COVID-19 Updates 7/10/2020

Rep. Sollman

Friends and Neighbors,

Washington County Updates

Statement from Board Chair Kathryn Harrington on Washington County Remaining in Phase 1 of Reopening

Please read the following statement from Washington County Commission Chair Harrington, issued Wednesday. More information can be found here.

En español

The tri-county region is not ready to apply for Phase 2 of reopening.

As a community it is now in our hands to slow the spread of COVID-19. We have all heard this before but it bears repeating, the individual choices we make impact our community’s ability to slow this virus. That means we all need to continue to limit our social gatherings, to stay close to home and to follow the Governor’s order to wear face coverings.

Every day researchers are finding out more about this virus. We now seeing a spike in cases among young people. And we are just now starting to get a better understanding of the potentially serious long-term health effects for those who have recovered.

We have said all along that we will let our public health experts and scientists guide us. And what is clear from the numbers is that Washington County is not yet ready to enter Phase 2. We are seeing upticks in critical indicators, and will be watching the numbers over the next three weeks to see what effects the Fourth of July holiday had on our community.

We are looking at: 

  • the increase in cases, 
  • the percent of our tests that are positive, 
  • the number of cases we cannot link to other cases, and 
  • a trend that we are seeing in increased hospitalizations.  

We are watching the data closely and talking with Multnomah and Clackamas counties about their data to determine how and when to apply for Phase 2.

Washington County has ramped up contact tracing of positive cases and outreach to affected communities, and we’re helping those infected so they can isolate until they are recovered. In fact, our contact tracing has been at 100% since we launched our new program with surge staffing.

Public health is doing its part. Now, as a community, it’s time for us to ensure we are doing ours. We have about 115 people (including case interviewers, case investigators, contact tracers, epidemiologists, nurses, support and essential needs staff) doing this work and by next week will hire another 20 people. 

Some have asked about why Washington County seeks to be “de-coupled” from Clackamas and Multnomah counties with respect to moving in or out of the Governor’s phases for reopening. 

What we asked the Governor was to consider “de-coupling” on a case-by-case basis. So if one county is not hitting their numbers but the other two have satisfied all six criteria, we wanted to be able to ask for consideration. Right now, this is not an issue as we are all struggling to hit the required public health criteria.

We have been, and continue to, work regionally. Our public health is a tri-county effort with our public health officers working together. We are working on a tri-county social media and public relations effort right now to ensure we have consistent messaging across the region. One of the main areas of focus is the use of face coverings.

Finally, please remember:

  • Face coverings reduce the spread by blocking droplets and are required in all indoor public spaces, except on those under 12 or with a medical condition that prevents them from wearing one. 
  • Continue to keep your “social bubble” small, reintroducing friends and family slowly, outdoors whenever possible.
  • Prevention measures — hand washing, face coverings, and sanitizers — are still needed in any gathering, especially when we are socializing with family and close friends from different households.
  • Continue to keep activities close to home.
How to wear your mask correctly

Joint Committee On Transparent Policing and Use of Force Reform

The Joint Committee on Transparent Policing and Use of Force Reform began meeting this week. Information discussed includes:

  • Policing and Public Health Outcomes
  • Distinguishing Constitutional Freedoms from Violence
  • Officer-Involved Deadly Use of Force Cases in the Courtroom
  • Models for Modern Policing
  • Economics of Policing
  • Examining Law Enforcement Training in Oregon
  • Whistleblower Protections Under State and Federal Law

The Committee will meet again today to hear about "The Impact of Militarized Policing on the Public" and "Examining the Use of Force Continuum." Watch today's hearing here at 10:00am. 

Go here to watch previous meetings and click on the "play" button next to the meeting listing.

Click here

Unemployment Insurance Updates

Yesterday, House Speaker Tina Kotek and Senate President Peter Courtney announced a proposal to get $500 in the hands of Oregonians who are waiting on their unemployment checks.

