Governor tells Oregonians to 'stay home, stay healthy'

Gov. Kate Brown speaks to reporters during a press conference Friday. during which she said all Oregonians should "stay home, stay healthy," but stopped short of issuing an executive order.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown delivered a mixed message during a Friday night press conference, but officials indicated a form of “shelter-in-place” order would be issued after the weekend.

“I’m directing Oregonians tonight to stay home, stay healthy. It’s both an order and public health directive,” Brown said during a press conference with Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury at the Portland State Office Building.

However, when pressed by a reporter on the terms of the directive, Brown said, “At this point in time, I am not planning an additional statewide order or directive.”

The governor has faced increasing pressure in recent days to implement stricter policies for social distancing, as COVID-19 cases in the state have risen. Twenty-six positive cases were reported by the Oregon Health Authority on Friday - twice the number confirmed the previous day. Another 23 were reported Saturday, bringing the state's total to 137. 

The Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, the Oregon Public Health Association, and Oregon Health & Science University have all publicly urged the governor to issue a statewide order to shelter in place, which would prohibit travel other than for essential tasks, such as obtaining groceries or prescriptions or seeking medical services.

During Friday’s press conference, Wheeler indicated that such an order was in the works and likely would be announced March 23. The exact terms of that order are still being hammered out - it is not clear what businesses would be affected and whether it would apply to the entire state or just areas that have been hit hardest by the pandemic.

For several days, the Portland mayor has been crafting an order that would apply only to the city, which he said he would issue March 23, even if Brown fails to enact a new statewide measure.