Coronavirus Update: Health Insurance and Unemployment Benefits

House Speaker Tina Kotek

Coronavirus Update: Health Insurance and Unemployment Benefits

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

As the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic continues, there are too many Oregonians who are dealing with the challenges of losing their job AND figuring out how they can have health insurance coverage for themselves and their families.

The Oregon Health Authority has compiled an important list of six ways workers with employer-based insurance can maintain coverage after a layoff or reduction in hours, which can be found here, along with this guide below about health care access. And, as I mentioned yesterday, the federal government has made it easier for people to get on and stay on the Oregon Health Plan, the state’s Medicaid insurance program.

COVID-19 OHA Health Care Info

Not surprisingly, applications for unemployment benefits are way up. The Oregon Employment Department is handling a dramatic spike in claims, which has led to challenges providing quick help to Oregonians in need. If you or someone you know has lost their job and needs to make a claim, the department recommends filing online to help free up phone lines and speed up the process as much as possible. If you have filed a claim online and received a confirmation number, it means they received the claim and you do not need to call. You can email the department at if you have questions.

The department has doubled the number of people they have to process claims and will keep looking to add capacity. They have filed emergency rules to allow them to process more COVID-19 related unemployment claims and are working with national partners to implement the federal changes as soon as possible.

The Oregon Employment Department also has the following videos to help Oregonians filing claims during the ongoing state of emergency. More information for workers is available here.

Unemployment Filing Info-1

Unemployment Filing Info-2

The Latest News

  • Governor Brown issued an executive order to ban commercial evictions for nonpayment of rent due to the coronavirus crisis for 90 days. The order also strengthens Governor Brown's previous ban on residential evictions and prohibits landlords from charging tenants late fees for nonpayment of rent during the moratorium. You can read the full executive order here.
  • Yesterday, Oregon received another shipment of personal protective equipment (PPE) from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which included more than one million gloves, 10,000 face shields, 400,000 N95 masks and 50,000 surgical masks. Counties are expected to receive shipments of this equipment for frontline health care workers by Monday. As a reminder, the need is still great and the state still encourages you to donate any extra PPE you may have. More information on how to do that is available here.
  • The Oregon Health Authority today announced 46 more diagnosed cases of coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 736, sadly including 19 deaths.
OHA COVID-19 Update 040120

What We’re All Doing is Working!

While these daily increases have been expected due to an improved capacity to test people and the trajectory of the outbreak, I know it can be deflating to see these numbers go up and up. But there is a long-term silver lining, as you will see in the chart below.

New projections from the Institute for Disease Modeling continue to show that Governor Brown’s Stay Home, Save Lives directive came at a critical time to slow the spread of coronavirus. It’s important to remember that this chart is only a projection and not a prediction of the future. While we can’t predict the future, these projections show that if Oregonians continue to stay home and practice strict physical distancing, we will continue to make significant progress to preventing the spread of the disease. This will also prevent our hospital system and frontline health care workers from being further overwhelmed by virus cases. The Oregonian has more detail in a story here.

COVID-19 Projections 040120

I know this is hard for everyone. Staying home as much as possible goes against many of our natural instincts, and it can feel harder the longer this lasts. But hang in there. The work you are doing to stay home is already saving lives. You are making a difference, and data is backing that up.

Follow Up from Yesterday – File Your Taxes!

Most Americans will qualify to receive the federal payments coming from the CARES Act. The IRS will begin to distribute these economic impact payments within the next three weeks, and they are tied to the income reported on your federal tax returns.

If you don’t typically file a tax return, you will need to file a simple tax return. Low-income taxpayers, senior citizens, Social Security recipients, some veterans and individuals with disabilities who don’t otherwise file a tax return will still not owe any taxes. You must complete and submit the simple tax return before the IRS distributes the payments. Find an FAQ from the IRS here, and the IRS’s Coronavirus relief page here. Please do not call the IRS – their phone lines are backed up and they will not be able to assist you quickly. (Thank you, Rep. Susan McLain, for letting me copy this information!)

The News Industry

I start my day the same way every morning: I read the newspaper. While many now get their news online or from other sources, it’s important to remember how essential news reporting is – especially local news coverage – to keeping the public informed, particularly during this incredibly difficult and confusing time.

Unfortunately, the news industry was already having financial difficulties before this pandemic hit. The Oregonian has more information here on the toll this crisis has taken on local papers. If you haven’t already and can afford to do so, I would recommend subscribing to your local newspaper or a news outlet you trust. All of them can use additional support.

For up to date information, please check this link to the Oregon Health Authority where regular updates are posted:

Please email me at if you have specific concerns that have not been addressed by the OHA. Our office will do all we can to help and protect all Oregonians.

Thank you for reading! We will get through this together.



Tina Kotek

State Representative
House District 44
Speaker of the House

email: I phone: 503-986-1200
address: 900 Court St NE, H-269, Salem, OR 97301