September 25th Update: Wildfires and COVID-19

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Dear Friends and Neighbors, 

Today I am thankful for rain! I hope the continuation of wet weather helps all of the wonderful emergency responders across the state gain more control over the wildfires.  The rain will undoubtedly create many new challenges for us in our response to COVID-19 and new challenges related to mud and debris slides near the fires and around the state.  Despite these new challenges, in these troubled times, we must take blessings as they come and be grateful! 


View of the rain from my yard and my staff's yard

COVID-19 Updates:

New Developments

  • The Latinx community, which makes up the majority of Oregon’s agricultural workforce, have been disproportionately impacted by coronavirus. A new study highlights the risks faced by farmworkers during the pandemic, as the Statesman Journal reports here.  You can support farmworkers impacted by wildfires and COVID-19 here.  
  • Metro Economic Response TeamMetro Regional Solutions (RS) is partnering with Greater Portland, Inc. (GPI), in order to share information and resources related to COVID-19. In addition to state agencies (Business Oregon, Oregon Employment Department, Bureau of Labor & Industry, Small Business Advocate, Oregon Housing & Community Services, and Travel Oregon), a number of partners in the Portland-metro region have been invited to participate including business associations, city and county economic development practitioners and elected leaders, community-based organizations, labor, members of the Governor’s Metro Regional Solutions Advisory Committee and workforce development organizations.
  • Economic Forecast: Overall, the current state of the economy is much better than feared at the time of the previous forecast. However, the economic outlook in the years ahead has only improved modestly.
    • Job losses have increased but revenues continue to grow. Most of the job losses have been among lower-income populations. This points to growing income inequality. We know that the pandemic has exacerbated inequities among our most vulnerable and underserved populations.
    • Federal stimulus packages have also helped infuse money into our economy and help explain increased revenue despite significant job losses.
    • In the near-term Oregon’s economy is impacted by COVID-19 and the wildfires that destroyed communities. Over the long-term, Oregon’s ability to attract and retain skilled, working-age households is one of our comparative advantages. You can read the full economic forecast here.  
  • Family Leave for Distance Learning: If you are having difficulty managing work and helping kids with distance learning, you are not alone and help may be available.  The Oregon Paid Family and Medical Leave program allows families to take up to 12 weeks off work, without fear or losing your job, to assist with distance learning or if your childcare provider is not available due to COVID-19.  Learn more from the Statesman Journal
  • Behavioral Health Resources: The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) announced the launch of a behavioral health outreach and education effort and new helpline for Oregonians. These new resources will help support increased behavioral health needs in our communities due to the broad impacts of COVID-19 and the once-in-a-lifetime wildfire season. Portland-based nonprofit Lines for Life and OHA have launched the Safe + Strong Helpline at 800-923-4357 (800-923-HELP). The line offers free, 24-7 emotional support and resource referral to anyone who needs it – not only those experiencing a mental health crisis. The Safe + Strong Helpline is a response to needs for emotional support around disasters like COVID-19 and wildfires and was funded by the CARES Act. Callers are routed to a counselor who can provide emotional support, mental health triage, drug and alcohol counseling, crisis counseling or just connection.

Case Data

While Oregon is doing better than many states in our case data, we have had 2 weeks of increases in our daily cases, severe cases and positivity rate (Read more from the Oregonian).  This is especially unfortunate as it relates to our school reopening metrics, which got further away from our goals in the last 2 weeks (Read more from the Statesman Journal).  While the turn in the weather is great for our fight against wildfires, it complicates our fight against COVID-19 as it makes it more difficult for folks to gather outside to fulfil their social needs.  It is vital that we all adhere to face covering and social distancing guidance, and wash our hands often.  It is also more important than ever to get vaccinated for the flu so we don’t have to fight 2 diseases at once.  Meeting public health metrics is the best tool for getting kids in school, and businesses reopened.  We must view public health as our partner and our key to reopening, not as a barrier.  Thank you for all you already are doing to help us win the fight against this virus, and thank you for all the continuing efforts you are making to help your kids with distance learning, to wear masks, to  keep your distance, meet outside despite the rain, and wash your hands often.

Test Positivity Trends

Our test positivity rates statewide, and in many regions have increased in the last weeks. Statewide, we have increased from 5.1% at the beginning of the month to 6.9% this month. In the Metro Region, positivity rates have increased from 4.7% to 5.1%.

  • National Numbers: 
    • Confirmed Cases: 6,958,632 (up 42,340 from yesterday)
    • Deaths: 202,329 (up 918 from yesterday)
    • Cases in the last 7 days: 301,923
    • 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 32,314 total cases (confirmed and presumptive) of COVID-19.  
    • Today we have 457 new confirmed and presumptive cases, and 3 new deaths. 
    • Thursday: 382 cases, 2 deaths
    • Wednesday: 193 cases, 6 deaths
    • A total of 542 Oregonians have died from COVID-19.  
  • Washington County still has one of the highest case counts at 4,468 confirmed cases, including 51 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 9.25

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

Wildfire Updates:

Governor Brown held a press conference on wildfire updates, that expressed both the shared grief of our state over the lives, homes and natural resources lost, and the hopeful note that the death toll from the disaster is not at as large a scale as we feared. The Oregonian covered the press conference here and you can watch it in full here.

