THE LATEST: Headlines from around Oregon, the NW on the outbreak

Downtown streets were unusually empty in the afternoon on Tuesday, March 17. (Saphara Harrell/Salem Reporter)

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This digest provides all-in-one-place access to reporting on the novel coronavirus outbreak. A statewide media collaboration is sharing coverage among Oregon’s newspapers and broadcast outlets. Salem Reporter is part of that collaboration.

Question? If you have questions about the outbreak, the disease or other related matters, email [email protected]

As school closure extends to six weeks, Salem-Keizer grapples with instruction, meals, graduation

Keeping kids fed and making sure the Class of 2020 can still graduate are top priorities for state and local education leaders. Many questions about the school year remain unanswered.

Legislative panel tasked with coronavirus response presented with a bleak overview of the outbreak and possible responses

A special committee formed to establish the groundwork for an upcoming special session dedicated to the pandemic had its first hearing Wednesday. Some ideas to help businesses and workers have emerged. But the questions remain on how to pay for it all.

Temporary hospital to be installed on state fairgrounds in Salem, governor says

State officials bracing for a significant increase in patients needing hospitalization for the novel coronavirus plan to erect a 250-bed hospital at the Oregon State Fair and Exposition Center. Gov. Kate Brown said this was part of a plan to add 1,000 beds to Oregon’s current capacity.


THE OREGONIAN/OREGONLIVE: Oregon jobless claims surge 3,200% amid coronavirus outbreak

New unemployment claims in Oregon jumped by nearly 3,200% Tuesday amid wholesale layoffs triggered by the coronavirus outbreak. An Oregon business leader predicted the state’s unemployment rate could rise as high as 20% in the coming months as the economic catastrophe deepens, a rate that implies nearly 500,000 people would be looking for work. State economists say a recession is all but certain.

THE OREGONIAN/OREGONLIVE: Portland considering shelter-in-place order in response to coronavirus

Portland officials are considering a shelter-in-place order to help stem the spread of coronavirus, the mayor’s office said. The order would prohibit people from leaving their homes for non-essential reasons. It remained unclear Wednesday if or when such an order would be issued. Sonia Schmanski, a deputy chief of staff for the mayor, said the city was “planning for multiple contingencies.”

OPB: Some Grocery Stores Offering Shopping Hours For ‘Vulnerable’ Groups

Although Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced a ban on gatherings of more than 25 people Monday in attempts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, businesses like grocery stores and retail outlets are exempt from that rule.

OPB: Oregon Governor Orders Colleges To Move Online, Keeps Dorms Open

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has ordered all public colleges and universities to move to online learning through April 28. In a late-night executive order, Brown prohibited in-class interactions but allowed schools to keep open “critical functions,” such as dining services and dormitories.

PORTLAND TRIBUNE: State will relax rules for daycare centers to meet growing demand

The state says it is relaxing some processes and expediting others, in an effort to expand childcare centers to meet demand throughout the state. New guidelines released Wednesday, March 18, by the Oregon Department of Education’s Early Learning Division, the agency responsible for granting licenses to childcare centers, will clamp down on certain operations at daycare centers, while expediting the ability for others to get cleared to work as childcare providers.

STATESMAN JOURNAL: Oregon state parks open for now, but whale watching center, Oregon Dunes campgrounds, closed by coronavirus

Oregon’s system of state parks and campgrounds will remain open despite fears of the coronavirus pandemic, officials said Monday. However, the Whale Watching Center in Depoe Bay and more than 10 other buildings have been closed as part of the effort to halt the spread of COVID-19. 

BEND BULLETIN: 7 Central Oregon deputies in Salem training may have been exposed to COVID-19

Seven Central Oregon law enforcement deputies attending the state police academy in Salem were sent home after a fellow recruit exhibited signs of COVID-19. Local agencies say the deputies are being monitored and have not exhibited symptoms of the fast-spreading and potentially fatal virus.

BEND BULLETIN: Rodeo riders affected by pandemic

Rodeo riders are facing a dilemma similar to that of many workers all around the country right now. Businesses have closed, events have been canceled, and they find themselves without a job as the coronavirus pandemic overwhelms the nation.

KGW: ‘We can be there for them’: North Portland neighbors meet, socialize at a distance

PORTLAND – A North Portland neighborhood decided to start meeting regularly right outside their homes. They wanted to lift each other’s spirits and make sure everyone was doing okay from a safe social distance amidst fears over the coronavirus. Margaret Seiler thought of the idea she dubbed “Outside at 5.” Prescribed social distancing to avoid spreading the coronavirus meant Seiler had been from home along with most of her neighbors. Her desire for fresh air and connection sparked the idea.

KOBI: Rogue Valley company furloughs two-thirds of staff 

ASHLAND – Coronavirus impacts are hitting near and far with family-owned companies like Neuman Hotel Group cutting two-thirds of its staff, about more than 200 people. “We chose to furlough our employees, you know, keeping them as employees but they’re currently not working and we’re encouraging them to use their vacation and sick time until we know more about that,” said Chief Operating Officer for Neuman Hotel Group, Don Anway.

SEATTLE TIMES: Coronavirus spread in a Kirkland nursing home for weeks, while response stalled

From her room inside the nursing home, Judy Shape has heard the coughs of other residents with the novel coronavirus illness down the hall and watched the ambulances come and go for weeks. Shape, 81, had moved into Kirkland’s Life Care Center on Feb. 26 for short-term care following time in the hospital for blood-clot surgery. It was terrible timing: that same day, Life Care said it notified state officials of an outbreak of severe respiratory illness, which staff had noticed was spreading for weeks.

These articles originally published by one of more than a dozen news organizations throughout the state sharing their coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak to help inform Oregonians about this evolving heath issue. Salem Reporrter is part of this extraordinary collaboration. Reports from the Seattle Times are by special permission to Salem Reporter.