August 28th Update: USPS, Employment and More

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Dear Friends and Neighbors, 

I am excited to start this newsletter by sharing some positive news.  Multnomah County has been taken off of the Governor’s County Watch List.  This is a signal that Multnomah county is beginning to turn the tide on their spike in cases, and moves our entire tri-county region closer towards Phase 2.  Each county still has work to do to improve our contact tracing, community spread and test positivity rate in order to reach Phase 2 criteria.  We can meet these metrics if we keep wearing our masks, limiting gatherings, and abiding by OSHA guidance.  It really is up to all of us, because the majority of our transmission is “community spread” and transmission from small gatherings.  Yesterday, State Health Officer Dr. Dean Sidelinger shared some stories about how we’ve seen COVID-19 spread in our communities starting from seemingly harmless gatherings:

  • In the first example, 10 people got together for a family party, and two people at the party were likely infectious at the time, though they did not have symptoms. In total, those two cases have led to 20 reported cases spread across 10 households. At least two of the people work with vulnerable populations. One person lived in a multi-generational house with family members with high-risk conditions. So even though the people who went to the party weren’t at higher risk for complications, many of the people who got sick potentially exposed people who are more vulnerable.
  • In the second example, 20 people rented a beach house for a celebration and were together for three days. No one had symptoms during the trip, but four were potentially infectious at the time. Twelve people from the trip got sick, all adults of various ages. These cases then had links to five workplace outbreaks, with a total of more than 300 cases so far.

Even small gatherings can lead to large numbers of cases.  We are all needing to re-think the way we socialize, decline invitations to events and gatherings that would normally be standard, and find ways to engage with each other more safely.  A great opportunity to keep us on track for phase two is coming up, Labor Day Weekend.   Yesterday, OHA Director Patrick Allen cautioned everyone to rethink their celebration plans as the Labor Day holiday approaches:

  • Limit your social gatherings outside your household, noting that Gov. Brown has made social gatherings with more than 10 people off-limits.
  • Wear a face covering indoors and outside when you can’t maintain 6 feet of physical distance from people outside your household.
  • If you have a small gathering, consider hosting it outdoors rather than indoors.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
Hood and flowers

Whenever I get outside, I remember how lucky I am to live in Oregon! This is such a beautiful place!

New Developments

  • US Postal Service: Many of you have reached out to me to share your concerns about the USPS, and about our ability to administer our elections.  I share your concerns about the delays in the mail, removal of boxes and sorting machines, and changes to postal worker hours and delivery schedules.  I am confident in Oregon’s ability to administer our November election, and to leverage our 20+ years of experience with vote by mail to our advantage.  If you are concerned about mailing your ballot, you can always drop it off at a ballot drop site or the elections office.  To address concerns about USPS, this past week, Congresswoman Bonamici and other members of the delegation demanded that U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy rescind orders that have led to delayed mail times, causing concern for those who rely on the USPS for prescriptions, small business deliveries, and more. You can read her press release and letter here.  On Saturday, the Congresswoman joined the House in passing the bipartisan Delivering for America Act, which would prohibit any changes to USPS operations or services from its status on January 1st, 2020, and would provide $25 billion in emergency funding for the Postal Service, in addition to treating all mail-in ballots as first-class mail. You can read the full press release here.
  • Construction and Delays on the I-5 Bridge: Crews are preparing now for the closure of the northbound span of the I-5 Interstate Bridge September 12–20, 2020, when they will replace mechanical parts that help lift and lower the bridge. Travelers will experience impacts as crews begin to build the support system under the bridge's lift span, prepare the median of I-5 for crossover traffic in September, and install signage.  Find out more about Travel Strategies Here. Impacts include: 
    • I-5 north will close at the Interstate Bridge from 12:01 to 2 a.m., Friday, August 28. To travel north, take the Hayden Island off-ramp (Exit 308) to I-5 south, follow to I-84 east and then to I-205 north. Detour signs will direct travelers. Bikes and pedestrians should follow the signed detour to use the sidewalk on the southbound structure.
    • Nighttime lane closures Thursday, Aug. 27 through Thursday, Sept. 3 on I-5 in both directions at the Interstate Bridge in Washington and Oregon. Single lane closures will begin at 8 p.m. and crews may close second lane at 10 p.m. All lanes are scheduled to open by 5 a.m. the following morning.
    • Nighttime intermittent 30 minute traffic stops for bridge lifts Thursday, Aug. 27 through Saturday, Aug. 29 between 12:01 a.m. and 5 a.m.
    • Nighttime single lane closure weeknights from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. on I-205 in both directions in Oregon and Washington at the Glenn Jackson Bridge.
    • Intermittent closures of the northbound sidewalk on the Interstate Bridge. Bikes and pedestrians should follow the signed detour to use the sidewalk on the southbound structure.

