Portland, OR

Friday in Portland: Mayor Wheeler says 50 homeless camps have been cleared along roadways & more

Emily Scarvie

(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

By Emily Scarvie

(PORTLAND, Ore.) Hello Portlanders! It's Friday, April 1 - Here's your daily round up of all the news happening in the City of Roses.

1. Mayor Ted Wheeler extends emergency declaration designed to clear homeless camps along busy roadways

Despite the city reportedly having cleared 50 homeless camps from along dangerous roadways since early February, Mayor Ted Wheeler has again extended an emergency declaration to accelerate the removal of more sites.

Wheeler extended the declaration so that work can continue along Portland’s “high-crash corridors” and near highways and interchanges controlled by the Oregon Department of Transportation.

“This is real progress that the city is making on this,” ODOT spokesperson Don Hamilton told KGW. “We’re really pleased to be working with the city to move the ball forward a little. It’s a big problem and it’s a repeating problem and it keeps on coming back. The biggest issue as we’ve seen so tragically lately is that it’s a danger to the people that are camping next to the highways.”

2. Several Alaska Airlines flights out of PDX canceled due to pilot shortage

Alaska Airlines pilots are reportedly picketing across the country on Friday over contract negotiations and 13 flights out of Portland International Airport have already been canceled. Another 11 flights headed to Portland have been canceled as well.

Pilots will Alaska Airlines are alleging that the company didn’t properly plan for increased travel demand and didn’t attempt to attract new pilots or keep up its workforce. They also say the airline received $2.3 billion to help retain employees during the pandemic.

According to a release from the pilots, Alaska Airlines is “trying to distract the public from their mismanagement and blame the pilots who helped save their company. Pilot leaders have been warning for years that pilots will choose to fly for other airlines due to an inadequate contract that will only exacerbate existing staffing challenges.”

3. COVID-19 cases dropping across Oregon after 3 weeks with no masks

Three weeks after the statewide mask mandate ended, COVID-19 cases have declined across Oregon. According to Dr. Peter Graven, director of advanced analytics at OHSU, cases are at a low point currently and while there may be some increases, he doesn’t expect large surges.

“You may hear that I don’t sound too worried about it, that’s because I’m not too worried, because we have a lot of immunity that’s built up over time and that’s going to prevent this from becoming a big wave that we saw previously,” Graven said.

COVID-19 isn’t following a full seasonal pattern yet, so there may be a slight increase in BA.2 cases, according to Graven. He said if the state doesn’t see a large increase over the next few weeks, it may demonstrate that masks weren’t slowing the spread as much as previously thought.

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