Editor’s note: Due to the rapidly changing situation around COVID-19, the Daily Emerald is now preparing weekly summaries of all COVID-19 coverage. Stories are organized chronologically by the date they were first published. This list does not include sports nor opinion coverage
An executive order issued by Gov. Kate Brown on March 23 made it a misdemeanor to leave one’s home for non-essential reasons. Essential services such as grocery stores, pharmacies and restaurants (take-out or delivery only) remain open, but malls, barbershops, gyms and other businesses have been ordered closed.
Brown cited busy public beaches and parks as one reason for the order; despite Brown’s March 20 statement saying, “stay home, stay healthy,” Oregonians congregated in public over the weekend.
Gov. Kate Brown issued an executive order on March 22 that put a temporary halt to all residential evictions for not paying rent. The order cited “a significant economic downturn” and public health concerns if Oregonians were not allowed to isolate within their homes.
The moratorium came after shutdowns across many industries as a result of social distancing to combat the spread of COVID-19. Unemployment insurance claims surged from 800 on March 15 to 18,500 on March 17 according to an Oregon Employment Department press release.
Lane County Public Health announced two more confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Lane County at a March 21 press briefing. One case was of a Eugene 4J school district bus driver who had come into contact with as many as 300 students between March 10 and 11. Though LCPH did not believe any of the children had been exposed to the virus, they nonetheless reached out to families.
The fourth case was that of a woman in her 70s who was admitted to PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center on March 19 and tested for COVID-19 the same day.
UO PhD student Curtis Dlouhy was among a group of Americans due to fly home from Quito, Ecuador on March 18 when their flight was cancelled. The next flight from Quito to the United States through Avianca, the airline they had booked, was scheduled for April 1.
The cancellation came as the U.S. State Department advised Americans not to travel internationally and that those abroad should return “unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period.”
Ultimately, with the help of Dlouhy’s Nebraska representative, Dlouhy, his partner and six other Americans found a chartered flight to Miami for $42,000.
“Stay home, stay healthy” was Gov. Kate Brown’s message to Oregonians at a March 20 press conference. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said the message was not a “shelter in place” order; people were still allowed to go to the doctor, grocery store and to go outside.
At the time, Brown announced she was not planning to make a statewide order, though such orders had already been issued in California, Illinois and New York.
Wheeler said that he was prepared to make such an order independently in Portland if necessary, but that he would prefer if the mandatory social distancing were the rule statewide.
UO President Michael Schill announced that UO will provide online classes throughout the entirety of spring term in a March 19 email to students. The email also said that students who will not be living on campus during spring term will not be charged for dining or dorms. Schill also said the university cannot discount tuition for spring term because costs for remote instruction are “just as high ─ if not higher” than traditional teaching.
UO announced on March 19 that no commencement activities would be held in-person for students graduating this spring. UO Vice President for Student Life R. Kevin Marbury issued a statement to students via email formally cancelling commencement events, citing the approximately 38,000 people who come to campus annually for commencement ceremonies and the risk to public health such a gathering would pose this year.
UO Provost Patrick Phillips addressed a meeting on the UO faculty senate on March 11, the day UO President Michael Schill announced there would be no in-person final exams winter term and that the first three weeks of spring term would be conducted remotely. Phillips said he recognized the impacts that remote instruction would have on students, faculty and staff.
Several senators introduced a motion to delay the beginning of spring term by two weeks to give faculty members time to transition to remote teaching. The motion did not pass.
Gov. Brown issued a press release on March 18 declaring that Oregon’s institutions of higher education were required to provide classes remotely until Apr. 28. The order also restricted campuses to “critical functions,” including housing and dining.
The announcement came the same day that Oregon State University announced that it would hold all spring term classes online.
A 69-year old Eugene-Springfield area man was the first Lane County resident to test positive for COVID-19. Lane County Public Health believed it was a case of community transmission, meaning that the man had contracted the virus from a community member, not from travel abroad.
At the time of this story, Oregon had a total of 65 confirmed cases of COVID-19, not including the Lane County case.
The Eugene City Council held an emergency meeting on March 17 to address COVID-19. Councilmembers voted unanimously to declare a state of emergency. The declaration empowered City Manager Pro Tem Sarah Medary to acquire resources from county, state and government agencies and establish rent controls, among other temporary powers.
Medary said that the city will “transition back to our previous normal,” i.e. out of the state of emergency, as the state does.
UO campuses across Oregon closed to the general public and shifted to a “modified operational status” on March 17. André Le Duc, UO’s chief resilience officer, announced in an email that campuses were to be accessed only by UO student, faculty and staff members. Those remaining on UO campuses were advised to follow CDC social distancing guidelines.
A woman in her 60s was admitted to the PeaceHealth Riverbend hospital in Lane County on March 14. She died that same day in the hospital’s emergency department. Before her death, physicians tested the woman for COVID-19. On March 17, the hospital received the test results back: positive. The woman was the first known fatality of COVID-19 in Lane County.
Oregon Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden oined 23 other senators in sending a letter to Vice President Pence on March 5 urging Pence to “meaningfully engage with Native communities and Tribal leaders.” The letter followed the passage of a congressional bill to provide $40 million to Native American tribes and health organizations.
Two Native American UO students said it was unexpected for non-Natives to call for support of Native people.
Gov. Kate Brown issued an executive order March 16 banning gatherings of more than 25 people. The order also restricted all restaurants, bars and cafes to carry-out or delivery only.
Brown also announced that she was forming a Coronavirus economic advisory council to minimize economic impacts of the epidemic and that she had formed “command groups” to manage healthcare resources and state resources to combat the pandemic.