Latest COVID19 News

KBOO response to COVID19
COVID19
Published date: 
Sunday, March 15, 2020 - 11:36pm

Got gloves/gowns/masks to donate to Oregon hospitals? Here's where/when you can donate in Portland. And here is a full list of Oregon resources.

Monday April 6th:

The number of COVID19 cases in Oregon is one thousand sixty eight, as of this morning, with twenty seven fatalities. The US has a third of the cases worldwide, with three hundred and fifty eight thousand confirmed cases, and over ten thousand deaths – four thousand of them in New York state.

A number of states have donated and loaned respirators to New York, as the state hits what are likely to be peak numbers of coronavirus cases in the next several days. Oregon sent one hundred forty respirators to New York on Friday, and this morning California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that California is lending 400 respirators to New York – even as that state faces growing numbers of coronavirus cases.

A Silicon Valley engineer managed to reverse engineer the respirators given to California from the federal stockpile – all of which were broken. Thanks to the engineer, the respirators are all now fixed and in operation. Other companies in California have taken on the challenge of constructing respirators quickly and efficiently to try to meet the rapidly increasing demand.

Proponents of Medicare for All have pointed out that the respirator shortage in the US is a result of privatized healthcare, in which shortages are generated in order to increase profit. Adam Gaffney pointed out in a recent article that in the American way of paying for healthcare, our hospitals or corporate multi-hospital systems are silos, some rich and some poor, each fending for themselves, locked in market competition. This leads to shortages in some areas with over-abundance in others – based not on medical need, but on markets and profits.

The University of Washington has put together a visualization of all cases of COVID19 in the US, broken up by state, in order to project when the virus will peak in each state, and what the projected shortfall in medical equipment will be. Oregon is projected to peak on April 21st, with 227 patients hospitalized from the virus on that date – and no shortage of ICU beds or ventilators. This is a much lower number than earlier predicted, and is based on at least 90% of the population remaining at home and following the Governor’s order, in order to slow the spread of the virus.

Other states, like New York, are not faring so well under this projection. There have been over 4,000 deaths from coronavirus in New York already, and the virus is projected to peak in two days, on April 8th, with a shortage of nearly six thousand Intensive Care Unit beds, and a shortage of 5600 ventilators. Nationally, the shortage of ventilators – ie. the number needed minus the amount already available – will be about twenty five thousand as the virus outbreak peaks. That visualization can be found on the website healthdata.org.

In Washington DC, during a press briefing Sunday night, Donald Trump stopped the nation's top infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, from answering a reporter's question about the efficacy of an anti-malaria drug that the president has recklessly touted as a possible COVID-19 treatment despite warnings from medical professionals. As late as Saturday night, Trump was promoting hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for COVID19. Although clinical trials have begun with this and other possible anti-viral medications, no conclusions have been made yet, and encouraging people to take it is reckless and dangerous, according to medical professionals. Three Nigerians overdosed on hydroxychloroquine after following Trump’s recommendation, and an Arizona man died and his wife was hospitalized when they swallowed fish tank cleaner that contained a type of commercial grade chloroquine. The wife said after the death of her husband that quote “no one should ever listen to advice from Donald Trump”.

In Brooklyn this evening, registered nurses at the Brooklyn Veterans Administration Hospital are holding a protest during shift change. Due to short staffing, RNs in the Brooklyn VA intensive care unit are caring for as many as five COVID-19 patients at one time, while the standard of care is usually a maximum of two ICU patients to one RN, or even a maximum of one, depending on the severity of the case.

The Nurses Union is calling on President Trump to immediately exercise full executive powers under the Defense Production Act to ramp up production of N95 respirator masks and other critical personal protective equipment and to ensure the immediate and continued distribution of this equipment to nurses and other health care workers on the front lines. The union is also calling on the VA to immediately deploy properly trained RNs to the Brooklyn VA and other VA facilities to assist in caring for critically ill patients in units that are dangerously short-staffed.

 

Friday April 3rd:

The number of cases of COVID19 around the globe have passed the one million mark, with over fifty five thousand deaths. The fastest growing number of cases are in the US, where over two hundred sixty thousand cases have been reported. Six thousand eight hundred and three people have died of the virus in the US.

The United Nations General Assembly last night passed a resolution calling for international cooperation to contain, mitigate, and defeat the pandemic. The resolution encourages all countries to tackle the crisis by "exchanging information, scientific knowledge, and best practices, and by applying the relevant guidelines recommended by the World Health Organization.

Meanwhile, in Washington DC, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner sparked confusion this morning at a press conference about the federal response to the coronavirus outbreak in the US. Kushner made a spurious claim that the federal stockpile of protective gear and medical equipment is not for the use of the states. The definition of the federal stockpile, however, is to respond to public health emergencies - quote “When state, local, tribal, and territorial responders request federal assistance to support their response efforts, the stockpile ensures that the right medicines and supplies get to those who need them most during an emergency”. Kushner also made a claim, without evidence, that governors have misrepresented the need for medical equipment and gear in their states. The Trump administration has been slow to use the power of the federal government to boost production, instead forcing states to compete with each other – and with the federal government itself - to buy their own equipment.

In Oregon, the protective measures taken by Governor Kate Brown appear to be working in slowing the spread of the virus. The number of cases is expected to peak in late April without overwhelming the state’s healthcare facilities. But one population that is seeing a fast increase in the spread of the virus is healthcare workers, who are on the front lines of the fight against COVID19 while suffering from a shortage of the proper protective gear. The number of healthcare workers at major hospitals in Oregon and Southwest Washington who have contracted COVID-19 now stands at 57. That’s up from 31 just three days ago.

A coalition of climate organizations strongly criticized President Donald Trump's in-person meeting today with the chief executives of some of the biggest fossil fuel companies in the world.
The coalition says the industry that fueled climate disaster must not be allowed to profiteer from government giveaways by getting bailout funds or preferred treatment during the coronavirus pandemic.

