July 15th COVID-19 and Legislative Update

Michael Dembrow

July 15, 2021

Dear Neighbors and Friends,

I hope that you and your loved ones are doing well, staying healthy, and looking out for your neighbors and friends during this past week.

Looking back on the last week, we can see that our COVID case numbers and hospitalization rates are going back up. This could be a blip, but it could also be the combination of low vaccination rates in parts of the state and an end to COVID restrictions, in which case these increases are likely to continue.  COVID deaths fortunately remain very low—most of the deaths that you’ll see listed below are from earlier months.  Right now our low death rate is the result of the drop in case numbers that we saw a month ago.  Hopefully, the combination of fewer people in their 70s+ being hospitalized and improved medical response will continue to keep the death rate down.  

In this newsletter you’ll find a lot of information about where we are right now with COVID: the weekly COVID data report and outbreak report, the county metrics report, as well as links to a number of media sources.  You’ll also find information about the wildfires that are once again raging across our landscape, as well as new resources available on the Legislative Information System, and a lookback on the major Judiciary bills (Firearms, Policing, Access to Justice, Prison/Post-Prison Reform, and others).

And you’ll also find some information about our state’s newest millionaire and five winners of $100,000 scholarships, thanks to their having chosen to be vaccinated. 

Until next week, please stay safe and let me know if you have any questions about information in tonight’s newsletter.



  • New COVID Cases: OHA reports 322 new COVID cases today (vs. 212 last Thursday).  That’s an average of 241 per day for the 7 days since the last newsletter (45 more per day than the previous week). The cumulative number of cases in Oregon since the beginning of the pandemic is 211,631.
  • Variant COVID Cases: Here are this week’s updated case counts for the COVID variants in Oregon (released on Wednesday), cumulative from the beginning of the pandemic.  Be advised, though, that not all positive tests are being sequenced for variants, so the numbers are likely higher.
    • 1,923 (up from 1,786) cases of the B.1.1.7 (formerly known as the U.K. variant, now called the Alpha) variant,
    • 485 cases (up from 389) of the P.1 (formerly Brazilian, now Gamma) variant,
    • 158 (up from 152) cases of the B.1.351 (formerly South African, now Beta) variant.
    • 43 cases (up from 14) cases of the new B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant.
    • In addition, we are now seeing 1,150 (up from 1,128) cases of the combined B.1.427/B.1.429 variant (Epsilon). This is no longer considered a “variant of concern.” It is now considered a “variant of interest.”   
    • OHA’s Variant Dashboard also providing current variant case numbers for different parts of the state. It’s updated each Wednesday.
  • Positive Test Results: OHA reported 430 positive tests today (147 more than a week ago). That’s an average of 316 per day for the seven days since the last newsletter (86 more per day than the previous week). The cumulative total of positive test results since the beginning of the pandemic is now 306,612.
  • Total Tests: OHA reported an additional 9,868 tests today (vs. 10,359 a week ago). That’s an average of 8,657 per day for the seven days since the last newsletter (1,238 more than the last newsletter).  Our cumulative total of reported tests is 5,542,798.
  • Positivity Rate: The test positivity ratio for Oregon today is 4.2% (vs. 2.7% a week ago). That’s an average of 3.7% per day for the seven days since the last newsletter (0.6% more than last week). 
  • Hospitalization Information:
    • Patients Currently with Confirmed COVID-19: 137 (37 more than last newsletter)
    • ICU Patients Confirmed w COVID-19: 38 (10 more than last newsletter).
    • Available ICU Beds: 137(8 fewer than last newsletter)
    • Other Available Beds: 456 (21 more than last newsletter).
    • Confirmed COVID-19 Patients Currently on Ventilators: 13 (1 fewer than last newsletter)
    • Available Ventilators: 794 (1 fewer than last newsletter).
  • Deaths: I’m sorry to report 2 additional COVID deaths today, twelve more than last week.  That’s an average of 1.7 per day for the five days since the last newsletter (vs. 3 per day the previous week).  The total number of COVID deaths in Oregon is 2,810.
  • Vaccinations:
    • The 7-day running average is now 5,224 doses per day (down 182 from last week).
  • Total First and Second Doses Administered So Far: 4,530,348
    • 2,591,443 Pfizer doses
    • 1,761,856 Moderna doses
    • 174,714 Johnson & Johnson doses
  • Total Oregonians vaccinated so far: 2,438,195
    • 2,242,125 now fully vaccinated with two doses
  • To date, 5,538,885 doses of vaccine have been delivered to sites across Oregon. (That’s 28,800 more than last week.)
    • 81.6% of these doses have been administered so far. The national average is now 86.2%.
    • 59.6% of Oregonians have received at least one dose (66.6% of those 18 and older).
    • 54.9% of Oregonians are now fully vaccinated (62.5% of those 18 and older).
  • For more details, including the demographics of those receiving the vaccine and the number of vaccinations by county, go to the OHA vaccinations dashboard.
  • Bloomberg News provides a wealth of easy-to-read information on the trajectory of vaccinations—by state, nationally, and internationally.

