October 9th Update: COVID-19 and Wildfires

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Dear Friends and Neighbors, 

Someone asked me how I was doing yesterday after we had a call on schools and what families were facing in the way of challenges. My answer was:  “I feel as if I am constantly in emergency mode.” she said: “I do too!”

We must face our challenges but also give ourselves permission to breath and take time to cook a new dish or read a book or a poem. We need to call our friends and family to catch up! This week-end give yourself permission to take time for yourself. Smile... we will get back to work sooner if we take time to refresh our spirit! 

Wind Chime

COVID-19 Updates:

New Developments

  • County Watch List: Governor Kate Brown today announced that Umatilla County has been added to the County Watch List. This addition comes after Umatilla County was removed from the Watch List on September 18. The county remains in Phase 2 of reopening. The complete County Watch List now includes the following four counties: Benton, Clatsop, Malheur, and Umatilla. 
  • Increased SNAP benefits due to COVID-19: 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
Coping with COVID-19

Case Data

  • National Numbers: 
    • Confirmed Cases: 7,583,200 (up 54,887 from yesterday)
    • Deaths: 212,111 (up 979 from yesterday)
    • Cases in the last 7 days: 322,741
    • 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 36,526 total cases (confirmed and presumptive) of COVID-19.  
    • Today we have 425 new confirmed and presumptive cases, and 3 new deaths. 
    • Thursday: 484 cases, 11 deaths
    • Wednesday: 305 cases, 2 deaths
    • A total of 597 Oregonians have died from COVID-19.  
    • Washington County still has one of the highest case counts at 4,956 confirmed cases, including 39 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: October 9th

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

Wildfire Updates:

Updates provided by the Oregon Department of Forestry

Forecasted Fall Weather

Fire danger is expected to decrease as we extend deeper into our typical fall weather pattern. Cooler temperatures are forecasted through the end of the week with another rainy weather event starting across the region Friday night. Rain should fall on much of the state by the end of the weekend with accumulations west of the Cascades between 0.5 and 3 inches.  On the east side, less moisture is anticipated, but rainfall totals will still  be in the 0.5 inch range in much of northeastern Oregon. There may also be another rain event next week but the forecast lacks confidence at this time.  

Oregon’s Current Fire Activity

As of October 8, Oregon has experienced 2,027 fires for 1,221,324 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. We are consistent with the average number of fires, but have eclipsed the annual average acres burned of 557,811.  A summary of ongoing large fires (Riverside, Beachie Creek, Lionshead, Holliday Farm, Archie Creek and Slater) and a useful visual are available at: https://gacc.nifc.gov/nwcc/information/firemap.aspx

Despite the weather changes and incredible progress made since Labor Day, we are not turning our backs on these fires. With close to 1,500 miles of control lines established on these fires, our job now is to ensure these lines hold. I have full confidence with the weather pattern and resources available that we will hold them. With this much fire on the landscape, interior burning is expected and will continue for some time. Also, control lines will likely be tested with any east wind events that typically occur in the fall and winter months. Monitoring the perimeters of these fires will take place until the heavy winter rains take hold. Of particular interest, it is likely that we will see smoke from these fires in the spring of 2021, which is typical of large fires in heavy timber. Looking forward, as the seasonal warming trend starts up in the early spring next year, we will fly infrared detection flights to find any heat signatures of concern and take action as necessary.

ODF Fire Protection and Large Fire Cost

To date on ODF-protected lands, we have responded to 907 fires, for a total of 551,816 acres burned. Our 10-year average to date is 885 fires and 41,353 acres burned.  Our current condition truly has no comparison.  In 1933, the first of the state’s historic Tillamook burns consumed approximately 340,000 ODF-protected acres. Until last month, that fire season had the most ODF-protected acres burned in our 109 year history.    

ODF’s gross large fire costs for fire season 2020 are currently estimated at $125 million. With cost recoveries from other agency billings and 17 FEMA eligible fires, the net costs are currently estimated at $48.1 million.

