July 21st Update: Keep Masking Up! Employment Updates, and more!

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Dear Friends and Neighbors, 

I wanted to start out with a big thank you to our community.  On the rare occasions where I am out and about, I can see how closely you are following the new mask guidance and protecting each other and your loved ones.  

Forest Grove Garden

Beautiful summer in Forest Grove!

The evidence shows that adherence to mask policies has a real benefit in reducing transmission, and the more of us that wear them the more we all benefit! Last week, the CDC released more information about a situation in Missouri, where two hair stylists learned they had COVID-19 after they had interacted with 139 clients. An investigation found that none of these clients were known to be infected with COVID-19. The hair stylists and clients wore face coverings, which likely helped prevent the spread of COVID-19. Learn more here

Masks Work!

I have heard from some of you about best practices for face coverings and children.  At this time, children over the age of 2 and under the age of 12 are recommended, but not required, to wear a mask, face shield or face covering in these settings. Face coverings should be worn with adult supervision and should never be worn by kids when sleeping. Here are some steps for helping a child wear a face covering, as well as some ways to talk to young children about masks.

Helping Kids with MAsks

Budget Hearings

This week the Joint Ways and Means Subcommittees will meet to discuss and hear testimony on the budget re-balance for Oregon's state agencies. Follow along with the discussion by clicking the committee links below. Watch the hearings live, see the agenda and look at submitted committee materials. If you would like to submit testimony to any of the committees by email, follow the links below, instructions for signing up for oral testimony are available on the meeting agendas.  

 Wednesday, July 22

Thursday, July 23

Friday, July 24

New Developments

  • Testing: Today, the Oregon Health Authority announced it has published a COVID-19 test site locator to help Oregonians across the state find testing sites in their community. The interactive map is available on pages in both English and Spanish and can be toggled into multiple other languages:
  • Business Supports: 
    • Mercy Corps will be opening a grant program specifically targeted toward offering grants to Black business owners in the Portland Metro Area. Our grant process will be a rolling award schedule with an application period from July 20 at 8 a.m. PST to July 22 at 5 p.m. PST. Grants will be awarded from a minimum of $2,500 to a maximum of $5,000. Application and more information here
    • The Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce and Adelante Mujeres in Forest Grove are the hosts of two of four Washington County Small Business Recovery Centers. The role of the Center and their two Business Consultants is to provide “one-stop” access to resources for interested Washington County businesses looking to re-establish and/or stabilize operations in response to COVID-19.
    • The City of Cornelius, in partnership with Washington County and the Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon (MESO), is launching the Cornelius ¡Revive! Small Business Assistance Grant Program tomorrow, Wednesday, July 22, 2020. Through this program, funded through the federal CARES Act, the City of Cornelius will provide grants of up to $5,000 to Cornelius-based businesses for eligible business-related expenses, such as rent or mortgage, payroll, utilities, or inventory. The application period opens at 8 am on July 22, 2020 and will close at 5 pm on July 28, 2020.  You can find eligibility requirements and other information here
  • Hillsboro Schools Reopening Plan: The Hillsboro School District will meet on July 23rd to discuss reopening. Watch here. Last week the district held multiple listening sessions where the community was able to ask questions and give feedback on the plans, you can watch those livestreams and find other planning updates and information here.  If you were unable to attend one of those livestreams, you can still submit feedback here.
  • Forest Grove School District will hold a public Question & Answer session on reopening schools.  Thursday (7/23) in English and Friday (7/24) in Spanish. These live sessions provide an opportunity for you to ask your questions regarding returning to school this fall, in addition to this digital survey. If you are unable to attend the scheduled meetings, you can submit your questions to publiccomment@fgsd.k12.or.us prior to the meeting. Additionally, recordings of these sessions will be posted to the district website for viewing at a later time. You can learn more about reopening Forest Grove Schools in this statement from Superintendent Dave Parker.  
  • Join AARP Oregon for Watch Dog Wednesdays, a bi-weekly series connecting you with experts that can help you learn how to take steps to avoid scams.The next meeting is July 29, with Tori Garcia, analyst with the Oregon Construction Contractors Board.  Home Improvement scams hit Oregonians during the warm summer months. Scammers are banking that homeowners won’t catch on until it’s too late. More information on the AARP Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/AARPOregon

