short of ‘shelter at home’ order. We have people FLOODING in from the valley and Washington. The rural health system here will become overwhelmed. #ActNow #StayAtHome #govonerkatebrown pic.twitter.com/zl8JpEUnxA— Todd Williams (@twilli77) March 21, 2020
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.
Just chatted with the mayor of Warrenton on the coast. He wants tourist to go home until this pandemic is over. He says they don’t have the medical resources of a big city to help if the virus shows up here. Says it is concerning to see a long line of traffic headed to the coast. pic.twitter.com/aha2PkDhUL— John Hendricks (@JohnKPTV) March 21, 2020
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.
Bumper to bumper traffic headed to the coast.— Mayor Ted Wheeler (@tedwheeler) March 21, 2020
Reports of block parties on streets.
I cannot stress this enough.#COVID19 continues to spread because people don't know they have it.
Please #StayAtHome to #FlattenTheCurve and #SlowTheSpread.https://t.co/PM20VojkYk
In related news, doctors treating the worst cases of COVID-19 say their patients look like near-drowning victims.