  • Gross costs are the fire costs the agency must carry as debt until we receive reimbursements from other agencies and FEMA.
  • Net costs are the non-reimbursable fire costs that are distributed among the General Fund, Oregon Forestland Protection Fund, and Lloyd’s of London wildfire insurance policy if the $50 million net costs deductible is breached. 

Since the dramatic fire year of 2013, our average gross costs have escalated from approximately $10 million to $70 million annually.  This fire season’s costs will clearly continue the steep incline in wildfire suppression costs since 2013.

Smoke impacts

It really goes without saying that the smoke impacts from wildfire have been staggering.  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.

Wildfire Resources: 

OEM has put together this list of contacts to help speed up the process of replacing these documents:

  • Green cards: Phone (800)-375-5283; Website: www.uscis.gov
  • Medicare cards: Phone: (800)-772-1213; (TTY) (800)-325-0778 Website: www.medicare.gov
  • Military records Phone: 866-272-6272 Website: www.archives.gov/contact/
  • Passport Phone: 877-487-2778; (TTY) 888-874-7793 Website: travel.state.gov
  • Social Security card Phone: 800-772-1213; (TTY) 800-325-0778 Website: www.ssa.gov
  • U.S. Savings Bonds Phone: 844-284-2676 Website: www.treasurydirect.gov
  • U.S. tax returns Phone: 800-829-1040 Website: www.irs.gov
  • Birth, death, marriage, domestic partnership, divorce certificates Phone: 888-896-4988 Website: www.oregon.gov/oha/PH/Birthdeathcertificates
  • Driver’s license, auto titles and registration, ID cards Phone: 503-945-5000 Website: www.oregon.gov/odot
  • SNAP (Oregon Trail Card) Website: www.oregon.gov/DHS/Assistance/Food-Benefits
  • State taxes (Oregon Dept. of Revenue) Phone: 503-378-4988 or 800-356-4222 TTY: All relay calls are accepted. Website: www.oregon.gov/dor
  • Real estate and property - Contact your county government.
  • Credit cards - Contact your credit card company directly.
  • Credit reports from Equifax, Experian, TransUnion Phone: 877-322-8228 Website: www.annualcreditreport.com
  • Insurance documents - Check with your insurance agent.
  • Medical records - Call your doctor or your medical insurance company; medical and prescription records are tracked electronically.

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.  

FEMA Updates: FEMA has provided several different Fact Sheets and resources for accessing benefits, determining eligibility and avoiding scams.

Employment Updates: 

Information provided by the Employment Department

Below are the audio and video links to Director David Gerstenfeld’s media briefing this week: 

Highlights from the Briefing:  

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

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

Waiting Week:

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

The Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance program:

Starting to move forward with the launch of virtual town halls, starting next week (10/13)

Town hall participants are invited to identify issues, offer ideas, raise concerns, and make suggestions related to the program's development and administrative rules

Each town hall will be recorded and available online.

Tax rates: 

We have received interest from employers who are wondering what the high number of unemployment benefits we’ve paid since the onset of the pandemic means for their tax rates. We won’t be announcing the new tax rate until November 13, but I do want to share that for several reasons, we do not anticipate any sudden or severe changes to the UI tax schedule. Oregon’s self-balancing statutory formula for funding the UI Trust Fund kept Oregon solvent during the Great Recession and appears very likely to do so now. So far, 19 other states have had to borrow a total of $34.5 billion in order to pay unemployment benefits. Because of Oregon’s self-balancing formula, it does not look like we will need to borrow money, and that is good news because it saves Oregon employers from having to pay interest and other borrowing costs.  A good number of the benefits we’ve paid this year are actually reimbursable by the federal government, as opposed to employer taxes.

Next webinar: 

Our public webinars are now taking place every other week. This week’s webinar is a broad overview of our unemployment programs. We’ll address some of the key questions and themes that we are seeing on social media, and will provide an update on claims processing, focusing on LWA, PUA, and extension programs. The link to register is on social media and here.

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.  


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