Case Data

  • National Numbers: 
    • Confirmed Cases: 3,819,139 (up 57,777 from yesterday)
    • Deaths: 140,630 (up 473 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 15,139 total cases (confirmed and presumptive) of COVID-19.  
    • Today we have 299 new confirmed and presumptive cases.  
    • A total of 269 Oregonians have died from COVID-19, including 7 deaths today.  
    • Saturday: 353 cases, 3 deaths
    • Sunday: 436 cases, 3 deaths
    • Monday: 277 cases, 2 deaths
    • Washington County still has one of the highest case counts at 2276 confirmed cases, with about 5% of tests coming back positive.  
  • 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.
Daily Update July 21

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

County Testing and Outcomes July 21

This Graphic shows the testing, tracing and outcome data for each county. Click the image for more information.

Testing Table

This table shows the week by week progression in testing in Oregon. Our total number of tests per week has been increasing since the start of the pandemic, which is good news. The increase in % positive tests is troubling, because it shows that our increase in cases is not a result of increased testing, but a true increase in spread. Click the table to view the most recent testing update.

Age Graph

One of the troubling signs we have been seeing recently is an increase in the number of cases in young people.  People ages 20-30 now make up the biggest age demographic for COVID-19.  Older Oregonians remain the most at risk for severe symptoms and death.  The graph above and table below both demonstrate this unsettling trend.  Learn more from the Weekly Summary by clicking either image.

Age and SEverity Table

Human Services Update

The Oregon Department of Human Services recently provided legislators with the update below on some of their important programs, and their responses to COVID-19.  

Aging and People with Disabilities 

The state of Oregon continues to see a resurgence in COVID-19 infections at long-term care facilities. The DHS Aging and People with Disabilities program (APD) program is working closely with OHA and local public health agencies daily to monitor outbreaks and ensure facilities are using appropriate infection control protocols as well as have adequate resources, including staff, to meet residents’ needs.  There are currently 59 large facilities and 4 adult foster homes regulated by APD with active cases among residents and/or staff. Securing adequate staffing is most frequently the number one concern when the teams engage with the long term care facilities. 

  • Emergency Health Care Center
    • Emergency health care center (EHCC) contracted beds continue to provide essential assistance in ensuring the state’s response to outbreaks is effective. On July 12, the state closed out its EHCC contract with Laurelhurst Village Rehabilitation Center in Portland. The contract with Pacific Health and Rehabilitation in Tigard was amended to obtain increased capacity at lower rates. A request for proposals (RFP) is in process to attract additional facilities to provide capacity.
  • Testing
    • Oregon Health Authority and the Department of Human Services have finalized plans to offer COVID-19 tests to all residents and staff of nursing, residential care, and assisted living facilities to support efforts that prevent spread of the coronavirus. Rules for the test plan implementation plan were issued on July 15 and a team from the Veterans Affairs agency was enlisted to begin administering tests.
    • The state is also issuing requests for proposals for companies to administer the tests as implementation goes statewide.
    • The testing plan contains a strong focus on equity and trauma-informed testing practices, based on recognition of the presence of historical trauma among marginalized communities. To address these issues, the plan calls for testing services to be provided in a linguistically and culturally sensitive manner, and for the people administering the tests to understand the history of sources of trauma on marginalized communities.
  • Outdoor visitation policy
    • In the past week, APD has also informed licensed long-term care providers that they may begin providing limited outdoor visitation for residents if the facility develops a plan to adhere to required safeguards to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Additional communication about this policy update will roll out in coming days after facilities have had an opportunity to review requirements. While visits with family and friends are essential to well-being, they also create significant risk, not only for the individual who is seeing a loved one, but for everyone who lives and works in that care facility.
    • The outdoor visitation policy applies to all facilities licensed by APD including nursing, assisted living, residential and memory care facilities as well as all adult foster homes. Facilities that are currently coping with COVID-19 cases, or suspected cases, may not offer outside visitation until DHS determines that the outbreak has resolved. All current indoor visitation restrictions issued in March remain in place regardless of the reopening plan status of the county where the facility is located.
    • APD hopes this policy provides some relief to residents, their family members and friends who have suffered extreme hardship as a result of visitation restrictions required during the pandemic. Balancing resident safety with the essential need to have contact with family and friends is challenging as COVID-19 presents life-threatening risks and spreads rapidly in congregate care settings. APD will continue to evaluate all long-term care policies in partnership with Oregon Health Authority to ensure they are in line with Governor Kate Brown’s reopening plan for the state.

