January 27th Update

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Michael Dembrow

January 27, 2021

Friends and Neighbors,

I hope that you and your loved ones are doing well, staying healthy, and looking out for your neighbors and friends in these difficult times.

I’m pleased to report that the lower COVID rates that we’ve been experiencing recently are continuing.  You’ll see that in this evening’s newsletter, along with the just-released OHA weekly report and outbreak report.  Oregon’s rate of new infections is now second lowest in the country, just above Hawaii.  Our rate among seniors is also second lowest.

We made progress in new immunizations yesterday, but we also received our new weekly shipment of just over 100,000 doses, which brought our administration rate back down to 56.6%.  That will go up again in the coming days as we use those new doses. Approximately half must be used for second doses, so we’re still looking at expanding the number of people receiving their first dose by just around 50,000.

The Senate Education Committee  met this afternoon and took public testimony from people around the state who wanted to share their thoughts about school reopenings. Many chose to submit their testimony in writing, which you can find here. Just over a hundred did submit testimony.  Many who had signed up to speak did not for some reason actually log in to do so.  I’m not sure if the problem was technical or they decided to rely on their written testimony. In case it’s the former, I decided to schedule a “second chance” hearing for Friday, 3:30 to 5, to give those who had signed up another chance to testify.  You can watch it  here.

Despite the potential technical difficulties, I was pleased with the tenor of the testimony.  People obviously have strong feelings about this issue and their passion came through, but everyone was civil and the testimony was productive.  Those of us on the committee will spend some time on Monday debriefing on what we heard and read, as a prelude to making potential recommendations.

Also, it was great to be able to hear and see people from all over the state give their opinions on this important issue.  That's one of the silver linings of the COVID era and our need to hold committee hearings remotely--it really does open up access to the process for people from distant parts of the state.  This is something that we will need to continue even after things clear up and we're able to return to the Capitol for our hearings.

Back to the hearing, I would also encourage you to check out the  the testimony of Dr. Richard Corsi,  who’s Dean of Engineering at PSU and a national expert on indoor air quality and ventilation. I invited him to speak to us about school safety and the steps that would need to be taken to assure that classrooms are safe.  He and colleagues have created a free software program to help analyze the safety of a particular room and how changing certain variables (e.g., masking) can increase safety.  He showed us some simple ways in which relatively inexpensive changes to ventilation, combined with safe distancing practices and masking, can increase safety by as much as 92%.  The key is to make sure that these practices are actually followed.

His slides also include a link to a long webinar that he held on this subject, where he is able to go into detail on what he had to say to the committee.  I’m going to check it out over the weekend.

On the subject of reopenings, you’ll also find links below to news articles that include different perspectives on the reopening question.

Please stay safe, and let me know if you have any questions about information in today’s newsletter.




  • New COVID Cases: OHA reports 731 new COVID cases today. This count is a combination of positive test results and those who are presumed positive (see definition below).  The cumulative number of cases in Oregon since the beginning of the pandemic is 140,063.
  • Positive Test Results: OHA reports 806 positive test results today. (Individuals may have had multiple tests come back positive, and each is now counted separately.) The cumulative total of positive test results since the beginning of the pandemic is now 185,233.
  • Total Tests: OHA reported an additional 17,604 tests today. Our cumulative total of reported tests is now 3,122,704.
  • Positivity Rate: Today’s test positivity ratio for Oregon is 4.6%. The national ratio today is 9.3%.
  • Hospitalization Information:
    • Patients Currently with Confirmed COVID-19: 302 (same as yesterday)
    • Available ICU Beds: 148 (3 more than yesterday)
    • Other Available Beds: 536 (52 fewer than yesterday).
    • ICU Patients Confirmed w COVID-19: 74 (4 more than yesterday).
    • Confirmed COVID-19 Patients Currently on Ventilators: 37 (3 more than yesterday).
    • Available Ventilators: 769 (6 fewer than yesterday).
  • Deaths: I’m sorry to report 20 COVID deaths today. The total number of COVID deaths in Oregon is now 1,924.
  • Vaccinations: As of the end of yesterday, here are the latest numbers:
    • New Immunizations Reported Today: 14,896
      • 10,943 administered yesterday
      • 9,533 administered previously and report received yesterday
    • Total First and Second Doses Administered So Far: 340,369
    • Total Oregonians vaccinated so far: 285,521.
      • 50,587 now fully vaccinated with two doses
    • To date, 600,875 doses of vaccine have been delivered to sites across Oregon, an increase of 108,000 so far this week. More than half of those can be used for additional first doses; approximately 50K will be used for second doses.
  • Today’s National Numbers:
    • Total Tests: 300,080,362 (up 1,627,862 from yesterday).
    • Total Cases: 25,230,559 (up 151,675 from yesterday).
    • Deaths: 419,634 (up 4,077 from yesterday).
    • These national numbers come from the COVID Tracking Project. You can visit that site HERE https://covidtracking.com/data/national
  • Additional Brief Updates:
    •  Multnomah County reported today that the tri-county area will be receiving an extra 17K vaccines next week in order to vaccinate remaining residents who are in the 1a category. We recently learned that a number of health care workers and vulnerable people in this category have not yet received their first doses (unlike many rural counties that have finished immunizing this group and have moved on (and in some cases completed) immunizing education workers.
    • The CDC has said that the “preponderance of available evidence” indicates that in-person instruction could be carried out safely as long as mask-wearing and social distancing are maintained. Read more here.
  • Nevertheless, some teachers are in fact dying from the disease. This NY Times article focuses on one such teacher.
  • Yesterday, the Governor announced a small relaxation of the restrictions on indoor activities, such as gyms, dance studios, and bowling in areas that are at extreme risk. She also put counties on notice for changes in risk assignments.  Read more here.
  • Here are the latest County Risk Metrics. They show the ongoing improvements for the state as a whole and for most counties.

