October 23rd Update: COVID-19 and Wildfires

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Dear Friends and Neighbors, 

Today we reached another heartbreaking milestone in our fight against COVID-19, we have reached a new high in daily cases, with 550 new cases reported today.  This is part of a distressing increase in cases we have been experiencing since September.  It is more important than ever that we all do everything we can to protect ourselves and our communities.  The sacrifices we are making are vitally important, they are the most critical thing we can all do to save lives and get our state back on track.  We are all in this together, and we will get through this together. 

Mountain Water Color

Emergency Board: State COVID-19 and Wildfire Response

Today the Emergency Board acted to provide much needed responses to COVID-19 and wildfire damage in Oregon.  We discussed items related to Housing and Sheltering needs relating to the pandemic and wildfires, support for wildfire impacted schools, our statewide alert system, removing wildfire debris from roads and highways, and we received a report on the distribution and use of federal CARES Act dollars across the state.  Unfortunately, Item 1, an important concept to support the many Oregonians who are experiencing homelessness related to COVID-19, did not pass the E-Board.  It is my hope that this will come back to the E-Board soon or be addressed in an upcoming Special Session.  

  • Item 1-Project Turnkey Pandemic Response: Allocate $35.0 million from the Emergency Fund to the Department of Administrative Services to be provided to the Oregon Community Foundation for grants to local community organizations which will be used to support the acquisition, retrofitting, and potential operation of hotel and motel properties to be used as emergency shelter relating to pandemic response.  This did not pass today. 
  • Item 2-Project Turnkey Wildfire Response: Allocate $30.0 million from the Emergency Fund to the Department of Administrative Services to be provided to the Oregon Community Foundation for grants to local community organizations which will be used to support shelter services through the acquisition, retrofitting, and potential operation of hotel and motel properties in wildfire-affected areas. Passed
  • Item 3-Shelter Support: Allocate $10.0 million from the Emergency Fund to the Housing and Community Services Department to support the provision of shelter and related services, with funding prioritized for wildfire impacted communities. Passed. 
  • Item 4-Financial Support for Wildfire Impacted Schools: Allocate $7,439,727 from the Emergency Fund to be disbursed by the Oregon Department of Education to school districts, education service districts, and public charter schools in the form of grants, loans, or other contracts, instruments, or methods used to mitigate the cost of damages caused by wildfires and/or help students and their families recover from the impacts of recent wildfires. Passed. 
  • Item 5-Statewide Alert System: The recent wildfires and COVID-19 emergencies have highlighted weaknesses in the state and local government emergency communications capabilities. Some citizens are unable to access alerts, warnings, and notifications (known as AWNs). This is due to a variety of reasons including lack of capacity to disseminate AWNs and no standardized training or best practices. Half of Oregon’s counties lack the ability to issue emergency alerts via the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Integrated Alerts and Warnings System, which is currently the only way to get AWNs to wireless phones which have not proactively opted into a local notification system.  This should help rectify those gaps by allocating $1,400,000 for the procurement of a Statewide Alert System.
  • Item 6- Wildfire Debris Removal: Increased the expenditure limitation for the Department of Transportation by $295,700,000 for hazard tree removal and allocated $50,000,000 to ODOT for ash and debris removal.
    • Hazard Tree Removal: ODOT estimates this work will cost $295.7 million. The Governor proposes to use State Highway Fund reserves to pay for the work. ODOT has indicated hazard tree removal can be completed in 6-9 months. The full estimated cost of hazard tree removal would be covered by the Other Funds expenditure limitation increase. 
    • Ash and Debris Removal: ODOT estimates ash and debris removal will cost $326.0 million. The Governor is requesting $50.0 million General Fund to begin this work. ODOT projects the entire ash and debris removal effort can be completed in 12-18 months. ODOT’s proposed work schedule and cash flow projections indicate the $50.0 million may be sufficient to fund ash and debris cleanup activities through mid-March 2021. 
  • Item 7-Coronavirus Relief Fund and CARES Act Expenditures Report: In response to interest in the current status of state expenditures of the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) and the broader CARES Act revenues, the Legislative Fiscal Office prepared a budget information report designed to summarize the previous actions of the Legislature and the Emergency Board that addressed the distribution and use of the CRF. Included in the same budget information report is additional information regarding the receipt and use of non-CRF federal funding received by state agencies through various provisions of the CARES Act. 

