October 23rd Update from SD23

Michael Dembrow

October 23, 2022

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. 

By now you should have received your ballot for the upcoming election.  If you haven’t, contact your local County Elections office ASAP to fix the problem.  You have until November 8th to get your ballot in. As a result of legislation we passed last year, your ballot no longer needs to be received by the date; it needs to be dropped off in  an official ballot drop box or postmarked by 8 pm that day. You can easily track your ballot at the Elections Division’s MY VOTE website.

In tonight’s newsletter you’ll find info about the next constituent coffee; implementation of SB 1567, the bill that authorized DEQ to require fuel operators to reduce seismic risk from the fuel tanks in the Critical Energy Infrastructure Hub alongside the Willamette; and the “bike bus” that is creating a safe route to school for Alameda School kids.

On the COVID front we see another week with mixed results.  Reported infections and regular hospitalizations are up slightly from last week; positivity rates, ICU hospitalizations, and deaths are down.  For the third week in a row, all of Oregon’s counties remain at Low or Moderate risk.  Wastewater analysis is showing only small changes from last week, but Portland is now showing an increase for the first time in months.  Overall, the predicted fall/winter surge does not appear to have hit Oregon yet.  We should be getting another report from OHSU next week, and we’ll see what it has to tell us.

Until next time, please do your best to stay healthy and safe.  And let me know if you have any questions or thoughts about anything in this week’s newsletter.


Next Constituent Coffee November 5

Saturday, November 5th, is the first Saturday in November, and that means time for another constituent coffee.  

We’ll be back (with coffee and cookies) at the Hollywood Senior Center, 1820 NE 40th Avenue (from 9 am to 10:30 am). 

This will be an opportunity for us to catch up on bill requests and work groups, and for me to hear your ideas for additional issues that need attention.  (Warning: it will be our last coffee before the election, so there will still be much uncertainty about we can expect in the 2023 session.)

During the summer I received a request from a constituent who must limit her in-person contact to include a zoom component to the meeting, and I of course respect her situation.  I’ve found that such hybrid meetings are tough for those who aren’t in the room.  It wasn’t ideal when we did it during the summer, but I think it worked. I’ll let you know more in the next newsletter and provide the Zoom link to sign up.

In general, we'll continue to alternate between in-person and zoom, so the December meeting will be entirely on Zoom.

Hope to see you soon!


The Work Begins on Reducing Seismic Risk at the “CEI Hub”

You’ll remember that the Legislature passed Senate Bill 1567 earlier this year.  It takes the first steps in addressing the considerable risk posed by the fuel tanks in the “Critical Energy Infrastructure Hub,” located on the Willamette River (and in Eugene) when the big subduction-zone earthquake hits the West Coast.   The bill gave DEQ the authority and the funding to begin an oversight program to set safety standards and make sure that the tanks are meeting those standards.

We’ve just learned that the new Fuel Tank Seismic Stability Program is now underway.  The next step in the process is for a Rules Advisory Committee (RAC) to help establish the rules under which the new program will operate.  It will work with engineers from DEQ and the Department of Geology and Mining Industries (DOGAMI), along with the Department of Energy over the next year to come up with recommendations.  The recommendations will ultimately be considered and approved by the environmental Quality Commission, which oversees DEQ and sets the rules. 

The advisory committee includes representatives from impacted neighborhood and community groups, technical experts, industry, environmentalists, city, and county.

You can see who they are and follow the work of the RAC over the next year at the Rulemaking website. All RAC meetings are open for the public to watch, and there will also eventually be opportunities for public input.  If you’re following the process and have any observations that you’d like to share with me, I’d very much appreciate it.

The RAC will have its first meeting this coming Wednesday morning.  Here’s the agenda..  It includes the zoom link if you want to watch the meeting in real time or later.

Here’s reporting from OPB on the efforts underway. 

And here’s further reporting from the Curry Coastal Pilot that includes information from DEQ’s press release. 

Getting this process going was a huge and important accomplishment, and I’m so pleased to see it progressing.  I was also happy to learn last week that Dr. Yumei Wang, formerly of DOGAMI and now at PSU, and who played such an important role in helping me get this bill crafted and passed, will be advising DEQ throughout the process.


Joining the Bike Bus and Planning for the Future

You may or may not have heard of an alternative method of school transportation that has been making the news: the Bike Bus that gets kids to Alameda School in Northeast Portland (in SD 23).  Biking to school is not new, of course, but doing it this way is. Kids that do bike to school generally do it alone or in small groups.  This is completely different.

Instead of taking a school bus or being dropped off in a car, the kids (with some parent volunteers) are joining a bike caravan that meets on Northeast Klickitat (a designated biking street) and heads down to Alameda. It grows and grows the closer it gets to the school, as more and more kids join to be part of it.  It’s fun, it’s safe, it’s a great way to start off the day. And we’d like to see it become available to more kids.