Child Welfare

As of July 16, DHS Child Welfare has tested 113 children and youth for COVID-19 and of those tested, eight have had positive test results and four are awaiting their results.

Office of Developmental Disabilities Services

As of July 15th, intellectual and /or developmental disabilities (I/DD) agency providers have reported the following COVID-19 cases to the Office of Developmental Disability Services (ODDS):

  • I/DD Foster Homes – 0 new cases 
    • Individuals: 4 in adult foster homes
    • Provider staff: 1 in a child foster home; 8 in adult foster homes
  • Group Homes – 6 new cases* 
    • Individuals: 17 in adult group homes, 1 in child group home
    • Provider staff: 64 in adult group homes; 4 in child group homes, 1 who worked in both
  • Supported Living – 2 new cases* 
    • Individuals: 3
    • Staff: 10
  • In-home services – 13 new cases*
    • Individuals: 20
    • Provider staff: 28

*The rise in the number of COVID positive cases reflects the rising cases in Oregon overall as counties have reopened.

  • COVID-19 deaths 
    • 1 individual in an adult foster home
    • 3 individuals in adult group homes
  • Gatherings and Face Coverings
    • Guidance was recently updated to include the Governor’s order, requiring masks for all persons in indoor public settings. The guidance will be further updated to include the recently released order requiring masks in outdoor settings and limiting public gatherings. 

Self-Sufficiency Programs

Self-Sufficiency Programs (SSP) have made a number of temporary changes to support Oregonians, updates to those changes are below;

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
    • Emergency Allotments- Emergency allotments increase a households' benefit amount to the maximum allotment for their household size. Oregon has been approved to issue July emergency allotments and has applied for permission to issue August emergency allotments.
    • Pandemic EBT- The Pandemic EBT program provides additional food benefits for students who qualify for the National Free or Reduced School Lunch Program. Fund distribution started in June and the remaining distributions will occur throughout the summer. Over 130,000 children have been served so far.”

Employment Update

There have been many developments in Unemployment Insurance over the last week, and I wanted to provide you with a comprehensive update on these changes.  Much of the update below was compiled by my colleague Representative Nosse, all of the information directly from the Employment Department is in "quotes".  

The topics addressed include:

  1. New online submission form for PUA (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance) initial and weekly applications
  2. OED’s new website on finding help with your claim – OED’s new Contact Us form
  3.  $500 one-time checks are coming to those with outstanding PUA claims
  4. OED’s overloaded phoneline
  5. New updates and guidance about Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) that comes from OED


OED’s new online application for PUA

"The Oregon Employment Department launched a new online form for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) initial claims and weekly certifications. The new online PUA claim form offers big improvements:

  • Speeding up weekly benefit processing. Reducing application errors and automating the application upload process will help us get claims processed faster and PUA benefits out to more Oregonians faster. 
  • Preventing uploading blank PDFs. Many of the PDF forms came to us blank. The chance that someone would accidentally upload a blank PDF form is also gone when using the online form.
  • Preventing incomplete claims. Important information, like the COVID-19 reason that makes an applicant eligible for PUA, is required, but has often been missing or left blank on the PDF forms. The online PUA application or weekly certification will give a warning notifying customers that the information is required. This change will help us process claims faster and reduce delays in Oregonians receiving benefits due to missing information. 

People who have filed weekly claims via PDF and who have not yet received payment are encouraged to re-file their weekly certifications through this new online claim form. People can continue submitting their initial application and weekly certifications by PDF upload, mail, fax or phone if they wish. These will take longer to process than the online claim form."