The CEOs attending the White House meeting, scheduled for 3 pm today, have been dubbed by environmentalists as "the seven oily henchman of the climate apocalypse" and reportedly include ExxonMobil's Darren Woods, Chevron's Michael Wirth, and Energy Transfer's Kelcy Warren, as well as billionaire and fracking pioneer Harold Hamm.
This meeting comes just days after Donald Trump flaunted the rules laid out by Congress in the relief bill, saying that instead of Congressional oversight, he would oversee the five hundred billion dollar fund for businesses himself.

According to a Morning Consult poll released Thursday, just  38% of voters support a bailout for the oil and gas industry, while 54% back a renewables industry bailout.
The head of the Indigenous group Seeding Sovereignty responded to the meeting quote “While many are struggling to breathe, oil fat cats are looking for yet another handout for their businesses that pump pollution into our finally clearing air and lungs. “

 

Thursday April 2nd:

The State of Oregon Health Authority announced a nineteenth pandemic death in the State.  In the absence of widespread testing availability, 736 persons are confirmed to have the COVID-19 infection.  There are 99 confirmed infections and six deaths in Clark County, Washington. 762 ventilators are available in Oregon with an unknown number already in use.  In New York, there are 2,373 dead from coronavirus, up 432 from 1,941 on Wednesday.  New York now accounts for 49 percent of the 4,841 virus-related deaths in the United States. New York Governor Cuomo said today that a surge of one thousand cases appeared in Long Island overnight, and he estimates that there are only six days' worth of ventilator capacity remaining in that State.  According to the New York Times, Governor Cuomo also said 21,000 medical workers from outside the state had volunteered to work in New York hospitals, and 85,000 health care professionals have said they were ready to help.  Time magazine reports the death toll in New York has doubled in 72 hours.

Approximately ten million persons in the United States have applied for unemployment benefits in the last two weeks, breaking all previous records including those of the Great Depression.  The numbers do not include many workers who were forced to quit to take care of children out of school, nor independent contractors in the so-called 'gig economy,' nor people without sufficient work history for a claim.  Economists estimate that twenty million US workers will be without a job by July.  The multi-trillion-dollar economic relief bill enacted by Congress specifically excludes many workers, including for example sex workers, from receiving compensation checks, despite a $250 billion expansion of State unemployment insurance funds.  In a reversal of earlier stated policy, the Treasury department now says that it will not require seniors on Social Security who have not been filing tax returns to make any special efforts to receive the one-time $1,200 relief checks.  Denmark will pay 90 percent of wages to furloughed workers, Britain is paying 80%, and Canada is offering $2,000 dollar checks for each of the next four months.

Trump administration officials announced yesterday that the U.S. military would send naval ships and aircraft to the Caribbean Sea off Venezuela, claiming a sudden need for  an enhanced counternarcotics operation. President Trump said it was important not to let drug cartels “exploit the pandemic to threaten American lives.” The deployment takes place in the context of aggressive threats and sanctions versus Venezuela, including an extralegal indictment of Venezuelan President Maduro and the announcement of a fifteen-million-dollar bounty on his head.  Venezuela has the world's largest oil reserves and has insisted that a part of oil sales be retained by the Venezuelan people. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the Pentagon would deploy additional ships, aircraft and security forces to the area as part of the operation. Esper claimed QUOTE “At a time when the nation and the Department of Defense are focused on protecting the American people from the spread from the coronavirus, we also remain vigilant to the many other threats the country faces...Today, at the president’s direction, the Department of Defense, in close cooperation with our interagency partners, began enhanced counternarcotics operations in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea." UNQUOTE  Aircraft carriers, hovercraft assault vehicles, and thousands of soldiers have been deployed to the flotilla.

Trump-supporting fanatics have threatened Dr. Anthony Fauci to the point that his security detail has been enhanced.  The New York Times reports that right-wing online conspiracy theorists have targeted Fauci, the longtime national health official who has served under several Presidents.  The hashtag #Faucifraud has repeated the assertion by the blog American Thinker, that Fauci's recognition of Hillary Clinton for her anti-pandemic efforts more than a decade ago make him a threat to President Trump.

 

Wednesday April 1st:

In national news, the list of people who won't get $1,200 stimulus checks is growing. The Trump administration is now requiring additional steps for seniors and people with disabilities, while college students and high school seniors will be excluded altogether. Read about the new requirements and restrictions.

Two DHS officials told The Washington Post that the national stockpile of respirator masks, gloves and other medical supplies is nearly gone, despite assurances from the White House that there is availability.

Today is the first date the rent and mortgages are due during this pandemic in the US, and no one knows what to expect.  Online there is a growing rent strike movement growing, but as the Portland Mercury reports, refusing to pay rent (without the proper documentation required) can result in massive fines, an eviction and no legal recourse which can occur before the June 20th eviction moratorium ends.

Under moratorium rules you must get documentation of hardship including a note from an employer or, if you are an independent contractor, notices of cancellations from customers can do. Even if you do get a deferment your rent is still due six months after the county’s state of emergency ends.

COVID-19 has claimed one more life in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 19, the Oregon Health Authority reported at 8 a.m. today.

Oregon Health Authority also reported 47 new cases of COVID-19 as of 8 a.m. today. The new COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Benton (1), Clackamas (6), Deschutes (3), Douglas (1), Jackson (1), Lane (2), Lincoln (1), Marion (10), Multnomah (18), Washington (3), and Yamhill (1). One case previously reported in Hood River County was identified as a resident of another state; thus, today’s statewide case count is 736. Oregon Health Authority reports new cases once a day on its website: www.healthoregon.org/coronavirus.

Oregon’s nineteenth COVID-19 death is a 70-year-old woman in Multnomah County, who tested positive on March 27, 2020, and died on March 29, 2020 at her residence. She had underlying medical conditions.

