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Health & Medicine

Oregon Announces 3 New COVID-19 Deaths

<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>

The more densely populated Portland-metro area continues to drive the rise in cases, with 149 new confirmed and presumptive new cases in Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties on Saturday.

Away from Portland, Marion County reported 31 diagnoses, Lane County reported 37, and Umatilla County reported 35.

The state provided these details about the people whose deaths it announced Saturday:

A 78-year-old man in Marion County died at home Friday after testing positive on July 14.  State health officials said they are still determining if he had underlying medical conditions. 

A 60-year-old man in Wallowa County died at home Thursday after testing positive on July 8. He had underlying conditions.

An 81-year-old man in Lincoln County died at home on July 4. His infection was confirmed July 15 via a post-mortem test. He had underlying conditions.

Some Republicans want Clackamas County considered separately 

“Coupling Clackamas County with the two most urban and densely populated counties in Oregon is unwarranted and unnecessarily burdens our local communities and businesses who are already struggling during this economic downturn,” House Republican Leader Christine Drazan, R-Canby, said in a statement. “The county commissioners have asked for this policy to be reconsidered, and today we echo their plea.”

But Clackamas County's Board of Commissioners stepped back from asking the governor to take a new look at its application to further ease restrictions, amid a statewide surge in new diagnoses.

Read more: Oregon Republicans Push To Reconsider Portland-area Reopening Strategy

Oregon seeks to speed up gig-worker jobless claims with new form

The Oregon Employment Department has introduced an online form it hopes will make it easier for Oregonians to apply for its Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program — the unemployment benefit program for self-employed individuals, contract and gig workers.

The agency said the new form, created in partnership with Google, will allow the more than 100,000 people who have already applied for so-called PUA benefits to get their weekly payments faster.

The form seeks to automate the weekly certification process that PUA applicants must complete. The form also should ensure that all applications are received with complete information, according to the Employment Department. The agency said the previous process included a PDF which resulted in some forms “mistakenly being submitted blank,” it said.

“This is an encouraging step forward for Oregonians who’ve been waiting for benefits, as well as for the department. I am pleased we have made these changes and pledge that we will continue finding better ways to serve you,” Oregon Employment Department Acting Director David Gerstenfeld said in a statement.

Bend asks tourists to stay away

Bend city leaders have worked for decades to build the community's reputation as a central Oregon travel destination. But now local officials are asking would-be tourists to stay away until after Labor Day.

City Manager Eric King issued a non-binding administrative order Friday strongly discouraging travel to Bend for recreation, vacation or other discretionary reasons, in order to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The order asks people to avoid staying in hotels, RV parks or any other short-term lodgings, unless for reasons of health, safety, employment or other essential travel. It also asks the people who run these lodgings not to allow tourists and vacation travelers to make new reservations until after Sept. 7.

34th death reported in Clark County, Washington

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has warned that if case numbers don’t improve, he may have to start shutting down the economy again. Counties throughout the state will have to remain in their current phase of reopening until at least July 28.

Copyright 2020 Oregon Public Broadcasting

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