CORONAVIRUS RESOURCES IN
HOOD RIVER COUNTY & OREGON
In an effort to keep you informed about what is happening in Hood River County and across Oregon in relation to the Coronavirus (COVID-19), we will keep this page and our Facebook page updated with new measures taking place, breaking news, resources and other information we believe you might find helpful to know.
As always, we want to hear from you so if there is anything we can do, questions we can answer, or if you just need to share what’s on your mind, please reach out via email and we will get in touch as quickly as we can.
Thank you for your patience with each other, support for one another, and commitment to the health and wellness of our community. Be safe.
Social Distancing Measures
• The Governor will be lowering the mass gathering threshold to 25 people. CDC recommendations are changing at a rapid pace and public health experts in Oregon recommended a lower number than the CDC recommendation which at that time was 50 people.
• This limit only applies to public gatherings. Places such as congregate living, grocery/retail stores, workplaces, and pharmacies will be excluded.
• Tribal Casinos are part of sovereign nations, and as such, the Governor does not have the authority to close them. Governor Brown would ask tribal leadership to work with their local health authorities in order to make appropriate decisions related to casinos.
Dine-In Restaurant Restrictions
- Governor Brown has announced the closure of dine-in restaurant services statewide.
- Take out, delivery, and curbside pick-up will still be able to operate, but there will be no onsite consumption.
- Governor Brown is requesting that all businesses that host members of the public to evaluate the ability to change to a “carry out” style model or ability to close their doors on a temporary basis.
- Criminal penalties exist for those in violation of these requirements, but education will be the first enforcement tactic utilized. OHA is talking to local governments about making local declarations in order to provide tools for local enforcement. A portion of the money allocated from the federal government may be moved to local governments to assist with the enforcement of these policies. Director Allen is hopeful that Oregonians will comply and there will not be a huge enforcement issue. Establishments who do not comply with these restrictions could be subject to a Class C Misdemeanor.
- While some restaurants would be able to access business insurance payments when closed down, other restaurants have insurance plans that specifically exclude viral outbreaks.
- The Governor has extended school closures to April 28.
- A coordination agreement has been reached among Metro area hospitals. This agreement will allow for the sharing of resources, common discharge policies, centralized coordination of hospital capacity, aligned priorities for testing and the implementation of Crisis Care Guidance.
- Crisis Care Guidance is designed to avoid disaster by managing the surge in demand, expand the capacity of the health care system, maintain critical functions, develop alternative sites where care may be delivered, and help navigate the ethical dilemmas faced in such a crisis.
- The Health Care System Response Joint Taskforce is working to implement Crisis Care Guidance on a statewide basis.
- Coordination agreements are being modified to fit the needs of rural hospitals and other regions around the state.
- Oregon is actively looking to expand the number of hospital beds as well as the capacity for alternatives to hospital care including hospital diversion and recovery care.
- Outreach has begun to make it easier for people to volunteer in the medical field. Agreements are being made with OHSU and the PSU School of Public Health for students and academic physicians to be able to backfill work at hospitals.
- Many in Oregon’s volunteer medical reserves are older retired physicians who are at high risk for COVID-19. These individuals are being looked at to backfill low-risk functions to free up other health care workers.
- OHA will be putting out information for those interested in volunteering and making those applications easier to find.
- The Emergency Declaration allows Oregon to start looking across state borders for assistance with our health care workforce.
Emergency Management Command Structure
- Emergency Command Structure is now up and running. Leadership includes Andrew Phelps from the Office of Emergency Management, Mike Harryman the state resilience officer and Dave Baden from the Oregon Health Authority
- The state’s Unified Command Emergency Response structure is that same that would be utilized in the event of a Cascadia Event.
- This structure allows for seamless communication between state agencies and has the authority to utilize all of the tools in the toolbox necessary for dealing with COVID-19.
- Operating 8am-5pm at the moment, but they are ready to shift to 24/7 work when needed.
Testing and Supplies
- 10% of Oregon’s request for Personal Protective Equipment has been filed by the Federal Government and the other 15% of that request is expected to be filled in the near future.
- There is a serious concern that Oregon and the nation could face significant shortages of PPE including masks, gowns, gloves, and other equipment. The state stockpile is being distributed, but we are dependent on federal stockpiles. According to Director Allen, if there is not a significant change at the federal level, we will run out of Personal Protective Equipment nationwide.
- The Federal government has entered into agreements with domestic companies to ramp up production of masks and other PPE. Oregon is looking to enter into similar agreements in the state. Oregon is also looking at the possibility of repurposing existing facilities so that they might be converted over to the production of PPE.
- Personal Protective Equipment should be treated as a community resource reserved for health care workers and those who need it most.
- Commercial Laboratories are expected to have the capacity to do around 1000 tests per day. One of the labs is even utilizing a test that is not reliant on the chemicals for which there have been hang-ups.
