COVID-19 Updates 9/3/2020

Rep. Sollman

Friends and Neighbors,

Governor Updates

Governor Kate Brown Extends COVID-19 State of Emergency for 60 Days

Labor Day weekend marks critical moment to prevent outbreaks at beginning of school year.

Tuesday, Governor Kate Brown extended her declaration of a state of emergency regarding COVID-19 for an additional 60 days, until November 3, 2020. The declaration is the legal underpinning for the Governor’s COVID-19 executive orders and the Oregon Health Authority’s health and safety guidance. The Governor reviews and reevaluates her emergency orders every 60 days. She issued the following statement:

“When I last extended the COVID-19 state of emergency in June, I told Oregonians that we were at a crossroads: we could work together to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Oregon, or we could watch infections and hospitalizations spike.

“Now, six months after this crisis began, we have made progress. Together, we have slowed the spread of this disease. Oregon has one of the lowest mortality rates in the country. But, as students across Oregon begin a school year far different than any other before, it is clear that, at current COVID-19 levels, it will not be safe in much of the state for children to return to in-classroom instruction for months to come.

“This Labor Day weekend is another critical moment in this crisis.

“We can work together to stay safe and put Oregon on the path to return more students to classrooms. Or, we could see Labor Day celebrations unknowingly sow the seeds of COVID-19 outbreaks that could set us back for months. Until there is an effective vaccine for COVID-19, this disease can spread like wildfire if we let our guard down.

“Small social get-togethers like barbecues and family celebrations have fueled wider community outbreaks in counties across Oregon. This weekend, you have a choice. Please, stay local this Labor Day, and practice safe COVID-19 habits. Wear a face covering, watch your physical distance, and wash your hands.

“We know this can work. We have seen it work in rural and urban communities that have experienced significant outbreaks. Last week, Multnomah and Hood River counties came off the Watch List. All we need now is the will to follow this through to the end.

“We have come this far together. And that’s the only way we’ll get through this––working together, day by day, to keep each other healthy and safe until we reach the day that there is an effective vaccine or treatment for this disease.”

The state of emergency declaration is the legal underpinning for the executive orders the Governor has issued to keep Oregonians healthy and safe throughout this crisis, including her orders on reopening Oregon while maintaining essential health and safety protections, as well as orders around childcare, schools, and higher education operations. Extending the state of emergency declaration allows those orders to stay in effect.

The Governor reviews and reevaluates each of her emergency orders every 60 days, to determine whether those orders should be continued, modified, or rescinded. The findings of this review process are listed in the executive order.

Education Updates

Following the Metrics: Criteria for In-Person Instruction

As many students and teachers prepare for Comprehensive Distance Learning this fall, I wanted to share with you the metric guidelines, provided by the Oregon Department of Education and the Oregon Health Authority, that will guide when school districts are able to apply for reopening for in-person instruction. Washington County has a direct link to the metrics for our County here. The Ready Schools, Safe Learners: Community COVID-19 Metrics guidance can be found here.

School MetricsSchool MetricsCounty Metrics

 

Supporting Our Educators

Teachers across the state of Oregon have had to revolutionize their way of teaching to adapt to online distance learning and in a very short amount of time. As families prepare for back to school, let us not forget to acknowledge the hours of hard work and dedication our teachers put in to our children's education and in caring for their needs. Please give them patience, love and grace. Educators, please remember that self-care is critical for your well-being.

Self Care

Washington County Updates

Washington County Announces $5 million in Emergency Assistance Grants for Local Nonprofits

Information provided by Washington County 

Washington County is now accepting applications for a total of $5 million in emergency assistance grants for nonprofit organizations based in and serving County residents. Washington County has partnered with the Oregon Community Foundation (OCF) to administer the grant program in support of qualified nonprofit agencies that have experienced economic hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizations could receive up $100,000 in aid to maintain their businesses, workforce and services to residents.

The program will provide up to $5M from the County’s allocation of $104 million in federal funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and is intended to offset additional expenses and lost revenues due to COVID-19. Grants will be awarded through a competitive review process, managed by OCF. Funding opportunities will prioritize culturally-specific and/or culturally responsive organizations in Washington County. Other eligibility requirements include:

  • In operation since at least March 1, 2019
  • Registered as a 501(c)(3) with the IRS or a fiscal agent that is a registered 501(c)(3)
  • No previously received grants or loans, to cover the same costs, from Washington County since March 1, 2020
  • Experienced economic hardship during the economic shut down due to the pandemic, beginning in March 2020.

