July 17th Update: Cases on the Rise, Budget Meetings, Employment Update and more

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Dear Friends and Neighbors, 

We are in the midst of a very troubling resurgence in COVID-19, in the last two weeks we have set and broken numerous records for new daily cases, and twice passed 400 new cases in a single day.  According to the Oregon Health Authority, the rise in cases is attributed to new infections from social gatherings and sporadic spread across communities.  We cannot let our guards down.  We are all eager to connect with the loved ones we have not seen, but we must limit these in person meetings as much as possible, keep them small, keep them outdoors, and wear masks.  Even if it is just you and a friend on your porch, wear a mask.  Even if it is just a BBQ with your family and your neighboring family, wear masks.  If you are inside with anyone not in your household, wear masks.  Our children are counting on us to help them get back to school, our hospitals are counting on us to make sure we maintain capacity to treat the sick, and our businesses are counting on us to help them stay open.  Do your part, Mask Up.

Susan in a mask, and flowers

July has really been gorgeous so far! I have been able to take time to work in my yard on evenings and weekends, visit local parks, and view our gorgeous agricultural lands.  We live in a beautiful part of the world. 

New Developments

  • Yesterday we had a meeting of the Joint Committee on Interstate 5 Bridge.  As you may know, I am one of the Oregon Co-Chairs of this committee, which included members of the Oregon and Washington State Houses and Senates.  Yesterday’s meeting included updates from the newly hired Joint Program Manager, and both state’s transportation agencies.  Presentations included:
    • Updates from WSDOT and ODOT on the status of the project office and the stakeholder groups
    • Introduction of Program Administrator
    • Review of Program Action Approval Process document
    • Review of Planning Calendar document
    • Review of Planning Phase Bi-State Legislative Committee
    • Discussion of Vision and Values Statement
    • Begin discussion of Program Purpose and Need
  • I was very pleased with the robust discussion, and the agreement of the committee that we need deep and robust community engagement from all the most affected neighborhoods and communities.  I encourage anyone with an interest in this project to subscribe for meeting updates and contact my office and the committee if you are interested in engaging more.  You can view yesterday’s meeting here
  • Today’s meeting of the Joint Committee On Transparent Policing and Use of Force Reform included testimony from officers and leaders at the Portland Police Bureau and addressed the implementation of HB 4208, which was meant to restrict the use of tear gas on protesters.  It was very interesting to hear both the law enforcement and public perspective on how tear gas has been used since HB 4208 took effect.  You can watch the full committee meeting here

Upcoming Events:

Veterans Benefits

Veterans Benefits Town Hall: VA's Under Secretary for Benefits Dr. Paul Lawrence is holding a Tele-Townhall on Monday, July 20 at 2PM PST. Dial 833-380-0417 to join (suggested to dial in 10 minutes early), listen to VBA updates, and ask questions.

Oregon Health Forum Event

Oregon Health Forum, Ensuring Safe Facilities and Student Equity for School Re-openings: July 23 | 10:30 am-noon | Zoom Livestream | “Learn about brand-new updates to state guidance for schools. Explore how transportation, food service, and student activities will be addressed. Consider how equity may be ensured in new education models and how schools can anticipate and address student trauma from our current economic and social upheaval. Speakers will include: State Rep. Barbara Smith Warner, House Majority Leader; Oregon Department of Education Director Colt Gill;  State Rep. Tawna Sanchez, Chair, House Human Services Committee; school facilities experts from the Hillsboro and Gresham School Districts and representatives from equity organizations.” Registration $30

TV Hwy Event

TV Highway Safety Update: Cornelius CPO-12C will be hosting the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) to discuss the Road Safety Audit on Tualatin Valley Highway (OR8) in eastern Cornelius. ODOT and Kittelson & Associates will be available to answer questions from the community regarding the Road Safety Audit.

