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COVID-19 Updates from Mayor Wheeler

Mayor Wheeler standing at a podium during a press conference.

May 26, 2020
What You Need to Know Right Now

Over the Memorial Day weekend, you may have noticed more retail stores and State Parks reopening in our region and across the state. With the summer season coming and warmer weather ramping up, I can’t stress enough how important it is that you follow public health guidance and pay attention to the status and protocols set for each county.


Governor Kate Brown has already approved most counties to slowly re-open under her guidance for building a resilient, safe and strong Oregon.

Our partners at Multnomah County say they plan on applying for reopening soon.

There are many public health factors to consider before Multnomah County applies for Phase 1. As the largest city in the most populous county, I want you to know that our main objective is to slow the spread of COVID-19 and save lives. To be eligible for Phase 1, Multnomah County must meet the following criteria including:

  • Declining prevalence of COVID-19
  • Testing regimen
  • Contact tracing system
  • Isolation facilities
  • Sufficient health care capacity
  • Sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE)

The status of Multnomah County and other counties can change in the weeks ahead.

For now, Multnomah County and Washington County are still considered baseline counties. What does that mean? The Governor's office explains here.

In the meantime, I want to break down what’s happening in Portland and what to expect.

What’s Open in Baseline Counties

  • Grocery stores, pharmacies, banks and credit unions, and gas stations are all open.
  • Restaurants are open for take-out service only.
  • Stand-alone retail operations are open provided they meet required safety and physical distancing guidelines. Indoor and outdoor malls are closed.
  • Local outdoor recreation activities are open, including many state parks.
  • Non-emergency medical care, dentist offices and veterinary care facilities are open and operating, provided they meet required safety guidelines.
  • Local cultural, civic and faith gatherings are allowed for up to 25 people provided physical distancing can be in place.
  • Local social gatherings over 10 people are prohibited and those under 10 people must use physical distancing (6 feet or more).
  • Personal care services such as salons and barbers, as well as gyms, are closed.
  • Childcare facilities are open under certain restrictions, with priority placements for children of health care workers, first responders, and frontline workers.
  • Overnight camps at State Parks are not permitted. Day camps are open with restrictions, including maximum stable groups of 10 or fewer children.
  • For summer school, limited in-person, small group instruction and/or summer programming is allowed, with certain restrictions.

Are Restaurants Open?
Restaurants in Baseline counties are open for take-out service only. Restaurants in approved Phase 1 counties must ensure tables are spaced at least six feet apart, require all employers to wear cloth face coverings, and end on-site consumption by 10 pm.

Can I Visit a Salon or Barbershop?
Personal care services (salons, day spas, nail salons, tanning salons, tattoo/piercing salons, facials spas, barbershops and gyms) are closed in Portland and other baseline counties. Businesses in approved Phase 1 counties must ensure every client is healthy before each appointment, maintain a customer log, maintain physical distancing between clients, and require face coverings by employees and clients.

Can I have a birthday party?
Under the Baseline guidance, local social gatherings over 10 people are prohibited and those under 10 people must use physical distancing. Under Phase 1 guidance, limit local gatherings to 25 with no traveling.

Can I go to the gym?
Gyms in Portland and other Baseline counties are closed. Gyms in approved Phase 1 counties are allowed to open, but they must limit maximum number of customers accordingly and enforce physical distancing & sanitation.

Portland sign

As tempting as it may sound to storm the coast or State Parks, remember that many individuals can be asymptomatic, meaning they can carry the virus without exhibiting symptoms. Visiting other parts of the state can spread the virus. Please don’t take that risk and travel too far from home. If you must, we encourage you to wear a cloth face covering.

We are seeing light at the end of the tunnel, but we’re not there yet.

Hang in there.

May 20, 2020
We Are Portland

At a time of great heartache for many of our neighbors, what I have seen over and over again, is a city that banded together and looked past our differences to support one another.

In the last few months, I have been on Zoom calls and meetings with thousands of you. I’ve heard every single feedback. I’ve heard every single concern and expression of gratitude. My fellow commissioners have as well.

That’s why we drafted this resolution, to communicate our collective values.

Today, Portland City Council unanimously adopted a resolution on our resilience values. As we begin to map out longer-term actions to help Portland, we believe we will emerge from this crisis even stronger than we were before the pandemic hit.