.Additional Brief Updates

  • With vaccination rates low in Umatilla County, we are seeing an increase of infections involving the Delta Variant of COVID.
  • Los Angeles County has announced today that it will return to a masking requirement for everyone indoors, vaccinated or not. They are experience a resurgence of the disease, with 1,000 new cases a day for the last week.  They are finding many cases of the delta variant there, among both the unvaccinated and the vaccinated.  Here's more.
  • Right now,  every state is seeing an uptick in cases. For now, though, the healthcare system appears able to handle the increases, at least in those areas with higher vaccination rates. In areas with lower rates, problems are emerging.
  • Recent polling by researchers at the University of Oregon suggests that Governor Brown is among the least trusted advocates for vaccination among those who are currently resistant. Here's why.
  • For ICU nurses in Appalachia, their neighbors’ assertions that COVID is a hoax, makes their difficult work even more painful. Here's more.
  • Next week the CDC’s medical advisors will begin focusing on the question of  whether the immunocompromised should receive a booster dose right away.
  • The CDC has issued new guidelines for schools. Here's what you need to know. The Oregon Department of Ed has decided that Oregon’s districts will largely be free to make their own decisions for fall. (See below for a link to the link to the ODE website.)
  • Today the new federal payments for families with children go into effect. Here's an article from the Washington Post's Michelle Singletery with what you need to know if you’re eligible.
  • In the Oregonian’s weekly Oregon Business Insight column, Mike Rogoway provides evidence that  small business optimism is on the upswing.
  • On a related note, the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis writes about the overall effects of the pandemic recession, and shows that overall it is not causing permanent damage to the Oregon economy (though it has certainly created disruptions and harm to individuals).


We Have a New Millionaire and Five New Scholarship Winners!

The Governor announced the winner of the Take Your Shot Oregon $1 million incentive prize on Friday, July 9th. She was joined by Oregon Lottery Director Barry Pack and Patrick Allen, Director of the Oregon Health Authority.  

The winner was Chloe Zinda from McMinnville, a student at Oregon State University, studying fine arts, and a part-time swim instructor. Chloe’s reason for getting the vaccine was to protect her swimming students from getting COVID-19. Chloe plans to use the money to pay off her student loans, start a business as a fine artist, and possibly open a studio someday.  

You can read a more in-depth summary of last week’s news conference on the OHA blog, or you can see the full news conference here.  

Today, Governor Brown announced the five $100,000 scholarship winners of the Take Your Shot, Oregon campaign. Oregonians aged 12 to 17 who had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine were eligible for the drawing.

Here they are:

Joshua Greco, 14, Damascus, entering 9th grade

Maya Kolaric, 14, Portland, entering 9th grade

Nola Miller, 15, Portland, entering 10th grade

Laney Myers, 15, Grants Pass, entering 10th grade

Mia W., 12, Tigard, entering 7th grade

To learn more about the scholarships and the winners, read the news release.


Legislative Policy & Research Office Makes It Easier to See What Passed

LPRO, the Legislative Policy and Research Office, has reformatted its website to make it easier for you to go to the issue area that interests you and see all the bills that at least had public hearings this session and in past sessions.  You’ll find links to the bills, their subject lines, and their fates.  I think you’ll find it very useful.

You’ll find it here.


2021 Legislative Session in the Rearview Mirror: Judiciary Bills

This was also a very productive session for bills related to gun safety, policing, justice reform, and prison reform.  As a member of Senate Judiciary, and a passionate believer in reform, I was involved in a number of them.  You can find the major accomplishments in this area here. 

