COVID-19 Update, May 5 Virtual Town Hall


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-Update                     May 1, 2020

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Dear friends,

    In the one month since Governor Brown's "Stay Home, Save Lives" order went into effect, researchers have estimated that Oregonians have prevented as many as 70,000 cases of COVID-19 and 1,500 hospitalizations. Thank you for everything you are doing to help flatten the curve and same lives!

Colorado and Nevada's governors announced this week that their respective states were joining Oregon, California and Washington in the Western States Pact –– a working group of state governors with a shared vision for modifying stay-at-home orders and fighting COVID-19. When Oregon, California and Washington's governors first announced the Western States Pact, they listed three shared foundational principles of the agreement:

  • Residents' health comes first. As home to nearly one in five Americans and gateway to the rest of the world, the West Coast has an outsized stake in controlling and ultimately defeating COVID-19.

  • Health outcomes and science –– not politics –– will guide these decisions. Modifications to our states' stay-at-home orders must be made based on understanding the total health impacts of COVID-19, including: the direct impact of the disease on our communities; the health impact of measures introduced to control the spread in communities — particularly felt by those already experiencing social disadvantage prior to COVID-19; and our health care systems' ability to ensure care for those who may become sick with COVID-19 and other conditions. This effort will be guided by data. We need to see a decline in the rate of spread of the virus before large-scale reopening, and we will be working in coordination to identify the best metrics to guide this.

  • Our states will only be effective by working together. Each state will work with its local leaders and communities within its borders to understand what’s happening on the ground and adhere to our agreed upon approach.

    As part of the Western States Pact, the governors commit to working together toward the following four goals:

  • Protecting vulnerable populations at risk for severe disease if infected. This includes a concerted effort to prevent and fight outbreaks in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

  • Ensuring an ability to care for those who may become sick with COVID-19 and other conditions. This will require adequate hospital surge capacity and supplies of personal protective equipment.

  • Mitigating the non-direct COVID-19 health impacts, particularly on disadvantaged communities.

  • Protecting the general public by ensuring any successful lifting of interventions includes the development of a system for testing, tracking and isolating. The states will work together to share best practices.

    Below you will find information on:

        - Latest Oregon COVID-19 Infection Data
        - May 5 Virtual Town Hall on Re-opening Plan
        - Oregon Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program Now Open!
        - Updates from the Oregon Employment Department with Detailed Q&A
        - Corporate Activities Tax Rule Change
        - Department of Justice Warns Against COVID-19 "Cure" Claims
        - Resources Highlight: Domestic Violence Services
        - State Extends Emergency Order for Insurance Deadlines
        - UO Partners with State for PPE Decontamination Site
        - Comcast Extends COVID-19 Response Policies
        - A Parallel in History: A Look at the Similarities of the 1918 Spanish Flu
        - 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 30, 2020, our state has experienced the following number of positive cases and deaths attributable to COVID-19:

  • 2,510 cases in Oregon
  • 56,032 people tested for COVID-19 in Oregon
  • 103 deaths reported in Oregon

May 5 Virtual Town Hall on Re-opening Plan

    This coming Tuesday, May 5, starting at 5 p.m., my Lane County legislative colleagues and I will be co-hosting a virtual town hall with staff from the Governor's office. The Governor's staff will give a presentation and answer questions about the re-opening plan for Oregon.

    If you would like to participate, please fill out this form to RSVP and reserve a spot. If you have questions you would like to have addressed, please submit them in advance via the form.

Oregon Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program Now Open!

    After receiving final guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor, the Oregon Employment Department (OED) has opened its Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. Self-employed, contract, and gig workers not eligible for regular unemployment benefits who are filing for the first time should use the instructions and initial application form at the top of the OED's CARES Act webpage to complete their first claim. That page also has links to instructions on how to file an application and FAQs. Please keep in mind that despite having nearly quintupled staff (and building), the department remains overwhelmed, so applicants may experience delays in the application process. (We're also advised that the program process is "manual" for now, but OED is working to automate it.)

