Coronavirus update 7: homemade masks, PPE allocation, CARES act and more

Representative Nancy Nathanson

Coronavirus update #7 (April 10, 2020)

Dear Friends,

In our daily briefing today, the Director of the Oregon Health Authority provided both hope and caution. The hope comes from the data, since we now have more real data from hospitals, and are not relying solely on modeling. And that data is showing that the rate of new cases is not increasing. But the caution: we can't let up on our efforts to contain the virus. Social distancing is working, and this is not the time to stop. Before considering relaxing some of the social distancing measures, the Governor's advisors will be looking for a declining number of deaths for at least a couple of weeks. Social distancing measures might be reduced in stages, for example, defined by certain geographic areas, or type or size of activity. It's important to emphasize, however, that this is a discussion about making future decisions. Executive Orders remain in place. Let's keep this trend moving in the right direction!

Wash your hands!



And Team Nathanson: James and Lindsay

Health update

As of April 10, there have been 1,371 cases in Oregon and 48 deaths reported. There are currently 353 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 (of these,140 have tested positive). About 25% are in an Intensive Care Unit, and 46 are on a ventilator.

In Oregon, 27,224 people have been tested, with 1,371 positive tests, resulting in 5% positive tests which has stayed a consistent average.

 All of this data is given daily on OHA’s Daily Update.

OHA weekly report

OHA is now publishing a weekly report on Monday mornings, showing the breakdown of COVID-19 distribution by reported symptoms, risk factor, age, gender, race and ethnicity. It will be easily accessible on OHA’s COVID-19 page.

The chart below, from this week’s report published April 7th, shows reported signs and symptoms from all COVID-19 cases in Oregon. The two most common symptoms are cough and fever. Note the blue shows those who had the symptom, orange is those who did not, and grey is the percent unknown.


Personal protective equipment

The Daily Update, published by OHA, includes a breakdown of the state inventory and shipments. To date, the state has ordered 8 million surgical masks, 6.7 million N95 masks, 100,000 gowns and 100,000 face shields. The number ordered will not necessarily be the number received. Last month, the state requested PPE from the federal government and received only a fraction of what was requested.

Allocation plan

Once the state stockpile receives PPE, 70% is shipped to counties and tribes, and 30% is held in the state supply. The state supply is used for Oregon State Hospital, corrections, EMS and fire, and is available for an outbreak or urgent request from a hospital beyond what the county can supply. When calculating distributions, the state considers current case count, population, hospital capacity and other factors. The allocation plan is published on the Office of Emergency Management’s COVID-19 page.

Once PPE is distributed to the counties, they use the following method for allocation:

Priority 1: Healthcare workers, including EMS and fire, caring for confirmed COVID-19 cases, healthcare workers that will not be able to continue operations without the allocation, and for N95 respirator requests, facilities that perform aerosol-generating procedures (mostly hospitals)
Priority 2: Healthcare workers who will be out of PPE in 48 hours, and have known COVID-19 transmission close by
Priority 3: Healthcare workers who will be out of PPE in 48 hours, and have no cases of COVID-19 infection close by
Priority 4: Healthcare workers with non-critical shortage due to supply chain disruption which have no cases of COVID-19 infection close by; For N95 masks, law enforcement agencies

Guidance on homemade masks


The CDC recommended earlier this week that everyone wear a cloth face covering in public settings where social distancing is difficult to maintain (grocery stores, pharmacies, etc). The recommended cloth face coverings are not surgical masks or N95 respirators which are critical to reserve for healthcare workers and first responders including police, fire and EMT. (This is me wearing my homemade mask.)

OHA released this guidance echoing that recommendation:

  • Medical-grade masks should be reserved for health care providers.
  • Homemade masks may be useful for others to reduce the spread of the virus.
  • Social distancing, washing your hands, and staying home remain critical to slowing the spread. Homemade face coverings do NOT change the need for these.

Economic relief


Below are two new programs to know about from the federal stimulus package passed by Congress. A summary of the bill can be found here.

Paycheck protection program (PPP) for businesses

This program is designed to help small businesses, non-profits, veterans groups and tribes cover payroll costs, mortgage and rent to keep afloat during the COVID-19 crisis. Eligible entities can take out loans up to $10 million and cover employees making up to $100,000 per year at a 1% interest rate. All payments are deferred for 6 months (interest will continue to accrue) and loans will be forgiven if the business avoids employee layoffs. You can find a one page summary here and a more in-depth fact sheet here with application process information.

