COVID-19 Update: October 9

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Representative Smith Warner

Greetings: 

Earlier this week Governor Kate Brown held a press conference to announce a major expansion of testing for COVID-19 in Oregon that will strengthen the state’s strategy to suppress the virus. Starting this week, Oregon will receive between 60,000 and 80,000 Abbott BinaxNOW rapid point-of-care antigen tests per week through the end of December. According to the Oregon Health Authority, the new additional rapid antigen tests will nearly double Oregon’s testing capacity, helping physicians and health officials identify more people who are infected with COVID-19 and – over time – reduce transmission, prevent new cases (and hospitalizations) and sustain the state’s reopening.

COVID-19

Oregon Health Authority COVID-19 Update

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) reports up-to-date information regarding testing statistics that can be found on their website. You can review the daily update and read details about the overall picture of COVID-19 response efforts in Oregon. Multnomah County’s Emergency Operation Center also created a situational report to track COVID-19 response efforts in Multnomah County. Here are some recent developments:

  • OHA broadened its testing guidelines.The new guidelines recommend testing for anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 regardless of the severity of those symptoms, along with testing all close contacts of those individuals, regardless of whether they showed symptoms.

  • Since May, state and local health officials have more than doubled the number of contact tracers in Oregon – this week there are more than 1,290 contact tracers and case investigators working to contain the spread of COVID-19.

  • The first 15,000 BinaxNOW tests were deployed to counties and long-term care facilities affected by recent wildfires. In addition, OHA will prioritize testing for communities hardest hit by COVID-19: migrant and seasonal farmworkers, communities of color and tribal communities, residents of congregate care settings.

  • Plans call for eventually expanding testing to students and staff at schools and Oregon’s colleges and universities through school-based health centers and other community partners.

Portland Public Schools Update

Superintendent Guerrero recently announced plans to extend Comprehensive Distance Learning (CDL) through the second quarter, which ends January 28. In order to start hybrid learning (part in-school/part CDL), the following metrics must be met:

  • 10 or fewer cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people in Multnomah County over 7 days for 3 weeks in a row
  • Test positivity of 5% or less in Multnomah County over 7 days for 3 weeks in a row
  • Test positivity of 5% or less statewide over 7 days for 3 weeks in a row
  • And, given that 10% or more of our staff live in Clackamas County and another 10% or more live in Washington County, we must also consider the metrics and their trends in those counties as well.

Families can visit pps.net/fall2020 for the latest news, information and student and family resources.


Employment Department Information

The employment department frequently sends information and updates through their email list. You can visit this link if you are interested in signing up for updates from the Oregon Employment Department. Here are some new developments that were discussed at the most recent media briefing:

  1. Waiting Week
    The department is still on track to meet their preliminary estimate of paying the Waiting Week by the end of November. This is subject to change pending any new federal relief programs, but they are keeping an eye out for that.

  2. Lost Wages Assistance
    The Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program is a temporary emergency measure that gives an additional $300 per week to people who are out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic and receiving unemployment benefits. The employment department issued nearly $330M in Lost Wage Assistance to 230,000 people. 

  3. Tax Rates
    OED received interest from employers who are wondering what the high number of unemployment benefits paid since the onset of the pandemic means for their tax rates. The department won’t be announcing the new tax rate until November 13, and do not anticipate any sudden or severe changes to the UI tax schedule.

Increase In SNAP Benefits 

If you’re receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, they’ll go further this month. Due to the unprecedented challenges presented by COVID-19, the Oregon Department of Human Services will give out increased food benefits in October for eligible SNAP recipients that will bring all households to the maximum SNAP benefit. To determine the maximum allotment for your household, click here.


Resources To Help Cope With COVID-19

Cope

Please reach out to my office if you have any additional questions, or if there’s anything you think I could help with. 

Sincerely,

Sig

Representative Barbara Smith Warner
House District 45

email: Rep.BarbaraSmithWarner@oregonlegislature.gov I phone: 503-986-1445
address: 900 Court St NE, H-295, Salem, OR 97301
website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/smithwarner