Update on Governor's Statewide Freeze to Save Lives

Senator Wagner

Two Week Freeze Begins Today

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Oregon is at a crossroads, and the choices we make right now will determine the trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic in our state. Yesterday, Oregon entered a two-week statewide freeze, and the governors of Oregon, Washington and California have announced a West Coast travel advisory

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Governor Brown, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and hospital systems across our state have worked together to create worst case scenario plans for rapidly rising COVID-19 cases and a surge in hospitalizations. Our hospitals have been sounding the alarm–that surge is here.

In her press conference on Friday, Governor Brown said that we are facing the darkest days of the pandemic thus far, and to give Oregon a fighting chance we must take action. We must come together once again to flatten the curve. In the Portland Metro area, 89% of ICU beds and 93% of all other beds are currently filled. Nearby states are facing similar surges and cannot accept out of state patients. If hospitalization of COVID-19 patients continues to rise, Oregonians who need emergency care may find themselves in the back of an ambulance that has nowhere to go.

The surge is not just affecting Oregon. We have seen it across the West Coastthe country and the world. This is a somber reality after an already difficult year, however, I remain hopeful and optimistic in Oregonians and their ability to come together.

All Oregonians can double down on wearing masks in public at all times, keeping at least six feet of distance from others, washing hands well and often, and staying home as much as possible. That means canceling your in-person Thanksgiving gatherings this year, and instead choosing virtual celebrations in order to save lives.

During this pandemic, we have cheered for healthcare workers on the front lines of fighting this virus. We have put up signs at hospitals, clinics, and long term care facilities proclaiming that “heroes work here.” Now our healthcare workers are asking us to be their heroes so that they can keep themselves and their families safe, and do the hard work to take care of those in need. We want families to be able to see each other safely, and to stop the painful goodbyes.

Our fellow Oregonians need us, and we have turned the tide before. Let’s do it again.

Statewide Freeze

$55 Million in Financial Assistance to Support Oregon Businesses

Governor Kate Brown announced this week that the state will commit $55 million in financial assistance to support Oregon businesses who have been impacted by COVID-19 restrictions. These funds will be allocated to counties to distribute to businesses who have been financially impacted, with a priority for the hospitality industry, businesses impacted by the freeze, small businesses, and women, Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and Tribal-owned businesses.

The counties will be responsible for deciding how businesses apply to receive funds and communicating the application process to businesses, and funds are expected to be distributed in the coming weeks. Businesses who are interested in applying should contact their county for more information.

My Statement on the December Revenue Forecast

Yesterday, the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis released the latest quarterly economic and revenue forecast. You can view the full document here and read an Executive Summary here, and read my statement by clicking the image below.

RW December Revenue Forecast

Shop Responsibly and Wear Your Mask

In response to Governor Brown’s two-week freeze order, the Northwest Grocery Association is urging Oregonians not to panic in their purchasing habits. Grocers will continue to meet the demand and needs of Oregon consumers. Depending on your local grocer, this may include proactive purchase limits on certain products to help prevent stock-piling or hoarding. 

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, grocery stores and the frontline workers from UFCW Local 555 have put in extraordinary efforts to meet the needs of the communities they serve. This has included extensive safety measures in all stores to safeguard employees, customers and supply chains. 

As we face this new surge in cases, our grocers are stressing the need to wear a mask at all times outside of the home. Store employees do this to protect themselves, their co-workers and their communities, and they deserve the same consideration from all customers. Please honor the incredible efforts to keep our stores open, cleaned regularly and stocked for customers by wearing your mask.

Wear a Mask.English

Message from the Oregon Employment Department (OED)

As we enter a new freeze period across the state for at least the next two weeks, the Oregon Employment Department (OED) has a few reminders for those who continue to be unemployed or those whose employment may be affected by new coronavirus response measures. 

Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) – even if you’ve already received (LWA) payments, you must self-certify. As long as you received unemployment benefits for a COVID-related reason anytime between July 26 and September 5, 2020, are eligible. Here are the instructions for certifying using the Online Claim System

Restarting Your Claim - Some Oregonians may have their employment impacted by COVID-19 once again. OED has put together FAQs to help you restart your claim or find out which benefit program you should apply for.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits expire December 26, 2020. Congress has not funded any other program to replace or continue those benefits. If you need additional help accessing resources for food, housing, or utilities reach out to 211info.org or call 2-1-1 to see what support is available for you. 

The best way to get in touch with a claims specialist at OED is to submit a message through our Contact Us form. They are responding to messages within one week. That means you don’t need to call and wait on hold to get information or have your issues fixed.

Health Exchange Open Enrollment

Now through December 15, you can purchase health insurance on Oregon’s Marketplace if you don’t qualify for the Oregon Health Plan (OHP) and don’t receive health insurance through your employer. For many, this is the only time of the year to sign up for an individual or family plan to have coverage in 2021.

The Oregon Marketplace’s new window shopping feature allows you to compare plans, find out how you can save money on health insurance, and help you identify the plan right for you and your family. You can access that here

If you have further questions, insurance experts are available at no cost to help you identify the right plan and help you enroll in coverage. You can find this assistance here.

Enroll in Healthcare by December 15

Transgender Awareness Week

This week is Transgender Awareness Week, a time for transgender people and their allies to bring attention to the trans community by educating the public and sharing stories about trans people, their experiences, and the prejudice, discrimination and violence trans folks face.

Transgender Awareness Week comes before the Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20, which memorializes trans folks who have been murdered as a result of transphobia. Our transgender neighbors are historically vulnerable to violence and marginalization, and that trend sadly continues today. We grieve the lives lost, and we continue to work toward a better future. Trans Lives Matter.

GLAAD provides some great resources for learning about Transgender Awareness week, including recommendations for television shows and movies that tell trans stories and feature trans entertainers. Events in the Northwest related to Transgender Day of Awareness can be found here.

Transgender Awareness Week - GLAAD

Thoughts on Thanksgiving

These next few weeks will be critical for Oregon. I know we're all tired, and as the days get shorter and we enter the holiday season, there are few things I want to do more than spend time with extended family. The fact of the matter is that it's just not safe to gather right now.

Even though things won't be the same this year, I'm still looking forward to enjoying the company of my immediate family at home and connecting with loved ones on by video and over the phone. We will continue to make memories together and it will make future gatherings all the sweeter. I hope you and your loved ones do the same.

As always, please let me know if you need any assistance. My office and I will work to connect you with resources and get your questions answered as quickly as possible.


RW Signature

Senate Majority Leader Rob Wagner
Senate District 19

email: Sen.RobWagner@OregonLegislature.gov I phone: 503-986-1719
address: 900 Court St NE, S-223, Salem, OR, 97301
website: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/wagner