COVID-19 Update


Senator Floyd Prozanski
South Lane and North Douglas Counties
District 4

900 Court St. NE, S-413, Salem, Oregon 97301
Capitol phone: 503-986-1704
e-Bulletin                     April 17, 2020

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Dear friends,

    Based on latest modeling of COVID-19 in Oregon, we're likely now experiencing a "plateau" in new cases and deaths that should last for a few weeks before a decline in the numbers. While we'd all prefer to see significant improvement sooner, this is further evidence that the sacrifices we're currently making are working; Oregonians who aren't essential workers are Staying Home and Saving Lives! Thank you.

    On Tuesday, Governor Brown held a press conference about the process for "reopening" our state. She explained that the Stay Home, Save Lives executive order will most likely be lifted in phases as certain metrics are met. These metrics include the following:

  • A sustained decline in new cases. Oregon is probably a few weeks away from this goal.

  • Adequate personal protective equipment (PPE). Oregon still needs to provide enough PPE for first responders and medical caregivers, and to increase supply of PPE for those who are providing care in long-term care settings and group homes.

  • Adequate testing. This is a must in order to reopen our communities. Oregon needs to increase its testing capacity to at least 15,000 tests a week. We're getting close to 10,000 a week now.

  • Contact tracing. Oregon's public health infrastructure and personnel needs to be ramped up so that they can trace the contacts of those who have tested positive for the virus, allowing public health to identify and test potential carriers. This too is essential to being successful in reopening the state.

  • A system for isolating/quarantining. As shown in other countries, isolation of identified carriers will be needed for short periods of time to allow us to return to norm where uninfected individuals can move about their communities without fear of becoming infected.

    Rightfully, the Governor didn't provided timelines. She did indicate that necessary planning will begin immediately and will rely on members of her Medical Advisory Panel and consultation with representatives of key industries heavily affected by her executive orders.

    Tying into this plan, the Governor announced earlier this week that California, Oregon and Washington have agreed to work together on a shared approach for reopening their states. While each state is building a state-specific plan, they have agreed to the following principles to build out a West Coast framework:

  • Residents' health and safety comes first.
  • Health outcomes and science – not politics – will guide these decisions.
  • Modifications to stay-at-home orders must be made based on understanding of the total health impacts of COVID-19.

    If there's any silver lining to the situation we all find ourselves in (besides cleaner air –– thanks to everyone staying home and limiting outdoor burning), our shared vocabulary has been expanded, with "social distancing" being atop the list. Now that we have practice at it, I'd like to share a suggestion from a constituent who writes: "Social distancing requires increased awareness [of] people enjoying exercise outdoors." Please try to stay to the right on paths and travel in single file to maximize distancing. (Thank you, Eliza, for the advice!)

    Below you will find information on:

Latest Oregon COVID-19 Infection Data
        - Updates from the Employment Department
        - Congressman DeFazio Webpage on CARES and Accessing Support
        - How are You Doing?
        - Primary Resource Links

    I hope this information is helpful and informative for you or someone you know. As always, feel free to share your comments, questions or concerns with me by phone, mail or e-mail.

                                                               Sen. Prozanski signature

Latest Oregon COVID-19 Infection Data

    As of April 16, 2020, our state has experienced the following number of positive cases and deaths attributable to COVID-19:

  • 1,574 cases in Oregon
  • 34,938 people tested for COVID-19 in Oregon
  • 64 deaths reported in Oregon

Updates from the Employment Department

    The Oregon Employment Department (OED) has shared a number of updates with legislators about how the department is working to handle unprecedented demand:

UI Appeals Process

    OED says they have the ability, and will use it, to grant an extension of time if a person appealing their denied claim was prevented by circumstances beyond their control from timely requesting a hearing. With phone lines jammed, folks can file hearing requests via e-mail to: Given the volume of claims, it is taking longer than usual to process hearing requests, but as long as someone e-mails their hearing request to that mailbox by the appeal deadline, it is considered timely.

Oregon Begins Issuing Payments From Federal Stimulus

    OED has started issuing Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) payments to eligible individuals. Oregonians who are already eligible for regular unemployment insurance (UI) benefits and eligible for FPUC will receive two weekly payments: one for regular UI benefits, and an additional $600 payment. Individuals will be receiving FPUC benefits using the same payment method as their regular UI benefits for the week. FPUC payments will be paid for each week someone is eligible from March 29, 2020, through the week ending July 25, 2020. The $600 payments will be retroactive for those eligible for payments.

Employers Report Receiving Notices that Look Like Bills

    My office heard from a constituent small business owner who received a "Notice of Potential Charges" from OED. We reached out to the department and were told that this is not a bill. OED provides the information to employers because they are statutorily required to do so. The information is part of the calculation of an employer's future "experience rating." Ratings are computed annually and look at the time period of July 1 – June 30. Due to the timing of COVID-19, the impact of this is expected to be spread across multiple tax years, minimizing any sudden or drastic changes.

    Any businesses concerned about these notices or other impacts of COVID-19 are encouraged to contact my office so that we may engage relevant state agencies and share guidance on available resources. 

Dramatic Increase in Staffing

    When the COVID-19 crisis began, OED had 106 employees dedicated to taking claims. The department has since doubled its number of employees taking claims, primarily by switching existing staff from their area of expertise to taking claims. Of the initial surge of claims, staff has processed more than half of them. So far, on average, they're still processing claims in about the same timeframe as would be the standard in non-pandemic times.

    As of April 14, OED had 450 employees dedicated to processing claims and is continually recruiting.

Independent Contractor Claims

    OED is working on implementing unemployment assistance for people who are not usually eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. The department may be able to start taking applications before needed computer programming is done. Benefits will be retroactive to February 2, 2020. It's taking time to draw from the CARES Act and guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor to start implementing the benefits. OED is advising that independent contractors not file claims until the department knows how to implement this vision of the CARES Act.

How to Receive Updates

    Beyond my weekly e-updates, constituents trying to file unemployment claims can check for the latest information and sign up for e-mail updates from OED, here. As a reminder, anyone 
with claim-specific questions can use the department's dedicated e-mail box address to get into a queue to have their specific question answered. Although backlogged, the email box is staffed with trained and dedicated employees and someone will get back to you:

Congressman DeFazio Webpage on CARES and Accessing Support

    The CARES Act ensures that relief flows to people and workers first. It makes it clear that any industry receiving relief cannot use the funding for stock buybacks, executive giveaways, or layoffs. Congressman Peter DeFazio has launched a webpage to help people navigate the resources that are available to them:

How are You Doing?

    This is an important question to ask ourselves and those we care about during this trying time. If you or someone you know would like to speak with someone about anxiety or other mental health needs, here are two resources to consider:

    NAMI Oregon has a helpline that continues to operate from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each weekday. Additionally, they now have 20 weekly online support groups available for individuals and families living with mental illness. These are peer-led support groups for:

  • Parents/caregivers raising school-age children with behavioral health concerns.
  • Adults living with mental health disorders.
  • Family members and friends with a loved one in their lives living with mental health disorders.

    Anyone can call the NAMI Oregon helpline at 503-230-8009 or e-mail,

    The Senior Loneliness Line is a statewide partnership between Lines for Life and Oregon Health Authority. They offer a free statewide, confidential call service for Oregonians 55 and older. A team of volunteers and staff are specially trained in working with older adults and can provide ongoing support, connect you with resources or just listen. With so many folks –– especially seniors in the high-risk demographic –– physically and mentally isolated right now, this is a great resource that can be accessed by calling 503-200-1633.

Primary Resource Links

    Here's a list of government resources that you may find useful:

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