Category Archives: COVID – 19 Updates

Outdoor Mask Requirements begin August 27th – Be Safe

 

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With COVID-19 rapidly spreading, masks help stop spread of the Delta variant
Salem, OR—Governor Kate Brown today announced new statewide outdoor mask requirements to help stop the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant. Effective Friday, August 27, masks will be required in most public outdoor settings, including large outdoor events, where physical distancing is not possible, and regardless of vaccination status. The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) also strongly recommends masking for outdoor gatherings at private residences when individuals from different households do not consistently maintain physical distance.

“The Delta variant is spreading fast and wide, throwing our state into a level of crisis we have not yet seen in the pandemic. Cases and hospitalizations are at a record high,” said Governor Brown. “Masks are a quick and simple tool we can immediately deploy to protect ourselves and our families, and quickly help stop further spread of COVID-19.

“The Delta variant is much more contagious than previous variants we’ve seen, and it has dramatically increased the amount of virus in our communities. Masks have proven to be effective at bringing case counts down, and are a necessary measure right now, even in some outdoor settings, to help fight COVID and protect one another.”

Under the Governor’s direction, the OHA rule will require masks for all individuals — regardless of vaccination status — in outdoor settings in which individuals from different households are unable to consistently maintain physical distance. The rule does not apply to fleeting encounters, such as two individuals walking by one another on a trail or in a park. While the rule does not apply to outdoor gatherings at private residences, masks are strongly recommended in those settings when individuals from different households do not consistently maintain physical distance.

“It is much easier for people with the Delta variant, compared to people who were sick last year, to infect others around them,” said State Health Officer Dr. Dean Sidelinger. “This is because they have one thousand times more virus in their nose – which means that those around them are much more likely to get sick because this variant behaves so differently. We are starting to see instances where cases are clustering around events, like outdoor music festivals, that happen outdoors. Wearing masks in crowded settings – even outdoors – will help slow the spread of COVID-19.”

The rule aligns with the exceptions outlined in the recent statewide indoor mask requirements, and does not apply to:
• Children under 5 years old;
• Individuals who are actively eating, drinking, or sleeping — as well as individuals living outdoors, such as persons experiencing houselessness;
• Persons playing or practicing competitive sports, or engaged in an activity in which it is not feasible to wear a mask — such as swimming;
• Individuals delivering a speech or performing — such as with outdoor music or theater;
• Mask requirements for day-to-day operations at K-12 schools are not governed by this rule, and will instead continue to fall under the school mask rule. Outside public events, spectator events, and gatherings of the general public on K-12 school grounds will be subject to the rule. Child care and youth programs will continue to follow existing OHA mask guidance; and
• In addition, entities subject to the ADA must continue to comply with that law.

The OHA rule will go into effect this Friday, August 27, however Oregonians are strongly encouraged to immediately start wearing masks outdoors, as outlined above.

Governor Brown continued, “The combination of vaccines and masks is the most powerful way we can fight this latest surge of COVID-19 and save lives. Vaccination continues to be the best way you can protect yourself and your family from the Delta variant, and the most effective way we can help our exhausted nurses and doctors, who are working around the clock to treat Oregonians sick with COVID in our ICUs — the majority of which are unvaccinated individuals. With the full FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine this week, we have additional reassurance that the vaccines are safe and effective.”

Additional Materials:

A video message from Governor Brown is available here.

Governor Kate Brown Announces Statewide Indoor Mask Requirements

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8/11/21 – Salem, OR

Governor Kate Brown held a press conference today to provide an update on the status of COVID-19 in Oregon and to announce new statewide indoor mask requirements. To help stop the highly contagious Delta variant from spreading further, masks will be required in all indoor public settings, effective Friday, August 13. The Governor was joined by Patrick Allen, Director of the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), and Dr. Dean Sidelinger, State Epidemiologist.

