This story will be updated throughout the day
PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Here is the latest information from March 30, 2020, in Oregon and Southwest Washington in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic:
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.
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.”
Beaverton shelter stays open, expands
The Severe Weather Shelter in Beaverton will stay open and expand its nightly services during the coronavirus pandemic.
Beaverton city officials announced Monday the shelter, which has space for 25 people at the Beaverton Community Center, will stay open every night through May 31. Those who need the shelter must register through Community Action by calling 503.726.0850 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
Priority will be given to those in the high-risk categories for COVID-19 — those older than 60 or with underlying medical conditions, with guidance from the Oregon Health Authority. Breakfast and dinner is served each day.
Updates from Sunday, March 29, 2020
No new deaths, Oregon state total reaches 548
The Oregon Health Authority said Sunday it has confirmed 69 new cases of COVID-19. No new deaths were reported, leaving the Oregon death toll at 13.
The new COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Clackamas (3), Deschutes (3), Hood River (1), Jackson (11), Josephine (1), Klamath (2), Lane (1), Linn (4), Marion (15), Multnomah (10), Polk (2), Tillamook (1), Wasco (1), Washington (14).
By Sunday evening, Lane County public health officials reported finding an additional case, bringing the county’s total number of positive cases to 12—the figure won’t be reflected in OHA’s total until Monday morning’s update.
Washington numbers rise
Numbers related to the COVID-19 outbreak in Washington state were last updated at 11:59 p.m. Saturday, March 28. At that time, the state’s total number of confirmed cases reached 4,896 and there were 195 reported deaths. These statistics put the percent of deaths at 4%.
On Sunday, President Donald Trump approved a major disaster declaration for the state of Oregon. The declaration orders federal assistance to aid state, tribal and local recovery efforts. The order is back-dated to Jan. 20 and brings to 18 the number of states with disaster declarations due to the novel coronavirus.
Gov. Kate Brown responded to the declaration, calling it a “important first step towards unlocking all available federal resources for Oregon’s state, tribal, and local response to the COVID-19 pandemic.” However, she also said in that statement that there are still a number of requests from the federal government that have gone unanswered and said that she would continue to “fight for access to every tool available to keep Oregonians safe from COVID-19.”
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