Economic impact payment for individuals

Most eligible people will not have to take action to receive their check of up to $1200 for individuals, $2400 for married couples, and $500 for each qualifying child. Tax filers will receive the full benefit with a gross income up to $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for couples. As income goes above this threshold, the benefit is reduced $5 for every $100 earned. You will automatically receive the payment if you qualify and have filed taxes in the last two years OR receive Social Security benefits. If you completed a tax return with accurate direct deposit information, your money will be deposited directly into that account. The Treasury department is going to set up a portal for direct deposit information if the IRS doesn’t have it or you need to update it.

For more information, check the IRS page. Check options here to file your taxes for free.

Oregon Small Business Navigator

This page is a one-stop shop for small businesses to explore the various tools and resources to weather this storm. It has information on federal, state, and local financial assistance as well as employee assistance.

Lane Community College Small Business Development Center

Lane SBDC is part of a network of statewide SBDCs in coordination with the Small Business Administration. They offer free & confidential one-on-one advising to walk you through assistance options, and online classes & programs to help with this current situation. They are communicating with small businesses daily and understand the issues being faced right now. If you’re looking for assistance and want to talk to a real person, this is the place to start.

One-stop shop for public resources

This page connects Oregonians who have been laid off or had a loss in income to public benefits and provides tips on how to apply for them. If you or anyone you know is looking for assistance with Unemployment Insurance, SNAP (food stamps), health coverage, child care, or housing, this is a great place to start. This resource is compiled by the Services Employee International Union.

Distance learning and schools

You’ve probably heard the biggest piece of news this week: schools are closed for the rest of the year. Having this certainty allows school districts time to fully implement distance learning. Oregon Department of Education has worked with teachers, families, superintendents and others to form their guidance on distance learning. A few of the many factors considered are the strain this puts on families to take the lead on education, equity challenges and distance learning for homeless and LGBTQ youth, challenges for teachers such as access to a work computer and using a personal cell phone to connect with youth, and how to support specials needs students.

Distance learning is a 4 step process: Contact students and reconnect, build relationships; Ensure they are physically safe and healthy; Attend to social, emotional, and behavioral health needs; And then, the learning happens.                    

Distance learning is not only online learning, although it often happens online. School districts are given a lot of freedom to implement distance learning in the best way for their students and are being innovative in hoe they deliver lessons. Any questions on distance learning should be directed to your school or to 4j School District.

Stay home, save lives

Message from state parks

State Parks remain closed. Oregon Parks and Recreation Department is reminding everyone to maintain social distancing while the weather is nice. Many communities have expressed concern with folks traveling from the valley into rural communities, placing constraints on limited resources and potentially bringing the virus to those communities.

When is this going to end?

We’re receiving a lot of questions from constituents wanting to know when we can return to some normalcy here, since Oregon is not experiencing the overwhelming surge in cases as New York and Washington have. Hospital admissions are not soaring because social distancing is working. If social distancing is relaxed, infections could start to increase rapidly, with hospital admissions challenging system capacity. We've learned from OHA that with a novel virus, there is information needed and infrastructure to put in place before public health officials can make a recommendation to let up on social distancing. Here's what OHA says they need:

Information about the virus: Immunity: If those who have recovered from COVID-19 are immune from getting it again; If so, how long immunity lasts; If immunity is lost if the virus mutates. Seasonality: If transmission will reduce when the weather warms, If so, how much; And how or when it would likely return. Some coronaviruses are seasonal and some are not.

Resources: Testing capacity (Much higher testing capacity to trace contacts and prevent flare-ups); PPE (more is needed for healthcare workers who conduct testing, and to enable elective and non-urgent medical procedures to resume); and Workforce capacity (More people needed to do testing and immediate contact tracing)  

All of these pieces need to fall in place before we can safely return to a “normal” way of living. The good news is that social distancing measures are working, allowing space for COVID patients to be cared for in hospitals and reducing the strain on healthcare workers.



United Way of Lane County is keeping an updated list of organizations looking for volunteers to aid the COVID-19 response. There are opportunities at food banks and pantries, blood banks, night shelters and more.

Serenity Lane, a non-profit treatment center for alcoholism and drug abuse, is looking for volunteers to greet and screen visitors at their Coburg campus. Accepted volunteers will be trained and PPE. Go here for more information and to apply.

Information resources

Lane County Public Health. COVID-19 How testing works video

Oregon Health Authority (with a link to subscribe to their news service)

Oregon Health Plan (open enrollment)

University of Oregon webpage on UO's COVID-19 response
Oregon Office of Emergency Management OEM COVID-19 response.Employment Department: for business: Work Share.

Unemployment Insurance Temporary COVID-19 Rules and Online Claims.

Bureau of Labor and Industries Coronavirus and Workplace Laws.

Department of Human Services.
Department of Education.

Oregon Food Bank's Food Finder.

Oregon Coronavirus Information, including Stay Home, Save Lives Executive Order FAQ


Capitol Phone: 503-986-1413   District Phone: 541-343-2206