Case Data and Health Updates

  • National Numbers: 
    • Confirmed Cases: 3,555,877 (up 72,045 from yesterday)
    • Deaths: 137,864 (up 926 from yesterday)
    • These national numbers come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  You can view their national and state by state data here
  • Oregon Status Report:  Oregon now has 13,802 total cases (confirmed and presumptive) of COVID-19.  Today we have 307 new confirmed and presumptive cases.  A total of 254 Oregonians have died from COVID-19, including 5 more deaths today.  Washington County still has one of the highest case counts at 2,105 confirmed cases, with 37 new cases today.  You can review on-going updates from OHA by clicking on the table below. 
  • The Oregon Health Authority recently provided a Public Health Indicators Dashboard to enable communities across Oregon to monitor COVID-19 in the state.The dashboard, which will be updated weekly on Thursdays, provides a transparent report that presents complex epidemiological data in an interactive, easy-to-understand way on a state and county level. 
  • In this week’s Weekly Report, OHA published a lot of helpful new information including information on our test positivity rate, and updated signs and symptoms.  Of the people tested between July 6-12, 6.2% of tests came back positive. This is up from the previous week’s rate of 5.0%. Twenty-two Oregonians passed away, twice as many as the previous week. The weekly report notes the top symptoms remain cough, headache, muscle aches, chills, and fever over 100 degrees. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, you should stay home and reach out to your doctor about getting tested.
Daily Update July 17th

Table showing Oregon case, testing and demographic data, link to more information

Symptom Breakdown

Breakdown of reported signs and symptoms for confrimed cases of COVID-19

COVID-19 Data Q&A Video

Facebook Live COVID-19 Data Q&A, July 15, 2020

Underlying Conditions:

Like me, you may be hearing a lot about underlying conditions, and it is not always clear what that means, and how it should inform our understanding of COVID-19 risk.  Representative Janeen Sollman and Speaker Kotek put together the following explanation of what is meant by “underlying conditions.” 

“According to a recent email exchange with the Oregon Health Authority, about 48% of all reported cases in Oregon were people with underlying conditions, with 40% having no underlying conditions and 12% unknown. The percentage of people who get infected and who have underlying medical conditions seems to be dropping as more of the cases occur in younger and healthier people.

Nearly everyone who has died from COVID-19 in Oregon is reported to have had an underlying health condition. Deaths have been highly concentrated among older people (almost 50% over 80 years of age and more than 90% over 60 years of age), which is also the population that tends to have more underlying medical conditions.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the best source of data on underlying medical conditions. You can find the CDC information here.

It might surprise you to know that some of these conditions are fairly common:

  • Asthma (moderate-to-severe)
  • Hypertension or high blood pressure
  • Pregnancy
  • Diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2)
  • Smoking
  • Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 or higher)
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
  • Neurologic conditions, such as dementia

And, of course, conditions that are less common put people at risk:

  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant, from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Liver disease
  • Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)
  • Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)
  • Children who are medically complex, who have neurologic, genetic, metabolic conditions, or who have congenital heart disease.

The CDC has the best information about exactly how many people who are hospitalized with COVID-19 had which medical conditions. You can find that information here.

So, please be careful, take precautions, and don’t think you’re invincible. An “underlying condition” can be something fairly common. It’s not just really sick people who get hospitalized or die when they get coronavirus.”

Managing Mental Health Impacts:

Managing Mental Health effects from COVID

Helping communities manage the mental and emotional impacts of COVID-19


As I mentioned in my last update, the Employment Department has updated their website, with many new helpful features.  One of these new features is the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section and accompanying search bar at the top. The new site now has compiled nearly 150 FAQs, many of which came from Oregonians through legislators or social media. This list of questions and answers is being frequently updated. Please continue to send any questions that aren’t answered on the site, so we can help the department keep it updated.  

The site includes a new Contact Us form. Folks with the oldest claims can submit their information into this form. This provides a direct line to the most experienced claims processing staff at the agency, who can review and resolve their claims.  Currently they are taking inquiries from people who have not received benefits from May 23 or earlier for regular unemployment, May 30 for PUA, and June 20 regarding benefit extensions. The Contact Us form also includes an option to upload worker authorization documents or I-94 documents. I am cautiously optimistic that this form will be helpful to those of you still waiting for May and April benefits.  Please let me know if you notice glitches or other issues with the form, I am happy to pass along ideas for improvement to the department.  

In his update this week, Acting Director Gerstenfeld made this plea to Oregonians regarding calling into OED hotlines:

“We know that Oregonians are desperate for their benefits, but using the auto dialers has significantly impacted our phone capacity. Today we are asking Oregonians to please stop using the auto dialers. We also want to once again remind Oregonians to check the status of their claims online and to visit unemployment.oregon.gov before calling the hotline. Call the hotline for the following reasons only:

  • If you got a notification that there is an issue with your claim
  • If it has been 4 or more weeks since you’ve claimed (for regular benefits) and you haven’t received payment or heard from us.
  • If you can’t file online.
  • If you receive a letter of concern and need to provide us with information.
  • To confirm/accept a combined wage claim work up, which is wages from other states.”

