COVID-19 Update


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 22, 2020

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Dear friends,

    I have long been grateful for Oregon's dedication to vote by mail, never more so than during this time when it's so important to practice physical distancing to limit the spread of COVID-19. To everyone who cast their ballots: Thank you for fulfilling your civic duty and participating in our democracy!

    Last Friday, May 15, all counties in Oregon entered "baseline reopening" status. That means places like grocery stores continue to remain open and restaurants can be open for take-out or delivery service. In addition, standalone retail businesses can open, though indoor and outdoor malls remain closed. Some parks have reopened, as has non-emergency medical care. Local cultural, civic and faith gatherings are allowed for up to 25 people, provided there is proper space for physical distancing. In addition, social gatherings are allowed only if they are under 10 people and physical distancing can be maintained.

    Day camps and child care services can open under specific restrictions and child care is open. Facilities are directed to prioritize placements for the children of health care workers, first responders and frontline workers. Public transit continues to remain open, with specific sanitation guidelines and physical-distancing enforcement.

    Health and safety guidance, including guidance on face coverings and for service providers, can be found here. You can read more on guidance for specific subject areas:

    In addition, with the exception of the tri-counties (Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas) all other counties, including Douglas and Lane, were approved to enter "phase I" of reopening on top of baseline status. In those phase I counties, Governor Brown issued specific guidance on:

If counties see a jump in cases, it may slow their progress toward entering phase II reopening. Or, they may need to reinstate restrictions on businesses and gatherings. Therefore, it is key that we continue physical distancing and infection control through proper hygiene including frequently washing hands with soap and water and use of face coverings in public.

    In normal times, the Legislature would have gathered this week for a round of "Legislative Days," during which committees would convene for informational hearings. Since in-person meetings aren't possible due to the public health crisis, remote hearings are being held instead. House committees have been meeting this week (and will continue next week), then Senate committees will convene during the first week of June. Agendas and links to watch live feeds and/or recordings are available on OLIS under the "Committees" tab, once posted.

    Below you will find information on:

- Latest Oregon COVID-19 Infection Data
        - Oregon Supreme Court Validates Governor's Emergency Orders
        - June Revenue Forecast
        - Updates from the Oregon Employment Department
        - Critical need for African-American Blood Donors
        - 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 May 22, 2020, our state has experienced the following number of positive cases and deaths attributable to COVID-19:

  • 3,770 cases in Oregon
  • 107,745 people tested for COVID-19 in Oregon
  • 147 deaths reported in Oregon

Oregon Supreme Court Validates Governor's Emergency Orders

    On May 18, a Baker County circuit court judge issued a statewide temporary injunction for the plaintiffs in a legal challenge to Governor Brown's emergency authority to issue executive orders enforcing physical distancing measures and closures of many businesses to limit the spread of COVID-19. That same day, Oregon Supreme Court Justice Thomas Balmer granted the State of Oregon an emergency stay of the temporary injunction allowing the Governor's executive orders to remain in effect, agreeing with the state's position that abruptly ending the emergency orders amid a pandemic could have serious health impacts and should not be taken without a more thorough consideration of the law. You can find more information about the ongoing lawsuit from this OPB article.

    The following day, U.S. District Judge Michael McShane denied the same plaintiffs' motion for emergency injunctive relief in federal court, writing in part, “the [U.S.] Supreme Court 'has distinctly recognized the authority of a state to enact quarantine law and health law of every description.'"

June Revenue Forecast

    The June 2020 Economic and Revenue Forecast was released at a joint meeting of the Senate and House Revenue Committees. This forecast, summarized below, came as no surprise; the impact of COVID-19 on Oregon's economy is dramatic. I anticipate that strategic measures will need to be taken by legislators to maintain service levels as best as possible, with focus on funding critical services that Oregonians rely on so they can take care of themselves and their families The Ways & Means Committee is expected to meet soon to develop proposals to balance our state budget.

Revenue Outlook

    Projected 2019-21 net General Fund resources are down $1.8 billion and projected 2019-21 lottery resources are down $364.1 million from the March 2020 forecast. Taken together with losses to the Corporate Activity Tax and Marijuana Excise Tax, projected revenue is down $2.7 billion for the 2019-21 biennium.

    Projected Corporate Activity Tax revenue for the 2019-21 biennium is down $409.7 million from the March 2020 forecast. The June 2020 forecast projects $1.18 billion in CAT revenues for the 2019-21 biennium.

    The Rainy Day Fund is not expected to receive any revenue following the end of the 2019-21 biennium.

    The projected ending balances for the reserve accounts for the 2019-21 biennium are:

  • Education Stability Fund ($800.1 million)
  • Rainy Day Fund ($949.4 million).

    There is a projected deficit of $664.4 million in the General Fund for the 2019-21 Biennium.

Economic Outlook

    As a result of the ongoing public health crisis, Oregon has entered a severe recession. According to data from the Office of Economic Analysis, this is the deepest recession on record with data going back to 1939. It is projected that the recovery will take years, likely leading halfway through the decade. It is also estimated that our pathway out of this recession will look unlike any in recent memory.

    Oregon unemployment is currently in record territory. According to the April employment report, the state lost nearly 270,000 jobs in March and April. This equals an unemployment rate around 14.2 percent statewide.

