UPDATE (3:10 p.m. PT) — The Oregon Employment Department Thursday announced it is providing unemployment benefits to people who have run out of regular benefits through a new program.
The department said the benefits will come from the federal CARES Act’s Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program. That program is a 13-week extension of regular unemployment insurance.
The program will provide the same weekly amount as a claimant’s regular benefits. People receiving benefits through that program are also eligible to receive the $600 weekly Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation for each eligible week between March 29 and July 25.
The only people eligible for the new program’s benefits are people who have used up all of their benefits from a current claim for regular unemployment.
The department said it cannot accept applications for the program until a person has run out of benefits or unless a person’s claim is expired.
People can apply for the benefits through the department’s online claim system or through mail.
Oregon State Parks to reopen many campgrounds
Oregon state parks will soon begin to offer limited camping at many campgrounds but not in time for the Memorial Day weekend.
Starting June 9, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department said, most parks will be accepting tent and RV camper reservations to stay overnight on a first-come, first-served basis. Camping has been closed at state parks since March 23 to help reduce the spread of coronavirus.
OPRD spokesperson Chris Havel said not all parks and services will offer camping, and yurt and cabin visitors may still experience cancellations.
“Those facilities take more staff and more cleaning time and chemicals and all of that so we may not be able to offer that kind of service,” Havel said. “Tents and RVs (are) much easier, much more self-reliant.”
Havel said people who had their reservations canceled during the March 23 through June 8 period will be allowed to make new reservations two weeks in advance instead of the normal nine months in advance.
“It’s possible there will be room for people who don’t currently have a reservation,” Havel said.
A list of which campgrounds will open June 9 is still being finalized and expected to publish by the end of May.
Oregon death toll at 145
The Oregon Health Authority Thursday reported the state’s total number of known coronavirus cases at 3,817.
That number includes positive tests and presumptive cases. Presumptive cases are people who have not tested positive but have coronavirus symptoms and have come into close contact with a positive case.
The OHA also totaled the state’s coronavirus-related deaths at 145, after listing one new death.
Clark County has 4 new cases
The public health agency in Clark County, Washington announced Thursday that four more residents have tested positive for COVID-19. In total, 419 people have tested positive and 25 people have died.
According to the most recently available data from the Washington Department of Health, there are 18,971 confirmed coronavirus cases in Washington state and 1,037 known deaths.
Spirit Mountain Casino reopening June 1
Spirit Mountain Casino and Lodge in Grande Ronde said it will reopen at 6 a.m. on June 1.
The casino said it has implemented additional safety measures including reduced hours of operation to allow for additional cleaning.
Spirit Mountain also said it will not allow anyone under the age of 21 on its casino or lodge properties during the first phase of its reopening.
It is also requiring guests to wear masks at all table games and will take guests’ temperatures at entrances.
“We’re excited to welcome our guests and employees back to Spirit Mountain Casino,” Stan Dillon, Spirit Mountain Casino’s general manager, said in a statement. “We have used this closure as an opportunity to make improvements throughout the property. We want all of our visitors to experience the best of Oregon’s premier gaming destination.”
The casino closed on March 18 due to the pandemic. The Grande Ronde’s Tribal Council supported casino staff during the closure through 400 hours of paid time off, the casino said.
Seaside, Cannon Beach to reopen hotels May 26
The Seaside City Council Wednesday voted to reopen all hotels and other lodgings at 100% capacity effective beginning at 6 a.m. on May 26, the Tuesday following Memorial Day weekend.
“This is a decision that about half the people are going to be very happy about and the other half are going to be unhappy about,” Seaside Mayor Jay Barber said during the council meeting.
Barber called it a “compromise” for Seaside residents and lodging owners.
Lodging has been closed since late March due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Cannon Beach, also on the north coast, will reopen lodging May 26.
Longview receives $3.5 million transportation grant amid coronavirus
The Federal Transit Administration awarded a more than $3.5 million grant to the Southwest Washington city of Longview’s transit system to pay for operating, administrative and preventative maintenance in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The funding was secured through the federal CARES Act and also includes sanitizing, modifications for social distancing, driver and other employee personal protective equipment and salaries for staff on administrative leave.
“Easily accessible transit is a lifeline for folks in Longview and Kelso, but it needs to be done in a manner that prioritizes safety and public health,” U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., said in a statement. “ I was pleased to help secure this funding to enhance the safety for seniors, workers and others who continue to rely on public transportation.”
Marion, Polk counties approved to reopen
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and the Oregon Health Authority have approved Marion and Polk counties to begin phased reopening starting Friday.
The counties’ applications for reopening were originally rejected last week, citing concerns over increased hospitalizations in the Salem area. Hospitalizations there have since seen a downward trend.
Phase 1 of Brown’s reopening plan allows for some businesses and services to resume while maintaining physical distancing and sanitation standards.
Even though hospitalizations have decreased, Marion County continues to have one of the state’s largest concentrations of coronavirus cases. Health officials Wednesday reported 24 new coronavirus cases there.
Some counties in the Portland metro area are moving forward with applying for Phase 1.
Clackamas County’s application, dated May 19, is under initial review from OHA. Washington County has moved up its reopening plans to June 1.
Multnomah County has not given a date for when it might reopen.