COVID-19 coronavirus shuts down outer East Portland

Stay home: It’s the law (or at least, an Executive Order). See the response to this by the Portland Police Bureau, and others. You’ll also find valuable resources …

This illustration, provided by the United States Center for Disease Control, is the only way to see this “hidden enemy”, which potentially affects all who live and work in outer East Portland. It’s called the Novel COVID-19 coronavirus.

By David F. Ashton

Starting off, to stay up to date, here’s a link to the webpage being maintained by the Oregon Health Authority regarding Novel COVID-19 coronavirus: CLICK HERE.

And, to see which organizations are closed, and which activities have been canceled or postponed, see our sometimes-hourly updated East Portland News Community Calendar: CLICK HERE.

While there was waffling late last week about issuing a “Stay at Home Order” statewide, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler had no such reservations.

Vetting a city-wide draft “Stay at Home Order”, Wheeler said, “This is a fast-moving pandemic; we want to stay ahead of the virus and are planning for every contingency.

“On matters of social distancing and other public health measures, we are in very close consultation with public health and medical experts and are relying on their guidance,” Wheeler said. “We are working on further social distancing measures, including a directive to community members to stay at home except for essential purposes.”

At a press conference, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler advocates for “social distancing measures”, including staying home. City of Portland image

After medical officials and county chairs – and then 25 city mayors in Oregon – had called on her to do so, on March 21, Oregon Governor Kate Brown (D) issued Executive Order 20-12 – to “Stay at Home” – on May 23. To see a PDF file of that document, CLICK HERE.

Police on the lookout for violators

Portland Police Bureau Chief Jami Resch speaks with neighbors at a meeting. East Portland News archive image

“The Portland Police Bureau (PPB) continues to focus on an ‘education-first’ strategy for the Governor’s Executive Orders,” said PPB Chief Jami Resch at a press conference this week.

“Our officers are not stopping people to inquire about where they are going or demanding paperwork proof of employment, as the rumors indicate,” Resch remarked. “But we are in a critical time in our collective fight to mitigate the dangerous risk this virus poses to our community.

“Our primary focus is on responding to calls for service and keeping the public safe. We will continue to enforce traffic laws, because the violation of traffic laws is a public safety priority; fifty-four individuals died in traffic-related incidents in Portland last year.”

Portland Police officers will be “educating” members of the public, especially those who may not be aware of the order, about the importance of compliance. The Bureau’s response strategy is as follows:

  • Officers will attempt to educate violators of the order first, from a distance, in accordance with the six-foot social distancing guidelines. Every effort will be made to gain voluntary compliance with the Governor’s order and provide a warning.
  • If community members do not adhere to the officer’s direction, they are subject to criminal citation for Interfering with a Police Officer-ORS 162.247 and Penalties for violation of the executive order-ORS 401.990, which are misdemeanors. Issuing a criminal citation is a last-resort measure, and “the public is highly encouraged to be aware of the order and voluntarily comply”.
  • If businesses are not in compliance, they will also be provided a warning, and an opportunity to get into compliance, officers will write a report and those will be sent to any appropriate licensing agency, such as the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

“We ask that community members to refrain from calling 9-1-1 and overloading the emergency system with non-emergency calls for service,” requested Police Chief Resch.

The PPB has dedicated a portion of its website to information about the COVID-19 coronavirus – CLICK HERE to open it.

Violators just might possibly be prosecuted

“Executive Order” violators may be subject to prosecution, says Multnomah County District Rod Underhill. MCDAO image

Under Oregon law, the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office, representing the State, has the authority to – and may – prosecute any individual or business that violates any Executive Order signed by the Governor.

“A person or business that knowingly violates an Executive Order of the Governor could be charged with a Class C misdemeanor,” District Attorney Rod Underhill commented. “If a case is submitted to our office alleging a violation of any Executive Order of the Governor, the State – through the District Attorney’s Office – will review the case for legal sufficiency, as we would with any case submitted to our office by law enforcement.

“The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office expects individuals and businesses to fully comply with the spirit of the order, so that law enforcement can focus on the vital needs of our community during this public health emergency,” Underhill continued.

“The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office supports law enforcement taking steps to educate the public, to provide warnings in an effort to gain voluntary compliance, and to issue criminal citations only as a last resort.”

© 2020 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™


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