OHSU Research Study, Financial Forecast & Potential Budget Impacts

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Representative Smith Warner


Today, the Oregon Health & Science University, in partnership with the PSU School of Public Health, sent out 100,000 invitations to Oregonians across the state to participate in a voluntary research study to track, test and map the spread of COVID-19. Health officials will utilize research data to determine the relationship between easing physical distancing measures and the transmission of COVID-19. This will help identify new cases at their earliest stages, enabling swift response for future COVID-19 outbreaks. If you receive a letter in your mailbox to participate in this study, it would be a great opportunity to help in Oregon’s coronavirus response efforts. More information on what the study entails can be found here.


Oregon Health Authority Update                                                                                          The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) 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. Here is some good news and recent updates from the Oregon Health Authority:

  • As of May 8, Oregon’s cumulative positive testing rate has remained fairly consistent at about 4.2% of tests performed. This is considerably lower than the national average of 17.0%. 
  • Oregon’s decreasing weekly test-positivity rate reflects decreasing numbers of individuals with COVID-19 due to the Governor’s stay-at-home order and increasing testing statewide, including the tests run at hospital laboratories and commercial laboratories.
  • This week, OHA received 90 boxes of Abbott ID NOW test cartridges (24 tests per box). This will allow the state to disseminate the remaining Abbott ID NOW instruments to areas of the state that do not have in-house laboratory testing or serve COVID-19 hot spots. 
  • OHA has since learned that the CDC International Reagent Resource (IRR) will supply states with 50 test kits and six controls through an automatic shipment each week.
  • Oregon received its second shipments of testing swabs, universal transport media for specimen collection kits, and certain testing supplies and reagents from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). These ongoing supplies will be available for counties and Tribes to request through their Emergency Managers using OpsCenter.

Counties Applying For Phase One of Reopening Plan                                              Currently, all counties in Oregon remain under the Stay Home Executive Order 20-12. Thirty-two counties have applied to enter phase one of the reopening framework issued by the Governor’s office. The Governor’s Office is in contact with county leadership about what additional information may be needed  for an application to be processed. The applications for the thirty-two counties that applied are currently being reviewed by the Oregon Health Authority and will be informed if they meet the criteria to enter phase one of the framework for reopening.

Western Governors Coalition Request $1 Trillion in Financial Support                          The financial toll of COVID-19 is unprecedented and has impacted every sector of Oregon’s economy. Governor Kate Brown and the Western Congressional Coalition sent a request to Congress this week urging them to provide $1 trillion in relief dedicated to aiding state and local governments in making it through this crisis. This is an important step to help close the gap between lost revenue and funding ever more critical public services. It is crucial that government services that affect public health, education, and safety are not negatively impacted during this time when we rely on public services the most. I commend the work our western coalition partners are doing to help Oregon rise through this crisis in the most resilient way possible. You can read the full letter that was sent to congressional leadership here

Potential Budget Impacts                                                                                                    The state revenue forecast will be released on May 20 and the outlook is very grim. With early projections of a possible budget shortfall as deep as $3 billion for the current budget period, we will require difficult conversations about balancing the state budget. Gov. Kate Brown requested that state agencies provide proposals to reduce their respective budgets by 17% for the upcoming fiscal year that starts July 1. These budget reduction lists provide a window into a worst-case scenario for our state. But no cuts have been made at this point and these lists are not final. 

Thanks to prudent fiscal management, Oregon is the most prepared it has ever been for a recession. Our state has saved about $1.5 billion in reserve funds to help stabilize our schools and other critical services during an economic downturn. By using a portion of these reserve funds to protect key programs, we can reduce the level of cuts needed. In times of crisis, Oregonians rely on state services more than ever. Cutting state services will be a last resort. I will do all I can in the coming weeks and months to find creative solutions to minimize impacts on the critical services that Oregonians are counting on, including health care and education.

Business Oregon Launches Grant Program                                                                        A disproportionate amount of businesses that are owned by people of color have not been able to access the financial support from federal CARES Act  programs that they need. The lack of equitable access to these programs has left a crucial need to prioritize channels for funding businesses owned by underrepresented groups. The Oregon Legislature, in partnership with Governor Kate Brown, allocated $5 million from the state's General Fund to assist small businesses, with an emphasis on sole proprietors and historically disadvantaged businesses who have been impacted by COVID-19. An additional  $5 million has been redirected from existing programs at Business Oregon to create a $10 million fund for cities, counties, and Economic Development Districts that have existing small business COVID-relief programs or will create new programs to issue grants to local small businesses with fewer than 25 employees. Proposals for the first round of funding will  be Monday, May 18. More information regarding the details of this program can be found here

Paycheck Protection Program Funding                                                                                As of May 1, financial institutions in Oregon have obtained more than 31,000 loans for small businesses, totaling over $3 billion. The good news is that as of May 8, there was still about $125 billion in funding available. If you are still seeking help with a PPP loan, contact your financial institution or the SBA to find a local lender who can help you apply.

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: Rep.BarbaraSmithWarner@oregonlegislature.gov I phone: 503-986-1445
address: 900 Court St NE, H-295, Salem, OR 97301
website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/smithwarner