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5 Oregon Stories To Watch This Week, October 25-31

Vaping bans, the straight scoop on tourism, and Halloween's back, baby.

By Julia Silverman October 25, 2021

A vaping ban is up for consideration in Washington County.

If this were the last week of October in 2022, this update would be full to the brim with  political intrigue—alas. (Though check our upcoming winter print issue of Portland Monthly for a near-dissertation on why 2022 is shaping up as the most consequential year in Oregon politics in ages.) That said, after so many pandemic losses, there’s something to be said for a week ahead when one of the biggest stories to watch has to be Halloween. 

Up in Smoke

Every progressive policy doesn’t have to come from Multnomah County. Case in point: County commissioners in suburban Washington County look poised to permanently ban flavored vape and tobacco products—you know, the gateway to cigarette jobbies that come in oh-so-teen friendly flavors like bubble gum and cotton candy. Originally proposed by Commissioner Nafisa Fai, the plan would ban the sales of such products at any retail store where those under 21 might shop (so, basically everywhere.) The idea’s been greeted with mostly positive feedback from public health professionals and parents; retailers are far less pleased, saying it will drive customers to other counties during a particularly precarious moment in the region’s uncertain pandemic recovery. A final vote will come November 2. 

Make Way For Tourists?

Tune in to Portland City Council on Wednesday for a barn-burner of a report from Travel Portland, one of the first times we’ll get hard data on whether this summer’s much-discussed national campaign to recast Portland’s image in the eyes of leisure travelers with discretionary income actually paid off. Jeff Miller, Travel Portland’s president, will be in the hot seat, with info to share about the agency’s efforts to diversify its employees and contractors and broaden the base of conventions that are coming to Portland in 2022 and beyond. 

Please No Plateau

After seven straight weeks of decline, the weekly count of COVID-19 case numbers in Oregon hit a plateau last week, perhaps even slightly ticking up; we’ll find out for sure on Monday, when numbers from the weekend are released. It could be a blip; forecasters are sticking with their predictions that we’ll continue to see steady declines in case numbers and hospitalizations statewide through December, as the Delta variant recedes and more people get booster shots. (Speaking of that, vaccination numbers are on the rise again statewide, though that’s being driven by third shots, not first ones.) 

Housing Hopes

What would a weekly lookahead be without any mention of the ongoing and ferocious debate over homelessness policy? A couple of breakthroughs last week bear future watching: Mayor Ted Wheeler told KGW that he wants to think bigger than the six Safe Rest locations that the city has committed to funding, each of which would include spaces for up to 60 people to have a safe place to sleep in private, lockable pods, with access to bathrooms, laundry and social service workers. Wheeler acknowledged that that still leaves thousands of people on the streets, and says he wants to find a way to cut down on unsanctioned camps near businesses, homes, schools and parks—meanwhile, the city and county are working on plans to pool funding for homeless solutions, the details of which should start to emerge this week.  And none too soon—that's a heck of a lot of rain in the forecast.

Spooky SZN Arrives

Last but most definitely not least, Halloween is back this week, after a year in which it was severely curtailed. This year, even Dr. Anthony Fauci says it’s okay to trick or treat—stock up on candy accordingly, and plan to hang out on the porch to distribute to the neighborhood ghosties and goblins. Buy extra, cavities be danged—they've got two years to make up for. 

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