Updates from the Oregon Employment Department with Detailed Q&A

    I continue to hear from constituents who are facing challenges or delays in dealing with the unemployment benefit process. OED and the Governor's office assure us that every effort is being made to ensure that claims are being processed as quickly as possible. Here's the latest update that OED shared with us:

Where are we with the claims?

    As of April 25, OED has processed more than 230,000 initial claims. We still have a long queue of initial claims to process and we think many of them are waiting for one of the new federal programs (For example, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for those not traditionally eligible for unemployment insurance benefits or the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, which potentially extends benefits for 13 weeks). Other claims are needing additional attention because the claimant has a history with unemployment insurance benefits or we are needing to take extra steps to verify identity. You can keep up with the numbers of initial claims coming in, the numbers of initial claims and weekly claims processed, resources being added, and the hundreds of millions of dollars moving into our communities on OED's COVID-19 page.

It's going on five weeks…

    It usually takes three weeks to get a payment, and some folks are now looking at week four or five, which is understandable under our current strain, but their worry is also understandable. If there is an issue, someone will reach out to them, but we still have initial claims in the long queue to be processed. The system won't recognize the weekly claims until the initial one is processed, thus the confusing messaging; the system is just needing to catch up. It is important for us to verify claims and to make sure people are getting the correct benefits, so even in normal times, it takes upwards of three weeks to receive a first payment. It is also important to note that we are backdating claims when appropriate. This means people won’t lose out on past benefits as we are catching up. Claims, including the weekly Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation $600 amounts will catch up.

What happened with the dedicated e-mail box?

   Most of those emails were being answered within a few days to a week until last week, when the e-mail boxes got overwhelmed and response time started lagging longer than a week. We have increased the number of trained and equipped team members to attend to the e-mail box backlog, but have a long way to go. Beyond adding employees to help, our new e-mail box staffing plan includes sorting, assigning, and tracking e-mails differently to match the person with a team member trained and equipped to respond. We expect to get in front of the e-mails next week by reaching out to the e-mailers asking for clarification of what response they still need.

What about the Work Share program?

    The Work Share program has information online and we are advising to start there with application information. This program has increased in popularity and is a labor-intensive type of claim. Federal legislation is providing full federal reimbursement for Work Share benefits for late March through December 2020. Work still needs to be done to put this into our systems. However, this is a program that can be applied for before any required system coding occurs. We are looking at what we need to do to increase our resources to meet demand.

    Contact info for Work Share:​

    Usually, benefits paid out under the Work Share plan would impact an employer's future UI tax rate the same as any traditional unemployment insurance benefits would. Under recent federal legislation, however, there is an additional benefit to employers to use Work Share. Work Share benefits for March 29 through December 26, 2020, are being reimbursed by the federal government, which means they will not impact the employer's tax rate.

    Work Share applications usually take a few weeks to process, but that process is taking several weeks longer under the strain of the pandemic. We are creating a staffing plan to address the increased demand.

What is this letter telling businesses they will be charged?

    The bottom line is that the "charge" is used to calculate an experience rating, which is used to determine UI tax rates. The normal processes are still in place that require us, whenever somebody files for benefits, to notify their most recent employer and anybody who employed the person during their "base year" about the claim, including a Notice of Potential Charges. However, the impact to UI tax rates does not appear to be nearly what many are assuming. There are several factors that contribute to this:

  • Regardless of an employer's experience ratings, Oregon’s very sound self-balancing formula for the UI Trust Fund means that employer UI tax rates overall tend to go up when the UI Trust Fund balance gets lower, and go down when the balance is higher. While we are seeing a huge increase in claims, Oregon's Trust Fund was better prepared than any other states to weather a recession, and we were in the second lowest possible UI tax schedule.
  • Within each tax schedule, experience ratings determine what an employer's UI tax rate is. It is the comparative experience rating that matters, however. While we know not all employers will be impacted to the exact same extent, we also anticipate that most employers will see an increase in claims. Only if an employer sees more of an increase than most other employers would it impact their tax rate within any particular tax schedule.
  • Experience ratings are computed annually based on the time period of July 1 –– June 30. Because of the timing of COVID-19, the impact of this is likely to be spread across multiple tax years, minimizing any sudden or drastic changes.
  • The federal benefits that are being paid (the additional $600 per week, various benefit extensions, etc.) do not count toward employers' experience ratings.