State fire response officials have repeated that people should not fly their drones in areas with active fires. The presence of these drones makes it impossible for aircrafts fighting these blazes to operate in those areas.

Large Fire Map 9/25

Map of the large fires still on the Oregon Landscape, click to be linked to more information.

Containment Table 9/25

Current Containment Levels for Large Fires as of 9/25

Wildfire Resources

The Governor’s office has put together a Wildfire Resources page that you can access from the Governor’s home page.  It has links to many of the most important updates about the status of fires and resources for evacuees.  This website will be updated regularly.  Governor Brown also held a press conference today to give updates on the state of evacuations and fire suppression.  You can watch that here.  

The Oregon Office of Emergency Management is pushing out information on Twitter:

Red Cross Cascades has updates on how to help:

Forest Grove Fire and Rescue: 

Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue is updating through Twitter:

Clackamas Fire:

Emergency alerts for Medford:

And OPB has live updates on fires and evacuation orders running here:

SNAP and Unemployment

The Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) announced that current Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients who have lost food purchased with SNAP benefits due to storms, flooding, power outages, fires or other misfortunes may be eligible to have their SNAP benefits replaced.

To be eligible, for replacement benefits, households must:

  • Be current SNAP recipients, and
  • Have experienced other household misfortunes that have caused the loss of food.

DHS also notes that SNAP recipients must request replacement benefits within 10 calendar days of experiencing food loss. Once approved, replacement benefits are issued to current recipients using their existing EBT card. To request replacement benefits, current SNAP recipients can call their local branch office.

The Employment Department has launched their new Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) benefits for individuals who lost their job, had their work hours substantially reduced, or are unemployed self-employed individuals as a direct result of the recent wildfires and wind storms that have been taking place since September 7th.  You can learn more from The Oregonian here

Oregon Employment Department reports that, workers in Clackamas, Douglas, Jackson, Klamath, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, and Marion counties also must not qualify for regular state unemployment insurance (UI), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), other extension programs, or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits. DUA is available to eligible individuals for weeks of unemployment beginning September 13, 2020. Benefits for this federal program will be available until March 20, 2021

FEMA and Washington County: 

A Presidential Declaration (4562-DR-OR) was signed for the State of Oregon on September 15, 2020 and Washington County has been designated as one eligible for reimbursement of emergency protective measures (Category B) under the Public Assistance program. Additionally, all areas in Oregon are eligible to apply for assistance under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.

Other FEMA Updates:

Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams (DSATs) are continuing to expand their presence on the ground in Oregon’s wildfire-affected communities. The mission of these FEMA specialists is to help survivors get registered for assistance, answer their questions and help them understand our FEMA programs. 

Following is the schedule for today’s DSATs.

  • MARC at Lincoln City Outlet Mall in Lincoln County. The MARC is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • MARC at Central High School in Medford, Jackson County. The MARC is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Riverhouse in Shady Cove, Jackson County. Riverhouse is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Talent Center in Jackson County. Talent Center is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Phoenix Center in Jackson County. Phoenix Center is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • FEMA registration site at Anthony Hall in Sublimity, Marion County The registration site is open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • MARC at Mari Linn School in Lyons, Linn County. The MARC is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • FEMA registration site at Gates Community Church in Gates, Linn County. The registration site is open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
  • FEMA registration site at Glide High School in Douglas County. The registration site is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • FEMA registration site at Estacada City Hall in Clackamas County. The registration site is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • FEMA registration site at Graduate Hotel in Eugene, Lane County. The registration site is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

Additionally, FEMA wants folks to know that they should be updating their contact information with FEMA to make sure they get the benefits and information they need. From FEMA: 

“Oregon homeowners and renters who registered for FEMA disaster assistance for help after wildfires should stay in touch with FEMA to ensure the disaster assistance process stays on track. 

Survivors should update contact information as soon as possible because FEMA may need to reach them to perform virtual home inspections or get additional information.

FEMA encourages survivors to request direct deposits of disaster assistance to their checking or savings accounts. Survivors should let FEMA know as soon as possible of any changes to their banking information.

It’s important to note that FEMA disaster assistance checks cannot be forwarded. If you cannot access your home address, you can request the postal service to hold your mail.

Survivors who registered with FEMA may update contact information the following ways:

  • Going online at 
  • Downloading the FEMA app
  • Calling 800-621-3362. Multilingual operators are available 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week.
  • Disaster survivors who are deaf, have a speech or hearing disability and use TTY may call 800-462-7585.
  • Disaster survivors who use 711 or VRS (Video Relay Service) may call 800-621-3362.”

Additional Resources

Employers and Employees

Education Links

Local Government

Utilities Assistance

Food and Housing Assistance



Oregon Health Authority


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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.  

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