Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Last Friday I was on a call with county commissioners from throughout Oregon to hear from Governor Kate Brown’s office about the latest measures to address the burgeoning COVID-19 caseloads throughout our state.
The news was bleak. Whether you were from an urban area or rural Oregon, everyone was frustrated by this invisible virus that has upended our way of life.
COVID is keeping our children from attending school. It’s harming our restaurants and small businesses, and the tens of thousands of Oregonian’s they employ. It’s keeping us from gathering for church, holiday concerts, high school football games, community celebrations and so much more.
But what’s worse, is the lack of support from our federal government. This crisis is exactly why we have a federal government. And that government needs to step up - with additional support for small businesses and under-or unemployed workers. It needs to provide resources to school districts so that they can get kids back in the classroom or provide them with the support they need to learn remotely. It needs to provide a comprehensive COVID testing and contract tracing plan for every state. It needs to move forward a stimulus package that will put people back to work when this crisis has subsided.
Right now, the onus of how to survive day-to-day and whether to leave employees without a job and wages falls on a small business owner. The decision to stay at home to help homeschool your struggling child instead of going to work to pay your bills falls on the single parent. The decision to buy local versus ordering something to be delivered by Amazon falls on the lone consumer, who wants to support her neighborhood businesses, but not endanger her health or those of others.
The fact that we are relying on individuals to weigh these hard decisions is unconscionable. These do not have to be dire decisions. But the lack of federal support has made them so.
We just went through a historic yet divisive presidential election, but the one unifying theme of both Republicans and Democrats is that the federal government is broken. Americans are sick of politics as usual, primarily because they haven’t seen problems solved by Washington, D.C. Student loan debt is keeping a generation of Americans from buying homes. The wealthy are getting obscenely rich, while most of us struggle to pay for childcare. Our country has been decimated by job losses, and there isn’t a whisper of a comprehensive plan to get people back to work.
There are basic solutions to these problems that a functioning government can address, and that should start with providing support for dealing with COVID-19. This crisis provides us with the opportunity to put people first and give them the support they need to withstand the crisis we are in.
Join me in sending a message to current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that we need a federal COVID support measure now, one modeled on the Heroes Act the U.S. House of Representatives passed in May. Sign a petition advocating for action here.
PS: Governor Brown announced on Tuesday that $55 million in state funding will be distributed via counties to businesses who have been financially impacted by COVID-19, with a priority for the hospitality industry, businesses impacted by the freeze, small businesses, and women, Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and Tribal-owned businesses. More details will be available soon and shared via email. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Over the last several weeks, we have seen our daily COVID-19 case counts skyrocket. Now, we’re nearing our state’s hospital bed capacity, and drastic measures need to be taken to prevent the outbreak from overwhelming our health systems.
Beginning yesterday, Wednesday, November 18th, Oregon will be entering a statewide two-week freeze, as ordered by Governor Kate Brown, to stop the rapid spread of COVID-19. Multnomah County’s freeze will extend until at least December 16th. This freeze includes:
Limiting social gatherings to no more than six people total, from no more than two households;
Restricting restaurants to r delivery and take-out orders; and
Closing indoor recreational facilities (like gyms, museums, and pools).
Our nation has rarely faced such a daunting challenge as the one before us now. But I know that if we come together, take the necessary steps to protect the health of our communities, and support those on the frontlines of this fight, we can and we will overcome COVID-19.
You can find additional details on the Governor’s freeze here.
Save the date for our next (virtual) Constituent Coffee! Join me on Friday, December 4th from 9 to 10 am. Grab a cup of coffee or tea, sit down, log on, and have a casual conversation about the issues impacting our communities.
In the Community
The past month has been busy. After the election, I hosted a townhall to explore the election results and what they say about our region and our country. You can watch the recorded discussion, with esteemed panelists Commissioner-elect Carmen Rubio, Lamar Wise, Rebecca Tweed, and Amy Ruiz here.
Passage of Preschool for All has also generated headlines locally and nationally, including stories in the New York Times, USA Today, The Lily, EdSurge, and the Portland Mercury, with many hailing the community-based approach our process undertook and looking at Preschool for All as a potential model for a nationwide preschool expansion program.
And last night, I visited with the members of the Pleasant Valley Neighborhood Association. We discussed COVID, preschool, transportation, and other topics. I especially enjoy these opportunities to meet and learn from my constituents, even in this virtual platform. If you are a member of a neighborhood association or other group and you would like me to attend one of your meetings, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Volunteer at a severe weather shelter this winter
Over the next few months the Joint Office of Homeless Services will be opening severe weather shelters for those sleeping on the streets on nights with dangerously low temperatures.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our community is stretched very thin at this moment, and we need help staffing these severe winter weather shelters.
You can sign up to be trained on how to serve as a volunteer in one of these shelters here. Please share this information widely as we will need help supporting our community in the coming months.