“Now is the time to help” Multnomah County calls on residents to help neighbors as excessive heat continues

August 13, 2021

“Critical shortage of volunteers:” Multnomah County calls on residents to help neighbors as excessive heat continues

Temperatures are expected to remain high today, with poor air quality at times, as statewide mask mandate goes into effect

As Multnomah County enters yet another consecutive day of excessive heat, officials are once again reminding residents to plan for another day of hot temperatures and hazy skies. 

The National Weather Service is forecasting temperatures to reach up to 105 degrees today with overnight lows in the 70s. Smoke from distant wildfires could limit temperatures, but sensitive groups may want to avoid time outdoors due to diminished air quality at times. 

This morning, the City of Portland and Multnomah County also sent a Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) for severe heat.  This is a message that looks like a special text message, and that was delivered to all the mobile phones in Multnomah County.  

The decision to send the WEA was made jointly by the Multnomah County Chair and the Mayor, on the recommendation of City-County Unified Command.  Factors that influenced this decision included: a forecast heat index of 4, which indicates "Very High Risk for entire population due to long duration heat, with little to no relief overnight"; the commitment to prevent any heat-related deaths; and the fact that hospitals are currently at capacity and any message to minimize heat illness will have the added effect of preserving emergency department and hospital capacity. 

The message was sent in English and in Spanish is:  Severe heat today, tonight, tomorrow. Go to a cool place. Check on others. bit.ly/3fZqNKK 

Multnomah County is also urging everyone to remain in a cool place and check on others. Transportation assistance is available by dialing 2-1-1. People can also take TriMet to a cooling location. No one will be turned away.

Charles Jordan Community Center to close 9 pm on Friday, Aug. 13 

With Charles Jordan Community Center expected to close today at 9 pm due to low utilization, residents are encouraged to view this interactive map of cooling centers, cool spaces and splash pads for the location nearest them. The following 24-hour Cooling Centers remain open through 9 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 15:

In addition to the locations above, Multnomah County Library hours have been extended at four locations to provide additional cooling spaces. The following sites will be open until 8 pm through Saturday, August 14.

● Central (Downtown Portland), 801 SW 10th Ave, Portland

● Holgate (South East Portland), 7905 SE Holgate Blvd, Portland

● Midland (East Portland), 805 SE 122nd Ave, Portland 

● Gresham (East County), 385 NW Miller Ave, Gresham 

Learn more about cooling centers, transportation, and heat resources at Help for When it’s Hot.

There is a critical shortage of volunteers at cooling centers. Multnomah County and City of Portland are seeking assistance to help neighbors in need. There are multiple opportunities to help at cooling centers and misting stations today, Aug. 13., through Sunday, Aug 15. Visit the County’s volunteer webpage to learn more about open shifts. 

Statewide mask mandate goes into effect

The latest heat emergency comes as regional health systems are stretched thin due to record-high COVID-19 hospitalizations. Just yesterday, Oregon reported a record-high number of COVID-19 cases. The vast majority of those who are seriously ill are unvaccinated. 

With hospitals at capacity, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s statewide mask mandate goes into effect today. Masks are now required indoors throughout Multnomah County, regardless of vaccination status. 

Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines said the surge in cases, combined with excessive heat, are a dangerous combination with hospitals already at capacity. 

“COVID-19 is spreading quickly,” Dr. Vines said. “Combined with the possibility for hospital visits due to heat- and smoke-related illness, it’s absolutely critical that everyone do their part to stop the spread of COVID-19. Everyone can make a difference by getting vaccinated,masking indoors, and staying cool.”

Find your nearest vaccine site and learn more about the August 2021 mask mandate on the County’s COVID-19 webpage.

Outreach continues throughout the County

Yesterday Multnomah County, City of Portland, Joint Office of Homeless Services, and their partners engaged in targeted outreach to our community’s most vulnerable residents. Those efforts are continuing today, with groups checking in on housed and unhoused neighbors by phone, email and on foot.

The Joint Office of Homeless Services (JOHS) and a coalition of 64 outreach partners have blanketed the County, reaching out to vulnerable residents. Since Aug. 10, JOHS and its partners have distributed:

  • 34,464 individual bottles of water
  • 1,333 gallon jugs of water
  • 580 misting bottles
  • 580 refillable drinking bottles
  • 2,512 cooling towels
  • 5,750 electrolyte packets.
  • 6,340 KN95 masks

The Joint Office of Homeless Services’ downtown outreach supply center at 501 S.W. Washington St. remains open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day through Saturday, Aug. 14, for pickups of water and cooling supplies to distribute. Community members are encouraged to help support that work as they’re able.

Multnomah County’s Department of County Human Services is continuing to make contact with clients living in senior housing and assisted living. Staff remain committed to providing resources and wellness checks to older adults and people with disabilities.

Meanwhile, Multnomah County Library is reaching out to homebound contacts as identified by their participation in the Books by Mail and Words on Wheels programs in the Lents neighborhood and surrounding community.

Other partners including the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management (PBEM) - Neighborhood Emergency Teams (NET) and Portland Fire & Rescue have continued to make contact with mobile home residents; low-income and senior housing residents; and people experiencing homelessness.