The proposal calls for using $35 million in federal aid to give direct payments for Oregonians who have filed for, but not yet received, benefits from either the Unemployment Insurance program or the Pandemic Assistance Unemployment. It would direct the Department of Administrative Services to develop a simple process where Oregonians who have been waiting for benefits from the Oregon Employment Department can apply. The agency would then issue a $500 payment to those individuals as soon as possible. These one-time payments would not be linked to their future benefits. This proposal is expected to be before the Emergency Board next Tuesday.

Once we have more information about how to apply for the emergency relief checks, I will include it in my newsletter and share as widely as I can. My office will also share the application directly with anyone who has reached out for help.

In the meantime, I am continuing to work with the Employment Department to get answers for those of you who have reached to my office, and to advocate for more resources to speed the processing of claims.

For those of you who are still waiting to receive benefits, I would encourage you to apply for other programs to support you during this time.

Available assistance includes:

  • Food assistance – Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Child Care assistance – Employment Related Day Care (ERDC)
  • Cash for families with children – Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • Health insurance– Oregon Health Plan (OHP)

Find out more and apply online (https://govstatus.egov.com/or-dhs-benefits).

Oregon Employment Department Acting Director David Gerstenfeld Takes Questions from the Media.

Thank you to the Oregon Employment Department for providing the following important updates and highlights from Director Gersentfeld's press briefing.

For Regular Unemployment: If someone files an initial claim for regular unemployment, it will take up to four weeks to process the claim.

If an issue arises that requires adjudication, this may result in a significant delay of 12 to 14 weeks from when OED is able to identify that issue. This is due to the sheer volume of claims requiring review and the federal laws requiring OED to ensure people are eligible for benefits. Common issues that require adjudication include:

  • If somebody quits or is fired from their job, determining if the circumstances disqualify them from getting benefits
  • If somebody does not accept work that is offered to them, or is not available for work, finding out if the circumstances disqualify them from getting benefits
  • For people who work for educational institutions, every break between school years or terms, OED must adjudicate whether they are likely to be doing the same type of work after the break as they did before to determine if they can receive benefits during the break.

OED is doing everything possible to minimize the time it takes for a case to be adjudicated, including:

  • Hiring more adjudicators. Before the pandemic, Oregon had about 80 adjudicators; there are now have over 130 and OED is aggressively hiring with a target of getting to over 300. 
  • OED has created condensed training, reducing the normal training time from 15 weeks to 4; part of this is by having adjudicators specialize on particular issues so they can learn those completely and much more quickly start resolving issues.
  • Adjudicators continue to work overtime, knowing that so many Oregonians are depending on their work.

For Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA): If someone has applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, OED is still processing about 60,000 initial applications. If an individual has a claim has not yet been processed, those individual should not plan to receive PUA benefits until at least August 8. If someone filed their claim and received confirmation, they can check the status of their claim online rather than calling the PUA hotline because call volumes will continue to be high.

  • If an initial PUA claim was processed and someone received some benefits, they should expect to have stops and starts with benefits for the next few weeks. PUA applications and weekly certifications are still being manually processed, which means there are delays. OED asks people not to call if this is the only issue they are having with their claim. OED does have teams of people processing weekly PUA claims, and the high volume of calls means people that do have to talk to someone via phone in order to get any benefits are not able to.
  • In terms of calls to the hotline, OED expects call volumes to remain high for several more months. OED has added new phone lines, continues to hire and train staff, and has bolstered the infrastructure which is being battered by astounding numbers of calls.

OED knows that the best-case scenario is speaking directly to someone who can help. Unfortunately, it continues to prove to be extremely difficult for everyone to connect via phone due to the incredibly high volume of unemployment claims being received.

When to Call: OED would like to provide the following guidelines for when to call the hotline, which they hope will save some time and frustration.

  • Someone should call OED if:
    • If they got a notification that there is an issue with their claim
    • If it has been 4 weeks or more since they’ve claimed (for regular benefits) and haven’t received payment or heard from OED.
    • If they can’t file online.
    • If they receive a letter of concern and need to provide OED with information.
    • To confirm/accept a CWC (combined wage claim) work up (wages from other states).

