An update on COVID-19

Rep Julie Fahey Email Header

COVID-19 update

The coronavirus/COVID-19 situation in Oregon is rapidly evolving, with new guidelines just released in the last few days. The newest guidance from this week is designed to limit visits to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities and to reduce the spread of the disease through large group events. Specifically, the Governor has instituted a four-week ban on organized gatherings of more than 250 people. I know that the news these days can seem a bit overwhelming – there is no need to panic, but there are some basic things that everyone can do to keep yourself, your loved ones, and your community safe. 

Older adults (age 60+) and people of any age with serious long-term health conditions (e.g., heart/lung diseases, diabetes) are at higher risk of COVID-19 turning into a serious, life-threatening illness. If you are a person in one of the identified high risk groups, it is strongly recommended that you avoid crowds and stay home as much as possible. You should try to find ways to have food, medication, and any other basic needs met through home delivery or through the help and support of those not in high risk groups. 

high risk COVID 19

If you are sick, stay home and avoid contact with other people. I know this is difficult for many people who may not be able to afford to miss work. Oregon does have protected & paid sick leave requirements for employers – more information is available through the Bureau of Labor and Industries.

If you have flu-like symptoms (including fever/cough), stay home and call your health care provider. Your provider will determine whether you should get tested for COVID-19. Right now, testing is being done by both OHA and commercial labs – additional commercial lab capacity is coming online every day. Commercial testing is available “at provider discretion.” This doesn't mean that everyone who wants a test will get one – providers are screening based on symptoms/medical condition, so if a person doesn’t have a cough or fever, the provider may decide not to test. If you end up needing testing for COVID-19, health insurers in Oregon have agreed not to charge co-payments, co-insurance, or deductibles for the test. Most people will experience a mild illness and will be able to recover at home. Some individuals will need a hospital level of care – some of the public health recommendations you are seeing are designed to make it so our healthcare system and hospitals do not get overwhelmed with a sudden influx of cases.

Everyone should be taking basic precautions to protect themselves! Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, disinfect surfaces you touch frequently (phone, light switches, doorknobs, TV remotes), and try not to touch your face, especially your eyes/nose/mouth. Take care of your overall health (e.g., stay hydrated, get enough rest). Avoid close contact with people who are ill, and when you go out in public, practice "social distancing", staying 3-6 feet away from others.

If you want to know more about how containment and social distancing measures work to ‘flatten the curve’ of new cases, this article has a description of the larger impact that these individual actions can have on the spread of the virus.

The situation is obviously changing rapidly and the Oregon Health Authority is updating their COVID-19 website regularly. You can sign up for email updates there, as well as follow them on Facebook. If you have non-urgent questions, you can call 211 or Lane County's COVID-19 call center at 541-682-1380, Monday through Friday, 9am-4pm.

Upcoming constituent events

Prior to the recent developments around COVID-19, I had planned to host a post-session town hall later this month with my colleagues from the Eugene-Springfield area. We are now likely to reschedule the in-person town hall and host a virtual event in the meantime. Please keep an eye out in your email and on social media and I will share updates as they're available. 

At this point, I am still planning on hosting a Constituent Coffee later in April. But again, please stay tuned for updates that may be forthcoming – we will re-assess early next month about whether it’s advisable to go ahead with the event.

constituent coffee announcement

Supporting local organizations

Even though the 2020 legislative session was functionally over late last week, legislators continued to receive their $151/day per diem through March 8th, this past weekend. I wrapped up my legislative work in Salem last Friday, and so I've decided to donate the $302 I received for Saturday and Sunday to non-profits in our community. One of the bills I cared the most about was HB 4001, which died due to the Republican walkout – under the bill, Eugene was slated to receive $5 million to fund a homeless shelter and navigation center. I have donated my per diem to three organizations in Lane County working on housing and homelessness issues:

  • SquareOne Villages - Creating self-managed communities of cost-effective tiny homes for people with low-incomes in need of housing
  • ShelterCare - My contribution was dedicated to their homeless prevention services, which include financial assistance and case management
  • St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County - My contribution was dedicated to their homeless services, including the Egan Warming Center, Eugene Service Center, and First Place Family Center



Capitol Phone: 503-986-1414
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, H-474, Salem, Oregon 97301