Last week included several major announcements concerning COVID-19 response. On Thursday, Governor Kate Brown announced that clinics and hospitals could begin to reopen starting May 1 for non-emergency procedures as long as certain benchmarks are met. This was significant for many medical clinics and surgical centers that were weeks away from closing. Conversations are ongoing regarding reopening other sectors of Oregon’s economy, and sufficient PPE will remain key to that conversation.
That same day, the Joint Emergency Board met to allocate $32.5 million in emergency funding towards COVID-19 relief. Of note to OFS members, the E-Board allocated $3.5 million to alternative housing for farmworkers and the homeless who need to quarantine. The legislature also appropriated $5 million (with a $5 million match from the executive branch) to fund Emergency Business Assistance for businesses with fewer than 25 employees who were unable to access federal stimulus dollars. The details for this allocation still need to be worked out. Additionally, $10 million was given to community based organizations to fund “UI-like” payments to workers who are ineligible for federal and state unemployment payments. Legislators expressed a lot of skepticism about accountability and administrative overhead, particularly since funds were given to a nonprofit instead of a state agency. However, the program ultimately passed.
In addition to state support, the federal government passed a $484 billion funding package to add back dollars to the depleted paycheck protection program (PPP) and small business disaster loan (EIDL) program. These dollars are anticipated to go fast.
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