There are some instances where calling the hotline is not going to resolve the issue, and it may actually prevent others who need to get through from doing so.

  • You should not call OED if the reason is to:
    • Check the status of a claim. Please do this online.
    • See if a claim was received. A notice is sent.
    • Restart a claim or file a weekly claim. This can be done online. (If unable to do this online, then a call is needed).
    • See if a claim is being adjudicated. If it is, an adjudicator will reach out.  (Please remember that calls from OED are not identified on a phone as being from the Employment Department – it may show as an unknown number.)
    • Seek assistance with a ReliaCard. Call US Bank if there are issues with payments posting, or you need a PIN resent,
    • Applying for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation—apply online. 

For Work Share Program: If an employer signed up for the Work Share program, expect to receive benefits about 8 weeks after they submit their application. In March of 2020, OED had 2-4 people handling Work Share claims. There currently are 105 and continued hiring is planned to get to the estimated 144 needed to fulfill the current need.

Links to the full briefing:

Reaching Out to Your Legislator Regarding Your Claim

My office, and all legislators' offices, have been working diligently to help constituents that have been waiting to hear from the Employment Department on their Unemployment Insurance and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claims. Most Oregonians have had their claims processed, but for those that have been waiting, you can contact your legislator for assistance. It is best to connect to your legislator directly to have them contact the Employment Department on your behalf. Use this link to find your legislator. If you reside in House District 30, please send us the following information to help us move your claim to the Employment Department more effectively and efficiently.

  • Name
  • Phone Number
  • Email Address
  • Mailing Address
  • Customer ID#/ or Confirmation #/ or last 4 of SSN
  • Initial Filing Date
  • Last Contact with Employment Department
  • Type of Claim (Regular UI, PUA, Adjudication, Restart)

Helpful Links

Here are some helpful links that may aid you in filing your weekly claims.

Work Source Centers

Some people have had success getting through on the phones with one of the State’s Work Source centers. I am including their numbers below in case that is helpful. They have full access to the system for unemployment claims. You can call any center across Oregon for help.

Astoria (503) 325-4821

Madras (541) 548-8196

Bend (541) 388-6070

McMinnville (503) 472-5118

Brookings (541) 469-9836

Medford (541) 776-6060

Burns (541) 573-5251

Newport (541) 265-8891

Canyon City (541) 575-0744

Ontario (541) 889-5394

Coos Bay (541) 756-8459

Portland Metro Gresham (503) 669-7112

Corvallis (541) 757-4261

Portland Metro N/NE (503) 280-6046

Dallas (503) 831-1950

Portland Metro SE (503) 772-2300

Enterprise (541) 426-4972

Prineville (541) 447-8076

Florence (541) 997-1913

Redmond (541) 548-8196

Grants Pass (541) 476-1187

St. Helens (503) 397-4995

Klamath Falls (541) 883-5630     

The Dalles (541) 296-5435 

Lebanon (541) 918-8887

Tillamook (503) 842-4488

Lincoln City (541) 994-6992

Woodburn (503) 982-2817

Independent Contractors, Gig Workers and Freelancers are Eligible for EIDL Loans Under the CARES Act

Read the following article from Forbes on how to apply for a $1,000 grant if you are an eligible independent contractor, gig worker or freelancer.

"Under the CARES Act passed on March 27, 2020, independent contractors, gig workers, and freelancers affected by the coronavirus crisis are eligible to receive a government grant of $1,000. The SBA sometimes refers to these grants as “advances,” but you are not required to repay this money to the government."

Follow this link to the application.

Public Safety Updates

Washington County Sheriff's Office has New Online Reporting System

WashCo Sheriff

Need to file a police report? We have launched an online police reporting system where community members can file police reports online as long as they meet specific requirements. For more information, please visit us at bit.ly/WCS0_ReportOnline.

