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COVID-19 Risk Level for Multnomah County: Extreme Risk

News Release: City of Portland, Multnomah County join forces on COVID-19 safety public education campaign for Black, Latinx communities

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Portlanders are encouraged to be COVID Safe, Portland Strong in new campaign

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This is a picture of a Black woman from a public service announcement for COVID-19 safety, “This is What We’re Made of."
By Portland Bureau of Transportation and Multnomah County Public Health Department.

A public service announcement for COVID-19 safety, “This is What We’re Made of,” leads with a tribute to Black women. “Our women. The backbone of our community. Full of grit and grace. … Confident & Courageous... Regal and resilient … Strong and sustaining … Unapologetic and unbound. This is who we are... for our families our communities and you.” By Portland Bureau of Transportation and Multnomah County Public Health Department.

See and share the video: “This is What We’re Made of”

(Jan. 12, 2020) The City of Portland and Multnomah County today announced a public education campaign intended to help reduce the disparate impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on Black and Latinx communities.

In Multnomah County, about 60% of the people infected with COVID-19 are Black, Indigenous, or people of color (BIPOC), while only comprising 30% of the population. Many of the populations affected are immigrants, many of whom work in jobs that put them at higher risk for exposure. Most community members who have died of COVID-19 lived with chronic health conditions that occur at far higher rates among people who are Black.

The city and county have conducted extensive public education and outreach about pandemic safety measures, but wanted to go even further to address the disparate impact the virus is having on communities of color.

The campaign includes three coordinated public education efforts:

  • Public Service Announcements: Three videos already airing on local TV stations, and released today on YouTube, showcase members of Portland's Black and Latinx communities. Black and Latinx city and county staff leading equity and inclusion and culturally specific programs helped develop the content alongside Black-owned businesses, in order to engage with and elevate BIPOC community members in a culturally appropriate way. These videos center Black women and a Latinx family, calling for everyone to join together in taking the steps necessary to keep everyone safe. 
  • Take the Pledge! A Community Call to Action: The COVID Safe, Portland Strong pledge starts today with a video from the Portland Trail Blazers on Facebook and Twitter. The online pledge asks people to commit to wearing masks and practice physical distancing, among other safety measures. 
  • Carrie Mae Weems:Resist COVID / Take 6! – In partnership with the Portland Art Museum, a public awareness campaign by internationally renowned artist and Portland native Carrie Mae Weems highlights the disparity caused by existing inequalities and thanks frontline workers for their service and sacrifices during the pandemic. The campaign extended the exhibit with a series of billboards in East Portland and East Multnomah County, where there are high concentrations of people of color and low-income workers. A presentation on the exterior of the Portland Art Museum and NW Film Center buildings is running this month and next month. 
This photo shows a banner from the Resist COVID campaign that says "thank you" to frontline workers, mounted on the side of the art museum building downtown
Photo courtesy Portland Art Museum.

On the walls of the Portland Art Museum (pictured above) and Northwest Film Center, and on billboards all over town, a prominent artist’s messages are harnessing public art to protect public health. The Portland Bureau of Transportation is proud to partner with the Portland Art Museum, Multnomah County Health Department and other community partners in Resist COVID / Take 6!, a campaign harnessing public art for public health. The title Take 6! refers to the recommended six feet of separation in physical distancing. Photo courtesy Portland Art Museum.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have challenged ourselves as a city and a community to overcome longstanding disparities caused by systemic racism,” Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said. “I am grateful to our teams of Black leaders among city and county staff who developed this campaign. This is a great example of how we, as a city government, must continue to push ourselves to be more creative and innovative in reaching community members who have been underserved by traditional government programs.” 

“As the local public health authority, Multnomah County has long worked to address the inequities in access to healthcare that have led to disproportionately worse outcomes among people of color throughout this pandemic,” Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury said. “Those inequities are unacceptable, they have devastating consequences, and I am excited to see the county and city working together to make sure everyone has equitable access to services and information that can help save lives.”

This photo shows a Black woman putting a mask on her child, in a video public service announcement
By Portland Bureau of Transportation and Multnomah County Public Health Department.

A public service announcement for COVID-19 safety, “See Me,” honors the work of frontline healthcare workers and calls for the public to follow public health guidance: “This is my every day now since COVID. Less time with my kids. Worried about my patients. But I gotta keep fighting. To protect all of you. Can I count on you to protect us?" By Portland Bureau of Transportation and Multnomah County Public Health Department.

