October 6th Update: COVID-19 and Wildfires

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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Fall is truly here! It is great to see the changing leaves in our beautiful Oregon and Washington County.  The crisp weather is refreshing and welcome, but is does present some new challenges for our management of COVID-19.  Remember to exercise caution, and thank you for all you are doing to keep our community safe.  

Fall photo 1

COVID-19 Updates:

New Developments

  • Increasing our testing capacity: Today, the Governor announced at her press conference that Oregon will be the recipient of 80,000 rapid tests per week from the federal government.  This testing is not a replacement for other precautions like mask wearing, distancing and handwashing, but this testing will help us understand the spread of COVID-19 and get care to those who need it.  The new tests will be deployed statewide, with a focus first on counties and long-term care facilities that have been affected by wildfire evacuations, putting vulnerable residents and staff at higher risk for COVID-19.  Second, the tests will be deployed to outpatient and mobile COVID-19 testing locations, for symptomatic people and their close contacts, whether those contacts are showing symptoms.  In order to ensure safety for Oregon students, tests also will be distributed to school-based health centers and other healthcare partners working with K-12 schools, as well as colleges and universities, to support the testing of symptomatic students and staff, close contacts of cases, and to investigate outbreaks. Testing will also be prioritized for vulnerable communities, including:
    • People from communities that have been hardest hit and most disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, including migrant and seasonal agricultural workers, communities of color and tribal communities, and people living in congregate care settings.
    • People living in places most vulnerable to COVID-19 spread, such as congregate care or living facilities, Department of Corrections facilities, and other community testing locations.
  • DMV Updates: Oregon Department of Transportation has been working diligently to expand their capacity and better serve customers. To that end they are in the process of moving forward with several important plans and steps to increase their services.  
    • Field offices: DMV is installing barriers between customer service counters to allow fuller counter utilization while maintaining social distancing. This will significantly increase the appointment capacity of DMV field offices, allowing DMV to offer about 22,000 appointments each week starting in October (up from an average of ~16,500/week).
    • Customer Service call centers: DMV is increasing its total call center phone agents from 75 to 115, a 53% increase.  The call center phone agents are hired and trained in 3 phases; the first group has been hired and is currently in training; second group is in recruitment; and recruitment of the third group will begin later this fall.  Simultaneously, DMV is exploring the deployment of an artificial intelligence system to answer common customer questions, allowing simple questions to be answered without needing to speak with a live customer service representative.
    • Vehicle Transactions (titling and registration): Field offices are focused primarily on driver transactions, so most title applications are now mailed to headquarters. DMV is increasing staffing levels to address long title processing times in light of this increased volume of mail-in/paper transactions. DMV has authorized overtime for existing staff, transferred positions to vehicle transactions, hired eight temporary employees, and is recruiting for 10 additional temporary employees.  There are currently 53 full time employees assigned to title production, and that will increase by 35% by November 1st.  Additionally, DMV implemented process improvements to speed title processing, including creating an online fee calculator so customers send in the correct fee amount and avoid delays.  DMV is also exploring ways for customers to drop off vehicle transactions at field offices to address concerns about mailing vehicle ownership documents.
    • Drive Tests: DMV has shifted most drive tests to third party businesses to supplement DMV staff capacity and allow them to focus on behind-the-counter transactions.  Since the beginning of the pandemic, DMV has expanded the availability of third party testing locations from 7 sites to 23 sites in 18 counties. Tests offered by third party firms have increased by one-third since July to more than 3,800 in September. The number of available examiners has doubled to 28 and will expand by about one-third when a new group completes training at the end of October. This will create capacity for more drive tests and reduce the backlog.  DMV plans to solicit additional third party drive test businesses to continue expanding capacity, which will be critical as new customers continue to need drive testing services.  Additionally, DMV plans to restore DMV-administered drive test in some DMV field offices December 2020, with further restoration in subsequent months. DMV further plans to hire temporary employees to increase drive test capacity.
    • Knowledge Tests (“written” tests): DMV is installing barriers between testing machines and reconfiguring some office spaces to allow fuller utilization of knowledge test (“written” test machines) while maintaining social distancing.  DMV is also exploring online knowledge testing and proctored testing opportunities.
    • Online Services: DMV’s new computer system allows easier creation of new online services. DMV will continue pushing more services online so people can get the information they need and avoid field office visits. This includes developing an online vehicle title application assistant and the ability to make payments online for vehicle transactions in special processing.
  • Food Available: Food pantries are open and school meals are available through pickup and bus routes.  Free school meals are available for all students through the end of the year!
food boxes

