Do What You Can Do 5/18/2020

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Senator Jeff Golden

 *  “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.” —Helen Keller

May 18-- For the time being we’ll be using this newsletter to provide links to what we think are some of the most useful resources for weathering the COVID-19 pandemic. Please be sure follow the guidelines and social distancing practices provided by our public health authorities to get us through the crisis.


We know you might be missing the outdoors, so we thought we'd bring the outdoors inside. This photo was provided by Caroline O'Brien. Have a photo you've taken and want to share with us? Send it to with the subject “Photo Reminder.” We’ll use some in future newsletters.

Keeping Current on COVID-19

Friday, May 15, marked the beginning of Phase I of the plan to re-open our state and our communities. Businesses, offices and other organizations in thirty-one of Oregon’s 36 counties, including all of Southern and Eastern Oregon, can resume activities, with precautions that didn’t exist in those long-ago pre-Covid days of January and February. You can find the important details of re-opening at this useful website; I think it will answer most questions. Some of the most common questions are summarized and answered here.

            Nobody knows what impact the increased interaction of Phase I will have on Covid infection rates. That will be tracked over the next 21 days before we can expand activities into Phase II; in some ways we’re designing Oregon’s re-opening as we go. One governor found a good metaphor when he said reopening’s more like a dial than a switch—it could be turned up or down in weeks to come.

            Comments about re-opening keep flowing to my inbox. Most are generally comfortable and positive about Oregon’s pace, sometimes with very specific concern or question I try to address. Others think we could safely speed things up in the direction of business-as-usual. Those comments, and others from around the state, have had influence. Last week’s limited opening of state and county parks came, in part, from constructive citizen input. Your suggestions on turns of the “dial” are welcome and helpful.

            Another portion of my email is harder to read. They are mostly long, detailed form letters that describe the current restrictions and strategies (especially contact tracing) as ferocious assaults on our inalienable constitutional rights and major steps towards government tyranny. To different degrees they say we’re dealing not with a dangerous pandemic, but rather a plot to further enrich corporate interests and/or crush our civil liberties. These messages have an anger and absolute certainty to them that don’t invite conversation

            I see this small slice of my mail less as a stand-alone reaction to Covid restrictions than a sign of the times. I watch several trends continue to grow—widespread fear and uncertainty about the future, scapegoating of some Other for our problems (with blast-furnace media outlets constantly telling us how evil they are), the gap between those with and without privilege, the unwillingness or inability of those in power to address that gap, the feeling that nobody hears me. This all combines to bring cynicism and suspicion to a boiling point during this kind of crisis.

            These messages—outside the very few designed to threaten—shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. We’ve seen science distorted for private profit more than once in our lives, and we’ve seen governments (never, I think, in Oregon) that aren’t interested in our constitutional rights. But my bottom line is that today’s crisis is a genuine pandemic, complicated by knowledge gaps that make decisions more difficult, not a Master Plan to enrich the few and enslave the many. So I’ll continue to urge you to follow the guidelines that will restore our normal activities, even if the pace is slower than any of us would like.

            One more note on incoming mail. Some people have waited an unacceptably long time for action on their unemployment claims. If that’s not frustrating enough, they can’t even reach a human being by phone or email to find out what’s wrong. The general problem is a completely overwhelmed Employment Department; for several weeks running, they received twenty times more claims than in any pre-Covid week. They rushed to hire hundreds of new employees and ramp up data systems without catching up as they’d hoped. But they seem to be getting close. The head of the department clarified what’s happened in this recent update. I’m truly sorry if all this delay has been an inconvenience or worse for you. If you’ve been waiting for over a month and are still waiting in a couple of weeks—let’s say Friday, May 29—please let me know about your situation at

            Take good care—


Senator Jeff Golden
Senate District 3 (Rogue Valley)

Vote Reminder

Important Updates

  • Governor Brown also announced last Friday a partnership with Oregon Health and Sciences University (OHSU) a study called “Key to Oregon,” you can view her statements with links to the specific plan here or visit the website. The study will seek to better understand the coronavirus’s infection patterns with testing and precise, real-time mapping. It will also gather essential information to help Oregon’s leaders at the state and local levels make informed decisions around re-opening plans and infection prevention. The study will include attention to vulnerable communities, including Native Americans and people of color. The goal is to get people back to school and work faster while avoiding a second wave of infections.

  • Governor Brown issued an Executive Order extending the State of Emergency through July 6th. This allows the Governor to maintain current Executive Orders, like the moratorium on evictions and limits on gatherings. It also gives the Oregon Health Authority and the Office of Emergency Management authority to respond to the crisis. The State of Emergency also allows state agencies to waive rules or adopt temporary ones as necessary in respond to the crisis. That said, the State of Emergency can be lifted as soon as we meet the guidelines we've laid out for a safe reopening of the state. So please continue to stay home and social distance as much as possible.

  • The state has reopened certain parks and outdoor recreation areas for limited day use. Please be responsible while visiting these outdoor areas and continue to maintain social distancing practices and avoid travelling further than 50 miles from your home. For guidelines on how to take advantage of the outdoors while still following best practices to avoid spreading the coronavirus, check out the Governor's press release about the reopening. The Oregon State Parks Department has also compiled an FAQ about the reopenings.
OHA Bulletin

Resources for Current Information

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