COVID-19 Updates:

New Developments

  • COVID-19 vs. The Flu: From Oregon Health Authority-The data and evidence is clear: COVID-19 is more deadly than seasonal influenza. Respiratory viruses also tend to be more severe in older adults, and COVID-19 is particularly so. Another key difference is that there is a vaccine for the flu. The flu vaccine is very effective, even when it isn’t a perfect match for the strain of influenza that’s circulating. 
    • Don’t wait to vaccinate: You can protect yourself from the flu by getting a vaccine. To find a flu vaccine clinic, visit www.flu.oregon.gov and use the flu vaccine locator tool.
    • Learn more about seasonal flu and COVID-19 on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
    • In addition, you can join OHA Tuesday, Oct. 27 at noon to have your flu and COVID-19 questions answered by experts directly. You can attend, follow the conversation and sign up for a reminder at the following links:
Flu vs. COVID-19
  • County Watchlist: Governor Kate Brown today announced that Multnomah County has been added to the County Watch List. This addition comes after Multnomah County was removed from the Watch List on August 28. The county remains in Phase 1 of reopening, and it remains grouped with Clackamas and Washington Counties for future reopening decisions. Of these three counties, only Multnomah is on the Watch List at this time. In addition, the Governor announced that two counties—Benton and Clatsop—have succeeded in reducing the spread of COVID-19 sufficiently enough to be removed from the County Watch List. Counties are placed on the Watch List when COVID-19 is spreading quickly and public health officials cannot trace that spread to specific sources—creating a potentially dangerous dynamic. Specific markers of this rapid community spread include when there is a sporadic case rate of 50 or more per 100,000 people in the last two weeks and the county has had more than five sporadic cases in the last two weeks (sporadic cases are those that cannot be traced to a source; they indicate community spread). The complete County Watch List now includes the following five counties: Malheur, Multnomah, and Umatilla.
  • Preparing for the Shelter Season: As we prepare for winter, we must be aware of the greatly increased need we will have for sheltering our most vulnerable neighbors, and the increased protections we will need to provide in light of COVID-19.  Oregon Housing and Community Services has been working with providers and experts across the state to prepare and come up with best practices to meet our sheltering needs safely.  This winter will be incredibly challenging for service providers and the communities they serve, with more need for shelter than ever, and more restrictions on the ways it can be done, we will rely on evidence based solutions communities coming together to make them happen.  
  • Updates from the Oregon Employment Department
    • Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA): the deadline to apply is today, Friday October 23rd. DUA provides a safety net for those whose employment was directly impacted by the September wildfires, and who are not already eligible for another unemployment program.  Anyone whose employment was impacted by the recent wildfires who has not yet applied for DUA must submit their application ASAP. Remember, you must be in Clackamas, Douglas, Jackson, Klamath, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, or Marion counties and NOT eligible for any other unemployment benefits. https://www.oregon.gov/employ/disaster
    • Adjudication - OED is intensely focused on getting through the cases waiting for adjudication. An Oregon based vendor, Epiq, is helping gather additional information from claimants, asking questions of the claimants and providing factual information to the adjudicators to allow the adjudicators to make a determination and a decision. This has been a good collaboration, has sped up hundreds of adjudication decisions,  and they are helping us refine our processes. We are tracking about 52,000 (as of September 30, 2020) people whose claims needed adjudication. We are urgently focused on these cases and understand that these cases are people in our communities that need help fast. But it’s important to remember: Some people in adjudication have received some benefits. For example, 18,000 received benefits while waiting for their adjudication decisions (Benefits While You Wait).
    • Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance program: Listening sessions are now in full swing. These virtual town halls are listening sessions, where participants are invited to provide input, to better inform the program's development and administrative rules. The next town hall, which will focus on equivalent plans that employers may already have in place, is scheduled for Oct 27 from 2 to 3pm.
    • Webinars: Learn more about adjudication and what it means for your claim at our next webinar, Thursday, October 22 at 1 p.m. Register at http://bit.ly/Adjudication_Webinar. It will focus on adjudication, and we hope to explain to claimants what adjudication is, and some of the many reasons why a claim may need to be adjudicated.  We have 15 webinars posted on the YouTube site https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLGapH16HpIgZKIu50-X5OAy0bERCr69g9 since June, on several topics. 
    • Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) - FEMA extra $300/week for 7/26 -9/5: Please self-certify for their LWA eligibility ASAP. They must self-certify that their unemployment or partial unemployment is due to disruptions caused by COVID-19. Certification is the one-time step required by FEMA for claimants who receive UI, PEUC, or EB benefits for a COVID-19 reason.
Lost Wages
  • COVID-19 Protections for Agricultural Workers: Governor Kate Brown today extended COVID-19 protections for agricultural workers in employer-provided housing through the off season. Executive Order 20-58 addresses requirements related to physical distancing, sanitation, and isolation in order to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 among Oregon's agricultural workers, farmers and ranchers, and surrounding communities. The order implements requirements that mirror provisions of Oregon OSHA’s temporary rules that are set to expire on October 24. The Governor’s Executive Order is in effect through April 30 while Oregon OSHA works to adopt permanent rules. A full copy of Executive Order 20-58 is available here.  COVID-19 resources and financial assistance for Oregon’s agricultural producers and workers are available. For more information, visit:
Farm Benefits

