PM Edition: March 24th COVID-19 Update

Michael Dembrow

March 24, 2020

Dear Neighbors and Friends:

I hope that you and your loved ones are doing well, staying healthy, and looking out for your neighbors and friends.

Here is Part 2 of today’s newsletter, bringing you up to date on the very latest (that I know of at least—things change by the hour).

Again, please send along your comments, questions, suggestions, and concerns.


  • OHA has reported an additional 18 Oregonians have tested positive for COVID-19, putting our total numbers at 209. Three additional deaths were reported today, bringing that total to 8.
  • Oregon’s sixth COVID-19 death is a 78-year-old man in Clackamas County, who tested positive on March 15, and died March 22 at Kaiser Sunnyside Medical Center. He had underlying medical conditions.
  • Oregon’s seventh COVID-19 death is a 63-year-old man in Multnomah County, who had underlying medical conditions and was not hospitalized at the time of death. He tested positive on March 16, and died March 23.
  • Oregon’s eighth COVID-19 death is a 90-year-old woman in Washington County, who tested positive on March 19, and died March 23 at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center. She had underlying medical conditions.
  • The first instance of a positive test at a childcare facility has been reported. It’s a worker at a facility in Washington County, which has closed as a result.
  • Oregon has finally received the additional 15% of PPE that was promised from the federal stockpile. Monday’s delivery included an estimated 87,000 procedural masks, almost 9,000 gowns and 14,000 gloves. The rest should come today.  Along with the 10% that was already received, this means that we have received 25% of what was requested.  There is no word about when if ever the remaining 75% of the request will come.
  • You probably won’t be surprised to learn that ODOT has reported that the number of vehicles on the road is down. That’s a good sign.
  • We are facing an impending shortage of blood, as most workplace blood drives have been canceled. If you can go to your local Red Cross and donate, you will be performing what is considered a necessary and essential service.  There is no  risk of transmission of the virus via blood, and I can tell you from my personal experience yesterday that personnel at the donor centers are being extremely careful about keeping the facility clean and donors safe. 
  • The OHA website now has a list of Frequently Asked Questions covering a variety of situations that we may be in. Just click on the FAQ tab.
  • The Department of Labor has put out a guidance letter for employers and workers on implementing the newly passed Families First Corona Response Act (FFCRA), specifically the provisions around Family Leave and Paid Sick Leave. This comes a week ahead of schedule.
  • The President announced today that the deadline for Real ID will be extended beyond the current October 1 deadline. That’s great news. Oregon was going to have real challenges complying with that deadline even without the pandemic.
  • Locally, the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Driver and Motor Vehicles Division has partnered with Oregon law enforcement agencies to exercise discretion in their enforcement of driver licenses, vehicle registrations and trip permits that expire during this public health emergency. This link provides some great information.
  • DCBS, the Department of Consumer and Business Services, has just issued a bulletin to Oregon-regulated lenders and loan servicers. It encourages all Oregon-regulated lenders and loan servicers to take active measures to help borrowers (including both landlords and owner-occupied residents) economically affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes offering loan forbearance plans, fee waivers, and other deferred payment options.

Tracking Hospitalizations in Oregon and Nationwide

Each day we’re being provided the number of additional Oregonians testing positive for COVID-19, but it’s hard to know exactly what those increases are telling us.  Since so few Oregonians were able to be tested, the increased numbers could be due to increased testing.  But given that testing is still limited, the reality is that the reported numbers are likely still just a fraction of the cases that are out there.

That’s why the modeling experts, such as Dr. Peter Graven from OHSU, encourage us to follow the number of hospitalizations for corona-like symptoms, as well as the number of deaths from the disease.  Those numbers are more accurate indicators, given the problems we’ve had with testing.

Here in Oregon the OHA began reporting hospitalizations for corona-like symptoms on Sunday. On Sunday the number was 43, on Monday 56, and today (Tuesday) it’s 61—that represents a 40% increase since Sunday.  Over that same period the number of reported deaths increased 100%, doubling from 4 to 8.  During that same period the national hospitalization rate increased by 74%, and the national death rate increased by 66%. (Those national numbers are currently driven by hospitalizations and deaths in three states: New York, California, and Washington.)

You can follow these numbers via a new national website called The COVID Tracking Project.  It reports on data from around the country. Here is a direct link to the Oregon page.  (By the way, Oregon is currently being given an “A” grade for the quality of our data.)

If these large increases in hospitalizations and deaths continue on a daily basis, our medical resources will definitely be strained in the next few weeks.   

Oregon Medical Board Issues New Emergency Licensing Rules

One of the key focuses of corona response has to be making sure that we have adequate numbers of medical professionals to provide front-line care.  This will become more and more of a problem as the number of patients increases and medical professionals themselves fall ill.  Efforts are being made via the Healthcare Workforce Response Task Force to inventory potentially available personnel, prepare a coordinated deployment plan, and provide more flexibility in granting temporary licenses to professionals who are new to the state or who want to come out of retirement to help.  To that end, the various licensing boards have been working on creating emergency rules to deal with the potential shortfall.