Awards will vary in size depending on the size of the organization. Granted CARES Act funds must be used by December 30, 2020, for COVID-19 related costs in alignment with allowed expenditures:

  • Lost revenue due to Oregon’s Stay Home, Stay Safe order
  • Any nonprofit-related operating expenses (including but not limited to payroll, rent/mortgage, utilities, inventory, PPE and cleaning supplies)
  • COVID-19 recovery strategies (including health and safety facility changes, supplies, and/or public education campaigns).

Applications will close on September 25, 2020, at 5 p.m. or when 1,000 applications have been received, whichever occurs first. Applications can be submitted online in English or made available in other languages by contacting Tricia_Kennedy@co.washington.or.us.

For more information about submitting an application, the application review process or for a list of frequently asked questions, please visit www.oregoncf.org/WashingtonCoCARES.

For questions about the grant program, please contact Megan Schumaker here.    

For additional information about Washington County’s CARES Act allocation and spending priorities, please visit here.

Employment Department Updates

Oregon Employment Department Approved to Begin Dispersing Lost Wages Assistance Benefits

Earlier this week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved the Oregon Employment Department’s application for the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program, a temporary emergency measure that gives an additional $300 per week to people who are out of work due to COVID-19 and who and are receiving unemployment benefits.

“We know this has been a very stressful period for many Oregonians. While we continue to hope for more robust, longer-term support for those in need, we are excited to be able to provide additional financial relief at this time. We are working quickly to get this program up and running, and get funds out the door. as soon as possible,” said David Gersenfeld, acting director of the Oregon Employment Department.

The LWA program, which can use up to a total of $44 million in disaster relief funding, may run for three to five weeks, or potentially longer. The exact duration is uncertain, and depends on the number of participating states and the number of payments that go out. It may also be depleted in the event of a natural disaster. Oregon has been approved to provide three weeks of payments, and benefits will be dispersed to Oregonians who received unemployment benefits from July 26 through August 15. The department will seek additional weeks of LWA benefits as soon as they become available.

Oregonians automatically qualify for this program if they:

  • Have received unemployment benefits from July 26, 2020, through August 15, 2020; and
  • Self-certify they are unemployed or partially unemployed due to disruptions caused by COVID-19. This will require a new step for claimants currently receiving regular unemployment benefits, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) and Extended Benefits (EB). Individuals receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) will not need to certify because they already did so when they first applied for benefits.

The Employment Department has already been working to implement this program in an effort to get benefits to people as soon as possible. That work is not yet complete, but as soon as the Employment Department has an estimated time when payments will be released, or next steps for people to seek these benefits, that information will be shared publicly, including on the Employment Department’s website (unemployment.oregon.gov).

LWA is retroactive to eligible claimants beginning with the week ending August 1, 2020. However, if individuals become unemployed after the week ending August 1, 2020, they only can receive LWA for weeks where they qualify for unemployment benefits and meet LWA eligibility requirements.

LWA payments are taxable under federal law, just like regular unemployment insurance (UI) or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits. If taxes are withheld from other benefits, they will also be withheld from the LWA benefits.

The LWA program only provides federal funding for $300 weekly benefit payments. Official guidance from the Department of Labor prohibits states from using Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund money to provide the additional $100. Providing the additional $100 per week would require the Oregon Legislature to appropriate money to pay for those benefits.

For more information about filing for unemployment insurance benefits, visit unemployment.oregon.gov. To submit a question related to unemployment insurance, please use the Contact Us form.

Insurance Updates

Uninsured Oregonians May Use COVID-19 Emergency to Enroll in Health Coverage

Uninsured Oregonians who were not able to sign up for private health coverage due to COVID-19 can still enroll. HealthCare.gov has made it easier for uninsured consumers to enroll in coverage through its existing national emergency or major disaster exceptional circumstances special enrollment period (SEP), also known as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) SEP.

People who experienced a life change are eligible for a standard special enrollment period that allows them to sign up for a plan 60 days before or 60 days after their life change to enroll in a plan. Examples of a life change include loss of coverage due to loss of employment, marriage, addition of a new family member, gaining lawful immigration status, and moving homes. Oregonians who were eligible for a standard special enrollment period, but missed this window due to COVID-19, can use the FEMA SEP to enroll in a plan. They would need to submit proof of their life change and do not need to submit proof that they have been affected by COVID-19. Applications are being accepted at HealthCare.gov if the life change is a loss in coverage and at 800-318-2596 (toll-free) for all other life changes.

The FEMA SEP for private health coverage is available for people who qualified for a special enrollment period from Jan. 1, 2020, through up to 60 days after the national public health emergency has ended. The current national declaration is set to end in late October.  

The Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace, a part of state government, helps people get health insurance when they do not have job-based coverage, and do not qualify for the Oregon Health Plan or another program. The Marketplace is the state-level partner to HealthCare.gov, and a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS). For more information, go to OregonHealthCare.gov.

