March 16th COVID Update

Michael Dembrow

March 16, 2021

Dear 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.

Today’s COVID numbers remain on track with where they have been recently.  OHA did report one of those spikes in COVID deaths, likely the result of delayed reporting of deaths that occurred some time ago.  We’ll find out more tomorrow.

Unfortunately, I can’t say anything about the number of vaccinations that occurred on Monday, or any other information related to vaccinations because a computer server problem prevented the reporting of updated numbers today.  This is apparently a shared problem affecting several states.  Hopefully, it will be cleared up in time for tomorrow’s newsletter.

Earlier this evening, I did get to have a little outing, biking over to the beautiful new Faubion Elementary School in NE Portland to check out the preparations that are already underway there for its reopening on April 1.  I got to see the air purifiers, the rooms laid out for two shifts of students per day (each child with their own self-enclosed box of supplies and materials), the cleaning stations, the supply of masks for kids who need them (PPS has stockpiled more than a million disposable masks), the signage (some of it made in the schools own Maker Space by students who have already been at the school doing IPI (In-Person Instruction).  Though there will necessarily be variations in each building, each school will be following the same basic protocols,  A great deal of thought (including many difficult decisions) is obviously going into this reopening plan, which will likely continue in force through June. The teachers union and school board are set to ratify the reopening agreement in the next day or two.  I wish them well.  



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





  • New COVID Cases: OHA reports 267 new COVID cases today.  The cumulative number of cases in Oregon since the beginning of the pandemic is 160,050.
  • Variant COVID Cases: OHA reports no change to the count of reported variant cases in Oregon.  So, the reported number of the B.1.1.7 (UK) variant in Oregon remains at 17, and the P.1 (Brazilian) variant is still at 1.
  • Positive Test Results: OHA reported 486 positive tests today. The cumulative total of positive test results since the beginning of the pandemic is now.231,821.
  • Total Tests: OHA reported an additional 18,600 tests today. Our cumulative total of reported tests is now 3,970,707. 3,989,307.
    • Note from OHA: Due to a delay in laboratory reporting, OHA received a large quantity of approximately 9,000 negative electronic laboratory results (ELRs) on March 15, 2021. The tests are from Aug. 1, 2020 through March 10, 2021. As a result, daily ELR totals are higher than usual for March 15 and percent positivity is lower than anticipated.
  • Positivity Rate: The test positivity ratio for Oregon today is 2.6%.
  • Hospitalization Information:
    • Patients Currently with Confirmed COVID-19: 119 (1 more than yesterday)
    • ICU Patients Confirmed w COVID-19: 25 (2 more than yesterday).
    • Available ICU Beds: 154 (30 fewer than yesterday)
    • Other Available Beds: 718 (105 fewer than yesterday).
    • Confirmed COVID-19 Patients Currently on Ventilators: 5 (1 fewer than yesterday).
    • Available Ventilators: 799 (3 fewer than yesterday).
  • Deaths: I’m sorry to report 22 additional COVID deaths today.  The total number of COVID deaths in Oregon is now at 2,346.
  • Vaccinations: I’m afraid that I cannot report the latest vaccination numbers today.  There was a server outage that affected the ALERT Immunization System (IIS) in Oregon and four other states.  So the numbers below are from yesterday.  Hopefully, this will be resolved in time for tomorrow’s newsletter.
  • As of the end of yesterday, here are the latest numbers:
    • New Immunizations Reported Today: 24,077
      • 13,529 were conducted yesterday
      • 10,548 were conducted earlier, but the reports were received yesterday (there can potentially be a three-day window for reporting)
    • Total First and Second Doses Administered So Far: 1,346,090
      • 660,557 Pfizer doses
      • 664,329 Moderna doses
      • 20,320 Johnson & Johnson doses
    • Total Oregonians vaccinated so far: 865,800
      • 493,440 now fully vaccinated with two doses
    • To date, 1,642,505 doses of vaccine have been delivered to sites across Oregon. (66,800 more than yesterday.)
  • Additional Quick Updates:
    • The LA Times reports on a recent antibody study suggesting that twice as many Americans have been infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus than the official numbers, due to the high number of asymptomatic carriers of the disease. The state with the highest percentage of its population estimated to have been infected was New York at 14.4%. As we would expect, Oregon was among the lowest at one-tenth that number, at 1.4%. You can read more here.
    • Here’s an interesting article from The Atlantic looking back at failures in assessing COVID-related data.
    • On the upside, VOX reports on an unanticipated bit of good news: nearly all Americans who received a first dose have shown up for their second.   Failure to do so was expected to be a downside of the highly-effective two-dose COVID vaccines. (Of course, this may be a function of the kinds of people who have been vaccinated so far; it may be different for those who have been harder to reach for the first dose.
    • 90 million stimulus checks have already gone out. Have you received yours? Here's more on the process.
    • In a report we received today from the Employment Department, Oregon’s current unemployment rate is at 6.1%, just a hair under the national average of 6.2%. Here’s an interesting wrinkle: I’ve reported in the past that one feature of our COVID recession has been its increased impact on women.  Women’s unemployment rate was higher than men’s for most of 2020 in Oregon. Well, that has changed.  As of February, the unemployment rate for women in Oregon (5.6%) was below the rate for men (6.6%). This is consistent with national unemployment trends in recent months.