Across the Columbia River, Clark County Washington the confirmed cases is up to 130 people with 6 confirmed deaths.

In other local coronavirus news, the Oregon Department of Corrections announced that an employee at the state penitentiary in Salam has tested positive for coronavirus.  The state agency did not disclose the person’s position or other key details, only stating that, “the person has not been at work for 13 days.”  Prisons have been major epicenters of the Cornavirus outbreak, Rikers Island in New York went from one confirmed case to nearly 200 in just a span of 12 days.

According to the Oregon Department of Corrections chief medical officer, Dr. Christopher DiGiulio, as of Monday all 9 inmates tested for the virus tested negative.  Three tests on prisoners are still pending.  Inmates waiting for test results will be isolated.

The state workers union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees in Oregon is worried about short staffing in the prisons, noting how corrections workers are already working mandatory overtime.

 

Tuesday March 31st:

New Jersey governor Phil Murphy held a press conference this afternoon, calling for people to stay at home, and giving shocking new data: 2196 cases, with a total of 267 dead, including 69 deaths overnight.  Murphy lamented the loss of first responders, and called them "blessed souls." In Oregon, 606 persons have tested positive for COVID-19 and 16 have died.  In Washington State, 4,896 are infected and 195 have died.  Nationwide, 140,904 have been identified with the disease, and 2,405 have died.  Worldwide, more than 809,000 have tested positive and nearly forty thousand have died.  

The rule of capitalism is being challenged across the US, as reports come in of defiance in the form of rent strikes, squatter communities, and worker walkouts. Portland has banned evictions for those who have lost their incomes, along with many other cities, including, according to the AP, New York, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Saint Louis.  White sheets are being hung in renters' windows to indicate support for a rent moratorium for the duration of the pandemic crisis.  The New York attorney general Letitia James said she is considering legal action against Amazon, after it fired one of its warehouse workers, who had organized a protest in Staten Island calling for greater protections against infection with coronavirus. 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, in his press conference today, said that the total of dead in New York is now 1,550, 332 more than yesterday. He said that the real battle against the virus had not yet arrived, and would not until the mathematically projected apex of infections and health crises had arrived.  He noted that even within New York State there is no single hospital authority, and said that he had to bring the various public and private systems under one authority, in order to deal with the crisis.  He compared the health care system to a chain, saying that a chain is broken no matter which link fails, and announced a system of pooling supplies for the greater good.  Coumo also stated that the State of New York was paying $2500 for each of the 30,000 ventilators it was trying to obtain, due to competition from the various States and the nation of Italy.  He said that the emergency was forcing change in the multi-billion-dollar health industry in New York.

Radio Farda's English Language Service says that Iran's military is "watchfully observing" US military moves as tensions increase in Iraq following numerous attacks on US-held bases.  The Kataeb Party of God, which has launched several rocket attacks on US bases, is the target of US military mobilization.  Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander Hossein Salami has warned the United States against "Hollywood Style" operations in Iraq, and a US Lieutenant General, Robert P. White, warned that a large campaign against the Iranian-linked militias would involve thousands of troops and could prove bloody and unproductive.  According to the website, "Some 5,000 U.S. troops have been training the Iraqi military at several Iraqi bases, however, the coronavirus outbreak has recently hindered their activity in Iraq. In the meantime, the Associated Press reported on March 29 that the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq withdrew on Sunday from the K1 military base in the country's north that nearly launched Washington into an open war with neighboring Iran."

The BBC reports the first death among the six million internally displaced persons living in and near Syria.  The multi-national war in Syria has resulted in apocalyptic conditions for refugees who are dying from lack of rest, food, and medical care.  A million persons have fled their homes in Idlib province as the various armed factions move in with devastating weaponry. Medicens Sans Fronteres, which after being deliberately bombed by the United States Air Force in Afghanistan no longer works with the US, says that many people are suffering in the rain without tents.
 

Monday March 30th:

Oregon was declared a federal disaster area Sunday, making more federal aid available for the state's COVID-19 response. Governor Kate Brown, however, said more help was needed, particularly for more personal protective equipment for medical personnel.

Total cases of COVID-19 in Oregon surpassed 500 this weekend, and the state recorded its 13th death in the outbreak. A 93-year-old man in Yamhill County was the 13th person in Oregon whose death was linked to COVID-19, according to the Oregon Health Authority. The man tested positive on March 18 and died Friday at Providence Newberg Medical Center At least 129 people have been hospitalized in Oregon.

Meanwhile, in his latest press conference, Trump insulted New York’s frontline medical workers, accusing them, without evidence, of stealing or hoarding protective gear. This, as the state struggles to keep up with the rapid increase in COVID19 cases in the city and state, and hospital staff have been forced to wear scarves and garbage bags because they have run out of protective gear.

He also announced that he will disregard provisions in the just-passed coronavirus relief bill that would provide crucial oversight of $500 billion in taxpayer money for business relief. Instead of Congressional oversight, as required by the bill, he said he would oversee the fund himself.

In Portland, Columbia Sportswear confirmed this weekend that CEO Tim Boyle would cut his pay to $10,000 a year and Columbia will continue paying its idled retail workers at their full salaries.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Trimet drivers have been calling in sick as they face a lack of protective gear and no clear instructions from Trimet management as to how to protect themselves while driving buses. Many other cities around the country are offering free transit – but Trimet has refused to do so, saying that the eighteen percent of their funding received from fares is too important to cut during this crisis. But Trimet is refusing to allow cash, instead requiring that bus passengers use their proprietary cards to pay for rides. Some bus drivers have told passengers they must board through the rear doors. But there is a lack of clarity from Trimet as a whole.