You can listen to this week’s Employment Department Media Briefing here

Budget Meetings

In preparation for another Special Session to address Oregon’s impending budget shortfall, each of the Joint Ways and Means Subcommittees have scheduled public hearings for next week.  As Co-Chair of the Joint Subcommittee on Education, I look forward to hearing from our communities to hear about their priorities for preserving funding, and their thoughts on the proposed reductions.  Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, our state is facing an unprecedented economic crisis that is having significant impacts on our state budget. My colleagues and I are committed to working to preserve the critical programs and services that Oregonians rely on most. Our work is being driven by a core set of values that seeks to address the needs of individuals and businesses most affected while also ensuring any reductions are not creating or exacerbating barriers to underserved and marginalized communities and Oregonians. Among the critical programs and services the budget framework released today will preserve and maintain are: 

  • The K-12 State School Fund. 
  • Student Success Act funding for early learning programs, career and technical education and programs in the Statewide Education Initiatives account. 
  • The Community College Support Fund and the Public University Support Fund. 
  • State support for the OHSU Schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Dentistry, as well as funding for the OHSU Child Development and Rehabilitation Center and the Oregon Poison Center. 
  • Total funding for the Oregon Opportunity Grant program. 
  • Significant programs in the Oregon Health Authority and the Department of Human Services are maintained due to increased federal FMAP resources. 
  • Child welfare investments and other programs providing benefits to those most in need. 
  • Housing stabilization programs, including the Emergency Housing Assistance, State Homeless Assistance programs, and funding for affordable housing preservation, multifamily housing development, and foreclosure prevention counseling services. 
  • Lottery allocations to counties for economic development programs. 
  • Department of Justice child support enforcement, domestic and sexual violence programs, civil rights investigations, and other services. 
  • Department of Forestry Fire Protection, Forest Practices Act, and Sudden Oak Death programs Water Resources Department Placed-based Planning, and other programs. 
  • Department of Veterans Affairs positions to provide advocacy and other services, as well as Veterans’ Emergency Financial Assistance, the Veterans Crisis Line and other grant programs. 

More comprehensive information on the proposed reductions and the framework used by the Budget Tri-Chairs are available here:

Budget Co-Chairs Press Release

Ways and Means Co-Chairs Principles

Schedule for Committee Meetings: 

How to testify:

Once agendas for these committees are posted, more detailed instructions on how to testify will be available.  Broadly, you can testify in a few different ways:

Written Testimony: You may submit written testimony to: the exhibits emails listed above or by regular mail addressed to the Joint Ways and Means Subcommittee on _____, 900 Court Street NE, Room 453, Salem, Oregon, 97301. Written testimony received by the meeting's start time will be uploaded promptly for committee members and the public on the Oregon Legislative Information System (OLIS). 

Remote Oral Testimony: Anyone wishing to speak to the committee verbally must either pre-register or use a public access station at the Capitol building at the designated meeting time.

  • Information on pre-registration will be available when agendas are posted, you can monitor the OLIS page for the committee you are interested in, subscribe to updates, or stay tuned for more information from my office next week.  
  • If you do not have access to a computer or a phone and would like to speak at this meeting, a public testimony access station will be set up at the State Street entrance of the Capitol at the designated meeting time.

Additional Resources

Employers and Employees

Education Links

Local Government

Utilities Assistance

Food and Housing Assistance



Oregon Health Authority


View Past Updates, Share and Subscribe: 

If there was COVID-related information in a past newsletter that you want to go back to, but find you’ve deleted it, you can always go to my legislative website (http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/mclain), click on “News and Information,” and you’ll find them all there. You can also share this site with your friends and loved ones, so they can view past newsletters, and subscribe to future updates.  

Susan and Janeen, Masked Up

Wear a mask, even its just you and a friend!

Yours truly,

Representative Susan McLain

Representative Susan McLain
House District 29

email: Rep.SusanMcLain@oregonlegislature.gov I phone: 503-986-1429
address: 900 Court St NE, H-376, Salem, OR 97301
website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/mclain