    The forecast estimates that there will be a period of strong growth later this year when businesses begin to rehire employees as social distancing measures are relaxed. This initial economic snapback may amount to more than one third of initial losses. Unfortunately, at that point, we will still be far from full recovery. The Office of Economic Analysis indicates that growth will likely be slow until the public health crisis is fully resolved.

Updates from the Oregon Employment Department

    As I continue to hear from constituents who are facing challenges or delays in dealing with the unemployment benefit process, I want to share the latest update that the Oregon Employment Department shared with us, directly and in full:

    "Some [claimants] are going on eight weeks without hearing from us, are getting confusing messages from us, or are still waiting to receive benefits. 
We know that most of those claims are from people who do not qualify for regular unemployment insurance (UI) benefits. That means they do not have enough wages on record, are independent contractors, or maybe they were about to start a new job, but were waylaid due to COVID-19. These are the folks who have been waiting for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, through the CARES Act.

    Many applied prior to the program being implemented. And, as guidance continues to roll out from the U.S. DOL [U.S. Department of Labor] we must adjust to be in conformance. For example, after 5 p.m. on April 27, the eve of our starting the PUA program in Oregon, U.S. DOL issued new guidance with additional requirements about what information is to be provided to people as they qualify for PUA and what information is needed on each weekly certification people file to continue receiving PUA benefits. Additionally, there are technical requirements such as to examine each claim and validate they are not eligible for regular UI, including checking with other states to see if the person has wages in other states that would qualify them for regular UI benefits. We are building programs quickly with initial guidance and adjusting and improving processes as we are given additional iterative instruction and as we respond to customer feedback. Like every other state, that’s our only path forward at this point. This is true for FPUC [Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation] launched early April, for PUA launched April 28, and for the PEUC [Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation] we are close to launching (testing now).

    "The CARES Act created the idea of several new federal programs, including PUA, and handed to states the task of implementing those new programs. Each federal program opens the door wider and wider for more people, hundreds of thousands of people, to file a claim for unemployment benefits. Each program creates the necessity to build processes, adjust IT systems, recruit and hire employees, construct and offer training sufficient for brand new employees to help claimants with brand new programs with increasing complexity. All of this takes time.

    "And, each new program we create follows the same tenant: Get help into the hands of as many people, as quickly as possible. For example, we did this with the Family First Act (redefined available, able, and actively seeking work definitions), FPUC ($600 weekly benefit), PUA, and soon with PEUC (13-week extension, close to launch). And there are more programs still in the queue, each requiring skilled resources to analyze, create, test, implement, and adjust. And for the programs we have already implemented, there is work to complete to ensure we are in compliance with federal requirements and can provide more information and reporting about how our programs are operating. This work must be done, but we have prioritized first getting help to Oregonians.

    "Prioritizing in this way creates both good and bad consequences. Most [Oregonians] are experiencing the good consequence of seeing hundreds of millions of dollars flowing into your communities. U.S. DOL requires us to report on our performance, including accurate data on where the money is going, and we are working hard on validating that data as well. Still there are too many who have claims that have not been processed or paid out yet. You can be assured, we are focused on those. We know that [legislators] are all taking calls about the hardship this is causing. We are, too.

    "So yes, the wait for some people is going on eight weeks and for some, the wait continues –– and continues to be confusing. By prioritizing standing up the federal programs as quickly as possible, prior to being appropriately staffed, while still receiving federal guidance, the sacrifice has been a backlog that remains difficult to resolve. It is true that it is not too much to ask for a simple confirmation of the status of a claim. Or that it would be great if we had enough trained, experienced people to answer all the phone lines we’re adding to reduce wait times. It is also true that we have limited time, guidance, and resources to do everything we want to and need to do. However, this is not stopping us from leaning in with full force.

    "We are truly sorry for this frustrating time and believe me, we are here every day helping as many people as we can, thousands and thousands of people. The team members here are showing up, giving their all, with integrity, focused on helping. Lastly, we thank you so so much for all your efforts to help us get accurate information out to Oregonians and for showing up too, every day for Oregon. Be well, stay well, and thank you. More soon."

Critical need for African-American Blood Donors

    The Red Cross is facing a new challenge, having the right type of blood for patients battling sickle cell disease during this coronavirus outbreak.

    Since mid-March, the number of African-Americans donating blood with the Red Cross has dropped by more than half. This is largely due to blood drive cancellations at businesses, churches and schools and the disproportionate COVID-19 infection rates for African-Americans compared to other ethnicities.

    Despite the steep decline in blood donations, the need for blood products for patients with sickle cell disease remains steady and constant. Without a readily available blood supply, sickle cell patients can experience severe pain, tissue and organ damage, acute anemia and even strokes. Additionally, African-American blood donors are vital for many patients with rare blood types, like those with sickle cell disease, who depend on blood that must be matched very closely to reduce the risk of complications.

    Here's how you can help according to the Red Cross:

  • Donate blood and share on social media. Visit or call 1-800-RED CROSS to schedule a blood donation appointment, and then share with your social networks to encourage them to give as well.
  • Encourage others to schedule an appointment to give blood.

    In times of crisis, the Red Cross is fortunate to witness the best of humanity as people roll up a sleeve to help those in need.

Primary Resource Links

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

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