The state of Oregon has temporarily lifted the ban on self-service fueling at gas stations. But this caused confusion over the weekend, so the state has now clarified what this means. If an attendant is available, they will still fill the gas. But if a gas station is short staffed due to illness, childcare or other issues, then customers can fill their own gas. After the customer leaves, the staff on duty will sanitize the pump and handle before the next customer arrives. State officials say this will reduce the contact between attendants and customers, thus reducing their risk.

The coronavirus pandemic has causedan economic crisis for households across the nation. Now, with April 1st rent payments due in just two, the call for a temporarily cancellation of rent has surged. Portland is among the cities that have announced a freeze on evictions. But that freeze will not relieve people of having to pay the rent and mortgages. If they can’t pay now, the bills will just pile up. And the two trillion dollar stimulus package passed by Congress last week does little to support renters or homeowners with bills to pay but no money coming in. A one time check of $1200, which will likely arrive in late April or May, does little to address the ongoing economic impact being faced by renters and mortgage holders. That’s why a national movement for a rent and mortgage strike starting April first has begun, with Senator Bernie Sanders among the key supporters. The main call is actual rent and mortgage relief, not just a freeze, meaning that the missed payments will not accrue to be paid later.

In Italy, the rate of increase in new COVID19 infections is slowing, with just over four thousand new cases today, and 817 deaths. Eleven thousand five hundred ninety one people have died of the virus in Italy, and its hospitals are overloaded beyond capacity. Several days ago the US surpassed Italy with the highest number of cases of COVID19, with over a hundred thousand cases. Though the virus may have infected far more people than are known, because of the severe shortage of test kits in the US. This is due mainly to a faulty test produced the the CDC, and that agency’s refusal to allow tests other than their faulty one to be used.

Worldwide, there are nearly six hundred thirty five thousand confirmed cases of COVID19, and nearly thirty thousand people have died.

 

Thursday March 26th:

The US Senate has passed a $2.2 trillion bill to provide relief from the COVID-19 pandemic.  The bill provides seventeen billion dollars to Boeing corporation, and sets aside four hundred twenty five billion to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to distribute among corporations as he sees fit.  Senator Sanders successfully pressed for inclusion of a provision of funds to allow unemployment insurance for four additional months at one hundred percent of prior salaries for stricken workers.  7.5% of the funding from the bill will be allocated to the nation's hospitals. A one-time check of one thousand two hundred dollars will be distributed to all working US citizens and five hundred dollars will be allotted to families per child.  The bill goes to the House of Representatives tomorrow, where it is likely to pass.


New York hospitals are overwhelmed as the case load of COVID-19 sufferers grows exponentially.  Reports are coming out over Twitter of doctors weeping after being forced to deny respirator usage to dying patients.  New York Governor Cuomo has said QUOTE “The longer you are on a ventilator, the more probability of a bad outcome...We’ve had people on for a very long time and they haven’t gotten better, and they are passing away...Since we still have a large number of people on ventilators for a long period of time, the experts expect that number to continue to increase.” One hundred people in New York died yesterday, bringing the total to 385. 1,290 are in intensive care — up 45 percent from the 888 in intensive care yesterday, as doctors are increasingly putting two people on one ventilator. More than 200 U.S. Army soldiers are deploying in New York to aid in the medical crisis. The known number of infected persons across the world has exceeded half a million, and more than 23,000 have died.

In Oregon, ventilators are still available as the number of COVID cases increases.  There are 394 ICU beds, 608 ventilators and 2,028 non-ICU beds in the State according to Oregonlive.com. Seventy-five have been hospitalized in Oregon and ten are dead; 268 have tested positive and tests are still difficult to obtain.  The general shortage of personal protective equipment has extended to Oregon, and persons with substantial amounts of face masks are urged to donate them to hospitals now, as the Federal distribution remains about 75% short of needs.  

 

Indigenous people in Brazil are facing decimation from the COVID-19 virus, according to a top health researcher quoted by Radio Havana Cuba.
As COVID-19 spreads across Brazil, fears grow that indigenous communities will be disproportionately affected by respiratory diseases, which have traditionally been the leading cause of death among indigenous populations.  Noting that handwashing is impossible in some communities, Dr. Mendoca said indigenous families survive in very precarious economic situations and depend on social protection programs such as Bolsa Familia, which provides them with monetary income to buy some food in the cities. "After stocking up on hunting and fishing supplies, some will go out into the field and wait there until the threat subsides," she said.


Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for QUOTE “stronger international cooperation on all fronts” to fight the Covid-19 pandemic as well as urgent action to stop a global economic recession. Xi also said “At the most difficult moments for China, many members of the international community provided China with sincere help and support. We would remember and value this friendship forever." Xi was speaking in a videoconference with other Group of 20 leaders.

According to Frankfurter Allgeeine Zeitung, the German Institute for Disaster Medicine says the extremely difficult treatment situations that hospitals in Alsace are currently facing  could soon also challenge German clinics:  Covid 19 patients who are older than 80 years are no longer ventilated in Alsace. Instead, they receive end-of-life care and opiates. In France, in some clinics, ventilators are only available for patients under the age of 75. But in Germany, medical associations agreed on Wednesday that the age of patients should not be the decisive criterion, even if it should soon be a question of who is ventilated in clinics and who is not.

Wednesday March 25th:

The $2 trillion aid package passed by the Senate today includes hundreds of billions for corporate bailouts. Just 7.5% of the funding provided by the bill will go to hospitals and health care workers, who are on the front lines of this pandemic. Another 7.5% will go to state, local, and tribal governments to maintain health, education, and other services in the face of collapsing tax revenue.  Just 0.3% of the funding from the bill will go to affordable housing for the least well off in our society. The vast majority of the funding from this bill will go to wealthy corporations.

Nationwide in the United States, there are now nearly 60,000 confirmed new coronavirus cases. World-wide, cases surpassed 441,000 today according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Around the world more than 19,700 people have died. Spain today surpassed China’s death toll and the nation of India has instituted the most far-reaching national lockdown in the world. 

