The liberal governors who run Washington and Oregon passed rulings this week that it is unlawful for any gather of 250 people or more to take place. Besides being a questionable infringement on 1st Amendment rights, it remains unclear how exactly this new executive order will be enforced. There are exemptions to the new law.
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Oregon Gov. Kate Brown tonight banned large gatherings in Oregon, cancelled all school athletic events, and advised as many people as possible to avoid in-person work meetings, to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
The governor banned events of more than 250 people—a cap that will cancel St. Patrick’s Day events, rock concerts and athletic tournaments. The ban is effective immediately and lasts four weeks.
Schools remain open. But she cancelled all non-essential school activities, including parent-teacher meetings, field trips and competitions. (As of Thursday night, Portland Public Schools was still planning on holding athletic events, but denying audience admission.) Brown recommended offices limit close contact between workers, and suggested staggered working schedules.
Brown also expanded the state’s testing capabilities so outpatient clinicians can order COVID-19 tests through a commercial lab without needing authorization from the Oregon Health Authority. In addition, the state now has agreements with five hospital systems to conduct tests for coronavirus.
The governor announced the limit on crowds and increased testing capacity in written form tonight and will explain her decision at a press conference Thursday morning.
Meanwhile, a similar decree was ordered in Washington. Seattle Weekly reports:
All events with more than 250 people in King County will be prohibited following orders from state and local officials on March 11 in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Gov. Jay Inslee announced at a press conference Wednesday morning that all events larger than 250 attendees will be banned in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties through the end of March. He said it will likely be extended beyond that.
It applies to all social gatherings, including church events, concerts and sporting events.
In addition, events smaller than 250 attendees will also be prohibited in King County unless organizers can meet certain criteria for social distancing and COVID-19 screening. County Executive Dow Constantine said he had directed the county’s Public Health Officer Jeff Duchin to sign the measure authorizing the restrictions. The orders went into effect on March 11 and there is no specific end date.
Inslee’s order includes religious events.
Oregon officials are on blast for their pathetic response to the virus, at first testing only 10 to 15 people a day despite the capacity to test 80. Now they’re up to 40 a day, despite $20 Million in federal funds available. In fact, state senate president Peter Courtney had previously asked Governor Brown if the legislature needed to do anything about the virus, and Brown told him no. Twice.
MEANWHILE, officials in Portland are bracing for the epidemic to sweep through the massive homeless population. What else do they expect when their policies result in mass homelessness and drug addiction?