COVID-19 Update: April 17th

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Representative Smith Warner


Earlier this week, the United States Department of Education issued a statement regarding additional funding that will be allocated for higher education relief purposes. The department is dispersing nearly $3 billion available to governors through the  Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund. This is a flexible emergency block grant application designed to enable governors to use their discretion to best  meet the needs of their students, institutions of higher education, and other education-related organizations. In addition to recent relief efforts happening in education, there is much work being done around the state to address an array of issues affecting Oregonians.

Oregon Health Authority

The Oregon Health authority reports up-to-date information regarding testing statistics that can be found on their website. You can review the daily update and read the weekly report that details the overall picture of the COVID-19 response across government agencies. 

K-12 Education Developments 

  • The Oregon Department of Education released new guidance to school districts to move from letter grades to pass or incomplete results for the remainder of the school year. This decision affects students in grades nine through eleven and maintains the requirements to earn a high school diploma.

  • More information on how the Department of Education will allocate $13.5 billion in CARES Act funding for K-12 schools will be available in the coming days. 

  • The College Board announced that they will provide free AP review lessons, assist students with connectivity issues, and create at-home digital testing for AP students to complete their AP exams. Details are available online.

Long Term Care Residents 

This can be an especially hard time for seniors  living in a long term care facility experiencing limited mobility and access to their usual activities.The office of Oregon Long Term Care Ombudsman would like to remind anyone who has a loved one living in a long term care or resident facility to know that they are available to provide free guidance and resources to assist you. They provide support on a variety of resident concerns, including problems with resident care, medications, billing, guardianships, and care plans. This hotline may be helpful for seniors experiencing isolation and detachment. You can email the ombudsman at or call (800)522-2602 for more information. 

Status of the Paycheck Protection Program

In two weeks, the funding for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection program exhausted $350 billion. This funding was allocated to businesses in all sectors of the economy to help maintain their payroll during the pandemic. From the SBA:

The PPP enjoyed broad-based participation across the country from lenders of all sizes and a wide array of industries and businesses.  From its start on April 3, PPP provided payroll assistance to more than 1.6 million small businesses in all 50 states and territories. Nearly 5,000 lenders participated in this critical program, including significant lending by community banks and credit unions.  Nearly 20% of the amount approved was processed by lenders with less than $1 billion in assets, and approximately 60% of the loans were approved by banks with $10 billion of assets or less. The vast majority of these loans—74% of them—were for under $150,000, demonstrating the accessibility of this program to even the smallest of small businesses.

It is likely that this program will receive additional funding from the federal government, but more information is forthcoming. If your application was processed, it is important to contact your bank to understand the status of your application. If you were unable to process your application, the SBA recommends contacting your local SBDC for advice as soon as possible to help  preserve your business for the duration of the shelter-in-place restrictions. All SBDC advising is confidential and available at no cost to businesses via phone or other virtual means.

Employment Department Will Waive Waiting Week

Governor Kate Brown announced that despite technological challenges with some legacy computer systems, Oregon will indeed be waiving the usual waiting week so that Oregonians will receive unemployment benefits retroactively from the first day that they are out of work. For the latest information from the Oregon Employment subscribe to their email alerts. Here is a short video from the OED explaining the current strategies to help respond to the demand in processing  unemployment insurance claims. 


Support For Rural Communities 

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has established the Distance Learning & Telemedicine Grant to help rural communities tap into telecommunications and the Internet for education and health care purposes and to support economic and community development. For more information about this program, visit the USDA website. In addition, the Oregon Office of Rural Health received funds through the CARES Act to support Oregon’s rural hospitals for COVID-19 related activities. These funds will support rural hospitals that are seeing increased demand for clinical services and equipment, as well as those experiencing short-term financial and workforce challenges. 

Stimulus Check Information & Consumer Protection

Given the difficult circumstances that this pandemic has imposed, some banks and credit unions have adopted policies to ensure that customers get full access to their stimulus payments in the event a customer has a negative balance. Wells Fargo will cash stimulus payment checks for non-customers with no fees charged, and will pause the collection of negative balances existing at the time when stimulus payments are deposited for the next thirty days. On Point Credit Union has support programs and services to ensure members experience as little disruption as possible.  In addition, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, and Citigroup have pledged not to use stimulus payments to make up for overdrawn accounts. 

And in this time of confusion, it’s important to be alert to potential scams involving these many financial assistance programs. Remember: 

  • The IRS will never initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information. 

  • It is very unlikely the IRS will call you and they would never demand immediate payment. 

  • If you believe you have experienced a possible scam, report your experience to FTC Complaint Assistance on

Studded Tire Extension

In other news that I disagree with (in addition to the use of self-serve gasoline), the Oregon Department of Transportation announced that  drivers will not be required to remove studded tires until May 15th. 

Coronavirus Response Information:

Employment/Business/Consumer Information:

Food Resources:

Health & Safety Information:

Please reach out to my office if you have any additional questions, or if there’s anything you think I could help with. 



Representative Barbara Smith Warner
House District 45

email: I phone: 503-986-1445
address: 900 Court St NE, H-487, Salem, OR 97301