The Oregon Medical Board has just issued new emergency rules to meet the emergency situation for physicians and physician assistants.  (If you look at it and are unfamiliar with the term “locum tenens license,” that’s just a fancy way of saying “temporary license.”)

For explanation of the new rule and other issues faced by physicians and physician assistants, the OMB has created a COVID-19 information page.

How Are the State Police Enforcing the Emergency Declaration?

We have started to hear horror stories—which may well be apocryphal—of people being pulled over the State Police for being out on the road for non-emergency reasons.  In an effort to clear up any misunderstandings, the State Police just released an Emergency Declaration FAQ that provides much-needed clarity on how enforcement is supposed to happen. 

Let me know if you have any questions about it.

New Policies for Child Care Centers

Legislators received an update today from Miriam Calderon of the Early Learning Division, the agency that is responsible for licensing childcare centers in the state. They have been working hard to clarify the impacts of the Governor’s Stay Home order on child care.  They will be getting more information up on their Coronavirus website.

To be honest, they’re in a tough position.  On the one hand, if we are trying to physically separate people, that must include children, and obviously childcare centers are going to be prime areas for transmission; most will likely have to shut down temporarily and lay off workers, which no one wants.  On the other hand, parents who are working in essential services need safe places to leave their children.  The ELD is struggling to find a balance.  So here’s what we learned today:

  • All regularly licensed centers must close. This does not apply to family/friend childcare situations with three or fewer children.
  • However, centers may apply to become an “Emergency Child Care Provider.” If so, they must agree to:
    • Have no more than ten children at the facility.
    • Give priority to the children of essential personnel (health care, first responders)
    • Must accept the risk of caring for the children of parents working in occupations that may expose them to the virus.
    • Commit to a higher level of sanitation.
    • Commit to conducting regular temperature checks of the children.
    • Avoid having certain porous-surfaced furnishings that can trap the virus.
  • Providers can apply to become Emergency Providers via an application on the ELD website or by calling 800-556-6616. They have until this Friday to do so.
  • For more information about the Emergency Provider program, including which children qualify as the children of essential personnel (warning: this is still not crystal clear, at least not to me), the requirements, and the application, here is the web page to use.
  • All providers have received communications with this information, along with a request that they inform their parents about the executive order, that they should be staying at home, and that they should only use child care if they cannot be at home or if they are doing essential medical and emergency work.
  • The ELD is surveying providers to find out if they have enough critical needed materials that are in short supply (e.g., cleaning products, diapers). ELD will try to get these supplies to them to keep them operational. 
  • The ELD is working with ODE and school districts to help districts fulfill their obligation to provide care for the children of essential personnel.
  • Parents in emergency categories can use 211 to be connected to providers in their areas who are designated as Emergency Childcare Providers
  • Reducing the number of children to 10 comes with a real cost to provider, so the . Looking to help provide additional financial support to these providers.
  • The Early Learning Division is also reaching out to all licensed childcare programs and surveying them to find out their status and get a sense of their plans going forward.

Initial Recommendations on Coordinating Our Health Care Response

In order to prepare for the likely surge in cases projected to hit us in a few weeks, the Governor convened the Joint Task Force for Health Care Systems Response to COVID-19.  It is charged with making recommendations around coordinating a unified statewide medical response to the pandemic.  It has just finished its initial work and has submitted their analysis and recommendations to the Governor.  It covers the areas of Emergency Medical Response, Hospitals, and Long-Term Care.  Here is the initial report. 

Take a look, and you’ll see that a number of smart people have been burning the midnight oil on this one. 

Coronavirus Legislative Committee Completes its Initial Discussions

The Joint Special Committee on Coronavirus Response had its final meeting today (for now).  It met for 6 hours, going through the remainder of the recommendations for legislative action.  Overall, it was another informative, collegial discussion that ranged over a variety of issues. Members are now communicating to the committee co-chairs their priorities for what needs either to be taken up in a special session, or dealt with through existing authorities of the Governor and state agencies, or addressed through Congressional action.  The co-chairs will be distilling those ideas into a letter going out to legislative leadership tomorrow.  I’ll pass it along as soon as I can.

The committee also heard from Oregon Supreme Court Chief Justice Martha Walters regarding action that must be taken immediately to relax certain timelines on criminal and civil proceedings that cannot be met with the courts constrained by the virus. Here is her letter to the committee.  And here is a summary of other needed actions related to the courts and law enforcement submitted by the Chairs of our Senate and House Judiciary Committees.

If you’d like to watch today’s meeting, you can do so by clicking the play button icon at the top of this page.

The Meeting Materials tab will take you to several additional documents, including a summary of the proposals and notes related to them.

We should know soon exactly when the legislature will be meeting in special session (likely next week), and what the format will be.  There are not surprisingly many conversations happening around the question of how to hold a session of the Legislature in the midst of a pandemic.  I hope to let you know more about that soon.


Here again are some resources that you will find useful:

If the above links are not providing you with answers to your questions or directing you to the help that you need, please consider me and my office to be a resource.  We’ll do our best to assist you or steer you in the right direction. 


dembrow signature

Senator Michael Dembrow
District 23

phone: 503-986-1723
mail: 900 Court St NE, S-407, Salem, OR, 97301