REVISED: Coronavirus update 8: Epi curve explained, Plan for reopening, Cybersecurity tips and more

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Rep. Nathanson

Correction for Town Hall Date: April 24 at 4:30 PM

Coronavirus update 8: (April 17, 2020)

Dear Friends,

Are we ready to reopen? When will we be back to normal? And what will that look like? We may be resuming some daily activities and slow, but steady economic recovery in stages. I don't think "getting back to normal" will mean we go from zero to sixty in twenty seconds. It's much more likely rules will be adjusted and that we'll see activities resume in stages. We could see measures let up based on region, type of business, business practices, or size of group. We probably need broad compliance with social distancing for a while longer.

Oregon Health Authority reported 1,785 confirmed cases so far, but due to lack of testing, the modeling suggests the number of people who have had the virus to be about 7,000. The same model, published April 10, shows that if Oregon had not implemented social distancing we could have had 25,000 cases and health care systems would likely have become overburdened by late April. Testing continues to steadily increase, up to about 10,000 tests last week from just under 8,000 the week before, and the aim is to get to 15,000 a week.

Lack of supplies - for testing and PPE - continues to be a major obstacle in combating the spread of the virus and reaching milestones that get us closer to resuming more normal daily activity. Recent progress for Lane County, however: UO provided McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center a testing machine as well as an array of instruments, scientific equipment and expertise from genomics researchers to assist set up of the COVID-19 testing lab in Springfield. Initial tests and validation are being done this week, and testing capacity should increase over the next few weeks.

I have submitted this question to the public health team: When will we know if this novel coronavirus has a “seasonality” and subsides in warmer weather like some other viruses? For now, we keep doing what we can, and waiting for supplies. Thank you to everyone out there who’s helping!

Wash your hands!



And Team Nathanson: James and Lindsay


Team Nathanson on a sunny walk in Salem in February

Health update

An “Epi” or Epidemiological Curve is a visual display of the progression of an outbreak, shown by onset of illness.

Shown below, this is the same curve public health experts are referring to when they say the goal is to “flatten the curve.” It shows cases by the day the person who tested positive started to show symptoms. Not all current cases are shown on the graph because of the delay in testing and reporting (green shaded area).

The number of cases rose steadily until March 22, when it started to flatten out. This chart illustrates how social distancing is working. OHA advised to wait for at least a 2-week long decrease in the number of new cases before they will recommend letting up on social distancing (see more below).

This curve is published every day with updated data, and the Data Dashboard includes an interactive version. This video explains the Epi curve and Data dashboard.

api curve april 17

New developments

Unemployment Insurance: The Employment Department continues to adjust and scale up its operations to accommodate for the large spike in new claims: the average rose from about 4,000 to 50,000 per week in the last month. In just two weeks they quadrupled the number of staff who are processing claims and they are updating their computer system to process the additional payments from the CARES Act. They’ve also fixed the error that forced some to have to re-file their claim. I’ve received reports from constituents who are waiting hours on the phone or calling back hundreds of times. See the full update here and their COVID-19 page here, which shows data on applied and processed claims, and benefits processed.

  • Benefits will not be reduced if you have trouble filing your claim and cannot get through to talk to someone. Benefits will retroactively be given from the point of eligibility.
  • If you have a question about your claim, the best way to get a response is to use the dedicated email: You will be put in a queue and someone will email or call you back within a week or two.
  • The agency encourages anyone who can to use email, and to keep the phone lines open for Oregonians without access to reliable internet.

More grants for business: SAIF, Oregon’s not-for-profit workers’ compensation insurance company, reopened applications for their coronavirus worker safety fund, designed to support employee safety, reduce injuries, and decrease exposure by helping SAIF policyholders impacted by COVID-19. Eligible purposes include purchasing safety equipment, PPE and cleaning supplies, worksite redesign to promote distancing, and mental health and wellness initiatives. Find more information and apply here.

Financial Institutions: We have received information from a few banks and credit unions on how they are helping customers facing difficult financial situations. Northwest Community Credit Union reported 51 loan modifications and 194 payment extensions in just one week. Summit Bank, a community business bank headquartered in Eugene, made over 200 Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, totaling over $75 million, to business and nonprofit clients, enabling Eugene/Springfield businesses to retain and hire back employees. Oregon Pacific Bank has already modified more than $16 million of loans, is waiving fees resulting from financial hardship, and processed 146 PPP applications in Eugene, over $42 million that will be funded by April 17, with more in the pipeline.
f you are experiencing a financial hardship due to a coronavirus-related circumstance, you may want to contact your bank or credit union to see what modifications they can make to help make ends meet right now.


Flora and fauna lunch break: a walk at Delta Ponds with ducks, geese, turtles and a cormorant. (Everyone on the path shared the space, respectfully keeping distance.)