Wear a Mask.English
Wear a Mask.Espanol

Case Data

  • National Numbers: 
    • Confirmed Cases: 5,845,876 
    • Deaths: 180,165 
    • Cases in the Last 7 Days: 294,083
    • 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 26,054 total cases (confirmed and presumptive) of COVID-19.  
    • Today we have 301 new confirmed and presumptive cases, and 9 new deaths. 
    • Thursday: 212 cases, 5 deaths
    • Wednesday: 222 cases, 6 deaths
    • A total of 447 Oregonians have died from COVID-19.  
  • Washington County still has one of the highest case counts at 3,673 confirmed cases, including 20 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. 
Daily Update August 28

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

COunty Data, August 28

On this dashboard you can view statewide and regional public health indicators, as well as review metrics for each county!

Spotlight on Credit Unions and Speech and Debate!

Credit Unions:

From the start of this pandemic, local credit unions have stepped up in a big way for members.  They have provided flexibility to members in refinancing loans, worked with members on forbearance, and most recently helped the state stand up a program that delivered $35million to 70,000 Oregonians across the state waiting for benefits.  As a long time credit union member, I am pleased to see these institutions standing up to support our communities.  Thanks Credit Unions!

Speech and Debate: 

I wanted to give a big shout out to Oregon Speech and Debate! This Spring and Summer, Speech and Debate was one of the very few student activities to move their competitions and practices online, and successfully held a National Tournament this summer! Speech and Debate, with support from the OSAA Executive Board, will be the first OSAA activity in history to go completely virtual.   All practices, events, and the 2021 OSAA Speech and Debate State Championships will be conducted online.

Nationally the Speech community has adjusted quickly to the current situation and have actively been conducting tournaments across the country via a combination of different platforms.   Most Oregon Speech coaches and students have already been introduced and many have mastered these platforms and are ready to assist others that may need help.

Congratulations to Oregon and National Speech and Debate! So glad students will get to stay connected and keep participating in this incredible program! 


Unemployment Update:

Here are links from the department’s updates from Wednesday that you may find helpful. This information was provided from the department.


Benefits paid to Oregonians from March 15-August 2: $4 billion

  • Regular Unemployment = $1.3 billion
  • CARES Act extra $600/week = $2.4 billion
  • PUA = $127 million (without FPUC)
  • Work Share = $54 million
  • PEUC = $58 million

LWAP – We have applied for the Lost Wages Assistance program grant through FEMA, which provides $300 in benefits for 3-5 weeks. How long the funds will last for states is uncertain and it ends when funds are gone, of concern is that natural disasters may deplete funds quicker.

Webinars – This week’s webinar is focused on back to school/school related issues. School employees who have questions about filing for benefits, and parents unable to work because their kids are in remote learning, are invited to join. 

Website – We are getting more resources to more people on our website.

  • Remember people can use the Contact us form on the website instead of trying to reach us by phone.
  • People who need language assistance can contact the Employment Department by email at or call the language line or call 503-606-6969. 
  • The new website is available in Spanish, Russian, and Vietnamese with more languages on the way.
  • The PUA online form is up in Spanish, with Vietnamese and other languages on the way.

Modernization -  We continue working to advance our modernization project. We have built a talented team of leaders, project managers and experts and will continue reporting out on our progress over the coming weeks and months. We understand the urgency of modernizing so our systems can better support Oregonians. We are committed to doing this, and doing it well.

Claims -  There are still too many claims that have issues on them and have not been paid, or have not been fully paid – the issues vary widely. For regular unemployment claims, the biggest issue is adjudication. For PUA, a major issue is determining if the reason they are not working is due to a qualifying COVID-19 impact reason.

  • To help with what are now the biggest challenges, we have the National Guard continuing to assist and focused on these areas and we have 50 additional contracted people, in addition to all of our newly hired and seasoned adjudicators.
  • Every new program and every new process, takes dedicated time to gain proficiency. That is why we started the Benefits While You Wait to allow us to pay benefits while a person’s claim is being reviewed by an adjudicator. We are contacting claimants who we think qualifies for this program.

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 (, 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 outside

Yours truly,

Representative Susan McLain

Representative Susan McLain
House District 29

email: I phone: 503-986-1429
address: 900 Court St NE, H-376, Salem, OR 97301