“Because of the Delta variant, yesterday we had over 2,300 COVID-19 cases reported––the highest number since the virus first landed in Oregon—and hospitalizations are also at a record high,” said Governor Brown. “New modeling from OHA and Oregon Health & Science University project that, without new safety interventions, COVID-19 hospitalizations will completely overwhelm our doctors and nurses in the coming weeks. When hospitals run out of beds, we are all at risk.

“We continue to work to reach Oregonians with information and a vaccine, but it’s clear the current situation requires immediate action to stop the Delta variant from spreading further. That’s why, moving forward for the immediate future, masks will be required in all indoor public settings.

“The latest science is clear that both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals are able to spread the Delta variant. Masks are simple, and they are effective. Wearing a mask should give you confidence that you are not infecting others, and they are also our best bet at keeping our schools and our businesses open.”

The Governor also reminded Oregonians to treat forecast high temperatures seriously. She urged Oregonians without air conditioning to make a plan now to find a cooling center in their area by connecting with 211. She is also encouraging Oregonians to sign up to receive emergency notifications by visiting ORAlert.gov. And with high temperatures intensifying wildfire conditions, she is urging everyone to do their part to prevent fires at a time when most of the state is under extreme fire danger.

Heat-Related Resources

• Cooling Centers (211)
• Preventing Heat-Related Illnesses
• Warning Signs and Symptoms of Heat-Related Illness…

Additional Materials from Today’s Press Conference

• Oregon Indoor Mask Requirement Fact Sheet
• A recording of today’s press conference — with an American Sign Language simulcast — is available on YouTube. Please note the video starts at the 11:55 mark.
• An HD recording of today’s press conference for members of the media is available on Vimeo.
• A copy of the Governor’s prepared remarks is available here.

Oregon Targeted to receive $4.2B in Federal Stimulus – Impact to State Legislation

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In some good news, with the recent passing of the latest Federal stimulus package Oregon is slated to receive $4.2B.  $2.6B is targeted directly at the state, the remaining $1.6B will be share among cities and counties.

This is good news there are a lot of state legislative bills currently focused on revenue raising/tax increases and this funding will take the pressure off the need to do that. We would hope to see very few bills targeted at raising revenue.  Another thing likely to take the pressure off raising revenue/tax bills is that the latest economic forecast for this biennium shows the kicker tax being triggered.

On a positive note, SB 842 is written to make sure that federal stimulus payments are not taxable.

At the Federal level, America’s Recovery Act doesn’t tax unemployment benefits and there is a drive to connect to that and make sure federal unemployment is not taxed at the state level.  

State Legislative Bills we are tracking include:

Good bills still alive:

  • HB 2343Allows local government to suspend Enterprise Zone requirements
  • SB 330Tax credit for forgiven rents for landlords
  • SB 727May allow Oregon businesses to claim federal ‘State & Local Tax’ (SALT) deduction in excess of $10,000 federal limit
  • SB 780COVID liability protections for health care facilities and providers
  • SB 842Tax exemption for federal stimulus payment to Oregon taxpayers

Good bills dead:

  • HB 2638General COVID liability protections for employers
  • SB 531Right to compensation for businesses closed by Governor’s orders

Challenging bills still alive:

  • HB 2253, HB 2457Levies state tax on PPP loans
  • HB 2474Expansion of Oregon family leave law, applies to all small businesses
  • HB 2489 –  Re-classification of independent contractors as employees
  • HB 2814‘Indirect Source’ requirement for building projects
  • HB 3171Adds insurance in the Unlawful Trade Practices Act
  • HB 3305Prohibits diesel fuel
  • SB 137, HB 2839Disconnects businesses from Federal CARES Act tax benefits
  • SB 139Eliminates Oregon’s ‘Small Business Tax Cut’ law
  • SB 483Retaliation presumption for employment actions taken within 60 days of whistleblower complaint
  • SB 716Requires employer to accommodate employee day care schedule
  • SB 801, SB 802Workers’ comp COVID presumption

 Challenging bills dead:

  • HB 2205Private Attorney General Act (PAGA), authorize private lawsuits for alleged violations of law and rules enforced by agencies
  • HB 2974Prohibits conditioning employment on refraining from drug use
  • SB 477Lower burden of proof for unlawful discrimination claims
  • SB 650“Fair Share” tax on employers that do not provide health insurance benefits

These bills represent the “playing field” for the business community for the next three weeks.

