Coronavirus/COVID-19 Update: May 22nd

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Dear Friends and Neighbors, 

In this edition of my COVID-19 newsletter, you will find a lengthy update on Unemployment Benefits, information on what outdoor recreation opportunities are open for the holiday weekend and which we should steer clear of for now, and a thank you to the churches and faith communities continuing to safely serve our communities.  I hope you will also find something in here that is relevant to your life.  Today was the start of what is usually May Legislative Days, but is now “Legislative Weeks” thanks to the need to do virtual meetings.  Today I tuned in to watch my colleagues in the Economic Development Committee.  I had to give up my position on that committee this year in favor of becoming Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on Transportation, so it was a real pleasure to see all of my colleagues virtually, and hear about the important issues they were discussing.  Click on the image below to view more information on “legislative weeks.”

Economic Development 5/22

Chair Lively, and Representatives Helm and McKeown at the virtual Economic Development Committee Meeting

New Developments

  • The Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) is fast-tracking applications to expand the sale of alcohol to sidewalks, streets, and nearby parking lots. The Oregonian has more information here.
  • Do you miss access to your local library? Oregon Public Broadcasting has more information here on when libraries across the state may reopen. You can learn more about the Washington County Library’s online resources here. As a part of the Phase 1 reopening plan, Washington County released the following statement about libraries: 
    • “Washington County Cooperative Library Services (WCCLS) is working with member libraries to develop a flexible framework to guide the reopening of library services. The framework will be gradual, scalable and can be dialed back as necessary:
      • The framework will be developed collaboratively with library directors and staff.
      • There will be a coordinated but not synchronized approach, as decisions to open library buildings and restart some aspects of service are made locally and independently.
      • Libraries will understand under what conditions and at what point WCCLS will resume (or resuspend) its centralized services.
    • The federal Institute of Museum and Library Services is working with the CDC and Battelle to develop science-based best practices for safe materials handling. The timeline for when that work will be released is coming soon.”
  • Tax Filing: If you need help filing your taxes and your household makes below $69,000 a year, CASH Oregon, a program of the Metropolitan Family Service, can help. In response to the pandemic, CASH Oregon is taking its free Volunteer Tax Assistance to the phone. IRS certified volunteers can answer your tax questions and guide you through filing your own taxes. Federal income taxes are due this year on July 15.  For more information, go to the CASH Oregon website or call the free tax help hotline at 503-966-7942. The hotline is available Monday to Wednesday, 9 am to 4 pm.

Case Data

  • National Numbers: 
    • Confirmed Cases: 1,571,617 (up 20,522 from yesterday)
    • Deaths: 94,150 (up 1,089 from yesterday)
    • These national numbers come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  You can view their national and state by state data here
  • Oregon Status Report:  Oregon now has 3,864 total cases (confirmed and presumptive) of COVID-19.  Today we have 45 new confirmed cases and 3 new presumptive cases.  Tragically we have had a total of 147 Oregonians die from COVID-19.  Washington County still has one of the highest case counts at 669 confirmed cases, however we are seeing a downward trend in new cases.  You can review on-going updates from OHA by clicking on the table below. 
Daily Update May 22

Table showing Oregon case, testing and demographic data, link to more information


  • Oregon Health Authority has also released a new Data Dashboard, that shows regular statewide and county by county updates about our progress meeting and maintaining the Governor’s criteria for entering Phase 1.  Click on the map below to view the new dashboard. 
Map of Criteria Met

This map shows the counties that currently meet all indicators for Phase 1 and those that do not meet all of the indicators.

Thank you to Churches, Faith Communities and Non-Profits

I want to thank our Faith Communities and Non-Profit organizations that have been supporting folks across Oregon.  The need for food, services and support while dealing with COVID-19 issues in the last two months has been greater than ever. Western Washington County has really responded. Many of the Faith Communities have gone on Zoom, Facebook Live, and even used taped services and Conference Calls to stay connected, and provide social and spiritual support to congregations during these difficult times. Thank you for helping to put safety first as we navigate these difficult times. This Opinion Piece in the Oregonian, written by a chaplain and professor of religious studies at Pacific University and a UCC Minister, clearly articulated my feelings that our faith communities in Washington County are stepping up in all of the right ways to support our community. 

Memorial Day Plans

Stay Local this Memorial Day

Stay close to home this memorial day, and visit local sights, while maintaining distance and wearing face coverings.


Governor Brown and a bipartisan group of mayors from 26 cities and towns across Oregon co-signed a letter urging Oregonians to stay in their communities during Memorial Day weekend. You can read the letter here. You can also read an opinion piece in the Oregonian from Lincoln County Commissioner, Claire Hall, asking coast lovers to stay home.  

Love The Coast? Visit Later

Love the Coast? Visit Later this summer, and shop and visit local sights this weekend instead

Some Hillsboro Parks Open:

Hillsboro’s Dog Parks, Tennis Courts, and More Recreation Amenities to Reopen on Saturday May 23rd. Park patrons are asked to maintain physical distancing requirements and will be limited to groups of 10 people or fewer at a time, per State of Oregon rules that are currently in effect.  Hillsboro parks and trails are open for use, but other park amenities such as playgrounds, basketball courts, sports fields, and picnic shelters remain closed. 

Find more information here.

Farmers Markets

Hillsboro Farmers' Markets are open. Come out this weekend to support your local vendors and enjoy the bounty that our area has to offer.

Shop Safely at the Farmers Market

Order ahead, and shop safely at the Hillsboro Farmer's Market

Unemployment Update

March Applications: 

According to the Employment Department, there are 292 initial claims filed through March 28 that have not yet been processed.  These claims are more complicated than average and require more time and experienced personnel.  The agency has committed to reaching out to all of these March applicants to let them know that their application is received, and being worked on.  If you filed in March and haven’t heard anything from the agency, please email me.  The department is transitioning their most experienced claim workers to these cases so that they can be resolved as soon as possible.  

