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Trump declares major disaster in Oregon over the coronavirus

Federal aid for recovery

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President Donald Trump has approved a major disaster declaration in Oregon over the coronavirus.

The declaration could help speed federal aid to the state.

Clatsop State Forest

President Donald Trump declared a major disaster in Oregon over the coronavirus.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said Sunday that federal money is available to the state, tribes, local governments and some nonprofits for emergency protective measures on a cost-sharing basis where the federal government covers 75%.

Emergency protective measures are defined by FEMA as steps taken before, during and immediately after a disaster to save lives, protect public health and safety and protect improved public and private property.

Washington and California are among the states previously approved for disaster declarations. The declaration in Oregon was back-dated to Jan. 20.

Gov. Kate Brown called the declaration “an important first step towards unlocking all available federal resources,” but said Oregon needs more from the federal government, including medical supplies.

“This is far from everything Oregon needs from the federal government to actively and effectively combat this crisis,” the governor said in a statement. “We have a number of significant requests pending with the federal government, first and foremost Oregon’s request for more personal protective equipment from the national stockpile.

“In addition, a significant part of our disaster declaration request was for individual assistance for all Oregon counties and tribes — including child care assistance, crisis counseling, disaster case management, disaster legal services and disaster unemployment assistance for Oregonians.

“That request is still also pending, and would provide significant relief to Oregon families if approved.”

Trump on Sunday announced he will extend the federal government’s voluntary 15-day social distancing guidelines, which were set to expire Monday, until the end of April.

The governors of Oregon, Washington, California and other states have issued separate stay-at-home orders to help contain the spread of the virus.

The president had said last week he wanted to reopen the nation’s economy by Easter. “I want our life back again,” Trump said at a White House briefing of the coronavirus task force.

The coronavirus has resulted in widespread unemployment as many businesses close to comply with social distancing restrictions. During the week of March 15, the Oregon Employment Department received more than 76,500 initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits.

Clatsop County, which has averaged between 30 and 50 unemployment claims a week throughout the year, jumped to 340 between March 14 and March 21.

The Oregon Health Authority reported 606 cases and 16 deaths from the coronavirus statewide as of Monday morning.

The health authority tracked 102 test results in Clatsop County as of Monday, including three positive cases.

The Clatsop County Public Health Department on Monday released narrower age ranges for the three positive cases.

The first reported case was a woman between 30 and 40 years old who lives in the northern part of the county.

The second case was a man between 40 and 50 years old who lives in the southern part of the county.

The third case was a man between 30 and 40 years old who lives in the southern part of the county and was a contact of the man in the second case.

The county had previously used broader age ranges — 35 to 54 years old — citing privacy concerns.

The Astorian filed a request for the information under the Oregon public records law, arguing that the county should disclose the age distribution of local cases consistent with the updated statewide disclosures by the Oregon Health Authority.

The health authority, after direction from Gov. Brown last week, is releasing daily situational status reports with demographic information on COVID-19 cases in Oregon, including narrower age ranges.

Edward Stratton contributed to this report.

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(1) comment

MJ Merrill

This is good news but there is a flag I'd like to plant right now for future reference: Jan 20, 2020 was the day that both the U.S. and South Korea announced their first confirmed case of COVID-19 and the two countries handled the situation VERY differently. I don't want future readers to think that this disaster declaration or funding started on Jan. 20, 2020, or for that date to be used as propaganda, because that was more than two months ago.

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