Coronavirus update 13: Rising case numbers, scam alert

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Rep. Nathanson

Coronavirus update 13: June 17, 2020

Dear Friends,

The sudden increase in COVID-19 cases has our attention, and it’s not entirely unexpected. Yesterday, just one day: 278 new cases. Union County has voluntarily stepped back from Phase 2 to Phase 1. My worry is about those Oregonians who may hope that moving to Phase 2 means that things are looking good and we can relax now. Not really. What will keep us at a manageable level of cases and hospitalizations will be to keep using precautionary measures such as social distancing (the 6-foot rule) and wearing face coverings. I wrote a couple of weeks ago about risk levels related to activities like passing someone on a sidewalk outdoors compared to working in an office or going to a store. I’ve been disappointed going into stores where fewer than half the customers were wearing face masks and employees weren’t wearing them, either. But on a trip to a local hardware store in South Eugene last week every single customer and employee had a face covering!

Summer is coming, and as the weather improves some of you may want to check this out: Phase 2 guidance for Outdoor Recreation, including parks, playgrounds, and overnight camps. Find the reopening status of City parks and open spaces including basketball courts, community gardens, picnic sites and more here.

Wash your hands!



And Team Nathanson: James and Lindsay

Scam alert!

Imposters trying to get your money - UI claims and contact tracing

The Oregon Department of Justice has issued a scam alert for people who are pretending to be contact tracers. These imposters send emails and texts with links to fraudulent websites. Clicking on the link may download software, giving them access to  your personal and financial information.  If you receive an email or a text you think may be from a scammer posing as a contact tracer, do not click on any links. See below in the Health section exactly which info official contact tracers will and will not ask for.

Just today we also saw evidence that scammers are sending fraudulent emails about unemployment insurance from what appears to be a legislator's account. You will never be asked to pay a fee to access your unemployment insurance benefits. If you receive an email or a text you think may be from a scammer posing as a contact tracer or legislator, first do not click on any links. Then, file a complaint online at or call 877-877-9392.


johns hopkins

Source: Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. New COVID-19 cases in Oregon with a 3-day moving average. The red shaded portion indicates the 2-week trend in new cases is increasing. Click on the picture to find the source site.


During the week from Monday, June 8, through Sunday, June 14, OHA recorded 898 new cases of COVID-19 infection, a 44% increase from the previous week (620 new cases). The number of cases and testing need to be put in context together to get a picture of disease prevalence. As of June 14, the percent of tests which came back positive rose from 1.9% two weeks previously to 3.1%, signaling an increase in prevalence of infection. Hospitalizations and deaths are below their peaks, and the percentage of all visits to the emergency department for COVID-19-like illness remains below 1%. However, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 typically occur two or more weeks after onset of illness, so peak hospitalizations and deaths from current cases will likely occur in two to three weeks. Large workplace outbreaks account for some of the recent increase; however, some counties without large outbreaks have also experienced increases, believed to be at least in part because of relaxing social distancing orders. We are watching these trends closely as much of Oregon continues to reopen. OHA and local public health authorities have ramped up efforts to increase case investigation, contact tracing, and support for people who need to isolate or quarantine. State and local officials will continue to emphasize the critical importance of maintaining physical distance, limiting in-person gatherings, and wearing face coverings where physical distancing is difficult or impossible.

What happens on a contact tracing call?

As part of reopening, local county health departments will increase capacity to make contact tracing calls to people who may have come into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. OHA says, “We want everyone to feel safe answering the call from a contact tracer. First, you should know your information is strictly confidential and will be treated as a confidential public health record. Your information will not be shared with other agencies, including immigration officials. We also understand you may not answer a call from a number you don’t know. If a contact tracer is unable to reach you, they will leave a voicemail and request that you call back. The voicemail will not contain any health information.”

A contact tracer will ask: for your name, date of birth and where you live, for race, ethnicity, language and disability information: if you need an interpreter in a language other than English; if you have any symptoms of COVID-19; if you need a place to stay or have other needs to help you stay at home; and if they can contact you daily to monitor your symptoms and needs. See more on contact tracing here.

Do not answer: A contract tracer will never ask you for your social security number, your immigration status, or for a credit card number, bank account, or billing information. If anyone calls you requesting this information, hang up. They are not part of local or state contact tracing efforts.

Caution about disinfectant poisoning


Poison centers are seeing an increase in calls related to ingesting household cleaners since the onset of the COVID-19 public health crisis.  The CDC has conducted a study to investigate the behaviors of people seeking to ward off infection. The study found 40% of participants had used a “high-risk” practice, including cleaning fruits and vegetables with bleach or applying household disinfectants on bare skin. See more in this article. There is no evidence the virus is transmitted through food. Social distancing, proper handwashing, and wearing a face covering are still the most effective methods to prevent transmission. 

