Regional COVID-19 updates: Portland firefighter tests positive


Updates for Tuesday, March 31, 2020 for Oregon and SW Washington

This story will be updated throughout the day

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Here is the latest information from March 31, 2020, in Oregon and Southwest Washington in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic:

Portland Fire & Rescue

Portland Fire & Rescue confirmed Tuesday night that one of its members tested positive for COVID-19. The person went home to be in quarantine, PF&R said, and no other employees were exposed.

Governor Brown tests negative

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s Press Secretary Charles Boyle said she has tested negative for COVID-19. She was tested because she had symptoms of a cold.

“Out of an abundance of caution, the Governor’s personal physician arranged for a COVID-19 test yesterday afternoon. That test came back negative,” he said.

Boyle said Brown’s husband, Dan Little, began experiencing symptoms of a “seasonal illness” before she did.

“Her last public appearance was on Friday, March 20. The Governor has been at home since she first exhibited symptoms of a cold, and prior to that was only working in person with a limited number of staff.”

Last Friday, KOIN 6 News asked Brown’s office about the governor’s health and specifically whether she was sick after Brown did not hold a public appearance for nearly a week at that time. Her office did not answer our question.

84 new cases in Oregon

The Oregon Health Authority has confirmed two deaths and 84 new cases of the novel coronavirus across the state Tuesday. The new cases brings Oregon’s total to 690 with the death toll standing at 18.

One of the two deaths was a 90-year-old man in Yamhill County, who tested positive on March 25, 2020, and died on March 29, 2020 at Providence Newberg Medical Center. He had underlying medical conditions.

The other was an 88-year-old woman in Benton County, who tested positive on March 26, 2020, and died March 30, 2020 at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Corvallis. She also had underlying medical conditions.

The COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Benton (3), Clackamas (10), Douglas (1), Hood River (1), Jackson (1), Klamath (1), Lane (4), Lincoln (1), Linn (1), Malheur (1), Marion (18), Multnomah (16), Polk (3), Umatilla (1), Wallowa (1), Wasco (2), Washington (18), and Yamhill (2).

Wash. changes COVID-19 reporting process, causes delay

The Department of Health in Washington issued a statement Tuesday stating its tool for tracking results has been overwhelmed with COVID-19 tests. As a result, the backlog in results has delayed the report of new cases.

Continue reading…

More PPE on the way

Oregon’s Office of Emergency Management said the federal government is shipping more supplies. So far, Oregon has distributed 1 million gloves, 400,000 N95 masks and 50,000 surgical masks to the employees who critically need them, according to officials.

Legacy, OHSU get $3M donation from Oregon couple

Through their RMF Foundation, Mary and Ryan Finley donated $3 million to Legacy Health and OHSU to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We love Portland and these gifts are from our family to our community and our health care teams risking their lives to be on the front lines,” Mary Finley said in a statement. “We hope that if people are looking for a way to help Portland survive this crisis, they can join us and contribute to these COVID-19 response funds.”

Ryan Finley is the founder of SurveyMonkey.

Donations accepted:
Legacy Health Giving
Onward OHSU

Washington closing all driver license offices

The Washington Department of Licensing closed all their driver license offices as the coronavirus pandemic continues. All appointments were canceled and no appointments will be available until further notice.

Most Washington residents can now renew their licenses, identification cards, or vehicle registration online. Online rules have been relaxed.

People under the age of 24 and over 70 may renew online for the next 30 days, or longer if deemed necessary. Additionally, DOL suspended the requirement to visit a licensing office every other renewal.

Mail-in options are also available for a number of transactions, such as vehicle registration, original title transactions, and driver’s license renewal.

REAL ID enforcement pushed back

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has announced that the REAL ID enforcement date has been extended to October 1, 2021. Customers who want a REAL ID will have an opportunity to apply at a later date.

Beware of scams

There are 3 common scams making the rounds during the coronavirus pandemic, the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services said. They are:

  • Emails claiming to have a “top-secret vaccine or miracle cure, or claiming to offer government assistance or economic relief.”
  • Emails requiring downloads to look at coronavirus maps
  • Emails or phone calls seeking investment in a product “guaranteed” to have a very high return

Here is where you can get official information:

Gresham firefighter tests positive for COVID-19

A Gresham firefighter has tested positive for the coronavirus and is quarantining while he recovers, according to a tweet from Gresham Fire IAFF Local 1062. The tweet said that the firefighter is feeling better after a week of symptoms and expects to be back to work once the necessary quarantine time is finished.