This coming Wednesday from 5:30 to 7:00, Representatives Barbara Smith Warner and Khanh Pham and I will be holding another joint town hall. This will be a chance for us to catch you up on what’s going on in the Legislature, update you on our priority bills, hear your concerns, and answer your questions.  We’re also hoping to have someone from Multnomah County Public Health with us to let you know about some of the special outreach efforts that are underway to make sure hard-to-reach people are getting access to the COVID vaccine.

You can register for the Zoom Town Hall here.

Hope to see you on Wednesday!


House Meets (Slowly) On Monday and Tuesday

Aside from the usual remote committee meetings, the House had floor sessions at the Capitol on Monday and Tuesday.  In an effort to slow down the work, House Republicans are still insisting that every bill be read aloud in its entirety before debate and voting on it can occur.  That has led to evening sessions this week. 

On Monday they passed only six bills. Today they passed 12 bills, but that required them to come back this evening.

One of those bills turned out to be one of the most consequential (and contentious) of the session so far.  HB 2475 focuses on easing the “energy burden” on low-income utility customers, those who must pay a high share of their monthly income on electricity and gas. It authorizes the Oregon Public Utility Commission to allow the creation of differential rates for low-income ratepayers and provides financial support for organizations that assist and look out for the interests of low-income customers.  The bill passed on a largely partisan vote, but only after a couple of procedural votes to kill it or replace it were defeated.  In the end, though, two Republican representatives did vote for the bill.  I very much look forward to supporting it now that it heads to Senate Energy and Environment.

In addition to the floor votes on bills, a small number of new bills were introduced (“first-read”) each day.  They are starting to include Senate bills that passed on the Senate floor and now need to be introduced and assigned to their House committee for discussion and potential amendment.  Here is.Monday's list. And here is Tuesday's.


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 267. Here is today’s breakdown by county:

Benton (3)

Clackamas (28)

Coos (3)

Crook (2)

Curry (5)

Deschutes (15)

Douglas (13)

Harney (1)

Jackson (18)

Jefferson (2)

Josephine (13)

Klamath (7)

Lake (2)

Lane (12)

Lincoln (3)

Linn (5)

Marion (34)

Multnomah (50)

Polk (4)

Tillamook (3)

Umatilla (18)

Union (3)

Wasco (1)

Washington (20)

Yamhill (2)


And the Deaths:

As often happens on a “catch-up” day where many COVID deaths are reported, most them unreported cases from the past, it takes a while for OHA to do the sleuthing to give us the information about the individual cases.  I should have information about the 22 COVID deaths reported today in tomorrow’s newsletter.





cases 7

cases 14








Vaccine Scam


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 (, 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

phone: 503-281-0608
mail: 900 Court St NE, S-407, Salem, OR, 97301