April 2nd, 2020 COVID-19 East County Issue Forum

April East County Issue Forum 

COVID-19 Question Summary

April 2nd, 3:00-5:00 pm

Zoom Meeting Recording

Thank you to our presenters for taking time to share with us the work they are doing during this unprecedented pandemic. We also want to thank those who were able to join our call. If you were unable to participate, you can view a recording of the zoom meeting online.

Below is the agenda for the meeting with links to questions asked during the 4/2/20 COVID-19 East County Issue Forum.  Full agenda is below, not every presenter had additional questions asked of them.

AGENDA

Federal Updates

  • Senator Wyden

  • Senator Merkley

  • Representative Blumenaur 

Multnomah County Operations 

  • Emergency Operations Center

  • Public Health

  • Public Safety

  • U.S. Forest Service

State Updates

  • Governor’s Economic Recovery 

  • Oregon Employment Department

  • Regional Workforce Programming

Local Updates

  • City of Gresham

  • City of Fairview

  • City of Troutdale

  • City of Wood Village

  • Metro Regional Government

2020 U.S. Census

  • Multnomah County Operations

Presenter: Senator Ron Wyden

Questions/Answers

Is the additional $600 in unemployment wages applied regardless of what your previous wages were?

  • Yes it is.

Will antibody testing - testing that shows if an individual has already had COVID-19 be available nationwide and in Oregon?

  • It’s too soon to tell. Just days ago, the first antibody tests were approved by the FDA for emergency use during the COVID-19 pandemic. We still have a long way to go getting that test to the point where it’s available nationwide and in Oregon.

Will there be hazard pay for child care workers?

  • Senate Democrats have proposed hazard pay for essential workers of up to $25,000 per individual. These payments are a priority of Democrats for the next phase of COVID19 response.

Will the stimulus checks be subject to liens?

  • Rebates will not be subject to federal garnishment except for child support.  Rebates will also not be subject to state income tax liens. Rebates may be subject to other state or private liens.

Presenter: Chris Voss, Multnomah County Emergency Management

Questions/Answers

Is anyone working on a heat map of confirmed cases broken down by zip codes in Oregon?

What additional protections are available for people with disabilities? What is the plan to prevent the spread amongst the homeless?

Do hotels get additional support/staff to care for individuals in need?

  • Right now the Hotels are being staffed by the County, clinic and medical staff are mixed into that staffing. We have been working with Providence Health System to access their on-call staff to provide additional support. 

Will there be a scaled up rent assistance to match the eviction moratorium so that low-income people are just put into debt they can't pay back?

  • If the State Legislature meets for a special session, we expect this to be one of the topics of debate. The Speaker of the House has clearly communicated that this is one of her top priorities.

How many of the County Clinics are open; how many people are they seeing each day with Covid 19? Does staff have what they need to stay safe? 

How can we get case count info for neighboring counties..for a regional sense of scope/impact? 

For clients of our mental health services, are we expecting a spike in mental health needs or emergencies the longer this limited social interaction or lack of ability to see their providers continues?

  • Many behavioral health providers have expressed this concern.  The Multnomah County crisis line continues to operate as normal.  OHA, Multnomah County and others have been working with behavioral health providers to increase the capacity for telehealth visits.  

Has Multnomah county considered using smart thermometers to aid its testing?

  • Supplies for smart thermometers have been scarce, County shelters now have access to them to aid in testing.

What is the status of MC Land Use and Transportation and Compliance issues? How are permits being issued? 

  • We are conducting pre-file meetings by phone or video conference, and also use these tools to respond to calls from the public.  Land use applications are accepted two ways - 1) mail with a check, or 2) email with credit card by phone.

  • In terms of reviewing building permits from our partner agencies, we have been accepting them by mail and a designated staff person comes into the office to review and stamp them.  We can either leave them outside the office and coordinate a pick up or mail them back. We are actively pursuing digital plan review options with both Gresham and Portland in order to speed up the turn around for building plan review.

  • Regarding enforcement, our Code Enforcement Officer does respond to complaints and prioritizes those that pose a life/safety or environmental impact.  However, in order to conduct inspections, it is necessary to obtain property owner permission to enter onto private property. In some instances, property owners have used COVID-19 as a basis for denying access.  When this occurs, staff obtain as much information as possible from the public right of way. Staff are also using this time to conduct research and build a case for some of the violations which have proven to be the most resistant to voluntary compliance.

  • At this time, the Land Use and Transportation physical office remains closed to the public.

Presenter: Captain Travis Gullberg, Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office

Questions/Answers

What is the current policy with Corrections Health? What is happening inside the jails relative to staff and prisoner safety?

What is the status of Citizen Patrol services and their volunteers?

  • We have suspended our volunteer programs in effort to minimize exposure risks to them and our staff. That said, our volunteers are also community members, and they continue to provide us with helpful information. This helps us address community livability concerns and keep our residents and visitors safe. As soon as we can, we will bring them back as we appreciate all that they do for us.

Presenter: Raihana Ansary, Governor Brown’s Regional Solutions Metro Economic Response Team

Questions/Answers

What current plans exist for unemployed undocumented people?

  • This issue continues to come up and there are a number of groups including but not limited to PCUN and Latino Network who are lobbying for a worker relief fund for people ineligible for unemployment insurance. The Governor’s Office is aware of this request.

How is the state providing extra assistance to foster care providers.