The following reports can be reported online:
  • Identity Theft
  • Lost Property
  • Theft (including thefts from vehicles)
  • Vandalism (including graffiti and damage to vehicles)

If you do not wish to make an online report or your incident is not listed in the category selection list, please call 9-1-1 if an emergency or 503-629-0111 for non-emergency, to file your report.

Community Outreach

Forest Grove High School Unified Performers Present "Over the Rainbow"

The Forest Grove High School Unified Performers virtually Present "Over the Rainbow." July 11th at 7pm on their YouTube Channel (Unified Performers). It is an original production about people coming together to support each other during a pandemic with brains, heart and courage.

The performance has 23 cast members and was made possible through a grant from Northwest Regional Education Service District.

Unified Performers

The Oregon Zoo is Reopening July 12

Zoo

All zoo guests, including members, must now reserve timed tickets in advance online. You will be asked to pick the day and time to visit, and you will receive an electronic ticket that can be scanned when you arrive. Your membership card will not be required at this time because your tickets will have your unique number printed on them. Anyone with a member ticket will be asked to show photo ID when entering the zoo.

Follow this link to find out all you need to know about reserving a ticket and visiting the zoo.

July 13: Meeting on developing a Habitat Conservation Plan for western Oregon's state forests

Oregon Dept of Forestry

The Oregon Department of Forestry invites you to a virtual meeting open to the public on Monday, July 13 to learn more about a potential Habitat Conservation Plan for state forestlands west of the Cascades. Due to COVID-19 exposure concerns, this will be a virtual-only meeting to ensure everyone’s health and welfare.

Please RSVP: This meeting is open to the public and is primarily intended for those with an interest in management of Oregon’s forests. We ask that you please RSVP by clicking here.

As part of the stakeholder engagement process, we invite you to this meeting to hear updates on the Western Oregon HCP effort, ask questions, provide your perspective, and speak with participating agencies and staff involved in the effort. The meeting is an opportunity to learn about the aquatic and terrestrial conservation strategies developed to protect covered threatened and endangered species on state forest lands over the lifetime of the HCP.

This is one of many opportunities to engage in the HCP and is meant to provide an update to the process. Please note that the Elliott State Forest is not part of this process because it is no longer managed by ODF.

Date and Time: Monday, July 13 from 1-4 p.m. The meeting will include:

  • 1-3 p.m: Updates on the development of the HCP, presentations, and Q&A/discussion periods.
  • 3-4 p.m: Informal discussion period with meeting participants to discuss topics of most interest to participants. 

Where: Please see below the webinar and call-in information. 

  • To view and participate in the webinar, go to: https://odf.zoom.us/j/94494505473 from your computer.
  • For quality audio, please call in from your phone using the following call-in information:
  • Dial: 253-215-8782
  • Meeting ID: 944 9450 5473

Webinar Recording: A post-meeting recording will be posted on the ODF YouTube channel.

Background:

Oregon’s state forests provide habitat for a variety of species, including some listed as endangered or threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. An HCP can serve as a more holistic and cost-effective way to comply with the Endangered Species Act. The Board of Forestry has directed the ODF to consider an HCP. ODF is currently underway with the HCP process, in collaboration with technical and policy guidance from other state and federal agencies. ODF is also seeking stakeholder engagement in this early phase of HCP consideration.

More information: More information is available online at the ODF website or by contacting Cindy Kolomechuk at 503-945-7731 or Cindy.KOLOMECHUK@oregon.gov.

Additional Resources

 House District 30 Links

Federal Delegation Links

Education Links

Utilities Assistance

Food and Housing Assistance

What Makes You Smile

Thank you to KATU News for sharing this story on their Facebook page.

"A must watch for a little joy. Nana has been longing to hug her babies! This makes my heart so happy." - Carly Marinaro

We want to see what makes you smile! Show us something good here: https://katu.com/chimein

Hug Time

Be good to yourself and each other. ❤

Onward & Upward,

Janeen

Capitol Phone: 503-986-1430
Capitol Address: 900 Court St. NE, H-487, Salem, Oregon 97301
Email: Rep.JaneenSollman@oregonlegislature.gov
Website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/sollman