Do What You Can Do 10/29/2020

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Senator Jeff Golden

 *  “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”     
—Helen Keller


This photo was provided by Sarah Settimo. We want your beautiful Southern Oregon photo for this newsletter! Send it to with the subject “Photo Reminder.” We’d love to feature them.

COVID news

...isn’t good. On Tuesday Governor Brown extended Oregon’s State of Emergency for two months, from November 3 to January 2. This graph from Johns Hopkin University shows why. It lets you track any state’s rate for positive COVID tests—a more significant indicator of how we’re doing than the raw number of cases, or total number of tests. You’ll see that Oregon’s percentage of positive tests was around 1% at the beginning of June, after the strictest weeks of lockdown, then rose to 8% a month ago. It hovers now around 7%. With colder weather pushing more activity inside, these numbers aren’t what’s needed to step up the pace of re-opening.

There might be one exception. A big portion my recent mail comes from parents around the state pleading for school re-opening. They cite the experience of other states and what could be growing evidence that school attendance, especially in lower grades, doesn’t correlate with higher infection rates. Some have stories of the impact of school closure on their kids that push me to dig deeper into statistics and studies—a realm still full of critical gaps in knowledge—to see if Oregon’s following the wisest path.

In the last few days, some parents have passed the keyboard onto their kids, banking that they could be more effective messengers. That might be right.  Here’s part of a longer email to the Governor and cc’ed to most legislators by a seventh-grader living upstate:

I’d give anything to be back at school.  I LOVE SCHOOL! I LOVE MY FRIENDS AND I LOVE MY SWIM!!!! Why are you doing this to us?! PLEASE LET US GO BACK TO SCHOOL!!!! ... I'm mad at you Kate Brown. I am very mad at you. I don't like being mad at you. Because Jesus does not want me to be mad at you... You don't have any kids do you? I asked my mom if you did and she said you don't. So you would not know how we feel. You have no idea! absolutely no idea. I hope this email will give you one. Start thinking about us kids instead of yourself. Please and thank you. 

Closing schools might be the hardest single call the Governor has had to make through this crisis. News reports suggest that a course correction may be in the works. Governor Brown is expected to speak to this at her press conference tomorrow, Friday, at 11am.  

One additional perspective on the Age of COVID that I especially appreciated this week is here.

Wildfire recovery


As talks on the massive challenge of wildfire recovery get more focused, one proposal got particularly close attention last week. It’s called Project Turnkey, and it actually surfaced before the wildfires as a strategy for managing the COVID infection among homeless people.

The idea is to purchase available motels around the state and renovate them slightly (mostly by adding kitchenettes) for longer-term occupancy. This would be a way to safely quarantine COVID-positive people who have no housing, and could add a useful component to our broader affordable housing strategy after the pandemic ends. The need multiplied dramatically with last month’s loss of some 4000 residences statewide, mostly in the Almeda Fire.

That led to a proposal last Friday to the Emergency Board (twenty legislators authorized to make emergency appropriations when the Legislature’s not in session) for $65 million to purchase and renovate motels. After a long emotional discussion and two close votes, the Board approved $30 million for areas most impacted by wildfires and turned thumbs-down to $35 million for motel purchases as a response to the COVID crisis. OPB’s coverage did a good job summarizing the debate.


And if you have some time, you might tune in from the 1:40:00 point to about 2:25:00 in this video recording of the meeting. It showcases the drama that COVID and wildfire recovery have brought to state government. My favorite moment was when House Speaker Tina Kotek, who supported going big on the motel purchasing plan, responded to a legislator who tearfully detailed the mixed feelings that were making it devilishly hard to vote against the measure, as she eventually did. “You know what?” said the Speaker. “We’re all tired, things are hard. You know what’s hard? Being homeless.”

Words to remember whenever any of us legislators—who were never forced at gun-point to sign up for the job—slip towards self-pity about the burdens of public office.

Election Day: this Tuesday, November 3.

Statistically speaking, it’s likely you’ve already voted in this election. Our county clerk reports a huge flood of incoming ballots, and Oregon may set an all-time record for voter turnout. If you haven’t voted, help get us break the record. It’s too late to drop your ballot in the mail; drop it instead in an official drop-box near you before 8:00pm this Tuesday, November 3. 


Talk to you after the election--


Senator Jeff Golden, Oregon Senate District 3

Do you have a question I might be able to answer? 
Email me your question at:
As questions come in, we’ll post a video answer on our Facebook page.

COVID information

Oregon's Daily Testing Trends

  • Looking for a way to support others during the pandemic? This could help.

  • This state website is a great resource for specific and general COVID information.

  • OHA's website is dedicated to information on COVID-19 with links to the latest announcements, guidance etc. 

  • Have questions about COVID-19 in Jackson County? Visit the Jackson County Public Health website or you can call Jackson County Health and Human services with questions at 541-774-8200.

Wildfire information

  • Oregon Trial Lawyers Association members are also volunteering their time to help fire victims with insurance claims. For more information, visit their website or call 800-809-0616.

  • Rogue Valley Rebuilds is a website chalked full of resources and information regarding FEMA, wildfire cleanup, resources, and more.

  • If you would like in-person help with your FEMA claim or other wildfire related questions, you can visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency at Central High School, 815 S. Oakdale Ave., Medford or the Phoenix Civic Center, 220 N. Main St., Phoenix (this location will be closing on November 3).

  • If you are in need of mental health support, free crisis counseling is available through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Disaster Distress Helpline. Call 800-985-5990 (Spanish Press 2) or text “TalkWithUs” to 66746 (for Spanish text “Hablamos” to 66746) to connect with a trained crisis counselor. For more information, click here.
  • The Oregon Food Bank has created this page where you can search for a food pantry or pick-up site near you.

FEMA information

How to register:

  1. Register through the FEMA website.
  2. Call FEMA: 1-800-621-3362
  3. Download the FEMA Mobile App.

For general information, visit the FEMA homepage for Oregon Wildfires.


  • If you believe you were incorrectly deemed ineligible for FEMA assistance, you have the right to appeal the decision. Click here to see possible reasons you were denied/found ineligible and how to appeal.

Disaster unemployment assistance (DUA):

The deadline to apply for DUA has been extended to November 27th.

  • Disaster survivors who have lost work as a direct result of the Oregon wildfires since Sept. 7 may be eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA).
  • To apply, go to, or call 503-570-5000 between 8am-5pm

Capitol Phone: 503-986-1703
Capitol Address: 900 Court St NE, S-421, Salem, OR, 97301 
Podcast: Capitolizing