Needless to say, though, there were also a number of important initiatives that didn’t make it.  I’ve listed some of them as well.   For some of them, it was simply a new concept that will take some time for people to get used to and see that they make sense (e.g., extending voting rights to those who are currently incarcerated; creating a more systematic approach to medical release for those who are seriously incapacitated).  For others, there was concern about making too many changes at the same time.  And for a few, there was really no good reason—they just got waylaid in the process and will need to be brought back.

For those bills that required simple majorities (which in our democratic system is the norm), we were able to accomplish a lot.  We were able to pursue more of the reforms in policing that began in the special sessions that followed the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police last year.  Others were the result of pent-up demands and efforts that have been long in the making.  I would also point to the impact of our new BIPOC caucus and the presence and leadership of members (some new, some veterans) who themselves come from communities of color.

The biggest disappointment—though ultimately it will always be the biggest challenge—was significant reform of Measure 11, a goal for many years.  Measure 11—our initiative-enacted system of mandatory minimum sentences with no chance of a reduction in sentence due to rehabilitation—cannot be significantly modified without a 2/3 vote of both chambers.  It therefore requires a high degree of bipartisanship in the Legislature that just is not there.  I’m afraid that the Legislature will be unable to modify it—i.e. giving judges more sentencing discretion and giving those incarcerated access to a “second look” after they’ve served much of their time—on its own.  I believe that it’s  ultimately going to require reconsideration by the voters through the initiative system.


Fire Season Update

Doug Grafe, the Wildfire Director at the Oregon Department of Forestry, provided legislators with our second email wildfire briefing of the season on Friday.  You can find it here. here.

Things have changed since then, mainly for the worse.  The Bootleg Fire in Southern Oregon (Klamath and now Lake Counties) is now the largest fire in the U.S.  It’s currently 227,234 acres in size and only 7% contained.

Legislators will be receiving an oral briefing tomorrow morning.  I’ll report on it in next week’s newsletter.


Multnomah County Initiates Review of Heat Response

The Multnomah County Chair, Deborah Kafoury, sent area legislators the following information regarding steps the County is taking to improve their response to the next heat crisis, whenever it comes:

Dear Legislators,

Earlier today, the County Health Officer, the Director of Emergency Management and I released a preliminary review of the excessive heat deaths in our county. The Multnomah County Medical Examiner Program’s Preliminary Review is a critical step to gaining the kind of information that we need to develop more responsive and effective strategies. As we grieve alongside the families of those who have lost their lives, we also resolve to learn everything we can from this emergency to inform and improve future emergency responses. 

Toward that end, today we also formally announced two other critical reviews: Multnomah County Emergency Management is convening city, transportation and communication partners to identify short-term interventions in advance of further heat events this year, and to produce a more in-depth after action report to increase preparedness and resiliency. 

The County will continue to share information with you and with the public in the greatest detail we can.  My sincerest hope is that our region can work together to ensure that future responses to extreme heat events protect all Oregonians regardless of their age, neighborhood or level of health and social connection. 


Message from OHA: Changes in Goals and Tracking Dashboards

We just received this message from OHA regarding the goal of getting to an 80% vaccination rate for communities of color and tracking our progress to that goal:

In early July, Oregon achieved a 70% vaccination rate for Oregonians 18 years of age and older. Approaching this number in late June enabled Governor Brown to reopen the state on June 30. However, vaccination rates for Hispanic/Latino/a/x, American Indian/Alaska Native and Black/African American/African Immigrant communities are still hovering in the mid-40% range.  To close the equity gap for communities of color, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is recommitting and focusing on increasing vaccination access through a vaccination equity strategy aimed at achieving a goal of vaccinating 80% of adults of color by the end of this summer. OHA is also committed to vaccinating 80% of all adults in coming months.

“This is about doing everything we possibly can to meet that goal for our communities of color. There is potential to meet this goal by the end of August in some communities, and OHA and its partners will keep pushing until we can say that we have provided every Oregonian with the information they need about vaccines and an opportunity to get vaccinated,” said Erica Sandoval, Equity Director, Oregon Health Authority COVID-19 Response & Recovery Unit.

OHA is supporting both rural and urban areas where efforts would have a high impact on communities of color The OHA data team has been developing data to support this next milestone.

Major dashboard updates are:

  • Switching to 80% goal from 65% county goal
  • Switching from Population 16+ to Population 18+, keeping Total Population option as is
  • Goal will be based on ALERT IIS data only, rather than on CDC data
  • New race and ethnicity panel counting down total people remaining to 80% in tribal communities and communities of color statewide

Here is a link to the new dashboard that sends web viewers directly to the Race and Ethnicity tab.