Safe Halloween Activities

Since trick or treating is not recommended this Halloween, here are some ideas of ways to celebrate safely:

  • Host an online costume contest with friends and family both near and far away. (Governor Kate Brown is hosting one on her Facebook page using #SpookySafeOregon. Make sure you include a face covering!)
  • Watch a scary Halloween movie online.
  • Carve pumpkins with members of your household.
  • Have a neighborhood jack-o’-lantern contest.
  • Tour a neighborhood yard and home displays with household members.
  • Decorate your house, apartment or living space.
  • Make your own Halloween candy or caramel apples.
  • Have a Halloween scavenger hunt in or around your home.

Remember that the safest activities are celebrating with members of your own household. If you gather with people outside your own household, you can decrease the risk by being outside, maintaining at least six feet of distance, and wearing a mask.

Staying safe on halloween

Safe Pumpkin Picking

One of the joys of living in Oregon is getting to visit local farms and pumpkin patches for Halloween activities. You may be wondering if these activities are safe this year. Here are some tips from OHA for staying safe at the pumpkin patch this autumn.

  • Stay home if you’re sick or come into contact with someone who’s sick.
  • Wear a mask if you can’t stay physically distant.
  • Avoid crowded activities.
  • Look for activities that you can do without being too close to others. Some farms may offer hayrides for one household at a time or a corn maze with large aisles that has clearly marked one-way traffic.
U-pick Pumpkin patch

Case Data

  • National Numbers: 
    • Confirmed Cases: 7,436,278 (up 39,548 from yesterday)
    • Deaths: 209,560 (up 361 from yesterday)
    • 306,970 Cases in Last 7 Days
    • 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 35,340 total cases (confirmed and presumptive) of COVID-19.  
    • Today we have 301 new confirmed and presumptive cases, and 9 new deaths. 
    • Monday: 288 cases, 0 deaths
    • Sunday: 260 cases, 1 death
    • Saturday: 360 cases, 8 deaths
    • A total of 581 Oregonians have died from COVID-19.  
  • Washington County still has one of the highest case counts at 4,840 confirmed cases, including 30 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. 
  • Modelling: Unfortunately new cases have increased by 25% since the end of August, and our new daily cases have been higher since they have been in July.  In OHA’s most recent modeling, they offer three scenarios, assuming 4,500 tests per day for each.
    • The optimistic scenario assumes a 5-percentage-point increase on Sept. 5, but attributes increases in diagnosed cases after Sept. 15 to a decline in testing. Under this scenario by Oct. 22, new infections would increase from 680 to 800, resulting in about 270 daily cases. Severe cases – those requiring hospitalization – would increase to 24, and a reproduction rate would be 1.04, meaning that someone with the virus is passing it to more than one person.
    • The pessimistic scenario assumes a 10-percentage-point increase in transmission after Sept. 5 and attributes some of higher cases to be the result of increased transmission rather than a lack of testing. Under this scenario, by Oct. 22, there would be approximately 900 new infections and about 300 new daily cases, with eight more severe cases and a reproduction rate of 1.17.
    • The moderate scenario assumes a 7-percentage-point increase from Sept. 5, attributing fewer of the increased diagnosed cases to increased transmission. Under this scenario, by Oct. 22, new daily cases would increase by 120, with one additional severe case and a reproduction rate of 1.12.
Modeling 10.6

Modelling projections for cumalitive, daily and sever cases

Daily Update 10.6

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

Employment Updates:

Shared with Legislators by the Oregon Employment Department

Legislative Updates Last Week

  • Senate Interim Committee on Labor and Business; unemployment claims update link to the informational meeting and to the slide deck.
  • House Interim Committee on Business and Labor; Employee or Independent Contractor slide deck.
  • Senate Interim Committee on Government Accountability and Information Technology; Modernization update link to the informational meeting and to the slide deck. Director Gerstenfeld was joined by the Oregon Employment Department CIO Bill Truex, Modernization Director Renee Royston, and Enterprise Information Services’ State CIO Terrence Woods.

