|Coronavirus impacts all facets of life on the Mountain posted on 04/01/2020|
Restaurants, businesses and organizations throughout the
community mirrored life around the world when they shuttered their doors last
month as COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, became a pandemic.
Oregon Governor Kate Brown issued an executive order on Monday, March 23,
closing non-essential businesses, prohibiting large gatherings and limiting
social contact between people.
“It is essential to the health, safety, and welfare of the
State of Oregon during the ongoing state of emergency that, to the maximum
extent possible, individuals stay at home or at their place of residence,
consistent with the directives set forth in my Executive Orders and guidance
issued by the Oregon Health Authority,” Brown said in a statement.
Some impacted aspects of Mountain life include the closures
of schools, parks, playgrounds, ball fields and sports courts in the Oregon
Trail School District until at least Tuesday, April 28, closure of the Bureau
of Land Management’s developed recreation facilities (including Wildwood) and
the closure of all campgrounds, day-use sites, trailheads, Sno-Parks, fire
lookouts, OHV areas, ski areas (and ski area parking lots) and other developed
recreation sites in the Mt. Hood National Forest (MHNF) through at least
Friday, May 8.
Heather Ibsen, Acting Public Affairs Officer for the MHNF,
noted in an email to the Mountain Times that while developed trailheads are included
in the closures, trails are not. But she added that people are encouraged not
to head to the forest to recreate.
“Across the region, we are asking people to please delay
travel to outdoor destinations as much as possible,” she wrote. “We’ll still be
here when it’s much safer for all of us. Time outdoors is important for mental
and physical health, but for right now, please explore your neighborhood and
follow the (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines on social
MHNF offices are conducting public business by phone, email
or web-based transactions. Latest updates and information can be found online:
The impact of the closures was evident everywhere, not just
in the signs in the windows of businesses, but in the number of newly
unemployed people. During the week of March 15, the Oregon Employment
Department (OED) received more than 76,500 initial claims for unemployment
insurance benefits, and during the first three days of the week of March 22,
initial claims have been tracking at record levels again.
OED had received just 4,900 initial claims filed during the
week of March 8.
In response to the pandemic, OED enacted temporary rules to
give more flexibility in providing unemployment benefits to COVID-19 affected
workers, including for employees whose employer stops operation for a short
period of time, such as cleaning following a coronavirus exposure or by
Workers can also get unemployment benefits and do not need
to seek work with other employers if their place of employment will resume
operations. To receive benefits, affected workers must still be able to work,
stay in contact with their employer and be available to work when called back.
Information for filing an online claim and a full resource guide with questions
and answers about specific COVID-19 coronavirus-related situations and
unemployment benefits is available at Oregon.gov/employ.
In another effort to help Oregonians maintain social distancing
and avoid the coronavirus, people who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance
Program (SNAP) benefits can now purchase groceries online from Walmart and
Amazon. People may be eligible for SNAP if their work hours are reduced or they
lose your job. For more information, visit OHP.Oregon.Gov or
Taxpayers will get an extended amount of time to file both
state and federal tax returns, with the date moving from April 15 to July 15
(for more information, to check the status of a refund, to make payments or get
forms, visit www.oregon.gov/dor/), while the Oregon Department of Consumer and
Business Services issued a temporary emergency order requiring all insurance
companies to extend grace periods for premium payments, postpone policy
cancellations and non-renewals and extend deadlines for reporting claims.
In support of COVID-19 response, the Oregon Office of
Emergency Management and the State Emergency Coordination Center have
established a webpage where Oregonians can submit requests to donate services
or supplies, volunteer to support or to engage in a business relationship with
the state at https://oregon-coronavirus-geo.hub.arcgis.com/. The biggest need
right now is for Personal Protective Equipment, such as masks, gloves, and
The City of Sandy offers resources and information on the
pandemic, including links to local and national organizations, area closures
and ways to access essential services at https://www.ci.sandy.or.us/COVID-19Information.
Mountain residents can also find help through Neighborhood
Missions, a community outreach program sponsored by Hoodland Lutheran Church
that provides assistance for those in need. For more information on
Neighborhood Missions, visit http://hoodlandlutheranchurch.org/neighborhoodmissions
or call 503-622-9213.
By Garth Guibord/MT