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Brown's order was necessary and prudent

If anyone is still harboring doubts about the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Kate Brown’s executive order issued Monday should convince you.

The governor’s order requires most businesses to close and most Oregonians to stay home, and adds potential fines and jail time for people found to have violated it.

Unlike Brown’s previous orders limiting gatherings to 25 people or less, this one bans gatherings of any “non-essential social groups.” That means no parties, celebrations, weddings or other events outside a residence. If you’re not already living under the same roof, stay away.

Businesses ordered to close include hair salons and barbershops, bowling alleys, amusement parks, malls, playgrounds, pools, public and private campgrounds, skate parks, gyms and fitness centers.

Businesses that may remain open include doctors’ offices, grocery stores, bars, restaurants and coffee shops for pick-up or delivery only, pharmacies, garden stores and hardware stores. So go ahead, plant a garden and take care of those household repair projects you’ve been putting off.

Businesses that remain open “shall facilitate” working from home as much as possible.

Individuals are directed to minimize travel except for essential trips to obtain or provide food, shelter or other essential needs. That means no trips to the coast.

Many of us already are observing these restrictions. Many others, unfortunately, are not. Beach towns, especially on the North Coast, report crowds of bored city dwellers swarming their beaches. The town of Warrenton enacted a resolution barring out-of-towners from spending the night.

Similar situations have occurred in California, which also is under a statewide stay-at-home order.

Like it or not, ocean breezes do not prevent the spread of coronavirus. Stay home.

When you must go out to buy food and household supplies, please stop hoarding. Grocery stores are working to replenish their supplies.

In the words of John Vial, director of Jackson County’s Emergency Operations Center, “Just calm down. You don’t need to buy two years’ worth of toilet paper.”

Still not convinced? Maybe a state-by-state modeling project by a group of data scientists, engineers and designers working with epidemiologists and public health officials will do the trick.

The group’s website, CovidActNow.org, presents four predicted outcomes for Oregon, ranging from no action to three months of complete lockdown as occurred in Wuhan, China — which is not realistic in a free society. In between those extremes are three months of social distancing and three months of shelter-in-place.

For each scenario, the group estimated the percentage of the population that would be infected and the date that hospitals would be overladed with patients.

Until now, Oregon was imposing social distancing. That’s good, right? Not exactly. According to the group’s modeling, that would result in a 70% infection rate — the same as taking no action at all — and 85,000 deaths. Oregon hospitals would be overloaded on April 19 under social distancing, only 12 days later than the no-action scenario, and there would still be 64,000 deaths.

Moving to three months of shelter-in-place, the numbers improve dramatically. Infections would reach only 4%, hospitals would not be overloaded within the three-month period, and deaths would total an estimated 2,000.

Convinced now?

We can and will get through this, although not without hardship, especially for those who have lost their jobs. But the hardship will be greater and likely last longer if we don’t cooperate with the restrictions now being imposed.

Stay home. Don’t hoard. Save lives.

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