Multnomah County to present reopening plans

Multnomah County

County needs 7 prerequisites for Phase One application

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Multnomah County officials will brief the Portland City Council on their plan for reopening the economy on Thursday, May 20. 

The 11:15 a.m. remote work session will be the first time the county formally tells the council how it intends to meet the requirements necessary to allow still-shuttered businesses like restaurant dining rooms and hair salons to reopen. 

The Oregon Health Authority has set seven prerequisites that all counties must meet to apply for Phase One reopenings. The seven-county health region that includes Multnomah County must meet five other requirements. And the county has set additional requirements that do not apply anywhere else.

Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury said the county does not have enough money to meet all the requirements on Friday, May 15. Speaking to the Portland Business Alliance, she said the county is in negotiations with the state and city for the additional funds. 

“We have estimated that, in order to fulfill what the criteria that the governor’s prerequisites have set out for us, it’s going to cost us about $75 million for the next year … frankly, we don’t have the money now,” Kafoury said. 

Sonia Schmanski, Mayor Ted Wheeler’s deputy chief of staff, said the city is in close contact with the county on COVID-19 issues, including additional service needs for the homeless. But Schmanski said the city has not yet seen the details of the county’s plan to reopen the economy or received any funding request related to it. 

“The county hasn’t given us a number,” said Schmanski. 

Portland has received $114 million in federal stimulus funds compared to $28 million for the county. The money came from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act approved by Congress in March. The council will hold a work session on prioritizing the federal funds Tuesday, May 26. 

According to a report released by the county last week, state requirements for Phase One reopening include a 14-day decline in COVID-19 hospitalizations and having enough shelter location for everyone who needs to self-quarantine, both of which the county has met.

County-only requirements include reducing the impact of COVID-19 on communities of color and having sufficient testing sites accessible to underserved communities, which the county has not yet met. 

The report is scheduled to be updated every Wednesday. 

According to Schmanski, the city and county have already agreed to split the additional homeless service costs caused by COVID-19 on a 50/50 basis. Portland Parks & Recreation has also allowed three community centers to be used as homeless shelters. 

Other priorities funded by the council so far include financial assistance to small buisnesses and households struggling to make ends meet because of income losses caused by COVID-19.

Continuing Coverage: Coronavirus

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