See and share the video: "See Me"

“With this campaign, the city and county are putting their equity commitments into action,” City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty said. “This campaign elevates the voices and presence of Black women and centers our attention on the longstanding leadership of Black women in our community. I’m glad to see the city and county use these federal dollars to create jobs in our local community and public health programing that goes beyond the usual ways we provide services. Join me in taking the pledge to be COVID Safe, Portland Strong.” 

The campaign was guided by ubuntu, a Nguni Bantu philosophy with deep roots in Southern Africa. Popularized by South African President Nelson Mandela, ubuntu is often translated as “I am because we are” or “humanity towards others.” 

Black Bald Films LLC, a state of Oregon certified minority-owned video production company, produced the campaign and hired local talent.

“As a Black-owned and operated company, we’re so grateful for the opportunity to help our community in this public health crisis,” said Dru Holley, senior producer with Black Bald. “We are inspired by the Black women in our lives. We hope that this campaign elevates and inspires more people to live up to the promise of ubuntu, that we all share a common bond as humans and need to take care of each other.” 

This photo from a public service announcement video shows a woman wearing a mask while looking at her grandson's phone from a 6 foot distance
By Portland Bureau of Transportation and Multnomah County Public Health Department.

A public service announcement for COVID-19 safety, “Mi Abuela,” honors Latinx families and calls for the public to follow public health guidance: “Mi Abuela...mi Corazon. In tough times families stick together. But COVID has made it hard to be together. She never asks for help... she's afraid… But I reassure her and connect her with helpful public services. Like free Covid testing, health care, food and bills assistance...for our community... ..and for our future.” By Portland Bureau of Transportation and Multnomah County Public Health Department.

See and share the video: "Mi Abuela" (My Grandmother) 

See "Mi Abuela" video en Español (Spanish)

The project was a natural extension of the equity and inclusion work performed by city and county staff in recent years.

The City of Portland adopted Racial Equity Goals + Strategies in 2015 and since then, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) has created new ways to address the historical concerns of Black Portlanders, immigrants and other populations who have traditionally been underserved by the transportation system. Focus groups, community grants and contracts, equity and anti-racist workforce training and a Transportation Justice Steering Committee have helped the bureau make progress on its goals to make our streets safer for everyone. Early in the pandemic, the city developed the Equity Toolkit for COVID-19 Community Relief + Recovery Efforts to guide the city’s pandemic response efforts and CARES Act funding allocations.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, PBOT began partnering with the Multnomah County’s Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) program to address chronic disease and support the health and safety of Black and African immigrant populations in Portland streets. The REACH program collaborates with the ACHIEVE Coalition and its multisectoral partners work collaboratively to implement its three primary strategies (Nutrition, Community Clinical Linkage, Physical Activity/Build Environment) and two cross-cutting strategies (Communications, Economic Development) to identify, design and implement communications, policy, systems, and environmental (CPSE) improvements, to redress chronic disease burden and disparities, among Black/African immigrant and refugees infants, youth, adults, and elders (from the cradle to the cane).

Led by the Public Health Division’s Chronic Disease Prevention & Health Promotion team and guided by the lens of racisms as a public health issue, the PBOT / REACH partnership evolved during the pandemic to support the culturally specific reopening strategies of Multnomah County’s Reopening Framework. A forthcoming element of this project includes a series of community videos focused on vaccine information for the Latinx community.

The project was funded by the federal CARES Act and employed many local workers and businesses that have been impacted by the pandemic. Filming took place along NE Alberta Street and compensated businesses for use of their space. It is estimated that over 100 people were employed by the project through various contractors, businesses and vendors. The city and county contributed staff time and have supported community partnerships and direct assistance programs throughout the pandemic.

A campaign toolkit will be available to community partners upon request, including language translations to support meaningful access and engagement. For more information and to request campaign materials in specific languages, contact PBOTEquityTeam@PortlandOregon.gov

Take the Pledge at PortlandStrong.org


See all the videos at PBOT's YouTube channel

This image shows public health advice, urging people to wear a mask, wash your hands and go to the Portland Strong website

Learn more about the city and county's response to the COVID-19 pandemic

For more information about the City of Portland’s response to COVID-19, see the city’s Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 website. Multnomah County is the city’s primary resource for public health information. Get public health information and guidance, resources, and updates regarding COVID-19 from the County’s website.


The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is the steward of the city’s transportation system, and a community partner in shaping a livable city. We plan, build, manage, and maintain an effective and safe transportation system that provides access and mobility. www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation