August 11, 2021
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Our third excessive heat event of the summer is upon us this week. In anticipation of this, both Multnomah County and the City of Portland have issued emergency declarations, with the county’s declaration in effect from August 11 through August 16. These declarations allow the expediting of certain processes; perhaps even more importantly, they highlight the grave risk posed by extreme heat.
The county and city will be working together to open and run cooling centers, cool spaces, and outdoor splash pads and misting stations. View this interactive map for the location nearest you.
Three 24-hour cooling centers will be open from noon on Wednesday August 11 through 9 am Sunday August 15th:
- Arbor Lodge Shelter: 1952 N Lombard St.
- Sunrise Center: 18901 E Burnside St.
- Portland Building: 1120 SW 5th Ave.
- Charles Jordan Community Center: 9009 North Foss Ave.
Four library branches will be open till 8 pm each night (Central, Gresham, Holgate and Midland), and all branches will have bottled water available. You can view hours of all library locations here.
TriMet encourages anyone who needs relief from the heat to take public transit to and from a cooling site, even if they can't pay fare. No one will be denied a ride. Check trimet.org/alerts before traveling, as there may be heat-related delays to service. Anyone who needs transportation to a cooling center can also dial 2-1-1. The county has worked closely with 211 Info to improve its process for response, and will be providing backup in case the call volume surges.
County staff will also be calling people on our client lists who we know may be vulnerable to the heat, and, if necessary, going door-to-door, particularly in those geographic areas particularly at risk.
Please take the time to learn about the signs of heat-related illness and how to cool yourself down; and please look out for friends, family, or neighbors who live alone or otherwise might be at risk.
COVID Update & Mask Mandate
On Monday, Chair Kafoury issued an executive order re-imposing an indoor mask mandate effective this Friday, August 13. Yesterday, Governor Brown followed suit with a statewide indoor mask mandate.
We had all hoped this would not be necessary; but the rapid and continuing spread of the Delta variant makes it the right thing to do.
As you can see from the chart below, the number of cases in Multnomah County continues to rise, and in fact is significantly greater than the number at this time last year. The positivity rate is also increasing, and is now above 5% - our public health department’s benchmark. While county hospitalization rates have not yet followed a similar path (state hospitalization rates are another story, and are rapidly escalating), if the trends continue, hospital capacity will almost certainly be strained.
As has been said many times, COVID is now a disease of the unvaccinated. While Multnomah County’s overall vaccination rate is high, with more than 72% of residents having received at least one dose, that still leaves too many unvaccinated people at risk. Many of those who remain unvaccinated are people who have concerns based on history with the medical establishment; fears related to documentation status; concern about losing time off work because of side effects; or other access issues. Vaccination rates are disproportionately low in Black and Latinx communities; and positivity rates are correspondingly high, with an 8.6% positivity rate for Black, African American, and African immigrant communities. And, of course, children under 12 are unvaccinated; and people with underlying health conditions, even if vaccinated, remain at risk of serious illness.
For all these reasons, a mask mandate is a necessary step at this point. Masking is effective in preventing transmission, and the mandate will slow the spread, prevent a surge in hospitalizations, and buy us time to increase vaccination uptake.
The situation is extremely fluid, and our public health department is continuously adapting its response and trying to plan for a range of scenarios. At our briefing yesterday, I asked that we create a framework for potential additional, escalating responses, with guideposts for when we would consider those responses and for when we could lift them. I think having some idea of benchmarks of progress or regression will be helpful in managing the anxiety and exhaustion we all feel.
As an aside, our public health department’s COVID briefings are consistently thoughtful and informative; I encourage anyone who’s interested to follow the Board’s briefing schedule and to listen in.
Critical Energy Infrastructure Hub
Last week, Commissioner Sharon Meieran and I hosted a town hall to discuss a recently released report on the risks associated with Portland’s Critical Energy Infrastructure (CEI) Hub -- the storage site for more than 90% of all liquid fuel in Oregon, as well as other hazardous materials. The town hall drew more than 100 participants who asked great questions and provided valuable insights. We continue to look for community feedback on the report: you can find more details here. Thank you to all the advocates who show up for these town halls, push for change, and hold us accountable. You are essential to the work, and are greatly appreciated.
Vaccine Gift Cards
Everyone aged 12+ who gets a COVID-19 vaccine at a Multnomah County Health Department site qualifies for a Visa gift card as available.
$100 for anyone receiving their first dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
$50 for anyone getting their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
$150 for anyone getting the one-time J&J vaccine.
Bring a friend or family member: $50 for anyone bringing someone else (up to 8 people) to get vaccinated if they themselves are already vaccinated. You will need to show proof of your own vaccination.
Adults accompanying minors, aged 12-17, that are not their own children are not eligible for the “bring-a-friend” incentive.
No ID is necessary to receive a gift card; however, each recipient will need to sign or initial a log to acknowledge that they received it.
North and Northeast Portland Vaccine Clinics
- Arbor Lodge Shelter (the old Rite Aid)
- 7440 N Denver Ave. Portland, OR
- Indoor site | Moderna Vaccine | Ages 18 years and older
- Portland Community College (PCC) - Cascade Campus
- 600 N Killingsworth St. Portland, OR
- Indoor site | Pfizer Vaccine | Ages 12 years and older
Click here for more information on where you can get a COVID-19 Vaccine.
Apply for the Community Involvement Committee
Do you care about community involvement in County decision-making? Do you want to help reduce barriers to civic participation? Do you enjoy working with a diverse group to identify common goals that benefit the community? If so, apply to join the County's Community Involvement Committee (CIC).
The CIC serves as Multnomah County’s advisory body on community engagement and involvement. CIC members engage in an ongoing review of the County's community involvement policies and programs, bring community concerns to County leadership, and assist in facilitating communication between the County and the community.
We are currently recruiting for five new CIC members. To learn more and start your application, visit https://www.multco.us/oci/apply-community-involvement-committee
Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until all vacancies are filled.
Join a Multnomah County Community Budget Advisory Committee
Are you interested in learning about county programs, budgets and priorities?
The Office of Community Involvement is now accepting applications for new Community Budget Advisory Committee (CBAC) members. CBACs are groups of community members that review and make recommendations on county departmental budgets and operations, and are one of the key ways the county receives community input on its budget priorities.
No budgeting or financial expertise is necessary! Just an interest an interest in the programs and budget process of the County and availability to attend meetings. To apply and for more information, visit multco.us/oci/cbacs
Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until all vacancies are filled.