2020 Interim Update: July 10

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Representative Smith Warner


Right now in Oregon, we are seeing an exponential growth in coronavirus cases, especially among young adults. While some businesses have started to reopen it is important to remember that this is not a return to normal. The impact of the coronavirus pandemic continues to have a rippling and devastating effect on many aspects of our lives. Remember the “3 W’s” so Oregon can continue to safely reopen and recover: wash your hands; wear your face covering; and watch your distance. 

3 W's

Legislative Emergency Board Calls For Emergency Stimulus Checks                                The Emergency Board announced plans to meet next Tuesday. One item they will take up is allocating a one-time $500 payment for Oregonians still waiting on their unemployment benefits. This $500 payment is a critical stop-gap for the nearly 70,000 Oregonians who are still waiting for unemployment benefits from the state.While this is only a small fraction of what many unemployed people need to get back on their feet during these trying times, we can utilize the limited resources at our disposal to get direct relief into people's hands while the Employment Department continues to process claims. 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.

New Employment Department Website                                                                                The Oregon Employment Department (OED) launched a new informational website today aimed at improving customer service for the record number of Oregonians applying for and receiving unemployment benefits. Over the next few days and weeks, more content and features to the informational website will include:

  • A ‘Contact Us’ form to assist Oregonians who have been waiting the longest to have their claims resolved;
  • Information about new federal CARES Act benefit programs;
  • An Eligibility Quiz to help people figure out which program to apply for;
  • Step-by-step videos and guides for how to apply for regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits;
  • Resources for employers about the Work Share program, reopening business, and more;
  • Other resources available to Oregonians while they wait for unemployment benefits, such as benefits to help with rent, utilities, health coverage, or groceries.

Important Employment Adjudication Information                                                              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 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.
  • 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.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Update                                                                 OED has teams of people processing weekly PUA claims and calling back individuals who have issues with their claims. If someone has applied for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, OED is still processing about 60,000 initial applications. 

  • If an individual has a claim that has not yet been processed, those individuals should not plan to receive PUA benefits until at least August 8.
  • 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.
  • Your PUA or UI  benefit and the $600 additional payment will always post as two separate transactions. If you are seeking assistance with an issue concerning your Relia Card, call US Bank to resolve issues with payments posting, or click here for more information. 

Reporting Hate Crimes                                                                                                    Racism has no place in our society and must be confronted and condemned to the fullest extent. I am appalled to have learned about a number of high-profile, racially-motivated criminal incidents, ranging from vandalism, to racist slurs, to threats of and actual violence, have occurred across the state in recent weeks. If you personally experience or witness a hate or bias crime, the Oregon Department of Justice has a number of resources available for reporting. Learn more about the tools and resources available for reporting these incidents.

Oregon Health Authority Update                                                                                              The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) reports up-to-date information regarding testing and case statistics that can be found on their website. You can review the daily update and read the weekly report that details the overall picture of the COVID-19 response across government agencies. Here are some recent developments from OHA below.

  • The newest modeling shows the continuation of a concerning trend of rapidly spreading COVID-19 throughout Oregon. Cases are rising at a rate so high, that even a 10 percent reduction in cases would not slow the rise in cases.

  • Since Oregon began reopening, COVID-19 cases have  increased and been linked to social activities involving groups of younger people
OHA Graph

Economic Stabilization Resources 
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)

Please reach out to my office if you have any additional questions, or if there’s anything you think I could help with. 



Representative Barbara Smith Warner
House District 45

email: Rep.BarbaraSmithWarner@oregonlegislature.gov I phone: 503-986-1445
address: 900 Court St NE, H-295, Salem, OR 97301
website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/smithwarner