Last day to apply for these reimbursements is Sunday 10/25

Case Data

  • National Numbers: 
    • Confirmed Cases: 8,387,047 (up 74,380 from yesterday)
    • Deaths: 222,447 (up 1,009 from yesterday)
    • Cases in the last 7 days: 428,795
    • 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 41,348 total cases (confirmed and presumptive) of COVID-19.  
    • Today we have 550 new confirmed and presumptive cases, and 3 new deaths. This is our highest daily case sount since the start of the pandemic. 
    • Thursday: 373 cases, 11 deaths
    • Wednesday: 331 cases, 2 deaths
    • A total of 649 Oregonians have died from COVID-19.  
    • Washington County still has one of the highest case counts at 5,524 confirmed cases, including 91 new cases today.  You can review on-going updates from OHA by clicking on the table below. 
    • Oregon Health Authority released videos in English and spanish about today’s case numbers: 
  • 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. 
  • COVID-19 Weekly Report: During Monday, October 12, through Sunday, October 18, OHA recorded 2,327 new cases of COVID-19 infection—down 4% from last week’s record-high tally of 2,418. The number of Oregonians newly tested rose another 1.6%, to 28,960, and the percentage of tests that were positive rose slightly to 6.5%. Twenty-seven Oregonians were reported to have died in association with COVID-19—compared to 25 last week. One hundred forty-three Oregonians were hospitalized. The 39,794 COVID-19 cases reported in Oregon to date computes to 939 cases per 100,000 Oregonians; of these, 627—1.6% of all cases reported to date—have died in association with COVID-19, giving a mortality rate of 14.8 deaths per 100,000 Oregonians.  Click on the graph below to view the entire report.  
Weekly Report

Shows the number of cases reported by week of onset and epidemiologic link. Where displayed by week in this report, case data are categorized by week of reported symptom onset, not by date of case report. This results in reduced numbers in the most recent week or more due to reporting lags.

Daily Update 10/23

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

Wildfire Updates:

Local Updates: 

W.C.C.C.A. 9-1-1 have been receiving a lot of calls of a fire on NW Thatcher Road near Wildberry Lane. This is a normal logging burn operation and is very visible from Highway 47. There is no need to call this in and could be visible through the weekend.  Visit Forest Grove Fire and Rescue for more information.  

