I hope this newsletter finds you in good health and spirits. We have all had to make sacrifices for the safety of ourselves and the safety of others that have had tremendous impacts on our communities all across Oregon. I have been working with my colleagues in the legislature, as well as your local elected leaders, to make our return to normal life as swiftly and safely possible.
Reopening Oregon Phase 2 – What Does it Mean?
On Friday, June 5th the first wave of counties entered into Phase 2 of the reopening process. This means more restrictions have been lifted as a result of COVID cases staying steady over the course of at least 21 days. Although shifting into Phase 2 won’t be returning back to Pre-COVID life, we will start to see more people enjoying meals in restaurants, returning to churches and places of worship. We will also see places like movie theaters, bowling alleys and arcades starting to open up with social distancing guidelines in effect. One thing that I worked on closely with my colleagues was making sure that reopening recreational pools were included in Phase 2 as it is vital to many of the small communities in my district.
Reopening Oregon Phase 2 – What’s Next?
In a handful of press conferences, Governor Brown has outlined Oregon’s reopening in three phases. As I mentioned before, the majority of Oregon counties have now entered into Phase 2. The guidelines to enter Phase 3 is that there is some sort of vaccine or treatment for COVID-19. Given the fact that it could be 12-18 months before we have an FDA approved vaccine, I have been working with my fellow legislators and county commissioners to form a proposal to have a secondary lifting of guidelines under Phase 2. This would allow for larger gatherings than those that are allowed under Phase 2 as well as other shifts in guidelines.
Emergency Board Funding
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in Oregon, the Joint Emergency Board has met three times to provide relief related to the impacts the virus has had on all Oregonians. The first meeting followed the recommendations of the Coronavirus Response Committee. The following meetings were related to the distribution of Federal CARES Act funding that was allocated to Oregon. One major highlight for Senate District 30 in Emergency Board funding is the Rural Hospitals Grant Program which was approved on Friday, June 5th. These funds will help struggling hospitals who were hit particularly hard as a result of the COVID pandemic. Here are a list of notable allocations from the Emergency Board:
- $75 million to support rental assistance, housing stabilization and mortgage assistance (in addition to $25 million in Hardest Hit money for foreclosure prevention).
- $10 million in additional support to the Oregon Worker Relief Fund which supports Oregonians who are not otherwise eligible for unemployment benefits.
- $15 million to support individuals having difficulty paying their utility bills.
- $3.5 million to expand access to affordable telephone and broadband service for low-income households.
- $4 million to support survivors of domestic violence.
- $25.6 million to enhance behavioral health services for people impacted by COVID-19, with a focus on communities of color, our federally recognized tribes, and vulnerable populations.
- $30 million in assistance to help child care providers stay in business.
- $20 million to support the Rural Broadband Capacity Program to support safe distancing practices by connecting schools, health care providers and businesses.
- $50 million for rural hospital stabilization grants.
- $10 million to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) for small businesses.
- $3 million in technical assistance to minority- and women-owned businesses.
- $1 million for 211 to maintain referral services during the pandemic.
Changes at Oregon Employment Department
One of the biggest frustrations during this pandemic has been the unacceptable handling of Unemployment Insurance claims since the shelter in place order began in March. On May 31st, Governor Brown effectively removed the Director of the Oregon Employment Department and replaced them with David Gerstenfeld, Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Division Director. Since this shift in leadership, we have seen immediate progress to process the claims backlog that has been building for months. If you are still having issues with your UI claim, please reach out to your legislators as we now have direct contact with assigned Employment Department liaisons and can try to help speed up the process for you.
Virtual Town Hall – June 18th at 5:30pm (Pacific)
On Thursday, June 18th I will be hosting another Community Conversation with Rep. Mark Owens and Rep. Daniel Bonham. The past four conversations we have hosted have been a great opportunity for us to engage with you in a time where we are discouraged to host in-person meetings. If you are interested in participating in the conversation, please register here.
As always, I am here alongside and in service to you to answer any questions you may have about COVID-19 or anything else. Please contact my office if we can do anything to assist you during this time.
Lynn P. Findley Oregon State Senator, District 30
CONTACT SEN. FINDLEY
900 Court St. NE, S-403
Salem, OR 97301
252 B Street West
Vale, OR 97918
Hours: Monday- Friday 8:30am-4pm