This morning, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown told reporters she's not planning on mandating a statewide "shelter in place" order to slow the spread of COVID-19.
After speaking to pubic health officials Wednesday evening, Brown said, she believed the state's "current focus should be on communicating the social distancing measures" that are already in place.
The City of Portland, however, is prepared to take swifter action.
The city's already drafted an emergency ordinance directing Portlanders to shelter in place—or, stay in their home and away from others as much as possible during the city's state of emergency tied to COVID-19. The ordinance is loosely based on shelter in place rules instituted by San Francisco on Tuesday.
"We are planning for multiple contingencies because we need to be," says Sonia Schmanski, deputy chief of staff for Mayor Ted Wheeler.
On Wednesday evening, local public health officials told Wheeler and County Chair Deborah Kafoury that the order was not yet necessary. But, Schmanski says, the city's prepared for that guidance to change.
"This situation changes hour by hour, and we cannot afford to not be ready if we need to act," Schmanski says. "We continue to look to state and county public health officials for guidance on possible measures."
If the city does announced a shelter in place directive, that wouldn't mean Portlanders couldn't leave their homes.
"Shelter in place order is not a lockdown," says Schmanski. "It means if you don’t have to be out, don't be out. All kinds of activity and businesses are still allowed. Walk your dog, go for a run, go take care of your mom if you need to, go to grocery store, go get gas—just please don’t have a big party."
In a tweet previewing the proposed ruling, Wheeler explained that the order wouldn't apply to "essential" businesses like, "hospitals, grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks, farms, gas stations, auto repair shops, hardware stores, banks [and] credit unions, dry cleaners, delivery services, take-out, manufacturing," and others.
Schmanski says other Oregon cities and jurisdictions have requested copies of Portland's draft ordinance in hopes of replicating the ruling when needed. But the city's hoping a larger jurisdiction—whether that's the federal, state, or county governments—will take the lead on this decision, to ensure it covers more than just people living inside Portland's city limits.
"We hope additional measures are coordinated and led by our jurisdictional partners," Schmanski says. "We feel urgent."