News update for 5/8/20

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Sat, 05/09/2020 - 4:00pm

Gov. Kate Brown yesterday outlined a phased plan to reopen the state starting with rural areas that have seen few cases of Covid-19.

On May 15, Brown will loosen restrictions statewide on day cares and on retail shops that were previously closed.

Counties that have very small numbers of coronavirus cases and that have seen declining infection numbers can also apply to reopen beauty salons, gyms, bars and restaurants for sit-down dining. 

Those areas can submit their plans to the state for approval starting today and must have a system in place for contact tracing for infected people and have facilities in place for unhoused residents to follow quarantine orders.

Rural counties in eastern Oregon may be ready to meet the criteria, but Brown’s staff says Marion County and the Portland metropolitan region are still weeks away. The emergency executive order remains in place until July 6. 

Brown says that any loosening of restrictions could be rolled back if infection rates surge. Oregon hit a record low this past week with fewer than 100 hospitalizations from the virus statewide.

 

Portland police are investigating neighbors of the Hillsdale Community Church, United Church of Christ. Homophobic slurs were painted on the the building last Sunday. The Oregonian reported this week that in a second incident a brick was thrown through a window, with more homophobic slurs attached to it.

The church has flown a rainbow flag outside for years and similar vandalism has happened before.

Portland Police says they are investigating the case as a possible bias crime. 

 

Portland Public School teachers this week approved a plan to furlough all staff for one day a week through July, to save money during the pandemic . The District will then use money from unemployment compensation funds and the federal bailout to backfill their pay.

The district has gotten approval from the Oregon Employment Department, as well as labor unions for other school staff, including custodians and bus drivers.

Under the plan the district will save 20% on employee pay that can be used next year to fund teaching positions and instructional days, according to the Portland Association of Teachers. 

Oregon’s schools are funded in part through personal income tax revenue. Since Gov. Brown’s stay-at-home order, district officials are planning for a $60 million dollar shortfall next school year.

 

The Associated Press reports today that Nationally, the U.S. unemployment rate hit 14.7% in April, the highest rate since the Great Depression, as 20.5 million jobs vanished in the worst monthly loss on record. 

The losses reported by the Labor Department today, reflect business shutdowns in nearly every industry. Officials say almost all the job growth achieved during the 11-year recovery from the Great Recession has now been lost in one month.

 

Last night, a father and son in Georgia were charged with murder and aggravated assault in the fatal shooting of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery .

More than two months after Gregory and Travis McMichael shot the unarmed jogger in the street,  a newly released video emerged this week that appears to show the killing. 

The video prompted the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to take up the case, and they made the arrests the next day.

Former vice president Joe Biden compared the killing to a lynching and Georgia’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp says it’s “absolutely horrific.”

 

And finally, the Los Angeles Times reports Guns n Roses frontman Axl Rose has stepped up his Twitter feud with the Trump Administration over their mishandling of the Covid pandemic. 

Wednesday night Rose tweeted an obscenity at US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, to which Mnuchin replied: “What have you done for the country lately?” Mnuchin’s tweet accidentally included a red white and blue Liberian flag emoji which he mistook for the US Flag. It was deleted within minutes -- but not soon enough.

Rose responded:

“My bad I didn’t get we’re hoping 2 emulate Liberia’s economic model, but on the real unlike this admin I’m not responsible for 70k+ deaths n’ unlike u I don’t hold a fed gov position of responsibility 2 the American people n’ go on TV tellin them 2 travel the US during a pandemic.”

Rose was talking about Mnuchin’s recent interview with the Fox Business Network, in which he said QUOTE “This is a great time for people to explore America.” 

The Times reports that on Tuesday, a video went viral showing President Trump visiting a mask factory — wearing no mask — as Guns N’ Roses’ cover of “Live and Let Die” played in the background.

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