OED’s new website for PUA/Unemployment Insurance (UI) claimants

OED has a new website up and running. Here’s the info they sent us about that:

"Last week we launched a new informational website, unemployment.oregon.gov. The site includes a new Contact Us form. Your constituents with the oldest claims can submit their information into this form. This provides them with a direct line to the most experienced claims processing staff at the agency, who can review and resolve their claims.

Currently we 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."

KGW has a good summary of the new website. The new website seems to be more about sharing updated information and frequently asked questions rather than a fix to the backlog. An exception might be the contact form mentioned above. In the meantime, I will continue to reach out to OED on your behalf.

You can also get more information and tutorials at OED’s YouTube page. They update it often, so check back there regularly if you have questions about what the department is doing.


$500 one-time checks for PUA claimants

Last week, the Oregon Emergency Board passed a funding package of $35 million to be dispersed in $500 one-time payments to any Oregon worker who has been impacted by job-related income loss because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Emergency Board is a committee made up of a group of legislators from both chambers of the Legislature to allocate funds to specific state agencies when the Legislature is not in session. I am proud to have supported the work of the Emergency Board in getting these payments out to Oregonians.

A timeline for these payments has not yet been finalized, since the program was only authorized this week and has not been set up yet. The state agency that will be overseeing this and dispersing the payments is the Department of Administrative Services. My office will send out additional updates as this program continues to be set up. This is not money in place of your unemployment benefit. This is just something that we can give out that we hope can tide people over a little. The Employment Department continues to catch up on paying out claims. 


OED’s overloaded phoneline

As many of my constituents have no doubt experienced, it has been virtually impossible to get through to OED on their hotline. In April alone, OED received over 20,000,000 calls to the hotline, which completely overwhelmed the technology they are using. It turns out that some people are using auto-dialers and that has been a part of the problem. The Eugene Register Guard recently published an article about the effect of auto-dialers on the hotline. Here’s what OED has to say about that:

"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.

Please only call the hotline for the following reasons only:

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

  1. Check the status of a claim. Please do this online.
  2. See if a claim was received. A notice is sent.
  3. Restart a claim or file a weekly claim. This can be done online. (If unable to do this online, then a call is needed).
  4. 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.)
  5. Seek assistance with a ReliaCard. Call US Bank if there are issues with payments posting, or you need a PIN resent,
  6. Applying for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation—apply online." 


New updates about PUA from OED

Last week, David Gerstenfeld, the Director of OED, announced that the department has added 80 new PUA claims handlers. Last week OED processed 5,544 PUA claims and he believes that these additional claims handlers will help them reach the goal of having the remaining 55,500 PUA claims processed by August 8. Here’s some more background info from OED:

"While we’ve paid a total of $2.9 billion in unemployment benefits to 305,000 Oregonians, we know we still have a mountain of work in front of us. As of now, PUA continues to be a pain point. We have processed about 40 percent of all the PUA claims we’ve received, and paid 24,400 self-employed and other workers who aren’t eligible for regular unemployment benefits.

Still, we’ve missed our Focus PUA goals for the first three weeks of the initiative. We are pushing hard to make up that ground on several fronts:

  1. We’ve added 80 more people this week to work on processing PUA weekly certifications.
  2. We’re in final testing and within a few business days we’re launching the online PUA application, which will automate and speed up processing
  3. A team has been assigned to prioritize and resolve claims bouncing between regular unemployment and PUA benefits.

We’re hopeful that people will start feeling the results of these intensified efforts over the next couple of weeks. We’re also cautiously optimistic we can stay on track to catch up with the Focus PUA goals by August 8."


OED Press Conference

Two weeks ago, the new OED Interim Director, David Gerstenfeld, held a press conference with the media. Here is a link to the press conference. I especially recommend watching the first 15-20 minutes of it, but the Q & A session with reporters at the end also has useful information. He will be holding these press conferences once per week from now on, and you can find them at OED’s YouTube page.

Here is a summary of the press conference that was provided to legislators by OED:

"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.

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.

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."

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 Flowers

I stay hopeful and take care of my mental health by getting outside!

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