I am ready to begin asking my employees to come back...

    Two things are emerging from the business community this week as the state is beginning to plan to "re-open."  One is that businesses are worried their employees will refuse to come back to work without having a COVID-19 related reason because their benefits are too rewarding and the other is that businesses and their employees are worried about keeping everyone safe.

    An employee may still be eligible for unemployment benefits if they do not return when called back if they have a COVID-19 related reason such as:

  • Ill with COVID-19
  • Potentially exposed to COVID-19 and subjected to a mandatory quarantine period
  • Staying home to care for a family member, or other person they live with or who they provide care for, who is suffering from COVID-19 or subject to mandatory quarantine
  • Unable to work because they have to stay home to care for a child due to the closure of schools, child care providers, or similar facilities due to COVID-19
  • Asked to work when it would require them to act in violation of a mandatory quarantine or government directive
  • Unable to work because they have been advised by their health care provider or by advice issued by public health officials to self-quarantine due to possible risk of exposure to or spread of COVID-19

I have called my staff back to work but some are choosing not to return because they are scared.

    The emergency rules we filed weeks ago explains the added flexibility in how the employment department defines availability to work, actively seeking work, and able to work. And the definitions are tightly connected to COVID-19 related reasons (listed above). However, being in close proximity to the public is not a COVID-19 related reason. As long as your workplace can follow social distancing guidelines issued by government or public health officials, and the person does not have a COVID-19 related reason for returning to work, they are considered able to work. Choosing not to return to work would affect their unemployment benefit eligibility. The resource we refer to for guidelines issued by government of public health officials is the Governor’s COVID-19 Resources for Oregonians website

I received a message that no valid claim was received even though I applied. What do I do now?

    If you recently filed a new claim for benefits, please allow time for our staff to process it. If you received a confirmation number at the end of the claim application, you have filed a claim.  Once we process the claim, you can view the status online.  In the meantime, you should make weekly claim reports for any weeks you want benefits.

I put in a return to work date but we will still be under Stay Home, Stay Alive orders. How can I fix it?

    We are clearing out the return to work dates on claims as our employees process them. Just keep claiming benefits each week.

I got a letter saying my claim was denied. What happened? What do I do now?

    Some people were denied because they said they weren’t looking for work with other employers. We made an automatic fix for that. Those claims will be processed and people should continue filing weekly claims. If you were denied because you are self-employed, we are working to incorporate newly received guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor into our claims system to bring self-employed and 1099 contract workers into the benefits system. If there is another reason for the denial, you can appeal the decision by following the instructions in the letter.

Corporate Activities Tax Rule Change

    The Oregon Department of Revenue has modified an Oregon Administrative Rule to reflect a change in the threshold for making estimated Corporate Activities Tax (CAT) payments from $5,000 of annual tax liability to $10,000 of annual tax liability for the first year of the tax. The change to OAR 150-317-1300 means businesses that will owe less than $10,000 are not required to make quarterly estimated tax payments during 2020. Any unpaid balances for 2020 will be due April 15, 2021.

    The updated rule also provides relief from fees or penalties due to an inability to pay the required amount if a business has suffered financial hardship resulting from COVID-19. If businesses have been impacted by COVID-19 and have challenges calculating their payment or funding an estimated quarterly payment, they should keep documentation showing:

  • Their inability to pay a quarterly payment because of insufficient funds due to COVID-19;
  • Their inability to reasonably calculate a quarterly payment or annual tax liability due to their business being impacted by COVID-19; and/or
  • That the taxpayer is unclear at this time whether the business will owe Corporate Activity Tax in April 2020 due to COVID-19 impacts, after taking into consideration exclusions and subtractions in the law.