If you filed in April and haven’t heard anything about your claim, I understand that you are also very anxious and in need of clear communication and benefits.  The employment department continues to train newer staff to handle more and more complicated cases.  Average wait times for benefits before COVID-19 were 3-4 weeks, these days 5 weeks is more common.  If you have a claim that has been waiting longer than that, you are welcome to contact my office, and my staff and I will do our best to help.  

Calling the Employment Department: 

As I have mentioned in previous newsletters, call volumes into the Employment have reached record highs, leading to hours long wait times, and even to technical glitches preventing claimants from connecting at all.  The department is working on different ways to solve this problem, including assigning more new staff to answer the phones.  This has the downside, of more complicated questions not being answerable by every employee on the phones, but at least it can ease the wait times.  Please be patient with the Employment Department staff if they cannot answer your question.  We are all doing our best to manage this crisis as best as we can.  

If you would like to check on the status of your claim, or to verify that your application is complete, you may have success by contacting a local WorkSource office to get at least a status update on your claim.

Extended Benefits: 

Oregon is taking applications for benefits through the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program, which was part of the federal CARES Act that provides an extension to regular unemployment insurance benefits.

You could be eligible for PEUC if:

  • You used all benefits from a current claim for regular unemployment insurance benefits.
  • Your most recent valid claim expired prior to June 30, 2019.
  • You do not qualify for a claim in any other state, Canada, or through another federal program.
  • You meet the department’s temporary eligibility requirements related to COVID-19, found here.

Some PEUC benefits have already been paid out, according to OED. If you have used all benefits from a current claim and qualify for PEUC, the application for traditional unemployment insurance should redirect you to the PEUC application. More information on the program is available here.

PUA-Pandemic Unemployment Assistance: 

Payments through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which provides unemployment benefits to workers who otherwise would not qualify for regular unemployment, started going out last week.

Many PUA applicants have received no acknowledgment that their application was received.  This should be changing next week.  The department is establishing an automated email response system to notify new applicants. It may take up to two weeks for all of these receipt notifications to be functional, but this will be a feature going forward for PUA applications. The department is also working on a dial program to notify those who have applied but haven’t had their claim processed yet.

OED is in the process of taking email and faxed applications and entering them into the online system. This is manual work that takes away from claims processing, but it’s necessary to ensure applicants can efficiently monitor their status.

PUA initial claims and weekly claims can now be done entirely online. OED is working on improving the new program to confirm receipt of claims. We are hopeful this will be functional in the coming weeks.

Below are videos from the department that walk through the PUA application process for both new claims and weekly claims.

I know there has been some confusion about who qualifies for the PUA program, as opposed to traditional unemployment benefits. If you’ve received wages via a W-2 tax form in the last year, the department recommends you should file through the regular system, not PUA. These programs require different applications and different information, so filling out the wrong one can slow down benefits going out. Here is the department’s FAQ on who qualifies for PUA.

As parts of the state have reopened, and as Washington County works to reopen, it is important to know that the federal PUA establishes restrictions on who can receive benefits once they are called back to work.  If you’ve been diagnosed with the virus, have an underlying health condition, are part of a vulnerable population or have been instructed to stay home by a health care provider, you will continue to qualify and can self-certify when filing your weekly claim.  OED may ask for verification after the fact, like a note from a health care provider, so I recommend saving that information.

The CARES Act has a list of criteria to meet in order to get benefits if you are able to return to work. More information on those criteria, such as needing to provide child care due to the pandemic or staying home to care for someone suffering from COVID-19, can be found here.

Otherwise, if an individual doesn’t return to work, they will no longer be eligible for PUA. This is a federal program, which means Oregon can’t change those restrictions. 

Lastly, please let us know if you get messages about needing to restart your claim application. This has been an issue for some people, especially with the PUA program. If this happens, the department does recommend restarting the application. However, we can pass along this information to the department so they are aware of any glitches and can fix them faster.

Initial PUA Claim-Video

watch this video to learn more about filing a new PUA claim

Weekly PUA Claim-Video

watch this viedo to learn more about filing your weekly PUA claim'

Health Coverage

Many Oregonians are experiencing layoffs, drastically reduced hours, and uncertainty in their jobs. For those with employer-based health insurance, this can mean the loss of health coverage when it is most vital. To help you navigate your options, the Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) has put together helpful information here sharing the seven ways workers with employer-based insurance can maintain coverage after a layoff or reduction in hours.

If you need assistance looking at your options, a licensed health insurance agent can help you. An online tool to help Oregonians find licensed health insurance agents in their area is available through the Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace. Enter your ZIP code and select the Health Insurance Agents option to find a list of licensed agents who can help you navigate this process.

Additional Resources

Employers and Employees

Education Links

Local Government

Utilities Assistance

Food and Housing Assistance



Oregon Health Authority


View Past Updates, Share and Subscribe: 

If there was COVID-related information in a past newsletter that you want to go back to, but find you’ve deleted it, you can always go to my legislative website (, click on “News and Information,” and you’ll find them all there. You can also share this site with your friends and loved ones, so they can view past newsletters, and subscribe to future updates.  

David Hill Winery

Working from home, it is so easy to get stir crazy! Today I took a drive out to David Hill Winery for some fresh air, and beautiful views. There are lots of great sights near home we can visit, while keeping our distance from others!

Yours truly,

Representative Susan McLain

Representative Susan McLain
House District 29

email: I phone: 503-986-1429
address: 900 Court St NE, H-376, Salem, OR 97301