Economic impact payment

Some people have already received their checks, if they used direct deposit to file taxes this year or last. If you have filed your taxes this year, you do not need to do anything to receive your check.

Filing your taxes is the best way to receive your payment. You could receive the $1,200 check and for people eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit, you could have additional money coming to you. Check eligibility here and find options to file for free through the IRS here.

Payment scams

Unfortunately, some bad actors are using this stressful time to commit fraud and identity theft. An identity theft protection company distributed information about some ways potential scammers could try to get your information:

  • Use phrases like "stimulus check" or "stimulus payment." The official term is economic impact payment.
  • Ask you to sign over your economic impact payment in exchange for receiving additional funds.
  • Request by phone, email, text or social media for verification of personal and/or banking information. Fraudsters may claim the information is needed to receive or speed up your economic impact payment. The IRS will never call asking to verify financial information to expedite a payment.
  • Ask for personal information in order to get an economic impact payment faster by working on your behalf.
  • Mail a bogus check and asked to call or verify information online in order to cash it.

warm weather

To reopen: public health experts say we must keep social distancing to preserve resources and decrease the number of new cases

Plan for reopening Oregon

Governor Brown introduced a framework to reopen Oregon. See full remarks and slideshow here. In my last newsletter, you can find factors that public health officials could be looking for to make a recommendation to relax social distancing measures. Here are five critical elements:

  • Decline in growth rate of new cases
  • Sufficient supply of personal protective equipment
  • Hospital surge capacity
  • Robust testing, contact tracing and isolation strategy
  • Strategies that work for most impacted and vulnerable populations, including nursing homes and people experiencing homelessness

West Coast States Pact

Governor Brown also announced an agreement that Oregon, California and Washington will work closely together when making decisions to reopen. The decisions will be based on health outcomes and science. With heavy travel between the states, especially along I-5, the Governors want to be sure that actions taken will not inadvertently bring infection to another state. It does not mean that Oregon, which is not experiencing a surge in cases as Seattle or Los Angeles have, will be waiting to re-open based on our neighbors’ number of cases. The Governor recognizes areas of Oregon have different needs to reopen and is considering a region-by-region approach. See her remarks here.

Zoom town hall: Friday April 24 at 4:30 pm


I’m hosting a virtual “town hall” with Senator Manning and Representative Fahey to discuss COVID-19 and the current situation.

We'll be joined by Gustavo Balderas, Superintendent of 4J school district and Chris Parra, Superintendent of Bethel School District. They will share how 4J and Bethel are implementing distance learning and be available to answer questions.

If you would like to participate, please reply to this email and we will send the link and password.

Combating social isolation

For many people, social distancing measures have brought a new risk to mental health from social isolation and fear. AARP and the Oregon Health Forum are hosting a free webinar, moderated by Carlos Crespo, PhD, Director or the School of Community Health at Portland State University. You will hear from experts about strategies for maintaining mental wellness and safely supporting vulnerable neighbors

Register for the Zoom meeting here.

Security tips for online meetings

As we all transition to teaching, learning, and working online, it’s important to take precautions and safely use the tools we have. One widely used tool for video conferencing, Zoom, while a secure platform, should be used with the available security features to avoid “Zoombombing”, when unwanted participants disrupt a Zoom call.

Security measures should be taken by anyone participating in or setting up meetings. The following suggestions come from 4J School District, which is ensuring its staff and students are taking the necessary precautions.

For all users:

  • Do not make meetings publicly accessible.
  • Accept software prompts from Zoom. Zoom is actively adjusting their software to make it more secure and address vulnerabilities.
  • Do not share screenshots of meeting participants on social media.
  • Familiarize yourself with Zoom’s settings to understand how to protect your virtual space. 

For hosts:

  • Require a password when you schedule and set up your Zoom meeting. Do not post the meeting link or password anywhere that is publicly accessible, such as a website or social media.
  • Create a "Waiting Room." Participants are kept in the waiting room until you allow them into the meeting individually or in bulk. If you know all the names attending, you can disallow unknown names from entering.
  • Be present from start to end in every meeting. Select "Require host to be present before meeting starts" when you set up your meeting. Be the last person to hang up and end the video conference. 
  • Keep control of the screen share setting and (for students) disable private chat. The screen sharing default is now "host only." If at any time during the meeting you want a meeting participant to share their screen, you can enable it during the meeting.
  • You can "Lock" a meeting once your meeting is started and all the participants you are expecting have joined. You can find this setting under: Participants >> More >> Lock Meeting. 
  • As the meeting host, you can mute participants, expel a disruptive participant, or stop the meeting, if there is a problem. Hover over the participant’s name, or click the ellipsis (...) near their name, and click the remove button. 

Best practices for Zoom can be found here.

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