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Good morning, Portland! We're having a rough time of it here on planet Earth right now, but I'm still trying to count my blessings each day. At the top of the list today is this hauntingly beautiful musical performance from former Mercury Thorns correspondent Erin Jean O'Regan:
Thanks, Erin! Okay, here are the coronavirus headlines.
• Portland elected officials are reportedly considering a shelter in place policy, similar to the one currently in effect in the San Francisco Bay Area.
• Our own Alex Zielinski spoke with several local healthcare workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis.
Public Service Announcement:
Behold, perhaps the Mercury's most important public service ever... a complete list of Portland's cannabis dispensaries THAT DELIVER.https://t.co/KnH4rqQuaH— Portland Mercury 🗞 (@portlandmercury) March 18, 2020
• Multnomah County is scaling back its policing, jail capacity, and court activity to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. In related news:
The Multnomah County Circuit Court said there is no way to accommodate social distancing in the courtroom for Jeremy Christian’s sentencing. https://t.co/l6sImTdSRK— OPB (@OPB) March 19, 2020
• In case you missed it: I spoke with several Portland daycare workers about the difficult position the pandemic puts them in—and why they disagree with how Gov. Kate Brown is handling it.
• Brown has ordered Oregon colleges and universities to transition to online-only classes until at least April 28.
• Valuable content from OPB: Yes, you can still go on a hike during the pandemic (at least for now). Here's how you can do so safely.
• The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States has passed 10,000.
• Some hopeful news: China reported no new cases of the coronavirus yesterday, suggesting that the country's aggressive social distancing practices are working to contain the virus. Now, it's a question of how long the social distancing will need to last before there's a more permanent solution.
• The number of people applying for unemployment insurance in Oregon has surged by 3,200 percent, as more and more people are laid off due to COVID-19.
Well, the news is so overwhelming right now that I could keep typing an endless stream of bulleted items about COVID-19, and half of them would probably be outdated by the time I published this! But I'll stop here for now, and remind you that you can get even more updates from the Mercury's daily coronavirus news roundup.
Here are the headlines that are somehow not directly related to the coronavirus.
• Today is the first day of spring! That's weird, and not just for the reasons you're thinking—this is apparently the earliest first day of spring since 1896.
• Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has dropped out of the 2020 presidential race and endorsed Joe Biden. In my mind, Tulsi Gabbard will always be primarily associated with this absolutely hilarious roundup of presidential merch by Mercury legend Erik Henriksen. Read it if you want a laugh from simpler times, and by "simpler times" I mean "two and a half weeks ago."
Sentence of the Day: "Anyway, I was walking around when I saw a 7-Eleven... and I was like, 'Damn. I could really go for a 'mental health Jalapeño Cream Cheese Taquito' right now."