More than 50 people rallied to reopen Oregon in Brookings on Sunday.
The state has been mostly shut down since Gov. Kate Brown issued stay-home orders in March due to novel coronavirus concerns. Reopen rallies were held throughout the state this weekend, most occurring during a drizzly Saturday.
“We need to open Oregon, especially Curry County,” said local organizer Dianna Blazo on Sunday in Brookings. “We want our county to open. People want to work. They don’t want the government handouts. They want to get to work. If people are that worried about it they don’t have to come out shopping, send someone else. But for those of us that want to work, open it up.”
There were plenty of people in agreement judging by the honking, thumbs-up and applauding coming from the cars and trucks that passed in front of the group lined along Highway 101 in front of Goldilocks Antiques and its next-door neighbor to the south Coast Auto Center.
This reporter did not see any negative response to the crowd from passersby during the hour-long rally geared toward easing COVID-19 restrictions.
To date, Curry County has had four confirmed COVID-19 cases and zero deaths. All four have recovered. It's been more than a week since the last confirmed case. Curry Health Network can do rapid testing, drive-up testing and antibody testing and said it has over a month's supply of personal protective equipment.
Blazo volunteers with the Curry County Republican Central Committee. Many who rallied were volunteers with the local Republican committee. Blazo and others eagerly pointed out that the rally and its reopening message were not about politics.
“This is for everybody,” Blazo said. “I know it’s not just Republicans that want this. We want everybody to be able to go to work. It’s sad that we are not being allowed.”
A day earlier, a dozen people rallied in front of the Curry County Courthouse, while the largest protest was held at the Capitol in Salem.
On Sunday, attendees in Brookings waved U.S. flags and a “Don’t Tread on Me” flag and had signs with slogans like “Reopen Oregon,” “Don’t Quarantine the Healthy,” and “Everyone is Essential.”
Since Gov. Brown’s stay-home orders and social distancing were put in place businesses deemed non-essential were closed. Those that were allowed to operate have done so under heavy restrictions. People fear many businesses will never recover.
“What I believe is that the state did not need to be shut down,” said rally attendee Dora Costa. “I think it’s more important that people work and that people practice good social distancing and all of that but you don’t need to make people stay home and stay away from work to accomplish that. It’s doing more harm. My heart is broken for the small businesses that are struggling so badly right now.”
During a news conference Friday, Gov. Brown said Oregon could start opening up as early as May 15. The decision to reopen the state resides with the governor.
Costa wants to see it happen now.
“If they can shut it down immediately. They can open it immediately,” she said.
Blazo was pleased with the amount of support the rally received.
“Amazingly well. Amazingly well,” Blazo said. “We were a little nervous because of the rain yesterday. We have had a great turnout. We are absolutely thrilled to see this kind of turnout.”