Oregon Gov. Kate Brown urged people to report citizens who violate coronavirus lockdown orders to law enforcement. In a Nov. 20 interview with local media outlet KGW 8, Brown said that doing so was akin to calling police over a house party that gets too loud.
“This is no different than what happens if there’s a party down the street and it’s keeping everyone awake,” she said. “What do neighbors do? They call law enforcement because it’s too noisy. This is just like that. It’s like a violation of a noise ordinance.”
Brown’s remarks came after she issued an executive order implementing new coronavirus restrictions for two weeks across the state and four weeks in Multnomah County. Under the “freeze” lockdown, residents are prohibited from eating out at restaurants and visiting fitness centers. Indoor gatherings, especially in light of Thanksgiving, will be limited to a maximum of six people. Violators could be fined $1,250 and jailed up to 30 days.
The governor said that the strict measures were about “saving lives” and “protecting fellow Oregonians.” She added: “We have too many sporadic cases in Oregon, [and] we can’t trace these cases to a particular source. [Thus,] we have to limit gatherings and social interactions.”
The Oregon Health Authority reported Nov. 20 that COVID-19 cases in the state reached a new record high at 1,306, with four fatalities. Cases continued to increase the next day as the state reported 1,509 infections and seven deaths.
Oregon officials have slammed lockdown measures as unconstitutional
However, not everyone welcomed Brown’s new orders warmly. The office of the Marion County Sheriff said in a Nov. 20 statement: “We recognize that we cannot arrest or enforce our way out of the pandemic, and we believe both are counterproductive to public health goals.”
Newly elected Clackamas County Chairwoman Tootie Smith also condemned the governor’s public health mandates. Smith told Fox News‘ Tucker Carlson Nov. 17 that she stood by her decision to celebrate Thanksgiving with as many people as she could.
“How dare Gov. Brown think she’s going to come out and send police into people’s [homes to] arrest and fine them for having a Thanksgiving meal with their family,” said Smith. (Related: Police slap Melbourne partygoers with fines for violating lockdown restrictions.)
The chairwoman also compared Brown’s coronavirus orders to slavery, saying that “people have the intelligence, the education and the independence to make their own decisions.”
“We are adults, we do not need to be treated as second-rate slaves in our own homes,” she added.
Brown responded to her critics by comparing them to politicians wanting attention: “Look, all of this [criticism] is irresponsible. These [critics] 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.” The governor added that she is pushing an “education-first” model in Oregon and hopes enforcement would not be needed.
Similar public health measures implemented amid second wave of COVID-19
Other states aside from Oregon have implemented similar measures subsequently met with resistance.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered a curfew in counties under the most stringent tier of restrictions. The curfew which went into effect Nov. 21 banned non-essential work and gatherings from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Health officials added that the mandate will last for a month, following a rise in the state’s coronavirus-related hospitalizations.
However, some Calif. county sheriffs have said they will not prioritize enforcing the curfew measure.
Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones said in a statement that his office “will not be determining … compliance with, or enforcing compliance of any health or emergency orders.” The sheriff for El Dorado County also said it would not be enforcing the governor’s mandate.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said in a statement that the county has “focused on education and voluntary compliance” and only uses criminal enforcement measures as an “extreme last resort.”
Meanwhile, Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said: “At this time, due to the need to have deputies available for emergency calls or other services, [they] will not be responding to requests for face coverings or social gatherings-only enforcement.” (Related: Governor of Hawaii becomes a tyrannical monarch, threatens $5,000 fine and jail time for people who do not wear masks.)
Based on Johns Hopkins University data, the U.S. currently has a 12.4 million COVID-19 caseload with 4.6 million recoveries and 257,651 deaths.