‘We will get through this crisis’: City leaders try to reassure Portlanders amid COVID-19 pandemic

PORTLAND, Ore. — City leaders gathered Tuesday morning at a downtown Portland fire station, with plenty of room for social distancing, to send reassuring messages to Portlanders, many of whom are at home trying to do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

Mayor Ted Wheeler said the governor’s order to stay home is hard on everyone.

“I want you to know as mayor that I know everybody is being impacted, in many cases significantly by this crisis. I want you to know that we’re all making sacrifices together. Times seem very, very difficult right now. But I want you to know this. We will get through this crisis. We’ll come out on the other side and I believe we’ll come out a better community,” said Wheeler.

He also pointed out the city has set aside $1 million to help households hit hard by the virus and has 100 people working on a task force to find ways to help Portland businesses hurt by the shutdown.

Police Chief Jami Resch said officers will issue warnings to people not following social distancing at first, but will eventually give out citations if needed.

She also noted that police calls on suicides are up 41% from the same time last year and up 23% from early March to March 22.

“I ask everyone to reach out by phone, text or video chat to connect with your family, friends and neighbors if they are struggling, make sure they know how to access the mental health intervention line or lines for life,” Chief Resch said.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 800-273-8255.

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Additionally, Portland Fire Chief Sara Boone reminded people that if they are afraid, they have plenty of company. But they are also protected.

“When it comes to a viral spread, we’re all susceptible to it. So, we really are in this with everybody. We have the same fears, we have the same concerns, we have the same uncertainties- but we show up,” Chief Boone said

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