This resolution states the Council’s intent to use every public dollar to achieve long-term goals and leverage other funding and financing sources, while simultaneously centering the City’s climate and equity goals.

The text of the resolution is available here.

This resolution affirms and enshrines existing community-driven values that will remain a top priority through our COVID-19 response work and longer-term recovery. It is a values framework that will serve as a benchmark to guide us in every decision we make going forward.

This resolution is possible because of our community partners’ hard work to turn our deeply held values of climate action, environmental health, civil rights protections and equity, into City-adopted resolutions, Ordinances and Plans. Examples of what this resolution accomplishes include:

  • Outlines City Council's role in the COVID-19 response, linking the ECC and other Bureau efforts with City Council in a public hearing setting;
  • Aligns City Council's COVID-19 response with City Council's adopted values and goals in existing plans and policies;
  • Clarifies outcomes that Council wants to see in the COVID-19 response (equity and climate change, in particular);
  • Adopts a citywide COVID-19: Equity Toolkit;
  • Creates an expectation of a regular, public update to Council about the City's COVID-19 response; and
  • Fosters hope and social cohesion to co-create a more just, secure and resilient Portland with community- and mission-based organizations and Portland residents.

We created a social media toolkit here. Please help us share the word.

The resolution is the culmination of feedback from many of our community partners since COVID-19 hit Portland. These values reaffirm our collective beliefs and the resolution will be the framework in which we make every major decision on resilience, response, and investments in our community.

It is vitally important that as we better understand the economic impact and the needs of our community in the years ahead, we don’t lose sight of our values.

That is what this resolution does.

And from this space, we move and lead.

I hope you are all safe and healthy.

Thank you for your helping keep us all safe. Thank you for your incredible patience and resolve during this time.

This is our city, this is our home, and we will come out of this stronger and more resilient. 

May 11, 2020
Addressing the Digital Divide Work Group

As part of Prosper Portland’s Economic Recovery Task Force, we launched an Addressing the Digital Divide Work Group to tackle the disadvantage of those living in Portland with limited access to the Internet or a computer. The goal is to overcome the lack of digital connectivity in frontline communities and to help local organizations support residents in need.

The Work Group recently launched a technology distribution program. As an initial pilot, they are providing 100 “technology kits” – a donated device, software, internet connection, and training – to community members in need. Community members will receive a technology kit through local non-profits and community organizations.

You can learn more about the first 10 frontline community-serving organizations selected as initial partners in the technology distribution program in the Work Group's latest article.

You can also learn more background about this important work, how to access connectivity resources, and find out how to donate or become involved on the project website, by emailing, or by calling (503) 823-2005.

May 8, 2020

Mayor Wheeler's Proposed Budget

Thursday, I released my Proposed Budget for FY 2020-21.

Uncertainty around the financial impacts of the COVID-19 crisis remains high.

The City Budget Office initially forecasted a $75 million reduction in the City’s General Fund revenue for FY 2020-21.

But there’s hopeful news.

We found a way to reduce that gap by nearly 90% by identifying millions in savings from City reserves, set-asides, pulling back on underspending, and pushing pause on a few programs.

Read More

May 6, 2020
Select Oregon Parks Reopen Today

Governor Kate Brown announced she will allow some outdoor recreation areas, including ski resorts and a few state parks, to reopen May 6. No dates for reopening high density parks along the Columbia Gorge have been announced. According to Oregon State Parks, the following park are open for limited daytime service:

  • Tryon Creek in Portland
  • Willamette Mission north of Keizer
  • Mongold boat ramp at Detroit Lake
  • State Capitol State Park in Salem
  • The Cove Palisades boat ramp at Lake Billy Chinook near Culver
  • Prineville Reservoir boat ramp near Prineville
  • Joseph Stewart boat ramp on Lost Creek Lake near Shady Cove
  • Pilot Butte to pedestrians (no vehicles) in Bend

Limited day-use will slowly return to other state parks starting the week of May 11 based on the readiness of the community around the park to welcome visitors, and how prepared the park is with staff, supplies, and equipment. State parks will open and close with little advance notice. Updates will be posted online at You can also call 800-551-6949 (Mon-Fri, 8a-5p) to check the status of the park before visiting. 