The White House coronavirus task force is asking everyone who has left New York City recently to self-isolate for 14 days. A task force official said 60 percent of all the new cases in the United States are centered in the New York City metro area.

At a press conference yesterday Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said unhoused Oregonians **will be included** in the city’s stay at home order, making them susceptible to fines or arrest at the discretion of Portland Police. Chief Jami Resch says the measures will be a last resort. A spokesman for Governor Kate Brown says she would QUOTE “discourage” police from punishing homeless people for violating the order, but she did not prohibit it. Other states with stay at home orders have exempted unhoused people from nonessential travel guidelines. At that same press conference yesterday law enforcement officials reported a 40 percent increase in emergency calls from suicidal people.

The Portland Mercury reports Multnomah County employees are pushing back against a county request to step up and take paid jobs staffing new shelters created to address the Covid-19 emergency. The county is calling on workers without any medical or public health background to fill the service gap. Officials say the shelters will not house people who have tested positive for COVID-19, but some will house people who are showing respiratory symptoms; the county workers “are not intended or expected to come into direct contact” with them. Multnomah County Auditor Jennifer McGuirk told the Mercury  “I do know we would want to see people working in the facilities already be trained, so they aren’t having to learn on the fly.” The Mercury reports organizers for American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union are negotiating terms, which are expected to be announced soon.

Around the country a movement is growing to release prisoners from overcrowded facilities to slow the coronavirus epidemic and save the lives of incarcerated people. Last week in Alabama, two county jail inmates slipped nooses over their heads and threatened to jump off a ledge if the prison continued to bring in ICE detainees with flu-like symptoms. The Washington Post reports the hours-long standoff ended when guards moved the new arrivals to a different unit of the jail. The situation was live streamed on Facebook.On Monday, a bipartisan group of 14 senators sent a letter to the US Justice Department asking that it make full use of its power to release elderly, terminally ill and low-risk inmates to home confinement. In Oregon, the Washington County Sheriff has made moves to release prisoners over Covid-19 fears. Almost 2.3 million people are currently incarcerated in the United States, according to the Prison Policy Initiative. 

And also in Oregon, a petition circulating on The Action Network is calling on Governor Kate Brown and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler to release immigrant children being held in Morrison Family Services centers placed there after President Donald Trump initiated massive separation of families at the southern border. The petition calls for releasing minors who have a sponsor identified; moving as quickly as possible to vet any potential sponsors; providing adequate funding and using their powers as an agency to make sure youth in facilities are getting access to medical care, treatment, and testing. It also demands funding all services that support the children’s safe and healthy reentry into the community.

 

Tuesday March 24th:

COVID-19 has claimed three more lives in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to eight, the Oregon Health Authority reported at 8 a.m. today.

Oregon Health Authority also reported 18 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state total to 209, as of 8 a.m. today. The COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Clackamas (3), Clatsop (1), Jackson (1), Marion (2), Multnomah (4), and Washington (7). Oregon Health Authority reports new cases once a day on its website: www.healthoregon.org/coronavirus

25,000 New Yorkers have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, and over 210 are dead there as Governor Cuomo likens the acceleration in cases to a bullet train. “The president said it’s a war,” Cuomo said in a press briefing, adding “Well then act like it’s a war!” The New York governor accused President Trump, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and the Federal Emergency Management Agency of largely leaving New York to fend for itself.
 
President Trump said in a Fox Town Hall broadcast yesterday that he would like to open the economy back up by Easter. He has offered no explanation for how that miraculous restoral would take place. In Oregon, coronavirus sufferers now account for one in twenty emergency room patients. There are thirty new cases of coronavirus in Oregon, bringing the total to 191, and eight are dead.
 

Congress continues to move towards a stimulus package acceptable to Republicans and Democrats. Negotiations had stalled over a Republican proposal to reserve half a trillion dollars to be given to favored industries without substantial oversight. Democratic lawmakers had characterized the money as "a slush fund" and warned that Donald Trump was far too corrupt to be hemmed in by a mere Inspector General report provision and a toothless Oversight Board. Stephen Mnuchin, the Treasury Secretary, said this morning “We’re looking forward to closing a bipartisan deal today,”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi also said there was “real optimism that we could get something done in the next few hours." Negotiations are ongoing at this hour, including revised provisions that would provide a check of $1,200 to all working Americans, and a massive giveaway to defense contractors like Boeing Incorporated. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said that the Democrats’ two main issues, workers first and a ‘Marshall Plan’ for hospitals, are very strongly in the bill.”According to WSWS.org, "The last time this was done, in the response to the 2008 crash, the outcome was a bonanza for the superrich and affluent holders of financial assets. The wealth of the 400 richest people in America soared from $1.27 trillion in 2009 to $2.96 trillion in 2019.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos had a net worth of $6.8 billion in 2009, and by 2018 it was $160 billion. Warren Buffett had a net worth of $37 billion in 2009, which grew to $90 billion last year. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was worth just $2 billion in 2009, but he saw his wealth grow 40-fold, hitting $85 billion in 2019. And Tesla CEO Elon Musk has had his wealth rise even faster, doubling from $20 billion in May of 2019 to $45 billion earlier this year. In 2019, US companies spent $798 billion buying back their own stock, a figure exceeding even what was spent before the 2008 financial crisis."

The economy continues to stagger from the shutdowns and quarantines necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Unemployment claims broke an all-time record last week, according to Common Dreams, which writes "An estimated 3.4 million Americans filed such claims for the week ending March 21, according to the findings from the Economic Policy Institute."

 

Monday March 23rd:

This morning, Oregon Governor Kate Brown issued a 'stay at home' order directing most people in the state to stay home except for getting groceries, going to work or handling important activities that cannot wait. It's unclear how this order differs from California Governor Gavin Newsom's 'shelter in place' order for parts of the state.

