Coronavirus Update: Counties Start to Plan for Reopening

House Speaker Tina Kotek

Coronavirus Update: Counties Start to Plan for Reopening

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I hope you enjoyed the incredible weather this past weekend. It was great to see people outside AND practicing safe distancing practices.

Starting last week, counties across Oregon could start submitting their Phase I reopening plans to the Governor for the purpose of reopening their parts of the state. So far, 28 of 36 counties have applied as of Monday evening. You can see which counties have submitted applications and read them here.

The Oregon Health Authority is currently reviewing these applications, which need to meet specific public health criteria (previously outlined here). County plans that the state approves will enable counties to open up parts of their economies no earlier than Friday, May 15.

I hope it remains clear that, right now, the entire state is still under the Stay Home, Save Lives directive even though these applications are being considered. We should all continue to follow Stay Home, Save Lives because we have collectively prevented approximately 70,000 infections.

I also want to emphasize that businesses that are able to reopen in approved counties will look very different than they did before the coronavirus pandemic. There are a number of different sectors that will be impacted differently in order to protect public health.

Today, let’s look at retail stores. Retail stores that can reopen under Phase 1 of Reopening Oregon will be required to:

  • Limit the number of customers in the retail store and focus on maintaining at least six (6) feet of distance between people and employees in the store. Store management should determine maximum occupancy to maintain at least six (6) feet of physical distancing, considering areas of the store prone to crowding (like aisles) and limit admittance accordingly.
  • Post clear signs (available at listing COVID-19 symptoms, asking employees and customers with symptoms to stay home, and listing who to contact if they need assistance.
  • Use signs to encourage physical distancing.
  • Frequently clean and sanitize work areas, high-traffic areas, and commonly touched surfaces in both customer/public and employee areas of the store. Wipe down changing room door knobs, walls and seating between each time they are used by a customer.
  • Require all employees to wear cloth, paper or disposable face coverings. Businesses must provide cloth, paper or disposable face coverings for employees.

Additional guidelines for retail stores are available here.

To sum up, counties that have approved plans can start to reopen after this Friday, and businesses in those reopened counties will have to follow specific guidelines. The new normal is here to stay for a while. Thank you for your commitment to keeping you and your community safe and healthy.

Updated Modeling Projections

Late last Friday, the Institute for Disease Modeling (IDM) released new projections detailing the effectiveness of Stay Home, Save Lives on reducing transmission of the coronavirus. The news continues to be encouraging.

IDM found that “the current aggressive interventions have been effective in reducing the level of transmission by about 70%, with the case rates leveling off and even slowly declining.” The state conducted more than 14,000 tests last week, our highest weekly total to this point, and our testing positivity rate remains low.

IDM Projections 5-8-2020

IDM Projections-2 050820

As the state considers applications from counties that want to start the process of reopening, IDM once again noted that “future outcomes remain very sensitive to policy changes and public adherence to physical distancing guidelines.” Translation: Be careful as you move forward and open up more businesses and public spaces.

Right now, we have reduced transmission by 70%, according to modeling. For example, if transmission is reduced by 60% instead of 70% going forward, this could lead to about 100 more new infections per day by June 14th.

This is why attention to the OHA recommendations below will continue to be essential:

Reopening Oregon Safety Tips 5-11-2020

The Latest News

  • I joined governors and legislative leaders from five Western states to request $1 trillion in direct relief to states and local governments in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic in order to help avoid deep cuts to services like public health, public safety, public education, and helping people get back to work. The full letter is available here, and Oregon Public Broadcasting has more details here.
  • The Legislative Emergency Board recently allocated $5 million to provide financial assistance for small businesses (25 employees or fewer) that have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and haven’t received any federal emergency assistance. This funding, coupled with an additional $5 million from Business Oregon, will have three rounds of funding. The first round of funding consists of $2.5 million that will be matched dollar-for-dollar by local economic assistance programs. Awards will be made to public entities (cities, counties, economic development districts, council of governments) that have or will develop a community business assistance program in response to the pandemic and are able to meet the guidelines of the program. More information on how local public entities can apply is available here.
  • Invitations started going out today for the Key to Oregon Study on COVID-19. The Key to Oregon study will gather essential data to help leaders make public health decisions at state and local levels with the goal of getting people back to school and work faster while avoiding a second wave of infections. An OHSU research team will enroll 100,000 randomly selected Oregonians who volunteer for the study. The team will track the temperatures and other COVID-19 symptoms of all participants. Participation is completely voluntary.
  • The Oregon Health Authority announced 51 more confirmed cases of coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 3,222 confirmed cases. The agency also announced seven new presumptive cases. Sadly, three more people have died, meaning 130 Oregonians have now died from confirmed cases of the virus.

OHA COVID-19 Update 5-11-2020

OHA Hospital Capacity 5-11-2020

Pandemic Food Assistance

Last week, I reported that the state has put together a program to help get additional food assistance out to families in need. My thanks to Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon for putting together some helpful graphics to explain Pandemic EBT benefits via an Oregon Trail Card (EBT stands for electronic benefits transfer).

Pandemic EBT provides families financial support to cover the cost of groceries while your children are missing free meals during school closures. This benefit is provided to ALL families whose children receive free and reduced-price school meals in Oregon.

PHFO Graphic 5-11-2020

PHFO Graphic (2) 5-11-2020

Small Business Loans Still Available

The second round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans are still available for small businesses that need a low-interest loan to help them with payroll costs related to the pandemic shutdown. These loans are forgivable if certain criteria are met.

As of May 1, financial institutions in Oregon had obtained more than 31,000 loans for small businesses, totaling over $3 billion. As of May 8, there was still about $125 billion in funding available nationwide.

We’d like to see more of that money help Oregon businesses and the families who depend on them. Contact your financial institution or the SBA to find a local lender who can help you apply. Senator Jeff Merkley has also posted a list of lenders here.

To read past newsletters, you can go to this link. For up to date information, please check this link to the Oregon Health Authority where regular updates are posted:

Please email me at if you have specific concerns that have not been addressed by the OHA. Our office will do all we can to help and protect all Oregonians.

Thank you for reading! We will get through this together.

We are in this together, we will get through this together: United Oregon



Tina Kotek

State Representative
House District 44
Speaker of the House

email: I phone: 503-986-1200
address: 900 Court St NE, H-269, Salem, OR 97301