The account also said that two other firefighters are currently self-isolating in their homes to ensure the safety of the public and fellow crew members.

Oregon prepares for possibility of students not returning this school year

The Oregon Department of Education is preparing for the chance that students may not return to school this academic year.

At first, Gov. Kate Brown announced students would miss a week, then extended the order to keep schools closed through the end of April. As this pandemic changes, educators are realizing going back to school may not be possible — so they’re looking at solutions for learning.

Education officials are starting a campaign called “Distance Learning for All.” This campaign gives teachers and parents guiding principles for continued distanced learning while establishing routines, expectations, and priorities to facilitate instruction in the case that students will not return to school.

Goodwill Layoffs

Updates from Monday, March 30, 2020

OHSU confirms 12 positive coronavirus cases among staff

The Oregon Health & Science University said Monday 12 of its staff members have tested positive for COVID-19.

As of Sunday, March 29, 846 tests were deemed negative while the results of 56 tests remain pending.

Four more deaths, 58 new cases in Oregon

Four more people died in Oregon from COVID-19 and another 58 cases were confirmed throughout 14 different counties. Marion County and Washington County each reported 14 new cases.

Three deaths were men. Two of them were 91 years old, the other was 80 and all had underlying medical conditions. They lived in Yamhill, Clackamas and Linn counties. Two died in medical centers, while the other died at the Oregon Veterans Home in Lebanon.

Later, the Benton County Health Department announced a woman in her late 80s with underlying medical conditions died at a medical center.

That brings the state’s total deaths to 17, with 606 confirmed cases.

Oregon Health Authority – coronavirus updates
CDC – coronavirus updates
World Health Organization – coronavirus updates

TriMet operator tests positive for virus

A TriMet employee has tested positive for the coronavirus, the public transit agency confirmed Monday evening. The operator works at the Merlo Operating Facility in Beaverton. The employee reportedly did not experience any symptoms of the virus while working. That person stayed home after learning they were exposed and has not been at work since March 20.

“We believe this is the first TriMet operator to have a positive test. Our thoughts are with the operator and their family. We hope our operator will make a quick and full recovery,” said a TriMet spokesperson in a statement.

TriMet said the Beaverton facility, as well as the buses that go in and out, has been cleaned multiple times in the past 10 days.

Goodwill issues mass layoffs

Goodwill closed dozens of stores across Oregon and Southwest Washington last week—53 stores and 50 donation drop-off locations. On Monday, Bob Barsocchini, Director of HR for the non-profit, confirmed that 2,400 employees were laid off.

Those employees will be paid through April 2 as a way to extend their health insurance coverage into next month. Goodwill will continue to pay for those benefits through April. The non-profit said that accrued sick and vacation time will also be paid out, and that they are working with employees for additional payouts.

The letter employees received notifying them of the layoffs also included a resource phone number where they could get their questions answered.

Goodwill said it hopes to rehire as many of their employees as possible in the future once closures are lifted, though there is no timeline for when that will be.

Note: People are no longer able to drop off donations at closed Goodwill centers. These items pile up and there is no one on-hand to process them.

Oregon nurseries, greenhouses hiring

The are season and temporary jobs available right now at greenhouses and nurseries in Oregon — and they’re often outside in spots that comply with social distancing.

The Oregon Association of Nurseries published an online list of businesses that are hiring. The page will be updated regularly.

Temporary changes to SNAP benefits

Due to federal changes made in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, Oregonians will have increased access to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program food benefits.

According to the Oregon Department of Human Services, the act temporarily suspends SNAP time limits for those who are required to seek work as a condition of receiving benefits. The changes begin April 1 and ends the month after the COVID-19 state of emergency is lifted.

“As business and schools close because of this public health crisis, Oregonians are losing work and wages. SNAP is there to help put food on the table,” said Annie Kirschner, Executive Director of Hunger-Free Oregon. “By waiving SNAP time limits, more Oregonians can now focus on staying healthy, instead of the threat of hunger.”

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