Please note that switching from Population 16+ to Population 18+ resulted in a slight reduction in the race and ethnicity vaccination rates for communities of color, this is likely because younger populations have higher diversity.


OHA Releases Latest County Metrics

Though it’s no longer assigning risk levels to counties, OHA is still reporting weekly increases/decreases in COVID spread for each county and for the state as a whole. The state infection rate continues to decline slightly.  However, we continue to see increases in some counties, for the most part those with lower vaccination rates.


Weekly COVID Data and Outbreaks Report Released: A Return to Increases

The Oregon Health Authority’s COVID-19 Weekly Report, released today, shows an increase in daily cases and hospitalizations and a decrease in COVID-19 related deaths.

  • OHA reported 1,318 new daily cases of COVID-19 during the week of Monday, July 5, through Sunday, July 11. That represents an 11% rise over the previous week.
  • New COVID-19 related hospitalizations rose to 104, up from 66 the previous week.
  • There were 15 reported COVID-19 related deaths, down from 19 reported the previous week.
  • There were 54,702 tests for COVID-19 for the week of July 4 through July 10, down from the 62,307 tests the previous week.
  • The percentage of positive tests was 3.4%, up from 2.9% the previous week.

Today’s COVID-19 Weekly Outbreak Report shows 21 active COVID-19 outbreaks in senior living communities and congregate living settings:

          1/13/21         202 facilities

          2/10/21         116 facilities

          3/10/21           44 facilities

          4/14/21           24 facilities

          5/12/21           42 facilities

          6/09/21           19 facilities

          6/16/21            22 facilities

          6/23/21            21 facilities

          6/30/21            21 facilities

          7/8/21              22 facilities

          7/14/21             21 facilities

 The Outbreak Report also includes the latest data on COVID in workplaces, childcare centers, and public and private K-12 schools.


OHA Now Reports on Vaccination Rates for Healthcare Professionals: Some Rates Are Troubling

OHA is now maintaining new dashboard that reports COVID-19 vaccination rates among more than 20 categories of state-licensed health care workers in Oregon. It will continue to monitor and update vaccination rates among these workers monthly. 

In this initial snapshot, we see that healthcare professionals are overall no more likely to be vaccinated than the population as a whole (approximately 70% at the end of June).  Some occupations are quite low:  Chiropractic Assistants (45%), Chiropractic Doctors (50%), CNAs (57%), Naturopathic Doctors (57%), LPNs (60%).  The highest rates were among Oregon dentists (94%), physicians (87%), physicians assistants (83%) and nurse practitioners (70%).

However, when disaggregated by race/ethnicity, we see interesting variations. State data show that health care workers among American Indian/Alaskan Natives, Latino/a/x, Black and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander communities were under-vaccinated compared to their white counterparts. State health officials pointed out that “health care professions reflect the communities from which they are drawn, and disparate rates of vaccinations based on race/ethnicity could be due to many factors.” 

The data also show variations based on age and geographic location.

OHA Director Patrick Allen expressed concern that Oregon’s healthcare workforce is not yet fully vaccinated, and he indicated that the agency will continue to call for higher rates among professionals.

This is not an Oregon-only problem.  This week a coalition of health-care organizations called on medical facilities to require their workers to be immunized against the virus.  You can read more about that here. here.


Message from OHA: Why Some People May Want to Keep Wearing Masks in Public

After many months of wearing face coverings, many people may find they are struggling with the sudden change in requirements. 

Some individuals may continue to mask because they are more likely to become severely ill if they get COVID-19. This could be due to their older agemedical conditions or being pregnant or recently pregnant.  [Kaiser is now recommending that those with auto-immune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis—even if fully controlled—should continue to wear a mask when in public indoor spaces. That may change if the CDC recommends that those with autoimmune diseases receive a booster dose of the COVID vaccine.]

Those who have children who are too young for COVID-19 vaccination, may also decide to continue with masking to reduce their risk of getting COVID-19. Masking can prevent  transmission to their children or other people in their lives who are at higher risk of being severely ill.  