Medical experts have called for coordination in each nation to provide accurate information and instructions to people to slow the spread of the virus. But misinformation is rampant in the US, exacerbated by confusing and contradictory statements by Trump at press conferences and on Twitter.

In the US, confirmed cases of COVID19 have doubled in the past two days - the total is now 42,076, with 178 recovered and 570 deceased.

The uptick in cases is likely a result of increased testing, although the available tests are still far fewer than what is needed. New York has now surpassed Washington in the number of cases, with 5200 confirmed cases. Washington has less than 2,000.

In Congress, Democrats have called out a provision in the proposed one point three trillion dollar COVID19 stimulus package which they say Republican lawmakers snuck in to the bill in order to threaten the funding of social security. The bill also includes what Democratic lawmakers call a five hundred billion dollar slush fund for corporations, without the needed protections and support for working people.

Bernie Sanders has proposed a series of measures, including two thousand dollars a month for every American for the duration of the crisis, free Medicare for anyone who needs medical attention for any reason during this crisis but is lacking insurance, and an expansion of food stamps and other programs for families in need. The Sanders proposal is not included in the Republican proposed stimulus package.

Corporate lobbyists have demanded bailouts for their top executives and shareholders – but not for workers. The airline industry is asking for $50 billion, the private space industry is asking for $5 billion, the hotel industry wants $150 billion, the National Association of Manufacturers wants $1.4 trillion, the International Council of Shopping Centers wants a guarantee of up to $1 trillion.

 

Sunday March 22nd:

Oregon Test Results as of 3/22/2020, 8:00 a.m. Updated daily.
Positive 161
Negative 2,864
Total Completed Tests (cumulative since January 24, 2020) 3,025

 

Saturday March 21st update:

The Centers for Disease Control issued a report about the current therapies that are being tested to treat COVID-19. The medicines that are currently being tried are remdesevir, chloraquine and hydroxachloroquine - it is not yet known whether these drugs are effective at treating the virus, but human clinical trials are underway to determine their effectiveness.

 

Friday March 20th update:

Oregon Health Authority reported 26 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state total to 114, as of 8:30 a.m. today, March 20. The COVID-19 cases are in the following counties: Clackamas (4), Deschutes (2), Grant (1), Linn (1), Marion (4), Multnomah (5), Union (1), Washington (6), Yamhill (2). Oregon Health Authority reports new cases once a day on its website: www.healthoregon.org/coronavirus.

Oregon Gov Kate Brown has made a public appeal for veterinarians, dentists and construction companies to donate medical equipment including masks, gloves and gowns to QUOTE frontline responders. But she stands firm against a statewide shelter in place order.

Meanwhile Portland Metro officials are opening up the Portland Convention Center as a temporary shelter for unhoused people during the Covid-19 crisis.

Nationally, deaths from the coronavirus have more than quadrupled in the U.S. over the past week to 205, while confirmed infections grew from around 1,700 one week ago to  14,250 current reported cases nationwide. The majority of U.S. cases are in three states: New York, Washington and California.

Health officials report the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in New York City more than doubled as of yesterday to 3,954 reported confirmed cases as the Wall Street Journal says a blitz of testing began to reveal the true spread of the disease around the state. The announcement came as New York tested more than 8,000 people overnight and tightened restrictions to reduce density throughout the state, which is now testing up to 7,500 people a day, with more than 22,000 people tested. New York Gov Anthony Cuomo has requested all nonessential workers to stay home until further notice, as has California Governor Gavin Newsom.

The Neiman Lab media thinktank reports that alternative newsweeklies from coast to coast are suspending print operations and laying off staff in the wake of the virus. Starting with the Stranger newspaper in Seattle two weeks ago, alternative newsweeklies have started asking for donations after widescale shutdowns of live entertainment venues, bars and shopping spots. DigBoston editor Chris Farone calls COVID-19 “a nearly perfect weapon against alternative weeklies.” 

Closer to home the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission yesterday approved The Jordan Cove natural gas pipeline and marine export terminal project  in a 2-1 vote, but Governor Kate Brown threatened to go to court to stop it, if it doesn’t obtain every permit required from state and local agencies. Jordan Cove has already been denied one state permit. If approved it would be the first LNG export terminal on the West Coast in the lower 48 states.

The Associated Press reports Oregon’s primary elections will proceed as scheduled on May 19, though election officials say results may be slower to come in because of the coronavirus pandemic. Several states, including Ohio, Kentucky and Georgia, had recently announced they were moving their primary elections back because of concerns over the virus.

And the Oregonian reports that Rebekah Brewis was sentenced yesterday to nearly two years in prison after stealing over $10,000 in donations from the Portland Women’s March in 2017. She was sentenced after pleading guilty to one count of first degree aggravated theft. Brewis was an organizer of the original Portland Women’s March, which drew an estimated 100,000 people to downtown Portland to protest the inauguration of President Donald Trump three years ago.

 

Thursday March 19th update:

The Oregon Health Authority, together with the Oregon Military Department, is assembling the Oregon Medical Station (OMS) beginning Friday, March 20, at the Salem Fairgrounds.

Yesterday, for the first time since the pandemic surfaced, Chinese Health officials reported no new domestic coronavirus infections. A reported total of 3,130 have so far died in China from Covid-19. Italy’s death toll is about to surpass China, where the outbreak began. The Washington POst reports that Italy’s death rate is increasing by about 20% every day. As of yesterday, 2,978 people have died in Italy, where shelter in place orders are being expanded.

COVID-19 has claimed two more lives in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to three, the Oregon Health Authority reported last night. The cases are a 60-year-old woman in Lane County, who died at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at Riverbend, and a 71-year-old man in Washington County who died at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center. The Lane County resident tested positive for the virus March 17, while the Washington County resident received a positive result on March 16. Both had underlying medical conditions.