May 4, 2020
Governor Kate Brown Outlines  Framework to Reopening Oregon

On Friday, May 1st, Governor Brown introduced her framework for reopening Oregon and emphasized that physical distancing “will remain a part of our daily lives until we have the security of a vaccine or treatment for this disease” and that Oregon will not be able to open quickly.  

Below is a summary of Oregon’s plan to stop the spread of COVID-19 and to prepare the state for reopening:

Expand Testing

Oregon has more tests available than previously. This will allow for more widespread testing in Oregon. There are 2 goals for testing.  

Goal #1: Test more people living in Oregon for COVID-19 based on new testing guidelines.

  • Test people who are at higher risk for COVID-19 such as workers who provide direct care and essential front-line workers.
  • Test anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19.  

Goal #2: Use all available resources in Oregon so that more people are tested for COVID-19.

  • We will make sure to find and use all resources that Oregon has available for testing. More details on this plan are available on the strategic testing plan.
  • Hospital labs in Oregon will act as one statewide system which will allocate resources to meet the state’s testing needs in every region.
  • OHSU is partnering with OHA to conduct randomized, widespread testing in Oregon. The program is called “Be the Key.” Oregonians may be contacted to be a part of this study. 

Trace: Identify and Investigative More Cases

  • To significantly slow the spread, we have to find as many people who have been exposed to the virus as possible. We can do this through something called “broad contact tracing.”
  • This broad contact tracing must begin prior to easing physical distancing measures. • More information on the plan for contact tracing can be found here.


  • Public health will ask everyone who tests positive to isolate while they are contagious, even if they don’t have symptoms. For this plan to work, public health must support people the entire time they are in isolation. Case management will be available for people who need help while isolating or quarantining.  
  • Detailed information on the plan to isolate and quarantine is available on the COVID-19 Strategic Testing Plan for Oregon document. 

Information on the plan to reopen Oregon including guidance for healthcare providers is available on the OHA COVID-19 News webpage.  

April 30, 2020

Safe & Strong

Immigrant communities and households who speak multiple languages have been most impacted by health disparities with culturally relevant, linguistically responsive resources. To meet the needs of these communities, Oregon Healthy Authority (OHA) launched Safe + Strong public awareness campaign, including a COVID website with tools and resources in 12 languages. OHA launched a new Facebook page exclusively in Spanish, called OHA en Español to meet the needs of Spanish speaking Oregonians.

More News

What is the City of Portland doing?

We are aggressively protecting our City employees by limiting gatherings and advising workers to work remotely where possible.

As of today, city meetings and events of over 25 people will be cancelled. This will also affect City Council meetings. Council meetings will follow best “social distancing” practices.

We are also working to help small and large employers recoup losses from cancelled events.

The Mayor directed a City team to generate ideas for a stimulus package. That team will work with Prosper Portland, the City’s economic development agency, to convene a COVID-19 task force to figure out how else we can help.

We are also coordinating closely with Multnomah County and our Joint Office of Homeless Services to take measures that protect our very vulnerable community members.

We placed hygiene stations throughout the community – portable toilets and handwashing stations – so that everyone has access to this critical health resource.

We’ve committed necessary funds to keep winter shelters open so we don’t lose capacity as we work to give each person in a shelter more space. We are also funding motel vouchers for our most vulnerable neighbors.

How You Can Stay Healthy

Soapy hands under a running water faucet.
  1. Wash your hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds.
  2. Cover your sneezes and coughs with a flexed elbow or tissue.
  3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  4. Sanitize objects and surfaces you touch often.
  5. Stay home if you feel sick.

Posters and fact sheets from the Multnomah County Health Department are available here.

Locations and information about emergency hand washing stations can be found here.

COVID-19 Facts

  • COVID-19 causes mild to severe illness in the lungs. People who are ill with the virus generally have a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. (Source: CDC fact sheet)
  • The best way to protect yourself is to avoid exposure to the virus. Older adults and those with chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, should consider postponing nonessential travel to areas affected by COVID-19. (Source: NPR)
  • We know that businesses owned by Asian-Americans are hurting right now due to unfounded fears, stigmas, and misinformation. Now is the time to show our support for them.

The CDC predicts widespread transmission could occur. The case count may increase, but there are ways for you and your family to be prepared and stay healthy.

Resources for Business Owners, Employees and Households