Presenter: Christian Kaylor, Oregon Employment Department

Questions/Answers

To view the economic presentation from Christian Taylor, it can be accessed at https://twitter.com/kaylorchristian/status/1245839422551031811?s=21

To find guidance from the Oregon Employment Department on qualifying for Unemployment Benefits: https://govstatus.egov.com/ORUnemployment_COVID19 

Presenter: Andrew McGough and Patrick Gihring, WorkSystems, Inc.

Questions/Answers

I am a salon owner and our industry has been very hard hit.  What are some of the things being done for this kind of industry?

How can community-based organizations access funds? Do they contact WorkSystems directly?

  • Worksystems just awarded $200,000 in layoff aversion funding to local non-profit organizations in Multnomah and Washington Counties. At present, we have expended the entire fund, but we hope to replenish it as additional public funding comes available. CBOs should check our news & events page and sign up for regular updates about workforce funding available through Worksystems here: https://www.worksystems.org/news-events?page=1

  • CBOs struggling to maintain operations during the crisis might also explore resources available through Prosper Portland's COVID-19 response page: https://prosperportland.us/covid-19-business-resources/

  • Questions about layoff aversion funding or other agency supports can be directed to covid19fund@worksystems.org.

For communities like Corbett that are unincorporated, how will you connect with our community needs in this regard?

Do the SNAP 50/50 benefits reach to Clark County?

  • Yes. Worksystems’ counterpart serving Clark County, Workforce Southwest Washington, is in the process of launching a SNAP 50/50 program. They’re at https://workforcesw.org.

How can local farms & agribusiness entities help with/ get involved with snap 50/50 demand surge? Are there opportunities to connect rural, agricultural CSAs and Farmers Markets to both support these small businesses and as well, provide food to the needy? Does this fit within your mission?

  • SNAP (Oregon Trail) cards can be used for farmer’s market purchases. It may be a good approach to promote local agricultural product sellers to new SNAP recipients directly through marketing or to coordinate with Oregon Department of Human Services who manages the Oregon Trail program.

Small farmers and other partnerships can contact Oregon State University Extension in the Portland Metro area as they are working to address and partner on some of these issues: https://extension.oregonstate.edu/community-vitality/coronavirus - OSU

Are DACA moms recipients eligible? 

  • Yes they are.

You can also access the CBO Layoff Aversion fund at https://www.worksystems.org/news-events/news/layoff-aversion-funds-now-available.

Presenter: Councilor Shirley Craddick, Metro Regional Government

Questions/Answers

What is Metro doing for employees that have been laid off?

  • To help reduce the impact of the layoffs during the pandemic, Metro will provide three months of health care benefits to laid off employees. A special webpage has been created to provide resources on unemployment filing, hardship assistance and potential, other employment opportunities along with access to computers, internet, and printers to access resources. www.oregonmetro.gov/resourcesforworkers 

  • Additionally, non-venue department directors and deputy directors will receive a mandatory furlough. The funds that are saved through this furlough will be put into an Employee Assistance Fund that will be managed by a 3rd party and earmarked to help with rent, food and utility assistance for former Metro employees who were recently laid-off. They are great people and the decision is heartbreaking. When we’ve gotten past the worst of this pandemic, when the economy rebounds, our leadership is committed to bring our most valuable assets, our employees, back to Metro as quickly as we can.

I have been to Metro South twice in the past week to recycle. They are still going to remain open, right?

  • Metro has a long track record of participating in disaster planning in the Portland region. But most of that work has been centered on waste management – in anticipation of a large earthquake and the need to efficiently remove debris from the region in a safe, sanitary, and environmentally friendly manner. Now, we find ourselves using those plans to ensure that Metro Solid Waste facilities continue to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic as a matter of public safety.

Listening to Ms. Burditt earlier closing the Columbia gorge areas because people aren't adhering to the recommendations of physical distancing - why wouldn't METRO do the same?

  • Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Metro is taking steps to protect its staff, the community and you. Going outside and visiting parks has become more important during the COVID-19 pandemic. . All Metro parks are open but with safety guidelines and orders in accordance with physical distancing. Some areas and outdoor activities do not allow for adequate physical distancing. With this in mind, Metro has closed some areas of parks to create safeguards. All playground areas, campgrounds, restrooms, park offices, and welcome centers are closed. We are taking steps for people to enjoy nature and stay safe. Metro is working closely with regional and state health agencies to respond in the right ways to this unique, quickly changing health crisis.

2020 US Census:

Is your group collecting information from the homeless folks among us.

  • Multnomah County is working with the Joint Office of Homeless Services and their providers to spread information and awareness to people experiencing houselessness. With the rise of COVID-19 our original plan of providing tablets and assisting them to fill out the census has been changed. We are working with the USCB to develop new creative ways to encourage self reporting beyond their group enumeration process: https://2020census.gov/en/conducting-the-count/gq/gqe.html

What is percentage for unincorporated areas?

Additional Questions:

What’s going on with the businesses within Troutdale, in particular the historic strip along the Historic Highway? 

Are people who have permits still allowed to Hunt and Fish? 

  • Yes, but there are new guidelines from the Department of Fish and Wildlife that should be reviewed prior to any hunting or fishing. https://myodfw.com/COVID-19

Can you catch the COVID-19 Virus outside? 

  • The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person to person, mainly through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land on mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the Lungs. Spread is more likely when people are in close contact with one another. Whether indoors or outdoors, the virus can be transmitted.