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Oregon leaders drafting ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ policy

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler Gov. Kate Brown 320
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown speak to reporters March 20 about social distancing, urging people to stay home amid COVID-19 outbreak

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Multnomah County Commission Chair Deborah Kafoury said Friday evening they are working on a policy directing Oregonians to “Stay Home and Stay Healthy,” to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

“This is not a lockdown. This will be a 'stay at home unless it’s absolutely necessary' order,” Wheeler said, adding that people can still walk their dog, go to the pharmacy, grocery store and get takeout.

The officials said at a news conference livestreamed on YouTube they would draft the specifics over the weekend and would provide more details on Monday.

California and New York have enacted similar, more stringent social distancing measures, and Illinois took its own action Friday.

Brown has already ordered a six-week statewide school closure, a ban on gatherings of over 25 people and shutdown of bar and restaurant operations other than takeout and delivery for at least four weeks.

"None of this is easy," Brown said. "But there is still time for all of us to make a difference. We all need to stay home to stay healthy."

The governor at first called it "both an order and a public awareness campaign." But later, while saying it's "important Oregonians take this seriously" to save lives, she told reporters there had been enough direction given on the issue.

"We have not been planning any additional statewide orders and directives" on the matter, Brown said, though more are planned on issues such as housing issues amid the crisis.

The Oregon Health Authority has reported 114 COVID-19 cases and three deaths.

“We all see the storm is coming, but we have time to change is course, Brown said Friday night. ”Social distancing, done well and done early, saves lives.”

Brown said earlier Friday that she wants a statewide eviction moratorium, to suspend enforcement on expired automobile tabs and driver licenses and has asked the federal government for a one-year extension for compliance the REAL ID Act.

For most people, coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus.

Brown’s REAL ID request would give a one-year extension to the current Oct. 1 deadline for the state to meet the REAL ID requirements. REAL ID is the federal law requiring state driver’s licenses and ID cards to have security enhancements and to be issued to people who can prove they are legally in the United States. It was passed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to strengthen rules for identification needed at airports and federal facilities.

Article Topic Follows: Oregon-Northwest

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