Organized by Alameda PE teacher Sam Balto and some parents, the Bike Bus combines the benefits of socializing, healthy exercise, climate action, and community building.  You can read more about it in this article in Bike Portland.

And then last week the Bike Bus was featured on  NBC national news. It was exciting to see Portland featured in such a positive way.

I’ve been hoping to check out the Bus first-hand for a while and was finally able to do so on Wednesday morning.  To be honest, I wasn’t expecting too many kids that morning because we were in the midst of our battle with poor air quality that morning.  But as I biked up the hill a little before 8 am to get close to the start of the route (I myself live near the end of it), I kept seeing more and more kids and parents waiting patiently along the way for the “bus” to arrive to pick them up.  By the time they were “on the bus,” there were over a hundred of them.

It was a blast--for them, for me, and for the neighbors who came out to cheer us on..    

Here are a couple of photos of the morning.

bike bus 1

bike bus 2

And here you can see the arrival of the “traditional” bus.  At that point at least, it was completely empty.

bike bus 3

Legislators are currently looking at ways to support schools that want to create their own Bike Bus or Walk Bus. The hope is to expand District Transportation offices to include biking, walking, and Safe Routes to Schools in addition to buses.

Alameda is fortunate to be located in a bike-friendly, relatively affluent area.  To replicate it in areas where the conditions are more challenging will take more work and require more organized support. 

During and after the ride I was able to chat about that with Sam and with Zachary, a parent volunteer.  I learned about efforts to create a Walk Bus in Parkrose.  This might focus on those kids who live less than a mile from school and aren’t eligible for transportation via school bus.

I’ll let you know how these efforts are going.  If you have thoughts and suggestions about these efforts, please let me know.



Weekly Data Report:

OHA now updates and reports COVID metrics once a week, on Wednesdays. 

Here are the last set of daily results, for this past week from 10/13/22 through 10/16/22.

As you’ll see, this week’s report is a mix of slight increases, decreases, and in one case no change. It appears to affirm the observation that you’ll find in the new forecast from OHSU—that we are now experiencing a plateau that will soon transition to a brief wave in October and the first part of November.  

  • The 7-day average for new infections has gone up again to 543 per day (vs. 529 per day last week). The number of new cases is again likely an undercount, as many people are using home tests to determine their infection status but are not reporting those results.
  • Average test positivity for the last week went down to 7.2% vs. the previous week’s 8.2%. Again, this number skews high because it likely reflects a higher proportion of people showing COVID symptoms (and thus going in for a test, rather than self-testing).
  • On Wednesday there were 250 COVID-19-related hospitalizations statewide, a slight increase from 248 last Wednesday. Hospitalizations are now our best indicator of disease spread. Again, however, most of these hospitalizations are not in and of themselves due to COVID—more than half are those who tested positive after having been admitted for other reasons.
  • The number of COVID patients in Oregon’s ICUs on Wednesday was 21, a significant drop from last week’s 29. These are the most serious COVID infections.
  • There were 23 COVID-19-related deaths reported during the last week, down from the previous week’s 32. Some of these reported deaths actually occurred in earlier weeks but were just reported to the state.

Weekly County Report: No High Risk Counties for the Third Week in a Row

The CDC assigns risk levels based on a combination of the number of new COVID cases and the number of people in hospital for COVID.

According to the CDC Daily Counter (updated each Thursday), none of Oregon’s 36 counties is currently at High Risk.

Five Oregon counties (down from eight) have reported infection rates that place them in the Medium Risk category:  Grant, Jackson, Josephine, Klamath, and Lake.

The remaining 31 Oregon counties (up from 28 last week) are at Low Risk: Baker, Benton, Clackamas, Clatsop, Columbia, Coos, Crook, Curry, Deschutes, Douglas, Gilliam, Harney, Hood River, Jefferson, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Malheur, Marion, Morrow, Multnomah, Polk, Sherman, Tillamook, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa, Wasco, Washington, Wheeler, and Yamhill.

We can also track the cases, deaths, and test positivity rates for each county at this website.

All three Portland-area counties showed decreases in positivity rates from the previous week. Clackamas County is 6.3%, a big drop from last week’s 8.5%. Multnomah County is nearly identical to last week at 6.5%, down, from last week’s 6.6%. Washington County is now at 8.0%, down from 9.5%.



This Week’s Wastewater Monitoring Report: Small Changes

With testing reports giving us just a fraction of infections out there, wastewater monitoring has become a more reliable indicator of the amount of virus in cities around the state.  That report is updated each week.

This week’s report shows some small changes.  Nine percent (up from 3%) of the cities monitored showed increases or sustained increases in virus, 24% (up from 21%) of the cities monitored showed decreases or sustained decreases, and 68% (down from 76% last week) showed no change.  For the first time since June, Portland is showing an increase. We’ll see if it is sustained.

long COVID


Additional COVID Updates and Links



cases graph




hospital graph


deaths graph


Here again are some COVID 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.


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.


dembrow signature

Senator Michael Dembrow
District 23

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