  If you choose to continue masking, you may find this raises questions for some of the people in your life, and some may not feel comfortable masking up if you ask them to. Here are some things to consider when having a conversation with friends or family about wearing masks:   

  • Ask them to understand that not everyone feels comfortable without a mask yet. “It may take me a while to feel comfortable without a mask since I’m so used to wearing it.”
  • If you’re comfortable with it, explain the reason you are wearing a mask. “I have(name the condition) and my doctor recommends that I continue to wear a mask even though I’m fully vaccinated.” 
  • Ask them to join you. “I’m still not feeling comfortablewithout a mask. I’d love to spend time with you, but it will be easier for me to enjoy our conversation and time together if we both wear masks.” 
  • If you’d like them to mask up when you’re together, avoid shaming or scare tactics, such as criticizing people who don’t mask. This type of talk is more likely to shut down conversations.

You can find OHA’s recommendations for face coverings here as well as information on the places face covering are still required.  



And the Deaths:

Here is information about the 20 deaths that OHA has reported since the last newsletter on July 8. Again, you’ll see that of the 20, twelve are late-reports from previous months, including many from 2020.  Here’s a message from OHA about that: “The counting of deaths from death certificates may take time to process because they are determined by physicians and then sent to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for further review before the cause of death is ultimately determined. Once this information is confirmed, the information is reported back with a final cause of death to states.”

Oregon’s 2,791st COVID-19 death is a 93-year-old man from Crook County who tested positive on June 29 and died on July 8 at St. Charles Bend Hospital.

Oregon’s 2,792nd COVID-19 death is a 75-year-old woman from Douglas County who tested positive on June 16 and died on July 7 at Mercy Medical Center.  

Oregon’s 2,793rd COVID-19 death is a 79-year-old man from Malheur County who tested positive in Oct. 24, 2020 and died on Dec. 2, 2020 at St. Alphonsus Nampa Medical Center.

Oregon’s 2,794th COVID-19 death is a 92-year-old woman from Clackamas County who tested positive on June 21 and died on July 8 at Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center.

Oregon’s 2,795th COVID-19 death is an 84-year-old man from Multnomah County who tested positive on March 28, 2020 and died on April 10, 2020.

Oregon’s 2,796th COVID-19 death is an 85-year-old woman from Washington County who became symptomatic on April 2, 2020 after contact with a confirmed case and died on April 8, 2020 at her residence.

Oregon’s 2,797th COVID-19 death is an 85-year-old woman from Washington County who became symptomatic on March 21, 2020 after contact with a confirmed case and died on April 3, 2020 at her residence.

Oregon’s 2,798th COVID-19 death is a 93-year-old man from Columbia County who tested positive on March 19 and died on March 30 at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver, Wash.

Oregon’s 2,799th COVID-19 death is a 71-year-old man from Columbia County who tested positive on Nov. 20, 2020 and died on Nov. 26, 2020 at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver, Wash.

Oregon’s 2,800th COVID-19 death is an 86-year-old man from Clatsop County who tested positive on Feb. 19 and died on March 2 at Columbia Memorial Hospital.

Oregon’s 2,801st COVID-19 death is a 78-year-old man from Clackamas County who tested positive on June 23 and died on July 8 at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center.

Oregon’s 2,802nd COVID-19 death is an 88-year-old woman from Clackamas County who tested positive on June 24 and died on July 2 at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center.

Oregon’s 2,803rd COVID-19 death is a 91-year-old man from Clackamas County who tested positive on April 13 and died on May 4; location of death is being confirmed.

Oregon’s 2,804th death is a 78-year-old man from Deschutes County who died on Jan. 5.

Oregon’s 2,805th death is a 59-year-old man from Baker County who tested positive on July 7 and died on July 13 at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center.

Oregon’s 2,806th death is a 63-year-old man from Marion County who tested positive on June 30 and died on July 13 at Salem Hospital.

Oregon’s 2,807th death is a 75-year-old man from Jackson County who tested positive on July 11 and died on July 13 at Providence Medford Medical Center.

Oregon’s 2,808th death is a 56-year-old man from Washington County who tested positive on May 20 and died on June 18 at Kaiser Sunnyside Medical Center.

Oregon’s 2,809th death is an 83-year-old woman from Morrow County who tested positive on Nov. 30, 2020 and died on Dec. 9, 2020.

Oregon’s 2,810th death is a 68-year-old man from Umatilla County who tested positive on April 24 and died on May 5 at Providence St. Mary Medical Center.








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