Hwy 47

Metro Wildfire Economic Recovery Team (WERT) 

  • Background: As part of the Governor’s Disaster Cabinet and statewide Wildfire Economic Recovery Council (WERC), Regional Solutions established Wildfire Economic Recovery Teams (WERTs) in fire-affected parts of the state. The WERTs are comprised of local elected officials, city managers, county emergency managers, community-based organizations, faith-based organizations and business, philanthropic and workforce development representatives. The WERTs will identify issues, gaps and needs in fire-affected regions and elevate them to the Governor and the statewide Wildfire Economic Recovery Council. The feedback will help inform legislative priorities and state actions that may be taken to help with wildfire response and recovery efforts. The Metro WERT is co-convened by Representatives Mark Meek and Anna Williams.  View the WERC website here.
  • Update: In this week’s meeting, Kim Travis, Housing Integrator with Oregon Housing and Community Services gave a presentation on the Housing Disaster Task Force and work that is being done around housing in response to the wildfires. Her presentation was followed by a discussion on gaps and concerns around housing. Issues raised included an expedited need for mid and long-term housing solutions and housing options for displaced agricultural workers many of whom are Latinx. The group also heard from Chelsea Irvine of 3CORE in Chico, California about best practices and lessons learned from the Paradise Fire and ongoing recovery work there. One of the biggest takeaways she shared was the need to manage expectations and have realistic timelines around rebuilding and recovery. It takes time.
  • Important: The FEMA Individual Assistance deadline is NOVEMBER 16, 2020 – apply here: https://www.disasterassistance.gov or call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).
  • Next Meeting: Wednesday, October 29 from 1 – 2:30 PM.
    • Join Zoom Meeting: https://zoom.us/j/93798772230
    • Meeting ID: 937 9877 2230
    • Passcode: 712578
    • One tap mobile +12532158782,,93798772230#,,,,,,0#,,712578# US (Tacoma)

FEMA Updates: Oregonians Affected by Wildfires-Flood Risk and Insurance; Fraud Awareness

Wildfires leave the ground charred and unable to absorb water. This may create a flash flooding risk for years to come -- even in areas that rarely experienced flooding in the past. Sometimes these flash floods can pick up ash and large debris, turning into mudflows that are highly destructive.

  • Flood risks are much higher until vegetation regrows in a burned area—this could take up to five years after a wildfire.
  • Flooding after a fire is often more severe as it takes very little rain to cause a flood or mudflows.
  • Flooding can happen anywhere at any time. Poor drainage systems, summer storms, melting snow, neighborhood construction and broken water mains can all result in flooding.
  • In high-risk areas, there is at least a one-in-four chance of flooding during a 30-year mortgage.
  • If flooding occurs and you are in an evacuation zone, heed warnings and follow official recommendations without delay.
  • Contact a Floodplain Management & Insurance specialist directly at FEMA-R10-MIT@fema.dhs.gov to have your questions answered.
  • For more information on Flood Insurance and Scam Awareness, check out this FEMA FactSheet

FEMA Rental Assistance May Be A Valuable Housing Solution for Oregon Wildfire Survivors

Oregon residents displaced from their homes by wildfires and straight-line winds beginning Sept. 7 may find FEMA rental assistance an important way to move their recovery forward.

FEMA rental assistance provides survivors a grant to pay for somewhere to live while they work on permanent housing plans such as repairing or rebuilding their home. Options include renting an apartment, house, or recreational vehicle that can keep survivors near their jobs, schools, homes, and places of worship.

Funds can be used for security deposits, rent and the cost of essential utilities such as electricity, gas, and water. They may not be used for to pay for cable or Internet.

Survivors who live in Clackamas, Douglas, Jackson, Klamath, Lane, Lincoln, Linn or Marion county, should follow these steps if their home is uninhabitable and they need financial help to find a place to stay:

  • File an insurance claim. If insured, survivors should check with their homeowner’s or renter’s insurance agent about additional living expenses coverage, often referred to as ALE, as part of their policy that may assist in relocating to a temporary residence.
  • Apply for FEMA assistance. Survivors who have homeowner’s insurance should submit their settlement documents to FEMA for review to determine their eligibility status. If their policy does not include ALE, or if they exhaust this coverage and their home remains uninhabitable, they may be eligible for rental assistance from FEMA.

Apply online at DisasterAssistance.gov, by downloading the FEMA app or by calling the disaster assistance helpline at 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585 from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. PDT, seven days a week. Those who use a Relay service such as a videophone, InnoCaption or CapTel should update FEMA with their assigned number for that service.

Learn more in this FEMA Factsheet

Human impacts

Human impacts of Wildfires, current as of 10/23/2020

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.  

The Department of Forestry’s Wildfire Response and Recovery Overview has ongoing updates about firefighting efforts, damage reports, and more.  

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

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

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