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Democrats Propose $500 For Oregonians Awaiting Unemployment

<p>There is currently no vaccine to prevent contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.</p>
<p>There is currently no vaccine to prevent contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.</p>

UPDATE (1:13 p.m. PT) — Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek and Senate President Peter Courtney Thursday proposed $500 emergency relief checks for Oregonians who are still waiting on unemployment benefits from the Oregon Employment Department. 

“This isn’t a fix, this is a band-aid,” Courtney said in a statement. “We need to get cash into the hands of Oregonians who have been waiting on their benefits for months. As the department continues to clear claims, this money will help those who are still waiting.”

The proposal would direct the Department of Administrative Services to create a process for Oregonians to apply for the one-time relief checks.

Oregon at more than 11,000 known coronavirus cases

The Oregon Health Authority Thursday reported 389 new confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. That’s a new high record in daily cases for the state. Oregon now has a total of 11,188 known cases.

The state health agency reported six new coronavirus-related deaths Thursday. The number of people confirmed to have died from the virus in Oregon is 230.

Many of Thursday’s cases are in the Portland area with 86 in Multnomah County, 45 in Washington County and 20 in Clackamas County. Umatilla County also saw a bulk of new cases, with 55.

As of Thursday, 192 people are hospitalized with suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the state, including 25 who are on ventilators. The coronavirus has led to the hospitalization of 1,162 people statewide over the course of the pandemic.

Clark County cases surpass 1,100

Health officials in Clark County, Washington, Thursday reported 38 new confirmed cases of COVID-19. The county now has a total of 1,128 coronavirus cases. 

The county reported one new death — a man in his 30s with no underlying medical conditions. Clark County has seen a total of 30 coronavirus-related deaths.

Clark County’s application to move into Phase 3 of Washington’s reopening process is on pause. Gov. Jay Inslee announced last week there would be at least a two-week pause in response to an increase in cases. The county will remain in Phase 2.

The latest available data from the Washington Department of Health shows there are 37,941 confirmed coronavirus cases in the state and 1,394 known deaths. As of Monday, the coronavirus has led to the hospitalization of 4,630 people in Washington.

 

Multnomah County continues to focus on BIPOC communities amid pandemic

In a meeting Thursday, Multnomah County officials said they are continuing to focus on serving Black, Indigenous and other people of color amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Health officials and others in the county said they are continuing to track specific data related to racially and ethnically diverse communities including COVID-19 case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths. 

The county said it is also continuing to work toward hiring more contact tracers who speak different languages.

Officials say a majority of Multnomah County’s contact tracing team — including public health employees and community based organization subcontractors — are “culturally specific positions.” That includes people from Black or African immigrant communities, and Asian, Native, Slavic and Latino populations.

Only 22% of the county’s contact tracing team have no culturally specific position, according to a slideshow shared with the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners.

“We need to maintain community trust,” Multnomah County Health Director Rachael Banks said in regard to hiring contact tracers from diverse backgrounds. 

Along with serving diverse communities with contact tracers and data collection, the county is also examining BIPOC and other underserved communities’ usage of isolation facilities, such as motel shelters.

Patricia Rojas, Deputy Director of the county’s Joint Office of Homeless Services, said people of color have made up 35% of people using indoor adult physical distancing shelters including spaces like the Charles Jordan Community Center and the Oregon Convention Center.

Last month, the Joint Office said it would begin winding down services at some physical distancing extension shelters, in attempts to slow coronavirus spread, and move toward “motel-like spaces.”

“As we transition from congregate to motel physical distancing shelters, we’re further prioritizing the highest risk households for the additional safety provided by individual rooms,” Rojas said.

Rojas said the Joint Office expects people of color to make up at least 40% of those who enter motel shelters.

Isolation motels in the county have commonly taken referrals from homeless shelters and encampments, but also take referrals from other sources including community based organizations and housing programs. 

Rojas also said the Joint Office is currently working with the Urban League of Portland to create a culturally specific physical distancing motel shelter in North Portland that will focus on serving Black adults.

 

Copyright 2020 Oregon Public Broadcasting

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