The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly disrupted the American way of life more than any other event in recent history. Under Governor Kate Brown’s executive orders, Oregonians have been subject to a series of escalating restrictions from banning group gatherings, to school and business closures, and finally, an order requiring everyone stay at home except for specific essential activities.
The difficulties posed by the pandemic, as well as the government’s response to it, cannot be understated. Across the United States, millions of workers have filed for unemployment after being laid off, and hundreds of thousands more have been furloughed. Those who still have their jobs and are fortunate enough to work from home face another set of challenges. And essential workers who still must go into work face the obvious safety concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. In short, no one has it easy right now.
At Gearing, Rackner & McGrath, LLP, we want to help you and your family through the uncertainties and challenges you are facing. Along those lines, we have assembled a list of COVID-19 resources for Oregonians who are doing their best to deal with the pandemic but need a little help.
What Is COVID-19?
COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus, is an infectious disease that is spread through the air. Primarily, the disease is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. COVID-19 can also spread when someone touches an infected surface and then touches their eyes, nose or mouth.
What Are the Symptoms of COVID-19
Symptoms of the disease are similar to the flu, and include a dry cough, low-grade fever and difficulty breathing. However, many people who are infected with the virus (and therefore capable of spreading it) will have minimal symptoms or no symptoms at all.
Who Is Most at Risk
Most people who contract the novel coronavirus will recover. However, many will need to be hospitalized. The disease presents an increased risk for those over 60 years of age as well as individuals with certain pre-existing health conditions, most notably:
- Serious heart conditions
- Chronic lung conditions
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
Those who are immunocompromised – such as due to other conditions or medications – are also at a greater risk of suffering severe illness or death if they become infected.
How to Stay Safe?
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that, to combat the spread of the disease, everyone should:
- Stay at home and self-isolate if they are feeling unwell;
- Cover their nose and mouth with a disposable tissue or mask, especially when out in public;
- Wash their hands regularly for at least 20 seconds with liquid soap and water; and
- Follow social distancing protocol by avoiding close contact (at least six feet away) with other people whenever possible.
Where Can I Read Governor Brown’s Executive Order?
The Oregon government maintains a list of all the Governor’s executive orders, here. The first order relating to the COVID-19 pandemic is Executive Order 20-03. Perhaps the most relevant orders are:
- Executive Order 20-05 – Prohibiting large gatherings of people
- Executive Order 20-07 – Restricting restaurants to take-out and delivery only
- Executive Order 20-08 – Pertaining to school closures across the state
- Executive Order 20-10 – Related to the preservation of Personal Protective Equipment for healthcare workers
- Executive Order 20-11 – Temporary moratorium on residential evictions
- Executive Order 20-12 – The Governor’s Stay Home: Save Lives initiative
Learn More About COVID-19
The COVID-19 crisis evolves daily, and so do the suggestions on how to best mitigate against its spread. To stay on top of all updates, you should occasionally visit or revisit the following links:
- Center for Disease Control
- World Health Organization
- Oregon Public Health Division
- Latest COVID-19 statistics
Oregon Court Updates and Resources
The novel coronavirus has resulted in the closure of most courts. Those courts that remain open are generally only handling emergency matters. Below are links to various resources related to Oregon judicial system:
- Oregon Courts
- Coronavirus Court Responses
- Find a Court
- Online Services
- Online Record Search & Calendar
Information on Other Oregon Government Services
The Oregon Department of Public Health maintains a webpage dedicated to the COVID-19 pandemic, including up-to-date guidance on how to stay safe
Support for Individuals and Families
For Victims of Domestic Violence
Due to the shelter-in-place order, couples are forced to spend more time together. While this may be a good thing for some couples, for those trapped in an abusive relationship, home can begin to feel like a prison. Those who are in immediate danger should not wait until the crisis passes, and should call 911 and report the abuse to the police immediately. Although the courts have closed for most types of cases, restraining orders are still available. Here is a link to a list of resources for the victims of domestic abuse. Those who are experiencing domestic violence should also consider speaking with an attorney to discuss how they can safely leave the relationship and protect their children.
The Oregon Food Bank
The Oregon food bank remains open during the COVID-19 crisis and provides food to anyone who needs it. The organization has more than 1400 locations across the state. Those in need of assistance can visit the Oregon Food Bank’s website. Additionally, for those who are healthy and wanting to help their fellow Oregonians, the food bank needs volunteers to help with the unique challenges the pandemic poses.
Under Governor Brown’s Executive Orders 20-11 and 20-13, there is a moratorium on residential evictions. This means that, temporarily, landlords cannot evict an individual or family. The order was most recently updated on April 1, 2020, and lasts for 90 days, or until further clarification is provided by the Governor.
With many Oregonians having been laid off or working reduced hours, it may be difficult to stay current on utility bills. Oregon utility companies are willing to work with customers by suspending shut-offs and providing other help. However, in general, it is better to reach out to your specific utility company as soon as you know that you will have trouble staying current, rather than waiting until the situation becomes dire. Below is a list of common utility companies in Oregon:
The Oregon Energy Fund also provides utility assistance for those in need.
While schools have closed their doors, students are still expected to attend virtual classes. And employees who are working from home will undoubtedly need internet access, as well. Comcast has opened up all of its wireless hotspots across the country for anyone who needs internet access. A map of the hotspots can be found here. Comcast is also offering low-income families 60 days of internet at no cost. Charter Communications is also offering 60 days of free service to those families with K-12 students and teachers.
Support for Small Business Owners
The COVID-19 pandemic has jeopardized the continued operation of many small businesses across Oregon. However, since the beginning of the crisis, lawmakers have passed a series of bills that provide much-needed help to small business owners. Perhaps the most important assistance comes through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Finding Help Paying Employees During the Crisis
For many small business owners, employees are like family. It can be heartbreaking to tell loyal employees that they will no longer be receiving a paycheck. Thus, one of the most important part of the CARES Act for small businesses is the paycheck protection program (PPP). The PPP offers employers loans to cover payroll during the crisis. If employers are able to maintain payroll throughout the crisis, part or all the loans may be forgiven. Learn more about the PPP here.
Economic Injury Disaster Loans
Lawmakers understand the difficulty that the COVID-19 pandemic has on small businesses due to no fault of the business owner. Thus, lawmakers have loosened the restrictions to obtain an Economic injury Disaster Loan (EIDL). These low-interest loans can be up to $2 million. Most small business types are eligible, including sole proprietorships, limited liability corporations, independent contractors, and cooperative or employee-owned businesses. To learn more about EIDLs, visit the Small Business Association’s website.
Other Support for Small Businesses
While the PPP and EIDL programs are perhaps the most helpful programs for many small businesses, the CARES Act provides additional help. To learn more about what options small business owners have, visit the SBA’s website on the CARES Act. In addition, the Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence has a website where individuals can search for shelters that are open during the pandemic.
If We Can Help, We Will
At Gearing, Rackner & McGrath, LLP, we want to help you and your family through the COVID-19 crisis in any way we can. If you have any questions about Oregon child support, child visitation, please give us a call. If you are involved in an abusive or unhealthy relationship, we may be able to help you find a safe place to stay and discuss your options for exiting the relationship. While our physical offices remain closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, our virtual office is always open. Feel free to give us a call to discuss whatever issue you are dealing with. We represent clients across Oregon and Southwest Washington. To learn more, call 503-222-9116 or contact us through our online form.