Board extends COVID-19 emergency declaration

July 2, 2020

Multnomah County’s declaration of emergency has been extended an additional 90 days in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to September 30, 2020, or until it is rescinded. The emergency declaration, which provides additional tools and authority critical to the County’s ability to properly and expediently address the threats and fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic,  was set to expire on July 9.

The Board of Commissioners voted 4-0 during the Thursday, July 2 board meeting to approve the extension. Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson was absent.

Chair Deborah Kafoury initially declared an emergency on March 11, a day after the first presumptive positive case of COVID-19 was announced in Multnomah County. It was extended on April 9 for 90 more days. All emergency declaration extensions require board approval. 

Assistant County Attorney David Blankfeld confirmed that this extension carried no changes to the existing declaration. 

Under the state of emergency, the County has built up public health infrastructure to respond to the unprecedented scope of this crisis, as well as a coordinated social service response to meet the needs of people particularly vulnerable to the impacts of the measures designed to uphold the health of the community. This includes:

  • Initiating the first eviction moratorium in the state within a week of the original emergency declaration. (Gov. Kate Brown subsequently enacted a statewide eviction moratorium, and the Oregon State Legislature recently passed a bill to extend the statewide moratorium to Sept. 30.)
  • Implementing a robust ongoing safe shelter strategy to keep people experiencing homelessness as safe and healthy as possible.
  • Expanding food access to houseless, low-income and otherwise vulnerable community members.
  • Providing additional support to help people experiencing or at risk of domestic violence find safety.  

The extended emergency declaration will continue to provide flexibility and expedience for upcoming initiatives, such as the continuing efforts to move shelter beds from temporary congregate facilities into motel shelters where people can isolate and stay even safer.