Coronavirus Update: Protests During A Pandemic

House Speaker Tina Kotek

Coronavirus Update: Protests During A Pandemic

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Across the country and in Oregon, we are seeing the pain and grief Americans have been feeling about the murder of George Floyd and the tragic prevalence of police brutality.

Everything I watched and read over the weekend highlighted that the vast majority of people attending the protests were participating peacefully. People are processing the horrific racism in our society and the long-standing inequities it has caused, all within the context of a devastating global pandemic and economic depression. Emotions are understandably running high, but I condemn the tactics we saw from many law enforcement agencies that escalated into violence against protesters and media members.

Whatever you are doing to work for a more just and fair society, I ask that you act with empathy and don’t lose sight of the global pandemic we are still facing every day.

If you attend a protest, please cover your face and do all you can to maintain physical distancing at all times. Also, do not hesitate to get a test if you have recently attended a protest. Oregonians have done an amazing job flattening the curve to prevent the virus from spreading exponentially. We must continue to do all we can to protect ourselves and others.

I also want to highlight this statement released on Saturday by the Oregon Legislative People of Color Caucus. Here is the statement in full:

“Yesterday, at ‘A Eulogy for Black America,’ thousands of Portlanders gathered to mourn the death of George Floyd and the countless other Black men, women, and children slain at the hands of those sworn to protect and serve. They gathered to be in community with each other to proclaim that Black Lives Matter, to demand accountability, to grieve, to let the world know that even amidst a global pandemic we will not allow Black people to die silent and invisible deaths. They gathered to say that long before Coronavirus began to ravage our communities, the leading cause of Black death in America was, and continues to be, institutional racism.

“By now, we all know that after that protest, a small group went to downtown Portland with the intent to deface buildings and start fires. These opportunists were outliers who were not following the leadership of Black community organizers. Vandalizing small businesses, some of them Black and POC owned. In one instance, it took Black community members placing themselves between a business and vandals to protect it from being destroyed. We are just beginning to lay plans to reopen and these actions are destructive to our efforts as we try to weave together what COVID-19 has already torn apart.

“We are all angry at the disregard for Black lives, the lack of justice in our criminal justice system, the funneling of wealth from Black communities. We, the POC Caucus, are intimately acquainted with the fear that for US, and for our fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, husbands, wives and partners, any encounter with law enforcement could turn deadly.

“We are doing the work every day to show up for our communities, to pass legislation that holds police accountable, that formalizes anti-racist, anti-bias trainings and zero tolerance policies for racist behavior in our institutions.

“We need all hands on deck for this work. We need our non-Black community members to speak truth to power, to protect us, to stand with us in this fight for justice, in this fight for our lives.”

Unemployment Update

The House Interim Committee on Business and Labor met in a special Saturday morning meeting to question the Oregon Employment Department about the agency’s handling of unemployment benefit claims. You can read coverage of that meeting here.

Yesterday, Governor Brown called for and received the resignation of the department’s director, Kay Erickson. I support any change that is meant to improve customer service and get Oregonians the money they are owed. We need to see better results.

I hope the new director and the agency get the full support of the Governor. Whatever it takes, things have to be better for Oregonians. A crisis management, all hands on deck approach is absolutely necessary.

My office continues to receive emails from individuals stuck in processing limbo. We are up to more than 400 emails. My team is staying on top of the inquiries, and we are working directly with the department to help to resolve them.

The Latest News

  • Oregon Public Broadcasting posted an interview here with Townsend Farms owner Margaret Townsend, which I would recommend reading. I’m paying close attention to outbreaks like these, where farmworkers and the Latinx community are disproportionately impacted.
  • The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) opened today for limited business by appointment, but saw its phone system overwhelmed right away with thousands of calls attempting to book appointments. The DMV is expected to have its online request form for in-person appointments in place by Wednesday morning.
  • The Multnomah County Library will begin offering no-contact sidewalk service at select locations on Monday, June 8. The Oregonian has more information here, and the Multnomah County Library will post updates about this service here.
  • The Oregon Health Authority reported 59 more confirmed cases of coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 4,192 confirmed cases. There are 4,302 confirmed and presumptive cases combined. Sadly, there has been one more death from coronavirus, meaning there have been 154 confirmed deaths in Oregon from coronavirus.

OHA COVID-19 Update 6-1-2020

OHA Hospital Capacity 6-1-2020

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.



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