The Oregonian reports today that the Linn County veterans home at the epicenter of Oregon’s Covid-19 outbreak is in lockdown and caregivers were still being tested as of Tuesday. At least 15 cases have been linked to that one facility. In another part of Linn County, a healthcare provider has tested positive for the coronavirus.

A total of 75 people in Oregon have been confirmed to have COVID-19. That includes 10 new cases that were confirmed statewide last night, out of Benton, Lane, Marion, Washington, and Yamhill counties.

In Clark County Washington, public health officials report three of the county's four confirmed COVID-19 patients died this week. The patients lived at two separate long-term care facilities. The Columbian reports that no other residents at either of those long-term care facilities have shown symptoms of COVID-19 or been tested for it.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and his staff say they are considering a shelter-in-place order to help slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus, prohibiting people from leaving their homes for what they describe as non-essential reasons. The Oregonian reports there’s no timeline for a decision.

Meanwhile in Washington State, the Health Authority reports 1,187 confirmed cases and 66 deaths. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said yesterday that he does not support a shelter in place order at this time. Inslee shuttered bars and restaurants on Monday.

Professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington, Judith Malmgren told the Seattle Times that a shelter-in-place order for King County should be implemented immediately.

The paper reports today that in King County, nearly 10% of confirmed cases have resulted in death. QUOTE Even if you remove the deaths attributed to the Life Care Center in Kirkland, the death rate among confirmed cases is still 3.7%.

“The case fatality rate is going up, not going down. That could be temporary, but it’s still so much higher than it should be. Not taking measures now and waiting for more information is just foolish,” Malmgren says.

Also today, the US Department of Labor reported one of the largest one-week spikes in unemployment in history: About 281,000 people filed first-time claims for unemployment insurance, up by 33 percent from 211,000 the week before.

 

Wednesday March 18th update:

We have compiled a resource list with links for families, musicians, houseless - anyone who needs support locally during this crisis

Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced the extension of the school closure until April 30th

Information on free school lunch pickups for all kids under 18 in the Portland area

National news: Trump has invoked the 'Defense Production Act' to increase production of masks, respirators and other critical supplies.

The COVID19 coronavirus has spread to over 140 countries and has killed over 7,900 people globally as of Tuesday evening. The US has reported over 6,400 cases, including 111 deaths across 50 states and territories.

 

Tuesday March 17th update:

Latest from the Head of the Oregon Health Authority:

Here’s what we know: Our current projections tell us that, if left unchecked, approximately 75,000 Oregonians could catch COVID-19 by mid-May. Without intervention, those numbers would rapidly continue to expand. No one is immune. There is no vaccine available to stop the virus. There is no treatment.

Most people who contract coronavirus (about 8 in 10) will experience mild symptoms, but during that time you could pass the virus on to others. Yet, Oregon’s hospitals do not have the capacity to treat the remaining 20 percent of patients who may need acute care if people all get sick at once.

The expanded ‘social distancing’ measures Governor Brown ordered today are designed to slow the spread of COVID-19 and blunt the looming spike in new cases. This is often called “flattening” the epidemiological curve – i.e., spread the number of cases out over time to protect hospital so they can serve the patients who need them.

Oregon’s health care providers and public health officials have prepared for a pandemic. We have a plan. More than a decade ago hospitals and state health officials designed a blueprint to avert exactly the kind of potential catastrophe we are facing with COVID-19. That plan will help health care providers across Oregon:

  •     Manage a surge in demand for medical care and quickly and dramatically expand capacity to treat more patients.
  •     Maintain critical functions.
  •     Locate and secure alternate sites to deliver medical care.
  •     Secure needed medical supplies, like protective equipment for health care workers.

On Tuesday, the Oregon Health Authority reported 18 new cases Tuesday in five different counties. This brings the Oregon total to 65 cases.

Four of the presumptive cases were confirmed Monday night in connection with the Oregon Veterans’ Home in Lebanon. There are now 13 cases at that facility.

The new cases reported Tuesday are as follows: 4 in Clackamas, 5 in Linn, 1 in Marion, 1 in Multnomah and 7 in Washington County.

The breakdown of COVID-19 cases in Oregon is as follows:

    Benton County: 2
    Clackamas County: 6
    Deschutes County: 6
    Douglas County: 1
    Jackson County: 2
    Klamath County: 1
    Linn County: 15
    Marion County: 4
    Multnomah County: 3
    Polk County: 1
    Umatilla County: 2
    Washington County: 21
    Yamhill County: 1

 

3/16

7 pm: Governor Kate Brown today announced new measures to flatten the curve of coronavirus transmission in Oregon. The new orders on social distancing measures are effective tomorrow, March 17, for at least four weeks, and they include:

  • A statewide cancelation of all events and gatherings larger than 25 people — exempting essential locations like workplaces, grocery stores, pharmacies, and retail stores. It's additionally recommended that Oregonians avoid gatherings of 10 people or more.
  • Restaurants, bars, and other establishments may not offer food or beverages for on-site consumption; they are restricted to carry-out and delivery only.
  • Food service at health care facilities, workplaces, and other essential facilities will continue.
  • All other businesses are urged to assess their practices, implement strong social distancing measures, and close their doors temporarily if they cannot put the new guidance in place.

The Governor has also established a Coronavirus Economic Advisory Council to examine ways to mitigate the impacts of new social distancing measures and anything else that adversely affects Oregon's economy.

12 pm:
Oregon's governor Kate Brown had a press call this morning expressing condolences for the family of Oregon's first fatality from the COVID19 novel coronavirus. She encouraged people to engage in voluntary social distancing, but did not announce any mandatory measures beyond keeping schools closed until March 31st. She is expected to make another announcement at 2 pm today, so we will keep you updated.


The first Oregon fatality was on Saturday - a 70-year old man, a resident of Multnomah County who had underlying medical condition. He had been hospitalized at the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He was not connected to the cases at the Oregon Veterans’ Home in Lebanon.


