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The Chairs of Three Metro-Area Counties and the Metro Council Urge a Statewide Stay-Home Order

Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas county leaders join mayors of the state’s largest cities in pushing Gov. Kate Brown to act.

The drumbeat of public officials calling for a statewide order for Oregonians to stay in their homes and observe strict social distancing grew louder Sunday morning.

The chairs of the three metro-area counties wrote to Gov. Kate Brown urging her to follow the lead of governors in several other states and order her constituents to stay home. So did leaders of regional government Metro.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler began pushing for an order last week and other officials have joined him. Brown has been reluctant to issue such an order and said in a disjointed Friday night press conference she wasn't sure such a step was necessary.

But as the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic continues, other officials want the governor to raise the level of urgency in the direction she gives to citizens, many of whom still appear not to be taking the request to stay home seriously.

Here's what Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury, Clackamas County Chair Jim Bernard and Washington County Chair Kathryn Harrington wrote to Brown today.

"As the chairs of Washington, Clackamas and Multnomah counties, we represent more than 1.8 million residents—nearly half the population of the state of Oregon. We are home to five institutions of higher education, host the state's two major sporting teams, and are the home for the largest manufacturing plants in the state. We also are home to the state's largest port of entry, the major airports, as well as one of the largest and most productive agricultural centers," the three chairs wrote.

"But we are also home to the largest homeless population and, during the very best of times, have struggled to provide the services needed for the most vulnerable among us. During this crisis, we will need every tool available to us to serve our community's most vulnerable.

"That's why today, we have joined together to support the Metropolitan Mayors' Consortium letter dated March 21, 2020. We ask that you move boldly to protect the residents of this great state by issuing a clear Stay at Home, Stay Safe Executive Order."

All but one councilor on the seven-member Metro Council also called on Brown to act today. (Councilor Craig Dirksen didn't sign the letter.)

"We are asking you, please, to issue a Stay Home, Stay Healthy order that ensures maximum compliance with the isolate-at-home directive," the Metro councilors wrote. "Such an order should follow the lead of other states like California, New York, Illinois and Nevada, limiting travel, closing all but essential businesses, and ending public gatherings."

Brown, meanwhile, responded to the sight of bumper-to-bumper spring break traffic to the coast with a reprimand.

On Friday night, I asked all Oregonians, on the eve of spring break, to stay home and stay healthy,” she wrote on social media. “Unfortunately, our trails and beaches were packed this weekend. I want to be absolutely clear, you are endangering all Oregonians when not following social distancing orders.”

Early Sunday afternoon, Wheeler amped up his call for Brown to act: