The Time Is Now

Support local, independent reporting.

Help the city we love by joining Friends of Willamette Week.

SUPPORT WW

Murmurs: Oregon Ends Outdoor Mask Rule

In other news: Drazan will enter governor’s race.

OREGON ENDS OUTDOOR MASK RULE: Oregon Health Authority director Pat Allen announced the state has lifted its requirement that Oregonians wear masks outdoors, effective Nov. 23. The change comes as Oregon COVID-19 cases have fallen from a summer surge of the Delta variant. Oregon was the only state in the country with a statewide outdoor mask mandate still in effect wherever distancing was not possible. It remains one of five states with indoor mask mandates regardless of vaccination status. OHA officials declined to enumerate the set of circumstances under which they would end the indoor mandate, saying circumstances had to change, including fewer hospitalizations. But given several chances to list specifics, they declined, citing the uncertain nature of the pandemic, which could see positive developments, such as federal approval of a pill to fight COVID-19, or emerging dangers, such as new variants. “We don’t have an exact number,” says Allen. “I want to be clear, it’s not like we have an exact number that we’re keeping secret in OHA and not telling people.” The agency still recommends wearing a mask in crowded outdoor settings.

DRAZAN WILL ENTER GOVERNOR’S RACE: In a notable addition to the field of possible gubernatorial candidates, House Minority Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) has announced her intentions to enter the race in the coming weeks. Drazan is a well-respected legislator, known as an effective political strategist and a clear communicator. “Oregonians are ready for change,” Drazan said in a Nov. 22 statement. “They are tired of the backroom deals, the broken promises and the failed leadership. They are tired of our state consistently being in the national headlines for all the wrong reasons. Frankly, I am too.” An Oregon Republican hasn’t won the governor’s race since 1982. And state Sen. Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose), a moderate Democrat who’s raised $2.5 million running as an unaffiliated candidate, complicates the race for both Democrats and Republicans.

NIKE EXECUTIVE STEPS DOWN: Julia Brim Edwards, who parlayed a first career in Oregon politics into a high-level position at Nike and has been involved in nearly every significant state and local political issue for the past 17 years, is hanging up her spikes, according to multiple sources. In recent years, Brim Edwards worked closely with public employee unions to help lawmakers pass the 2019 Student Success Act, which will pump more than $1 billion a year into K-12 education. That hard-fought victory came after years of preparation and followed a decisive defeat of a similar concept, Measure 97, at the ballot box in 2016. Brim Edwards also played a central role in defeating Metro’s massive transportation tax in 2020. A member of the Portland Public Schools Board, Brim Edwards declined to comment about what she’ll do next, although friends say she plans to remain active on a variety of public issues. Nike did not respond by press deadline.

EYEWITNESS SAYS POLICE ATE PIZZA AT CRIME SCENE: Among the revelations in nearly 800 pages of grand jury transcripts pertaining to the April 16 shooting death of Robert Delgado by Portland Police Bureau Officer Zachary DeLong, one eyewitness described an unsettling scene: Police officers eating pizza within feet of Delgado’s uncovered body. During the first day of grand jury proceedings, an assistant attorney general asked witness David Hernandez to describe what he saw in the minutes after Delgado fell to the ground. “All of them standing around his body eating pizza,” Hernandez testified. “They were having a party on the car right next to his body.” Later, a grand juror asked Hernandez to elaborate on the “pizza party.” “They didn’t have no party favors or nothing,” Hernandez said, “but they had a pile of pizzas sitting on the hood and a lot of the officers were standing around eating pizza, leaving the body there uncovered for all the kids and everybody to see. It was just horrible.” PPB did not respond to WW’s request for comment. For a closer look at what happened in the minutes and hours after Delgado’s death, check out wweek.com.