Public Space and Amenities of Health During Covid-19: looking at the case of Portland, Oregon

Authors: Yael Kidron*, Portland State University
Topics: Urban Geography, Human Rights, Geography and Urban Health
Keywords: Public space, handwashing, restrooms, water, access, Covid-19, Emergency
Session Type: Virtual Poster
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 51
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In Portland, Oregon, as in other cities across the U.S. and the world, many public amenities closed in March of 2020 as Covid-19 became more prevalent. Personal hygiene and especially frequent and prolonged handwashing became one of the dominant recommendations for protecting against the virus. As many schools, offices, and many businesses closed their doors, the reliance on public space amenities became more pronounced, especially for vulnerable houseless populations.
Since March of 2020, the city enacted new rules in public spaces including the use of “emergency handwashing stations” and “emergency parks restrooms”. This project looks at some of the changes to public spaces across the city focusing on health-related amenities.
The project is an introduction to how swift policy changes may affect the use of such spaces or potentially inhibit it. This work assesses spatial and social implications of closing down access to drinking water, handwashing, and toilets during our prolonged healthcare crisis. Local government data regarding policy and spatial distribution of “emergency”-time amenities provide an insight into the shift of pre-Covid-19 and Covid-19 access to such resources.

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