On February 28, 2020, Oregonians received notice of the first confirmed Coronavirus (Covid-19) patient when an employee from a Lake Oswego elementary school was diagnosed with the disease. It was at this point, for me, it became all too real...this could happen to my community...and maybe me and my family. I suspect I am not the only one the diagnosis news had that affect on. Since that time, we as a community, state, and nation have been grappling with how to maneuver and manage this pandemic. As other states have issued "stay at home" orders and taken other preventative steps, we, here in Oregon, have done so as well.
On March 23, 2020, Governor Kate Brown signed Executive Order No. 20-12 establishing guidelines and rules over our freedom of movement and affecting our ways of life. Through this Order, and previous orders, Governor Brown shuttered most schools, day-cares, and even restaurants and other businesses. The effect has been drastically to change the conveniences and freedoms we have grown to take for granted. But, more importantly, it has led many people to lose income, savings and jobs. Oregonians, like most Americans, are terrified of how they will rebuild as well as if they will fall victim to this virus. Governor Brown's Order has created profound changes to our lives and has disrupted our everyday agendas.
For me, professionally, most courts are closed to normal business with no clear answer on how we will recover and regain normalcy in the future. Personally, I worry about dropping my kid off at daycare wondering if she will be safe and is at risk of getting sick. I'm bummed by the fact she can't see her grandparents because they are in that "at risk" or "vulnerable" age group and she, or my wife or I, could infect them if we are together. The thing that I haven't put much thought in to, but I know others have, is, "what happens if I get stopped because a cop, or law enforcement, thinks I'm violating the Governor's Order."
Governor Brown's "Stay Home, Stay Safe" Executive Order does more than closing businesses and schools. The Order also restricts individuals and our ability to go to restaurants, parks, parties, etc. This Order has gone a step beyond a request, it is an order with enforcement power. The Order contains an "Enforcement" provision that states, "This Executive Order is a public health law, as defined by ORS 431A.005, and may be enforced as permitted under ORS 431A.010. Additionally, any person found to be in violation of this Executive Order is subject to penalty described in ORS 401.990." The penalty, under ORS 401.990 is to treat a violation of the Order as a Class C misdemeanor. Class C misdemeanors are punishable by up to 30 days in the county jail and, or, a fine of up to $1250. Thus, there are serious consequences to violating the "Stay Home, Stay Safe" Order. So, be safe out there, think about the consequences your actions have, not only on your life, but the lives of others around you, and use care in understanding the "Stay Home, Stay Safe" Order.