PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The novel coronavirus. The coronavirus. COVID-19. Then, simply, COVID. Global pandemic. Then, simply, the pandemic.
On January 21, 2020, a Washington state resident became the first person in the U.S. with a confirmed case of the novel coronavirus. In Oregon, the first case was identified on February 28.
Since then, the pandemic has affected literally every aspect of daily life, and will continue to do so well into 2021.
Here are the top 10 most-read stories about the pandemic on KOIN.com during 2020:
#1. Social Security and stimulus check (April 22, 2020)
By this point, millions of coronavirus stimulus checks had already been delivered and millions more were on their way, most arrived quickly through direct deposit.
But Americans collecting Social Security checks had questions — notably, would they get a check and what did they have to do to get it?
It took Congress another 8 months to pass another round of stimulus checks to help struggling Americans.
#2. ‘Stay at home’ or else (March 23, 2020)
When Oregon Gov. Kate Brown issued Executive Order 20-12, it significantly tightened social distancing guidelines. The order directed everyone in Oregon to stay at home to the maximum extent possible. It also added a batch of new businesses that must temporarily close to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Gov. Brown issued a statement that day that said her decision to execute the order was fueled by the crowds that formed over the weekend along the coast, trails, parks, and city streets.
#3. Brown warns ‘Roughest days’ ahead (November 13, 2020)
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced a new “two-week freeze” statewide on November 13, hours after announcing a new West Coast travel advisory.
“We’re about to face what might be the roughest days of the pandemic,” Brown said, as the daily case count in the state continues to top 1,000.
“This is likely the most dangerous time in Oregon,” the state’s epidemiologist, Dr. Dean Sidelinger, said. “We can’t pretend COVID-19 is going away on its own.”
#4. Face coverings mandate (June 29, 2020)
Face masks will be required throughout all of Oregon beginning July 1, Gov. Kate Brown announced on June 29.
The governor said all Oregonians will need to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces, extending her order that as of now is mandated in 8 counties.
“Over the last month, we have seen the disease spread at an alarming rate in both urban and rural counties. The upcoming July 4th holiday weekend is a critical point for Oregon in this pandemic, and we can all make a difference,” the governor said in a statement. “Modeling from the Oregon Health Authority shows that if we don’t take further action to reduce the spread of the disease, our hospitals could be overwhelmed by new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations within weeks.”
#5. COVID-19 projections improve in early days (March 31, 2020)
A model predicting state-by-state COVID-19 deaths and resource use suggested Oregon could be making progress flattening the curve.
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine developed the interactive analysis in response to governments and hospital systems trying to figure out when COVID-19 would overwhelm their ability to care for patients, according to a press release. It is updated daily, and previously showed Oregon dealing with a shortage of intensive care unit beds.
#6. ‘Perfect match’ blood donation (April 14-15, 2020)
A nurse in Oregon received a hard-to-come-by blood donation during his fight to beat COVID-19.
Holly Jimenez told KOIN 6 News her husband, Jose, started getting sick on March 20. He had body aches, chills and was sleeping for most of the day. But Jose got worse. He went to a hospital in Springfield on March 28 and tested positive for the coronavirus two days later.
(Jose Jimenez spent 4 months in the hospital and is still on the road to recovery)
#7. ‘Stay home, stay healthy’ (March 20, 2020)
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury announced a new campaign with a clear message on March 20: “Stay home, stay healthy.”
“We are standing here together on the eve of Spring Break with a very important message for Oregonians: social distancing, done well, and done early, saves lives,” said Brown. “We have agreed on a plan called ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ which is both an order and a public awareness campaign. We have put into place aggressive social distancing orders to protect you, our neighbors, and our most vulnerable Oregonians.”
#8. Flattening the curve (April 5, 2020)
As other states braced for a tough week ahead in the battle against the coronavirus, Oregon health officials were hoping the numbers here are on the downward trend. Despite more people testing positive for the virus in the state, models have been showing that the curve could be flattening.
Models continue to project that the situation in Oregon appears to be leveling out to some extent. Health experts said despite that prediction, they aren’t ready to call for an end to the stay-home order until more testing can be done.
“The situation in Oregon is less dire than it is in most other states,” said Dr. Tom Jeanne, deputy state health officer and epidemiologist at Oregon Health Authority.
#9. $500 emergency relief (August 19, 2020)
A unique public-private partnership let about 70,000 Oregonians access a one-time emergency relief payment of $500.
“We hope this program today will really help Oregonians who need it,” House Speaker Tina Kotek said during a press conference announcing the program on August 19.
In mid-July, the Legislative Emergency Board earmarked $35 million from the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund monies to make this one-time payment to state residents who are having a hard financial time during the pandemic.
#10. Tentative back-to-school plan (July 11, 2020)
Portland Public Schools shared a tentative plan for what the fall term could look like on July 11. The 2020-21 school year will start on September 2.
Under the school district’s tentative plan, the first two weeks of the semester will be a check-in period: a time for teachers to individually talk with students, opportunities for families to get familiar with the programs their students will be using, as well as “social emotional engagement in order to help ease the anxiety and stress of the past months.” This will all be conducted virtually.
(PPS eventually moved to a mostly distance-learning plan)