Special Session and COVID-19 Updates & Resources

Senator Wagner

Special Session - December 21

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Governor Brown announced today that she will convene a Special Session of the Oregon Legislature at 8:00 AM on Monday, December 21 to address Oregonians’ most pressing needs given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. It is time to act on behalf of Oregonians, who need support now more than ever in a year that has been disrupted by a global pandemic and devastating wildfires. Click the image below to read my full statement.

RW Third Special Session Statement

Governor Brown's Update on COVID-19 and Vaccines

Last Friday, the Governor held a press conference to discuss the current COVID-19 situation and to share some information about upcoming plans for vaccine distribution. Oregon is receiving shipments of the first dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines this month, and healthcare workers (including long-term care facility staff and residents) will be the first to receive these vaccinations.

Over the course of the coming year, Oregon will seek to have three-quarters of its residents vaccinated in order to achieve "community immunity," which will make it possible for the state to re-open in a way we have not been able to do safely since March of this year. An advisory committee will be convened to establish how the vaccine will be distributed across the state, taking care to consider the needs of historically under-served communities, as well as those most impacted by the virus.

When it is my turn, I pledge to get vaccinated.

Our public health officials say there is evidence that Oregonians acted smartly and safely to keep Thanksgiving small and prevent a worst case scenario in virus transmission. We also currently have the fifth lowest COVID-19 case rate in the country. This is thanks to Oregonians who protect our community every single day by wearing masks, washing hands, maintaining physical distance, and staying home as much as possible, and especially when they're sick.

Sadly, Oregon is still breaking records with cases, hospitalizations, and deaths every day. We must continue to be vigilant and take proactive steps so we can prevent the "worst case scenario" from becoming a reality. It will take most of next year for Oregon to reach the community immunity goal, but we can still bend the curve as we have before and add back some of the activities we all love - like having a meal with friends or family inside a restaurant, or attending our kid's performances and sporting events (with masks on) - while we wait for our federal partners to obtain and distribute vaccines. Thank you for doing your part to keep Oregon safe and well.

A Reminder from the Oregon Employment Department - Federal Programs Ending

The Oregon Employment Department (OED) is reminding Oregonians that federal law ended High Extended Benefits (HEB) on December 12. This program provided up to 20 weeks of extended benefits. OED received notice from the US Department of Labor that beginning December 13, it can provide only 13 weeks of benefits.

Claimants who will have exhausted their HEB claim as of December 13 are encouraged to apply for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) as soon as possible. The federal CARES Act programs also expire this month. PUA and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) end December 26, but OED can pay those benefits retroactively. OED will begin emailing and calling claimants who are receiving PEUC or PUA benefits to remind them these programs expire on December 26.

Washington County Extends Deadline to Apply for Coronavirus Relief Funds

Washington County

Washington County has extended the deadline for food service and tourist establishments to apply for Coronavirus Relief Funds until tomorrow, Wednesday, December 16. Eligible businesses can receive $500-$4,900 for operational expenses. The minimum amount a business can receive is as much as their annual license fee.

Business owners can apply online here by filling out a simple form and attaching their W-9. Owners with multiple food service and tourist licenses will need to complete a separate application for each license.

If you are interested and would like to request a hard copy of the application, call Washington County Environmental Health at 503-846-8722.

Multnomah County Partners with Community Organizations to Distribute CARES Act Business Relief Funds

Multnomah County has announced partnerships with community-based organizations to distribute CARES Act business relief funds. The County’s goal is to distribute these funds to businesses in the most need, as quickly as possible, and to ensure all the funds allocated to Multnomah County are expended by the federal deadline.

Multnomah County is dedicating $5.3 million of relief funds to businesses licensed by Multnomah County, including restaurants, food carts, bed and breakfasts, benevolent associations, caterers, and limited service restaurants (prepackaged only). Owners of these businesses who have five or fewer licenses in Multnomah County are eligible to apply for $500 per license for food carts, and $1,500 per license for restaurants or other license types. Applications are due by 5PM today, December 15.

An additional $2.7 million will be allocated to other small businesses that have been financially impacted, with a priority given to those in East Multnomah County that were prohibited from operating or experienced a decline in sales of 25% or more due to public health restrictions. 

These funds will be distributed to the Portland Business Alliance Charitable Institute, the Black American Chamber of Commerce, the Philippine American Chamber of Commerce of Oregon, the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, and the Native American Youth and Family Center.

Mask Up To Stay Open

Oregonians Could Lose Their Tax Credits to Help Pay for 2021 Health Coverage

This year, due to COVID-19-related delays in the processing of federal tax returns, you may receive a notice from HealthCare.gov stating you did not “reconcile assistance,” even though you already did so. Most people who receive this notice can resolve the issue with a few simple steps in order to keep their financial assistance for the upcoming coverage year starting January 2021.

If you received a notice from HealthCare.gov stating you did not reconcile your premium tax credits, you should log in to your account on or before today Tuesday, December 15, select your 2021 application, and check the box that says “Yes, I reconciled premium tax credits for past years.” If you do not take action, you may lose premium tax credits and other financial assistance for 2021.

Additional Resources

Mental Health and Domestic Violence Resources:

The state of the world can pose mental health challenges and make it harder to reach out to our support systems. If you're struggling to cope in these stressful times, consider reaching out to one of these resources:

  • To reach the Disaster Distress Helpline, call 1-800-985-5990, or text TalkWithUs to 66746. 
  • If you or a loved one is in crisis, dial Call 800-273-TALK (8255) or click this link.
  • Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224.
    • You can also visit thehotline.org, but for your safety please be aware that computer use can be monitored and is impossible to completely clear.
  • If you are LGBTQ+ identifying and are in crisis, please contact the Trevor Lifeline.

Food Insecurity:

Going Out Stay Apart OHA

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