The next major deadline for bills is April 13th.  As such, these next three weeks are sure to be chaotic as committees further refine the list of policies that will be moving forward this session.

If you have interest or concern about these or other bills, please email Debi Mollahan, CEO, Tigard Chamber at Debi@tigardchamber.org

Federal

The American Rescue Plan, the recently federal stimulus signed into law among other things contains two big programs targeted at specific sectors– The Shuttered Venue Operator Grant (SVOG) and the Restaurant Revitalization Fund

SBA will administer both programs.  Applications are expected to open for the shuttered venue program on April 8th and hopefully soon for the Restaurant Revitalization fund as well.

Vaccine Resources – CDC Essential Worker Vaccination Communication Toolkit for Employers

We were just made aware of this resource tool from the CDC for essential worker employers that want to educate and inform their employees about the COVID-19 vaccine.  We are sharing this information broadly to insure we don’t overlook anyone.  If this doesn’t apply directly to your business at this time, please share with someone you know that it does.

The CDC has designed a COVID-19 Vaccination Communication Toolkit for Essential Workers to help employers build confidence in this important new vaccine. The toolkit will help employers across various industries educate their workforce about COVID-19 vaccines, raise awareness about the benefits of vaccination, and address common questions and concerns. 
 
The toolkit contains a variety of resources including: 

  • key messages,
  • an educational slide deck
  • FAQs
  • posters/flyers – in English and Spanish
  • newsletter content
  • a plain language vaccine factsheet (available in several different languages)
  • a template letter for employees
  • social media content
  • vaccination sticker templates.

There are about 8-10 posters that are broad industry specific covering food service, first responders, healthcare, day care, construction, farmers, grocery, delivery and more.  Above is a sample of what that looks like.

The CDC will continue to add more materials to this toolkit, so please check back frequently for updates.
 
Please feel free to share this info with colleagues and businesses that you know in essential worker industries.

Urgent Ask – Make Small Business Whole Again from COVID-19- Pass Needed Funding & Protections

Legislative funding ask
Legislative funding ask

The Senate and House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senators Wyden and Merkley and Representative Suzanne Bonamici:

At a time when many small businesses are still struggling to regroup from measures taken during the COVID-19 shutdowns and restrictions, several provisions of the CARES Act are coming to an end with no additional funding in sight.

The Tigard Chamber of Commerce is a member of the Save Small Business Coalition and we are supporting their fight to keep small businesses alive. We ask that Congress: 

Provide Business Liability Protection:

  • Protect business owners who follow applicable federal, state, or local government guidelines from COVID-19 related exposure liability.
  • Protect businesses from liability claims arising from COVID-19 medical care for healthcare workers and facilities.

Include Workforce Development:

  • Provide $1.3 billion to assist job seekers in accessing employment, education, training, and support services through a combination of new and existing programs.

 Assist with State and Local Aid:

  • Assist state and local governments experiencing one-time COVID-related expenses and revenue shortfalls based on a fixed share of actual costs and revenue shortfalls within an overall funding cap.

Extend and Enhance the Paycheck Protection Program:

  • Broaden the definition of forgivable expenses to include costs associated with protecting employees and customers and expand the period during which expenses qualify for loan forgiveness.
  • Simplify good-faith certification for the forgiveness of loans under $150,000.
  • Expand eligible borrowers to include all non-profits, including 501(c)(6) organizations with no more than 300 employees, as long as PPP funds are not used for lobbying.
  • Authorize a second round of loans for small businesses experiencing revenue reductions of 35% or higher.

The Tigard Chamber and our business community is counting on you to make small businesses whole again.

Sincerely,

Debi Mollahan

CEO, Tigard Chamber