How About a Constituent Cocktail?

Now that session is on, I’m planning to supplement the regular First-Saturday-of-the-Month Constituent Coffee Zooms with evening Constituent Cocktail Zooms. (Sorry, you’ll need to do your own stirring, shaking, and/or pouring. I’ll be drinking my own kombucha.)

The first of these will be this Thursday, January 28, 5:30-7:00.  You can register for it  here.

Latest Weekly Data Report Released:  Shows Big Improvements for Oregon

The OHA released the data for the week of Monday, January 18 through Sunday, January 24.  It reflects what we’ve been seeing in the daily reports: substantial declines in COVID cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.  We’re clearly not talking about holiday or weekend testing anomalies here.  This is an ongoing (and for now fortunate) trend.  COVID Act Now estimates our transmission rate to be 0.82, which suggests that we can expect further declines under our current conditions.

You can read OHA’s COVID-19 Weekly Report here.

Here are the highlights:

  • OHA reported 4,119 new daily cases, a 48% decrease from the previous week.
  • There were 229 people hospitalized for COVID-19, a 33% decline from the previous week.
  • COVID-19 deaths also fell dramatically to 74 from last week’s pandemic high of 195.
  • Of the 138,587 cases reported in Oregon since the start of the pandemic, 1,882 have died—a case-fatality rate of 1.4% (interestingly, an increase from 1.3%, where it has been for many weeks).
  • Unfortunate, the number of COVID tests declined last week, from 129,723 to 116,099 tests.
  • The percentage of positive tests dropped to 5.1% (down from 5.9%; it had been 8.2% two weeks ago.)

OHA also released the COVID-19 Outbreak Report this afternoon.


Where Are Today’s New Cases?

If we put together the positive test results and new “presumptive cases reported today, the overall number of new cases reported is 731. Here is the breakdown of cases by county today:

Baker (4)

Benton (8)

Clackamas (67)

Columbia (1)

Clatsop (4)

Columbia (8)

Coos (9)

Crook (7)

Deschutes (24)

Douglas (9)

Harney (1)

Hood River (5)

Jackson (35)

Jefferson (7)

Josephine (16)

Klamath (13)

Lake (2)

Lane (52)

Lincoln (3)

Linn (21)

Malheur (17)

Marion (115)

Morrow (5)

Multnomah (118)

Polk (21)

Tillamook (1)

Umatilla (30)

Union (3)

Wasco (2)

Washington (106)

Yamhill (18) 


And the Deaths

OHA announced today that they will no longer be listing the individuals who have died each day, as they have since the beginning of the pandemic.  Instead, they are steering people to the dashboard that provides a range of aggregated data about those Oregonians who have died from COVID.  They don’t really provide an explanation for this change, though I assume it has to do with the time-consuming nature of researching and reporting on the individuals (as opposed to letting the automated reporting systems aggregate the data).

Still, I’m sorry this decision was made, and I’ll speak to OHA about it.  I believe that there’s real human value in seeing these individuals that we’ve lost each day, even if we don’t know their names, or really much about them at all other than their age and location.  Still, they come across as individuals, as more than a statistic.  I value that, particularly in the midst of this dreadful pandemic, and I know many of you do as well.


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cases 14






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Want to See Past Newsletters?

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 (senatordembrow.com), click on “News and Information,” and you’ll find them all there.  Also, if someone forwarded you this newsletter and you’d like to get it directly, you can sign up for it there.



Here again are some resources that you will find useful:

If the above links are not providing you with answers to your questions or directing you to the help that you need, please consider me and my office to be a resource.  We’ll do our best to assist you or steer you in the right direction. 


dembrow signature

Senator Michael Dembrow
District 23

email: Sen.MichaelDembrow@oregonlegislature.gov
web: www.senatordembrow.com
phone: 503-281-0608
mail: 900 Court St NE, S-407, Salem, OR, 97301