Director’s Media Briefing 

Below are audio and video links to today’s media briefing with David Gerstenfeld.

Lost Wages Assistance  - FEMA extra $300/week for 7/26 – 9/5

  • We met our goal of issuing LWA payments by the end of the month. In this morning’s initial run, we issued over $225M to almost 148,000 people. Eligible Oregonians should expect to receive their LWA payments via their usual method of payment. This was made possible because we created a way for thousands of people to complete their self-certification (required by FEMA) ahead of time. After today’s initial run of payments, payments will be issued each day.
  • We encourage claimants who believe they are eligible but haven't yet certified to do so ASAP here Online Claims System
  • Certification is the one-time step required by FEMA for claimants who receive UI, PEUC, or EB benefits for a COVID-19 reason.
  • Self-Certify here Online Claims System and scroll down to “Lost Wages Assistance.”
  • Those with language access needs should contact us by email at OED_LanguageAccess@oregon.gov or call our language hotline 503-606-6969 

Disaster Unemployment Assistance

For the second time this year, and only the second time in more than a decade, the Employment Department is offering Disaster Unemployment Assistance benefits (DUA).

  • DUA benefits are available to those unemployed as a direct result of the Oregon wildfires in Clackamas, Douglas, Jackson, Klamath, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, and Marion counties and who are not eligible for any other unemployment benefits.
  • Many people were harmed by the fires and may be eligible for regular UI or one of the other programs that was already operating; DUA provides another safety net for some of those impacted by the fires who could not get benefits under any of those other programs. We continue to prioritize the claims of people impacted by the fire, regardless of what type of claim they are filing.
  • You will find information specific to the Oregon wildfires and the DUA program https://unemployment.oregon.gov.
  • People who think they are eligible for DUA should start their application by filing an initial claim for regular unemployment benefits at https://unemployment.oregon.gov  
  • You can also pick up DUA applications in-person at evacuation sites or apply over the phone by calling 503-570-5000.


  • As you know, Oregon’s unemployment tax and benefits technology is long overdue to be modernized. A true “Commercial off the Shelf” product does not exist for unemployment insurance tax and benefits. However, our commitment is to select a proven vendor, and adapt, transform, and improve processes to fit Oregon's unique needs.
  • Towards that end, and in an effort to be inclusive and transparent in our decision making, we wanted you to know that we had DAS revoke the notice of intent to award a contract to the proposed UI solution vendor. A more complete understanding of how the vendors perform is important in determining which vendor is right for Oregon. DAS revoked the vendor intent to award notification so that we can complete virtual site visits with other states who have worked with the vendors. We will do whatever we need to do to get to the right decision for Oregon. Revoking the notice of intent to award puts us back into the vendor evaluation phase of the process, and we are confident the process will move us towards getting to the right outcome….a modernized UI solution for Oregon.
  • In addition to the latest updates David gave last week in committee, there is the Modernization Program website 

Benefit Exhaustion

  • Between now and the end of the year, as many as 52,000 people could stop receiving PUA (Pandemic Unemployment Assistance) benefits if Congress does not act to extend the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. And when the PUA program expires on December 26, so does the PEUC (Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation) program, so people who are receiving PEUC then and are not eligible for other benefit extension programs will also find themselves not eligible for any support from the unemployment benefit programs. 
Employment Programs Ending

Wildfire Updates:

The Governor's Wildfire Economic Recovery Council, which serves to evaluate the economic and community needs of Oregonians as a result of the 2020 wildfire season, held its first meeting yesterday. The meeting included a statewide overview of impacted communities and lessons learned from previous recovery efforts in communities such as Paradise, California. The full membership of the committee is available here.  The announcement of the meeting is available here

Large Fire Map

Map of Large Fires on the landscape

Containment table
Human impacts of Fires

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.  

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.  

fall photos 2

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