The Oregonian is reporting that a shortage of gowns at the Oregon Veterans Home in Lebanon has been averted - for now. By 1 p.m. on Saturday March 14th, Linn County Commissioner Will Tucker managed to get 200 extra gowns from the Lebanon Fire Department and Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital.

That averted the immediate crisis, during which the Veterans Home was running out of gowns and masks, and County Commissioners were not getting a response from state health officials. Following calls from Oregonian reporters, the Oregon Health Authority said that it will ship a thousand gowns to the Oregon Veterans Home on Sunday morning. But that followed a frustrating lack of communication between county and state officials in which conflicting information left county officials scrambling.

The New York Times is reporting that officials in King County Washington, which includes Seattle, announced the acquisition of a motel to use as an isolation area. They also purchased a “fully self-contained tent, with flooring and heat” to hold more people with the illness. By Saturday night, there had been more than 380 cases identified in that county alone, including more than 30 deaths.

Today, an emergency room doctor at EvergreenHealth in Kirkland is reported to be in critical condition with COVID-19.

The hospital at the center of the coronavirus outbreak in King County confirmed that the doctor was ill Sunday afternoon - the first front-line medic in the state to have contracted the virus.

There are now 4,072 COVID19 cases reported, affecting 49 of the 50 US states, according to the New York Times. Only West Virginia has no cases reporting.

Worldwide, one hundred seventy nine thousand cases have been confirmed, of which nearly eighty thousand have recovered. Seven thousand have died of the illness.

A bill passed Friday by the US House of Representatives aims to address some of the critical issues in the US. The bill will provide enhanced unemployment benefits, free virus testing, and additional funds for food assistance and Medicaid.

 

3/15 updates:

Regional:

In consideration of staffing challenges and health concerns due to the public health threat of coronavirus, Governor Kate Brown on Friday announced a statewide closure of Oregon K-12 schools from Monday, March 16 through Tuesday, March 31.

On Saturday March 14th, Oregon reported its first fatality from the COVID19 novel coronavirus, according to the Oregon Health Authority. A 70-year old man, a resident of Multnomah County who had underlying medical conditions, became the first person in Oregon to die from COVID-19. He had been hospitalized at the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The individual is not connected to the cases at the Oregon Veterans’ Home in Lebanon.

Locally, the Oregonian is reporting that a shortage of gowns at the Oregon Veterans Home in Lebanon has been averted - for now. By 1 p.m. on Saturday March 14th, Linn County Commissioner Will Tucker managed to get 200 extra gowns from the Lebanon Fire Department and Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital.

That averted the immediate crisis, during which the Veterans Home was running out of gowns and masks, and County Commissioners were not getting a response from state health officials. Following calls from Oregonian reporters, the Oregon Health Authority said that it will ship a thousand gowns to the Oregon Veterans Home on Sunday morning. But that followed a frustrating lack of communication between county and state officials in which conflicting information left county officials scrambling.

The New York Times is reporting that officials in King County Washington, which includes Seattle, announced the acquisition of a motel to use as an isolation area. They also purchased a “fully self-contained tent, with flooring and heat” to hold more people with the illness. By Saturday night, there had been more than 380 cases identified in that county alone, including more than 30 deaths.

Information about known cases in Oregon:

2/28 Cases 1&2 - Washington County: An employee at Forest Hills Elementary in Lake Oswego was the first person in the state diagnosed with the virus - that person’s spouse also tested positive.

2/29 - Case 3 - Umatilla County: On Saturday, February 29th, a person attended a youth basketball tournament at Weston Middle School in Weston, Oregon. This was not a school event, it was community use of the gym.

One spectator who attended the tournament has tested positive for COVID-19. School officials say that the risk for anyone who attended this event remains low. Based on what is currently believed to be the incubation period of the virus, if you attended the basketball tournament on February 29th and have not presented symptoms as of March 15th, it is not likely that you have the virus. If you do have symptoms, call your primary care doctor and ask for a COVID19 test.

3/1 - Case 4 - Umatilla County: The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation confirmed that the person is a staff member at the Wildhorse Resort & Casino in Pendleton.
 

What to do - flatten the curve:

Flattenthecurve.com says Americans should Assume that the virus is already in your city / town / workplace / church / etc. It almost certainly is “here” and is simply not yet detected due to the shortage of tests. Moreover, there are 6 states that still don’t have a single lab ready to carry out the test even if they had one in their hands. 

Estimates from Italy are that in the early outbreak, the number of actual infections was four times the number of cases than it was possible to confirm at the time. Cryptic transmission in the community was happening for weeks before it was detected in Seattle. Seattle and Stanford are doing an amazing job of getting up to speed with their own testing kits; about 5-7% of tests in Seattle are positive and anyone (with a doctor’s indication) can be tested.

Nationwide, local and state health departments have lost nearly a quarter of their work force since 2008, according to the National Association of County and City Health Officials. As the nation’s local and state public health officials confront a pandemic that has paralyzed much of the world, many of them have made their situation plain: They are heading into a crisis without the resources they need.

In the US, our health care capacity is under 1 million staffed beds; this is not adequate to accommodate the number of hospitalizations we are expected to see -- which is likely to be 4 to 8 million, according to Bloomberg News.

Flattening the curve slows the rate at which new cases arrive in hospitals, easing the burden on health care infrastructure and improving the odds that individual patients will survive. Social distancing and choosing to stay home right now will play a huge role in ensuring the epidemic spreads slower and with less impact. More information about this can be found on flatten the curve dot com.

The Washington Post has also created powerful visualizations showing the spread of the virus with no action, with quarantining of certain areas, and with social distancing - showing how important social distancing is right now, in the early stage of the pandemic in this country and state.

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theresa58x's picture

This, and the excellent news broadcasts, and the public affairs, are exactly what we need to be doing as a community Media Hub at this critical time. Thank you all!