Weekly Workplace Outbreak Report

OHA is publishing data on workplace outbreaks, defined as two or more COVID-19 cases who work in the same location, have an epidemiologic link and have symptom onset or positive test within 14 days of each other. To protect privacy, OHA is reporting only workplace outbreaks with 5 or more cases and where there are at least 30 employees. If more than 50% of the employees are COVID-19 cases, then they will not report specific case numbers. Any suspected workplace outbreak is required to be reported to the local public health authority. Case counts include all persons linked to the outbreak, which may include household members and other close contacts. Find the whole table in the Weekly Report.

Equity in COVID-19 impact

COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted Black and African American, Asian and Pacific Islander, Native American, and Latinx people, in the US, and here in Oregon. Oregon Health Authority (OHA) explains that centuries-long history of racism and oppression have led to the very health conditions that exacerbate the impacts of COVID-19.

OHA explains they have "been involved in conversations with leaders of Communities of Color in Oregon on how to rectify mistakes." For the COVID-19 response, this includes improving collection of race and ethnicity data, improving access to testing, treatment and support services; supporting community-centered outreach and education for people to know how to protect themselves and their families and get the help they need, and helping more people get counseling to ease the worry and distress caused by the health and economic impacts of this disease. Find COVID-19 cases by demographic group here.

Current cases

This snippet shows cases by zip code found in the Weekly report. Column headers from left to right: Zip Code, # of Cases, and Cases per 10,000. I selected this section of the full table to include zip codes in Eugene, 9740x. Zip codes 97381-97385 are Silverton, Stayton, and Sublimity in Marion County, east of Salem.

zip code 3

County reopening status

In response to the recent increase in cases, last week Governor Brown temporarily put county applications to move to the next phase of reopening on hold. Today the Governor instituted a requirement to wear a face covering in public places like the grocery store for these counties: Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas, Hood River, Marion, Polk, and Lincoln.

Multnomah County will enter Phase 1, and Marion, Polk, and Hood River counties will move to Phase 2 this Friday. Counties in the Portland metro area and counties in the Salem metro area will be considered as groups when making future reopening decisions. See more in the press release. Union County has voluntarily stepped back to Phase 1 from Phase 2 after a large outbreak occurred. Find COVID-19 Testing and Outcomes data by county, such as this map showing cases per 10,000 people, here.

cases by county 17

Governor Brown and her team emphasized that Phase 2 will be in place for the foreseeable future, most likely through the summer and into the fall.  A vaccine and/or treatment are critical before opening more broadly. 

Until then it's important to maintain precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19, including face coverings where social distancing isn’t always possible, such as retail stores, workplaces, etc.

From the City of Eugene

The City of Eugene is continuously assessing City services and how to reopen programs and services that were closed during the early months of the pandemic. Phase 2 permits several new things, including larger gatherings, the reopening of pools, theaters, bowling alleys, arcades and other venues, the resumption of recreational, non-contact sports and extended hours for bars and restaurants. 

For kids: Summer camp and childcare

A major challenge for reopening is access to daycare for people returning to work. Eugene Recreation is now offering childcare at Sheldon, Petersen Barn and Amazon community centers. “Children are in small groups and physical distancing, sanitizing protocols and health checks are all part of the daily safety protocols. Priority for childcare is still being given to essential workers.” See more childcare info here.

Eugene Recreation is offering summer camps this summer starting June 22. See their online registration website

Public library


Beginning June 15: Downtown Library’s outside book returns will open for limited hours: 7 AM-5 PM Monday through Saturday. “No need to rush to return items, as all loans have been extended through summer and no fines will be charged.” Cardholders with “held” items will be contacted to make appointments for curbside pick-up. To get ready, library staff have located and prepared more than 5,000 items requested by Eugeneans.

While library buildings remain closed, e-books, streaming movies and other resources are available and online-use cards are free for all in Eugene. Check the Library’s website for ongoing updates, or follow @euglibrary on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, or call 541-682-5450, 10 AM-6 PM, Mon.- Sat.

Evolving homelessness response

The City is beginning a “phased removal of some of the portable toilets and handwashing stations in parks and public rights-of-way." Under Phase 2, the City will return to pre-COVID-19 camping rules for parks and right-of-way areas and begin the prioritized removal of the sanitary facilities when: nearby encampments are cleaned up, nearby public restrooms in parks are reopened, they no longer serve a nearby encampment. Portable toilets and handwashing stations in the downtown core will remain in place until the City’s Emergency Operations Center demobilizes or other City officials decide they are no longer needed.

Economic relief updates

Federal assistance to business: Paycheck Protection Program

The program has been modified and is now more lenient, with extended times and different formulas. Recent federal legislation extended the amount of time a business is allowed to spend funds received through the Paycheck Protection Program and still qualify for loan forgiveness. The new period is extended from eight to 24 weeks, or the end of the year, whichever comes first. (The time period to repay money owed on the loan has been extended from two to five years.) The percentage of funds that must be used on payroll expenses has been lowered from 75% to 60% and the deadline to meet staffing criteria has been extended from June 30 to December 31. See more here.