    For questions or comments about CAT, please e-mail or call 503-945-8005.

Department of Justice Warns Against COVID-19 "Cure" Claims

    When public health concerns hit the headlines, some companies and stores rush to market products promoted and advertised to prevent, treat or cure the problem. The Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ) is seeing this happen with COVID-19. There are important questions raised by these claims:

  • Do these businesses have proof of their promotional or advertising claims, as the law requires?
  • If required, have their products been approved, cleared, or authorized by the FDA?
  • Are there claims that the product prevents, treats, diagnoses, mitigates or cures COVID-19 or related conditions? If so, any such claims have to be supported by evidence as required by an emergency rule the Attorney General adopted April 17, 2020.
    Suggestions that drugs like hydroxychloroquine (sometimes prescribed to treat autoimmune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis) can prevent, treat or cure COVID-19 should also be met with skepticism. Although the President of the United States has repeatedly touted the use of these drugs as a treatment for the coronavirus, scientists have yet to determine whether they are effective and have real concerns about possible dangerous side effects.

    Earlier this month, a doctor in California was charged with fraud for allegedly selling a "100 percent" cure for COVID-19 that included hydroxychloroquine. Further, companies that make cleaning products are urging customers not to consume their cleaning products after the President suggested the possibility of injecting disinfectants to protect people from coronavirus.
    If you spot an ad making false claims about prevention, treatment or cure for coronavirus, please contact DOJ by phone at 1-877-877-9392 or online at Keep up to date with the latest Coronavirus-related scams at:

Resources Highlight: Domestic Violence Services

    Domestic violence service organizations have experienced an increase in requests for services and safe shelter during the COVID-19 crisis. We know 1 in 4 women experience intimate partner violence in their lifetime, and it is possible someone you know does not feel safe at home. A terrifying reality exacerbated by the current crisis. Please familiarize yourself with resources and services, that way you can access them if needed or provide resources to a friend or someone in need.


    Local resources include:

  • Peace at Home Advocacy Center (Douglas County) at 541-673-7867.
  • Sexual Assault Support Services (Lane County) at 541-343-7277.
  • Womenspace (Lane County) at 541-485-6513
  • The Call to Safety 24/7 Crisis Line at 1-888-235-5333 for referrals to local programs.
  • You can also find local service providers online on the Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (OCADSV) website.
  • In addition, the DHS Child Welfare Program will continue to operate the 24/7 statewide Child Abuse hotline to respond to reports of abuse and neglect. They are also working with community partners to maintain support to families. Report suspected abuse or neglect by calling the Oregon Child Abuse Hotline at 1-855-503-SAFE (7233). 

    Additional Resources from Futures without Violence include:

  • The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 24/7, confidential and free: 1-800-799-7233 and through chat.
  • The National Sexual Assault Hotline is 24/7, confidential and free: 800-656-HOPE (4673) and through chat.
  • The StrongHearts Native Helpline for domestic/sexual violence is available 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. PDT, confidential, and specifically for Native communities: 1−844-762-8483
  • The Trans LifeLine for peer support for trans folks 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. PDT: 1-877-565-8860 This hotline is staffed exclusively by trans operators is the only crisis line with a policy against non-consensual active rescue.
  • The Deaf Hotline is available 24/7 through video phone (1-855-812-1001), e-mail and chat for Deaf, DeafBlind, DeafDisabled survivors.
  • National Parent Helpline Monday -Friday 7 a.m. to 7 a.m. PDT emotional support and advocacy for parents:1-855-2736

State Extends Emergency Order for Insurance Deadlines

    The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) has extended its emergency order on insurance deadlines. The order requires all insurance companies to extend grace periods for premium payments, postpone policy cancellations and non-renewals, and extend deadlines for reporting claims.

    The COVID-19 outbreak has caused widespread business closures, job losses, and social distancing measures. This severe disruption to business in the state includes some Oregonians’ ability to make insurance premium payments, report claims, and communicate with their insurance companies.

