Oregonians are facing more than one problem as COVID-19 tensions are on the rise, according to a report in Oregon Live. The state is under a two week “freeze” as the state tries to get a handle on what they consider out of control virus increase.
Over 100 people from around the state drove to the Capitol in Salem Saturday, calling on Gov. Kate Brown to “stop the pause” regarding restrictions spurred by COVID-19, according to Oregon Live.
The ralliers, most of whom were not wearing masks according to the publication, gathered on the plaza across Court Street from the Capitol in the afternoon in 1-degree weather with signs like “Mask = Muzzle,” “Stuff your mandate” and “We will not comply.” Some held American, Trump, or “Don’t tread on me” flags on either side of the street, clutching hot beverages.
“The government … can’t decide what’s best for people,” said Joyce Stafford, who drove from Roseberg to participate. Others drove from Albany, Eugene, Springfield, and Corvallis. ”They can’t make unconstitutional mandates and expect people to follow them.”
The “freeze” came with a particularly divisive caveat, however, according to KGW8. Gov. Kate Brown said that she would encourage residents who find out their neighbors are violating the COVID-19 protocols, such as having no more than six people in their home, they should call the police.
“This is no different than what happens if there’s a party down the street and it’s keeping everyone awake,” Brown said in an interview Friday. “What do neighbors do [in that case]? They call law enforcement because it’s too noisy. This is just like that. It’s like a violation of a noise ordinance.”
While many Americans considered coronavirus restrictions to be in conflict with their constitutional rights, especially considering the actual death rates associated with the virus, as it’s reported at this time, Oregon’s rules are particularly restrictive.
“The statewide restrictions run from Nov. 18 through Dec. 2 and include Thanksgiving,” Oregon Live reported. “They limit restaurants to take-out only; close gyms, museums and outdoor recreational facilities; limit capacity at stores; and limit social get-togethers even in private homes.”
There are businesses that are defying the rule, however, including Courthouse Club Fitness and Flex Fitness who have said that they plan to keep their doors open.
“All freeze measures are enforceable by law, though many local agencies in the state have said they won’t take action,” Oregon Live reported. “While actions have previously been ‘self-enforced,’ a person can now be cited, fined or arrested if caught violating the order.”
Saturday’s event organizer, Geena Shipman of Springfield, said Brown may think she’s been successful in shutting down the state, but that’s not really the case. According to Shipman, having schools and businesses closed made no sense when places like Walmart remain open.
“Look, all of this is irresponsible,” Brown said in response to criticisms. “These are politicians seeking headlines, not public servants, trying to save lives. My top priority as governor is to keep Oregonians healthy and safe. That’s where I’m focused.”
“This is about saving lives and it’s about protecting our fellow Oregonians,” she said. “We have too many sporadic cases in Oregon. We can’t trace these cases to a particular source. We have to limit gatherings and social interactions.”
Shipman was unpressed, however. “What she says doesn’t matter to us,” Shipman said. She showed a mask she had in her pocket with the slogan “Dump Kate, Vote Trump” on it.
“I choose not to wear a mask,” Shipman said. “I’m a hugger. I’m at rallies all the time. If this so-called virus was as bad as they say it was, don’t you think I would have gotten it by now?”
And while Brown might have her own ideas about how the law should be enforced, at least one sheriff’s department isn’t here for it, opting instead to recommend personal responsibility to their residents:
“We recognize that we cannot arrest or enforce our way out of the pandemic, and we believe both are counterproductive to public health goals,” the Marion County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
“If you find yourself at a location where you are uncomfortable with the situation, we recommend you remove yourself from that area or situation.”