Fire Season Updates

Fire Season

Information provided by Oregon Department of Forestry

Forecasted Weather & Fire Prevention

Temperatures are forecasted to be well above average for the next 10 days, bringing fuel conditions to extreme across the state. By the holiday weekend, we are expecting fire indices to surpass recorded highs dating back three decades, particularly in southwest Oregon. Winds are generally localized over the next 72 hours; however they are expected to increase starting Sunday through the middle of next week causing challenges on existing and new fires. The only fortunate part of this forecast is that there is no lightning predicted, which means the reality is that human-caused fires will present our greatest challenge. As a result, our efforts are pointed towards fire prevention throughout the holiday weekend, and the wildfire community is calling for all Oregonians to aid in protecting our clean air, natural and cultural resources, and communities. Public fire restrictions have been tightened up and you can keep up-to-date on statewide public fire restrictions at the ODF interactive map.

Oregon’s Current Fire Activity

As of September 2, Oregon has experienced 1,723 fires for 138,045 acres burned. This includes fires and acres burned across all fire jurisdictions in Oregon, such as ODF-protected lands, federal lands, tribal lands, and the rangeland in southeastern Oregon. The ten-year annual average is 2,150 fires and 557,811 acres burned. 

A summary of ongoing large fires and a useful visual are available at: https://gacc.nifc.gov/nwcc/information/firemap.aspx

Smoke Impacts

Outside of localized smoke issues from existing fires, current air quality due to wildfire smoke is generally good and should remain so into Thursday. There is a possibility Thursday night or Friday that some smoke will move up again from California. You can stay up to date on smoke levels in your area and statewide on Oregon's smoke blog. City, county, tribal, state and federal agencies coordinate and aggregate the wildfire smoke information for this site. Along with staying up to date with the Smoke Blog, you can also check air quality levels using a mobile device through the OregonAir app.

Additional Information Sources 

Health Care Updates

Baseline COVID-19 Testing Program

Public health officials globally are working together to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Expanding access to reliable screening is critical to containment efforts.

The Baseline COVID-19 Program is an effort to expand access to COVID-19 screening and testing. The Baseline COVID-19 Program is focused on: 

  • Helping those with concerns about COVID-19 to possibly get tested at no cost to you
  • Enabling public health officials to target testing efforts

Who Is eligible to get screened for COVID-19 testing?

  • Age 18 or older
  • Able to get to a testing site location
  • Willing to sign COVID-19 Public Health authorization form and lab consent

For more information and to find testing site near you, visit Project Baseline here.

Community Outreach

Solve event

Thank you to Solve and the Portland Business Alliance for supporting/hosting a clean-up in downtown Portland that I joined this morning. What a beautiful day to join fellow Oregonians for a community-building volunteer opportunity. There were students, families and individuals that joined the effort. I completely understand the darkness of the evening is showing a different narrative, but please know that I felt completely safe walking around alone and saw no burning. Portland remains a beautiful diverse city, with people on public transportation, businesses open, and families shopping/walking together. What I did see was something I have seen before on our streets, people suffering from mental illness. It breaks my heart. We as a society of human beings could be better to show more compassion, empathy and love. I was reminded of a post I saw yesterday..."And let's remember that community is all we have, and remember that the definition of community means ALL of us." Let's not let the rhetoric divide us. Let's support each other, listen to each other and learn from each other peacefully. Oregon, our home where we work, live and play will be better for everyone when we do. ❤

Portland

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Additional Resources

 House District 30 Links

Federal Delegation Links

Education Links

Utilities Assistance

Food and Housing Assistance

This week will be the last week of what looks like a "typical" House District 30 newsletter until after the election. We have a blackout period on sending our newsletter communications two months before an election. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we have been granted an exception in order to keep everyone informed on pandemic related news. Until the November election, any further communications will be strictly related to the pandemic.

You can reach out to me anytime, however, by calling my office at 503-986-1430, emailing me at rep.janeensollman@oregonlegislature.gov, or following me on social media.

Labor Day

 

I hope that you are able to relax at home and with those you love this Labor Day weekend. The first Monday in September is designated as Labor Day to honor the social and economic achievements of American workers. I know that families and friends usually like to get together and BBQ to celebrate the day, but large gatherings are not possible right now due to the health risks. I know this is difficult, but it is temporary. Next year, post COVID-19, our celebrations and family gatherings can continue and flourish once again. I have a happy Labor Day memory from 30 years ago. It was the first time I met my husband’s family at a large family BBQ. We were just starting to date and I still remember tasting his mom’s homemade baked beans and potato salad and thinking, oh this is the one. 😉 Enjoy your day and be safe.  

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