    Insurance companies must continue to do the following until the order is no longer in effect:

  • Institute a grace period for premium payments on all insurance policies issued in the state
  • Suspend all cancellations and non-renewals for active insurance policies
  • Extend all deadlines for consumers to report claims and communicate about claims
  • Provide consumers the ability to make premium payments and report claims while maintaining safe social distancing standards

    If Oregonians have questions or concerns about their insurance company or agent, they can contact DCBS's advocacy team at 888-877-4894 or visit for more information or to file a complaint. Visit the department's COVID-19 consumer page for insurance and financial services information. Insurance companies and professionals are encouraged to visit the COVID-19 regulated businesses page for more information about the order and other guidance issued by the department.

UO Partners with State for PPE Decontamination Site

    The University of Oregon is partnering with the State of Oregon to host a personal protective equipment (PPE) decontamination facility on campus in Eugene. The PPE decontamination system will receive, sanitize, and return PPE to hospitals and health care facilities from south of Portland to Medford and Coos Bay to Bend. FEMA is covering the expenses and it will come with staff to operate it. UO is providing the Department of Administrative Services with the Oregon Department of Administrative Services for the decontamination system. Click here to view a video as to how it works.

Comcast Extends COVID-19 Response Policies

    As shelter in place orders continue and schools remain closed across the country, Comcast announced that it will extend COVID-19 response policies through June 30 to help ensure students can finish out the school year from home and remain connected during the crisis.

    Originally announced on March 13, Comcast made the following commitments that will now be extended into the summer:
  • No Disconnects and Waiving Late Fees: We will not disconnect a customer’s Xfinity Internet, Xfinity Mobile, or Xfinity Voice service, and we will waive late fees if they contact us and let us know that they can’t pay their bills during this period. Our care teams are available to offer flexible payment options or help find other solutions.
  • Xfinity WiFi Free for Everyone: Xfinity WiFi hotspots in business and outdoor locations across the country will be available to anyone who needs them for free – including non-Xfinity Internet subscribers. For a map of Xfinity WiFi hotspots, visit
  • Pausing Our Data Plan: With so many people working and educating from home, we want our customers to access the internet without thinking about data plans. While the vast majority of our customers do not come close to using 1TB of data in a month, we are pausing our data plans to give all customers unlimited data for no additional charge.
  • Internet Essentials: Internet Essentials is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive broadband adoption program. We are extending our offer of 60 days of complimentary service for new customers through June 30. Internet Essentials is normally available to all qualified low-income households for $9.95/month. For more information, visit

    For more information and updates from Comcast related to Coronavirus, visit:

A Parallel in History: A Look at the Similarities of the 1918 Spanish Flu

    The article linked below on the 1918 Spanish Flu was shared with me by a friend of Carol Ruth, who has done extensive research on the impact of the 1918 Flu in the state of New Hampshire. Carol Ruth noted:

    "The past does not repeat, but what a mirror. If you want to predict the future, look at history — as human nature never changes.

    "During the Spanish Flu outbreak, America faced the identical issues to today — some statements made by politicians and business were exactly the same as now. Just like now, the medical professionals pleaded for sanity, and were often ignored.

    "That mirror of the past shows that at first there was complete denial the flu was a deadly killer by public officials. Their refusal to believe it was real and not doing a thing about it for months caused a lot more deaths. Then, there was blaming another country — when it started in Kansas. But politicians wanted a scapegoat, not their fault so many are dead — the very same as today. Next, too many wanted to get the economy open — and did — then the flu killed the most on the second wave. And, yes, there were all kinds of quacks offering cures that did not work, and also were at times, deadly. Life expectancy in America dropped 12 years after the Spanish Flu. Social distancing was finally what prevented the death toll from being even higher. America’s deadest events: 1) the Civil War, 2) WWI, 3) Spanish Flu, 4) WWII, 5) Vietnam — and already at six and rising: COVID-19." [Actually, the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 surpassed that of the Vietnam War this week.]

    Here's a link to the February 4, 2020, updated article published by, Why October 1918 was America's the Deadest Month Ever –– It wasn't because of WWI:

Primary Resource Links

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

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