Do What You Can Do 7/10/2020

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Senator Jeff Golden

 *  “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.” 

—Helen Keller


We’ve enjoyed your recent photos of beautiful Southern Oregon so much that we want to share more. This photo from the hills behind Jacksonville was provided by Bonita Martin. Have a photo you've taken and want to share with us? Send it to with the subject “Photo Reminder.” We’ll use some in future newsletters.

Keeping Current on COVID

          With states like Texas, Florida, Arizona and even California reporting frightening spikes in new Covid cases, how are we doing in Oregon?  Not great. Yesterday, July 9, broke previous records with 389 new cases reported.  These three graphs show how we’re trending statewide

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And Jackson County’s following the same general pattern:

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These graphics reinforce what we already know: resuming our economic and social habits without fanning the flames of this pandemic is a wickedly hard task. With very few available tools to help us, the dominant message across America, Oregon, and our communities these days is to wear face masks in all indoor public spaces, or pretty much anyplace outside the home where you can’t stay six feet away from others.

This has spurred a stream of form-letter emails from people who don’t agree. They urge me to do my part “to make sure that mask-wearing is voluntary, not mandatory in our communities.”  The form letter makes two basic points.

The first is that mandates like this violate basic human, constitutional and religious rights. That concern should be taken seriously; in another context I actually share it. I’ve come to see the TSA security program in airports as so irrational, intrusive and unlikely to protect us from actual danger that I’ve wondered if it’s aimed at least in part to desensitize us to violations of our personal space and privacy. While that thought feels a little paranoid as I write it, I can’t come up with other explanations for the persistence of such an off-target program.  

But I do see an alternative rationale for face-mask mandates. I respect the view of people who are vigilant about guarding personal liberty—that’s a sound practice these days—but sometimes want to respectfully ask them if they think much about balancing their personal rights with the corresponding ingredient of a healthy society: a degree of responsibility for the well-being of others. We need both to thrive.

The second and longer section of the form letter is a series of assertions summarized by one sentence: “Though there is science to support mask-wearing, there’s also a preponderance of science showing that masks can cause considerable harm and are ineffective in preventing the spread of coronavirus.” My own research—not deeply extensive, but considerable—tells me otherwise. “Preponderance” just isn’t accurate, and some of the specifics the letter uses to make the case don’t stand up. I get more detailed in my response to the anti-mandate folks who wrote me.

The point is not that the science of face masks is 100% settled—it’s not—or that there are absolutely no downsides to the policy. It’s this: we’ve taken on the nearly-impossible task of re-opening Oregon without severely revving up the virus, and we need all the help we can get. My studies tell me—clearly, not doubtlessly—that masking up in public helps. I’d say this editorial pretty much gets it right.


School Reopening                                                                                                                     Now that we’re into summer, more and more people are wondering if and how we can open schools back up in the fall. A statewide council has begun meeting to answer that question.

I don’t think you can overstate how important this is.  For months now, kids have been paying a truly heavy price in our pandemic response. Nobody knows for sure the toll this will take on their social and educational development, but it won’t be trivial. Whatever we can do to increase chances for safe re-opening for the 2020-2021 school year—that’s what we should do. (Have I mentioned face masks?)

Individual school districts will have a primary role in these decisions. Most are working hard now to develop different scenarios, depending on how the virus spreads in coming weeks, for their fall opening. If you’d like to weigh in, contact the Superintendent’s office in your school district to find out how.

            Ashland District                                                                  541-482-2811

            Phoenix-Talent District                                                      541-535-1517

            Pinehurst District                                                               541-482-1910

            Medford District                                                                541-842-3646

            Southern Oregon Educational Service District             800-636-7450

Unemployment                                                                                                                         We’ve talked about the unemployment debacle in too many newsletters now. From what we can tell, the Employment Department has just about pulled their act together for those qualifying for the normal unemployment compensation program, but not for the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program (PUA) for the self-employed, gig workers, etc. Next week, Democratic leaders will ask the legislative Emergency Board for $35 million in federal CARES funding for emergency relief checks for Oregonian who simply can’t wait for anymore bugs to be ironed out. Here’s their call for action. And our call is still out to contact us at if you’re still lost in the unemployment claims process.

Jordan Cove Pipeline                                                                                                                 The latest step on the long windy path of the intolerable Jordan Cove pipeline proposal is approval from the federal Department of Energy this week to export liquefied gas. It doesn't mean much. The main event is a coming push from the Trump administration to void requirements for the kind of approvals from Oregon State agencies that every similar project in living memory has had to obtain. Our state agencies have done their jobs, turning thumbs down to this project again and again. So the pipeline corporation’s only play is to get the courts to allow the Trump Administration to roll over the top of Oregon and what Oregonians want. It will be an epic courtroom battle. This website  can help you stay informed and involved. And OPB’s Wednesday article is definitely worth a read.

That’s it for this week. Stay in touch, and do what you can do.


Senator Jeff Golden, Oregon Senate District 3

Important Updates

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Current COVID Information

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COVID Resources

Business Resources:

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Social Services:

  • The National Alliance on Mental Illness has a helpline if you are struggling with mental illness in this stressful time, as well as many support groups of all kinds. The helpline is available from 9 AM to 5 PM at 503-230-8009, or toll-free at 800-343-6264. Visit their website here to find out more.

  • The Governor has created a Coronavirus FAQ for immigrants and refugees in a variety of languages.

  • Oregon Recovers has put together a list of resources for those struggling with addiction.
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Meals for All: 

  • Access has put together a lengthy list of local food pantries.

  • Oregon Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education’s Food Hero website with resources about meal budgeting, planning, and recipes. Its searchable database has plenty of quick, tasty, healthy and low-cost recipes.

  • The Oregon Food Bank has put together a "Food Finder" page to help locate local pantries and food assistance sites. 

Capitol Phone: 503-986-1703
Capitol Address: 900 Court St NE, S-421, Salem, OR, 97301
Podcast: Capitolizing