Face Coverings Requirement Statewide; Emergency Session Updates; Legislation to Improve Connectivity for Rural Oregon

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Governor Kate Brown Extends Face Coverings Requirement Statewide

Face covering requirements apply to indoor public spaces, take effect on Wednesday, July 1   

(Portland, OR) — Governor Kate Brown announced today that Oregonians statewide will be required to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces, beginning this Wednesday July 1. The guidance applies to businesses and members of the public visiting indoor public spaces. Face covering requirements are already mandated in eight counties.

“From the beginning of the reopening process, I have said that reopening comes with the risk of seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases beyond our health systems’ capacity to test, trace, and isolate them,” said Governor Kate Brown. “Over the last month, we have seen the disease spread at an alarming rate in both urban and rural counties. The upcoming July 4th holiday weekend is a critical point for Oregon in this pandemic, and we can all make a difference.

“Modeling from the Oregon Health Authority shows that if we don’t take further action to reduce the spread of the disease, our hospitals could be overwhelmed by new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations within weeks.

“The choices every single one of us make in the coming days matter.

“Face coverings that cover your nose and mouth play a critical role in reducing the spread of this disease because droplets from our breath can carry the virus to others without us realizing it. If we all wear face coverings, practice six feet of physical distancing in public, wash our hands regularly, and stay home when we are sick, then we can avoid the worst-case scenarios that are now playing out in other states.

“I do not want to have to close down businesses again like other states are now doing. If you want your local shops and restaurants to stay open, then wear a face covering when out in public.

“Please keep your Fourth of July celebrations small and local. We saw a lot of new COVD-19 cases following the Memorial Day holiday. Another spike in cases after the upcoming holiday weekend could put Oregon in a dangerous position.

“Oregonians have all made incredible sacrifices over the last several months that have saved thousands of lives. The actions we take now can protect our friends, neighbors, loved ones, and fellow Oregonians from this disease, and prevent the need for another statewide shutdown. We are truly all in this together.”

Oregon Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) will take the lead, along with other state and local agencies, in enforcing face covering requirements for all covered Oregon businesses.

tribal youth

Senate Passes the Oregon Indian Child Welfare Act

SALEM – Today, the Oregon Senate unanimously passed House Bill 4214, the Oregon Indian Child Welfare Act.

House Bill was developed following a two-year long workgroup process in response to reports of Indian children’s experience with the child welfare system.

“I was very concerned by the disproportionate placement of American Indian and Alaska Native children in foster homes, and especially the treatment of those children while in foster care,” said Senator Arnie Roblan (D-Coos Bay) who carried the bill on the Senate Floor. “I am grateful for the dedicated process this legislation went through with stakeholders, all of whom kept the best interest of Indian children in mind and focused on the need to enact policies counter to historical assimilation policies.”

House Bill 4214 requires the Department of Human Services to provide biennial reports about Indian children in the child welfare system. The bill also modifies Oregon's dependency code to conform with the federal Indian Child Welfare Act and promote Indian children's continued connection to culture, family and tribe.

“The cultural connections Indian children will gain as a result of this legislation will ensure better outcomes for Indian children,” said Senator Roblan. “Indigenous people know well the devastation of viral disease and have experienced a long history of racial injustice. It is fitting that this concept has been included in this Special Session, it will improve the lives of young people.”

Senate Bill 4214 now goes to the Governor’s desk for her signature.

Capitol Gold Man

State Takes Action to Provide Financial Relief to Oregonians

SALEM – The Oregon Senate Democrats passed measures to address the critical needs that everyday Oregonians face during the COVID-19 crisis. A suite of bills approved today include housing security for renters, protections against foreclosures, the passage of vital regulations to protect vulnerable COVID-19 patients and the safeguarding of Oregonians’ CARES Act relief dollars.

The omnibus House Bill 4212 covers a variety of areas to support public health, individuals, local governments, courts and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The legislation included a number of measures. They were:

  • Emergency shelter siting - Temporarily waives all siting, design, and zoning regulations for local governments to develop low-barrier shelters and navigation centers to provide support for Oregonians experiencing unsheltered homelessness, who are at high-risk of virus transmission. Siting provisions are limited to 90 days.
  • Remote notary provisions - Authorizes a pilot program to allow notaries to perform work using electronic technology to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect public health.
  • Enterprise zone deadline extension - Delays the expiration date of enterprise zones in the state by six months, preventing a June 30 expiration.
  • Individual development account funds for pandemic relief - Provides flexibility for individual development accounts to be used for necessary medical expenses, to avoid eviction and for living expenses after the loss of a job during the pandemic.
  • COVID-19 race and ethnicity data - Requires health care providers to collect data on race, ethnicity, preferred spoken and written languages, English proficiency, interpreter needs and disability status (REALD) during the provision of health services related to COVID-19. Directs OHA to adopt rules requiring providers to collect and report data, specifies timelines for data collection, and allows OHA to provide incentives to health care providers to comply with requirements. Data is confidential and used for public health purposes.
  • Safe public meetings - Allows local governments and other public bodies to hold virtual meetings so they can continue to provide essential services and make decisions in a public and transparent manner, while preventing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting public health. The language specifies notice, quorum, social distancing, and recording requirements.
  • CARES Act payment protection - Protects vulnerable Oregonians who receive CARES Act Recovery Rebate payments having portions of those payments withheld, so all relief money can be used to pay for essential needs like housing, food and medical needs. Payments are protected until September 30, 2020.
  • Safe court proceedings - Gives the Chief Justice the authority in certain circumstances to extend statutory deadlines for court appearances if the COVID-19 pandemic results in delay of court processes. Allows for up to a 60-day extension of the time to conduct a trial of a defendant accused of a person crime, beyond the current 180-day limit, should the court find 1) circumstances caused by the pandemic establish a good-cause delay of the trial; 2) clear and convincing evidence of the substantial and specific danger of physical injury or sexual victimization to the victim or members of the public should release occur; and 3) no release conditions could sufficiently mitigate that danger.
  • Temporary Physician Assistant Authorization - Physician Assistants (PA) are given flexibility during the emergency period to practice at the top of their scope


Legislation to Improve Connectivity for Rural Oregon

SALEM – Senate Bill 1603 – the Rural Telecommunications Investment Act – passed the Senate on a 16-10 vote. Senate Bill 1603 will help Oregon make progress in eliminating “internet deserts” by modernizing the ways in which the state invests in telecommunications across Oregon.

“The digital divide across Oregon has become a critical concern during the COVID-19 crisis,” said Senator Arnie Roblan (D-Coos Bay). “Rural Oregonians have struggled to access remote work, online learning, telehealth, digital services like delivery of groceries and household items as well as access to personal support systems through phone and video connections.”

Senate Bill 1603 has been crafted to ensure unserved and underserved areas of Oregon as well as vital community resources, like libraries and schools, are prioritized for broadband access.

“The need and desire to invest in broadband infrastructure has been around for some time, but the cost to invest and maintain broadband access has been a barrier,” added Senator Roblan. “This bill will ensure those investments can be made and sustained. It will lessen the digital divide which will improve rural Oregon’s economy, ensure better outcomes for youth, bring community and care to those who are in isolation and those who need to access healthcare. I’m proud of what we’re doing for rural Oregon today.”

Senate Bill 1603 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.