Coronavirus_NIH.jpg

This scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (yellow)—also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (blue/pink) cultured in the lab. (Courtesy of NIAID-RML)

Gov. Kate Brown issued an executive order Sunday prohibiting law enforcement officers from acting upon eviction notices for not paying rent. The order cited “a significant economic downturn” and public health concerns if evicted Oregonians were not able to socially isolate in their homes.

While the order prohibits evictions for rent, it does not prevent law enforcement from enforcing evictions for other offenses, such as domestic assault.

Unemployment was at a record low of 3.3% in January and February of this year according to Oregon Employment Department data. But as COVID-19 led to shutdowns across many industries, from restaurants to theaters, unemployment insurance claims shot upward; from March 15 to March 17, claims rose from 800 to 18,500, the Oregon Employment Department said in a press release.

The spike in Oregon’s unemployment isn’t unique. On March 17, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warned that the COVID-19 pandemic could drive unemployment nationwide as high as 20% if action isn’t taken, though in an interview with CNBC the following day he said, “we’re not going to let that happen.”

Amidst the economic uncertainty of the pandemic, federal, state and local lawmakers are suspending evictions and foreclosures. Multnomah County and the city of Portland halted evictions for non-payment of rent on Mar. 17, according to reporting by KATU. A day later, President Trump announced at a White House press briefing that those living in properties owned by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development are protected from evictions until May 1, 2020.