Rent assistance

Lane County will receive approximately $900,000 per month through December 2020 for rent assistance beginning in June. The new funding, which comes from the federally-funded State of Oregon Coronavirus Relief Fund, will be used for the current waitlist and for new applicants when the eligibility application re-opens (likely with some adjustments given federal funding requirements).

Lane County received more than 1,800 eligibility applications, and to date 1,295 of those have been completed. Lane County says they are “unable to accept additional eligibility applications for rent assistance at this time. Lane County and its agency partners are working with eligible applicants to complete the full application and disburse the current funds as quickly as possible. Those who have applied for and do not receive assistance from the first funding round will be placed on a waitlist for the next round of funding.” Check for updates.

Energy Assistance

LP20 CARES is a federally-funded program that provides qualifying households with a one-time payment toward their energy bill. It may be applied to electricity, natural gas, home heating oil, propane, wood pellets and wood. More than 522 applications for energy assistance have been submitted online or with community partner agencies. A total of $575,000 is available to help Lane County residents affected by COVID-19.


Community agencies assisting with the program will begin to close the waitlist as their agency receives the maximum number of applications they can accept. The waitlist remains open, but households are encouraged to apply as soon as possible. Find out more about eligibility requirements and the waiting list for funding at:

New developments

What will the next school year look like?

The Department of Education (ODE) released a blueprint for the 2020-2021 school year last Wednesday. Similar to the way each school district implemented distance learning in a way that best fits their students' needs, each public school will form a plan for operating within the statewide guidance, tailored to their community. Schools will be able to have all in-person instruction, all remote learning, or a combination of the two. If a school has in-person instruction, students and staff will be screened before arriving, a 35-square-feet-per-person distance will set the capacity of each room, and staff who are regularly within 6 feet of students or staff will have to wear a mask. Each plan must address eight elements including public health protocols, response to outbreaks, equity, instruction, and mental, social, and emotional health.

Governor Brown is convening a Healthy Schools Reopening Council to advise her and ODE on the reopening process and inform additional guidance. She has ensured the Council will have voices from Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color, and the Council will give feedback on equitable policies.

To stay updated on 4J’s plan for the fall, see the 4J Coronavirus (COVID-19) webpage.

Legislature approves plan to use federal Coronavirus Relief Fund

The legislative Emergency Board approved more than $247 million in federal Coronavirus Relief Fund dollars to support Oregonians and small businesses impacted by coronavirus.  The fund will be used for

  • rental assistance, housing stabilization and mortgage assistance;
  • support for Oregonians who are not otherwise eligible for unemployment benefits, individuals having difficulty paying their utility bills, and survivors of domestic violence;
  • expanding access to affordable telephone and broadband service for low-income households;
  • enhancing behavioral health focus on communities of color, Oregon’s federally recognized tribes, and vulnerable populations;
  • assistance to child care providers;
  • supporting the Rural Broadband Capacity Program to support safe distancing practices by connecting schools, health care providers and businesses;
  • rural hospital stabilization grants;
  • providing personal protective equipment (PPE) for small businesses;
  • technical assistance to minority and women-owned businesses; and
  • helping maintain referral services through 2-1-1 during the pandemic.

Health insurance payment grace period

The Department of Consumer and Business Services extended its emergency order for health insurance companies through July 3, 2020.  During the COVID-19 outbreak, the order requires health insurance companies to provide at least a 60-day grace period to pay any past-due premiums, pay claims for any covered services during the first 30 days of the grace period, and extend all deadlines for reporting claims and other communications, and provide members with communication options that meet physical distancing standards. The order will be extended in 30-day increments during the course of the COVID-19 outbreak. Read the original order here and the extension here.

Medical resources

I received the following information in a briefing by representatives of the pharmaceutical industry:

  • Medicine Assistance Tool: type in which medications you have a prescription for and some other information which can help determine if there’s a program near you to help lower your cost.
  • RX On The Run: Personalized wallet card to document prescriptions and other important medical information. 
  • Coronavirus Resource Hub: COVID-19 resources for individuals including dialysis, diabetes and telehealth and mental health resources.

Information resources

Building a Safe and Strong Oregon: reopening plan, County status and Statewide guidance
Lane County Public Health: Local data, Blueprint for reopening and Community resources
Oregon Health Authority (with a link to subscribe to their news service)
Oregon Health Plan (open enrollment)
University of Oregon webpage on UO's COVID-19 response
Oregon Office of Emergency Management OEM COVID-19 response
Employment Department: for business: Work Share
Unemployment Insurance Online Claims and new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
Bureau of Labor and Industries Coronavirus and Workplace Laws
Department of Human Services.
Department of Education
Oregon Food Bank's Food Finder
Oregon Law Center: Information on housing & employment protections, domestic violence aid, emergency public assistance and more