- Commercial labs are only reporting basic data to the Oregon Health Authority, so while the raw numbers around testing will be updated regularly, demographic information will lag behind.
Relief for Business
- A Coronavirus Economic Advisory Council is being convened to develop a plan to assist businesses impacted by COVID-19. The council will be developing requests to be made of the Oregon Legislature as well as the federal government. A report on their work should be expected in the upcoming days.
- The Governor has declared an “Abnormal Market Disruption” relating to items such as hand sanitizers and toilet paper in order to prevent price gouging.
- Businesses are saying that cash flow is their biggest issue. Businesses need money to pay employees and keep their doors open
- Businesses are asking to delay the implementation of the Corporate Activities Tax to ensure businesses can pay employees and bills
- Easing up on several state regulations would go a long way in assisting Oregon businesses.
- The Small Business Administration has modified its requirements for a statewide declaration. A request has been submitted and Oregon should hear back from the SBA shortly. All counties in Oregon should then have access to funds through the SBA.
- Federal guidance for small businesses, including information on the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. Small Business Administration Guidance
- Work Share allows employers to leverage Partial Unemployment Insurance benefits for employers whose workforce is impacted by COVID-19. Work Share Oregon
- Information for employers, workers, and job seekers. Oregon Employment Department
- State guidance for Oregon businesses. Business Oregon Interim Guidance for Businesses
Legislative Special Session
- The Governor expects a special session of the Oregon Legislature to occur in the next few weeks in order to make statutory changes that allow for flexibility dealing with this crisis in addition to providing resources.
- Today, legislative leaders called for a special session to address COVID-19 following the development of an emergency response package.
- The Governor’s Office will be working with leadership to determine the best ways to conduct a special session that ensures the safety of legislators and staff.
Join Coronavirus Response Committee
- The Joint Coronavirus Response Committee is set to meet on March 18t at 10 am. You can find the agenda for that meeting here.
At the National Level
- The U.S. and Canada have mutually agreed to close their shared border to nonessential travel.
- President Trump has invoked the Defense Production Act.
- The Department of Housing and Urban Development is halting foreclosures and evictions for families with FHA-insured mortgages.
- The Department of Labor announced up to $100 million in dislocated worker grants in response to the Coronavirus national health emergency.
- The White House worked with the private sector to launch a central website where families, students, and educators can access online education technologies.
- The President launched a partnership with the Ad Council, media networks, and digital platforms to communicate public services announcements about the Coronavirus.
- The Navy will be deploying two medical ships to help support impacted areas.
- The President signed into law H.R. 6201, the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act”. The Act makes emergency supplemental appropriations and other changes to law to help the Nation respond to the Coronavirus outbreak.
- The CDC has awarded nearly $7.3 million to the State of Oregon to support response efforts to the Coronavirus outbreak. Earlier this month, the CDC provided an initial $500,000 to Oregon for the same purpose.
Unemployment Insurance and Workers Comp
- In expanding and extending Unemployment Insurance, we have to ensure that whatever changes are made do not have an impact on the matching funds Oregon receives from the federal government.
- Many employers are now seeking unemployment benefits, some for the first time. The website is facing issues due to the federal database being overloaded, but that is being worked on.
- Guidance is being worked on for health care workers and first responders to have workers’ compensation layered into their benefit structure.
- Oregon is working with SAIF and self-insured employers to move the market into a presumption of industrial exposure for health care workers and first responders for COVID-19.
- Several groups fall through the cracks for UI coverage. Oregon is looking into protection for Independent Contractors and LLC owners who do not have UI insurance coverage withheld.
- Businesses have suggested diverting the Corporate Kicker into bolstering the Unemployment Insurance Fund.
- The Governor’s Office believes that we should explore the possibility of providing rental assistance and maybe even mortgage assistance in tandem with a moratorium on evictions to help keep people housed during the crisis.
- It will be necessary to look up the entire chain to ensure that landlords who rely on rent to pay their mortgages are protected.
- The Governor has issued an Executive Order for higher education institutions in Oregon to suspend in-person instructional activity beginning March 21st and going through April 28th.
- Proposed exceptions are for courses required for the completion of a healthcare-related certificate or program.
- Institutions are encouraged to migrate to online or a remote learning modality.
- Students will be encouraged to depart if they have another home to go to to avoid crowding.
- Universities will be allowed to operate dorms at a minimal level for students who do not have housing alternatives.
- Every college in the public sector with dorms and dining facilities will continue some level of operation.
- Guidance is being developed around steps needed to be taken to promote greater levels of social distancing in these settings.
- The Higher Education Coordinating Commission will be assessing the potential impacts on enrollment as a result of the Coronavirus crisis.
- Since higher education is primarily student-funded, enrollment declines could have serious consequences on institutional budgets.