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Rogue Valley News, Wednesday, 10/7 – SOREDI Announces Additional COVID19 Emergency Business Grants

Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development, Inc. (SOREDI) is pleased to announce that additional COVID-19 Emergency Business Grants are available now throughout Jackson and Josephine Counties. Time is limited for the deployment of an additional $250,000 in the region and businesses are urged to apply today.  https://soredi.org/additional-covid19-emergency-business-grants-available-now/

SOREDI will partner with its counterpart agency, CCD Business Development Corporation (CCD) which successfully received a fourth round of Emergency Business Assistance Grants from Business Oregon. The purpose of the program is to provide financial assistance to small businesses adversely affected by economic conditions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The State of Oregon has allocated $17.5 million statewide in Round 4.

To date, SOREDI has disbursed a total of $145,000 in round one funding to Jackson County, and assisted partner entities Talent, Ashland, Shady Cove, and Central Willamette Credit Union in the disbursement of $385,000 of awarded funds Jackson and Josephine Counties since June 2020.

The $17.5 million in Round 4 is available now on a first come, first served basis. If businesses step up and apply, the two agencies could approve and disburse additional grants in the region. Round 4 is expected to be the last round of grant funding made available.

Around the state of Oregon

The University of Oregon is reporting that dozens of students have tested positive for COVID-19. The university’s website showed on Monday that 57 coronavirus cases had been confirmed in the previous four days alone.

All of those cases involve students, but only one of the students lives in on-campus housing. The rest live off campus. The surge in cases comes at the beginning of the school year, KEZI-TV reported.

Cases have been climbing since about Sept. 22, when the university reported 15 cases. Every day since then, at least six additional cases have been reported. Officials said students who live on campus and test positive for the disease are “in isolation” while they recover.

University of Oregon has reported a total of more than 200 cases since June 1.

Major testing increase will bolster Oregon’s strategy to contain COVID-19

The Oregon Health Authority announced a major expansion of testing for COVID-19 in Oregon that will strengthen the state’s strategy to suppress the virus. Starting this week, Oregon will receive between 60,000 and 80,000 Abbott BinaxNOW rapid point-of-care antigen tests per week through the end of December.   Oregon will receive the new tests as a result of a time-limited supply of testing capacity federal officials have allocated to states.

The new additional rapid antigen tests will nearly double Oregon’s testing capacity, which will help physicians and health officials identify more people who are infected with COVID-19 and – over time – reduce transmission, prevent new cases (and hospitalizations) and sustain the state’s reopening.

OHA also broadened its testing guidelines to supplement the added testing capacity. The new guidelines recommend testing for anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 regardless of the severity of those symptoms, along with testing of all close contacts of those individuals, regardless of whether they shown symptoms.

The tests yield quick results, in as little as 15 minutes. But there are limitations. The rapid antigen tests must be administered by a trained professional or at a location that meets certain federal standards for laboratory testing.  As in other forms of COVID-19 testing, positive results are considered reliable. However, false negative tests are common, even among asymptomatic individuals.

The Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) and Oregon Health Authority (OHA) have completed initial baseline COVID-19 testing of staff and consenting residents in 683 long-term care facilities statewide, achieving the first of two objectives set by Governor Kate Brown’s testing plan.

Baseline testing found that the overall rate of COVID-19 infections in nursing, assisted living and residential care facilities is 2.2 percent based on preliminary results. Facilities were required to complete administration of tests by September 30 and follow up by submitting results. With baseline testing complete, the plan calls for facilities to test all staff at least once a month on an on-going basis.

“We took quick action in the first days of this pandemic to protect the residents and staff of long-term care facilities by enacting some of the strictest visitation policies in the country, but with that protection has come great sacrifice. One of the most heart-wrenching aspects of this crisis is the reality that, to keep our vulnerable long-term care residents safe, so many Oregonians have not been able to visit their loved ones, to sit with them, to hold their hands,” said Governor Brown. “With this first phase of long-term care testing complete, we are one step closer to finding a way to strike the balance between keeping our long-term care facilities free of COVID-19, and making sure residents are able to have the family time that is so critical to their wellbeing and health.”

In addition to providing information about COVID-19 cases, the baseline testing requirement provided facilities with the opportunity to develop the capacity to quickly and regularly test residents and staff.

Facilities are required to report any positive test result immediately to their local public health authority and ODHS. ODHS conducts at least weekly onsite visits to facilities with COVID-19 cases and collaborates with OHA and the facility’s local public health authority to monitor how the outbreak is being managed.

To ensure individuals’ privacy, the only publicly released information from the testing will be aggregate data. Positive test results are included in OHA’s Weekly COVID-19 Report, if the facility has three or more cases or one or more deaths. In addition, facilities with cases are included in ODHS lists published twice weekly.

Portland liberal mayoral challenger Sarah Iannarone is leading incumbent Mayor Ted Wheeler in a new poll of Portland voters.  Iannarone backs the nightly protests that have plagued the downtown area yet the poll from DHM Research shows Iannarone leading by 11 percentage points.  The poll was funded by the Portland Business Alliance.  It has a margin of error of four points.

A Portland stand-up comedian is pleading not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of assaulting a federal officer during demonstrations downtown.  

The Oregonian reports 24-year-old Christian Burke, who performs under the stage name Creme Brulee, appeared in court yesterday.  He’s accused of throwing a rock toward a federal police officer during protests on August 22nd.  Burke has agreed not to participate in any counterprotests as part of the conditions for his release pending trial.  U.S. Magistrate Judge Stacie F. Beckerman was hesitant to impose the condition, saying it was arguable a violation of Burke’s First Amendment rights.  However, she accepted Burke’s waiver of the right as part of negotiations between his defense lawyer and the prosecution.

The Oregon Department of Administrative Services last week published the annual maximum rent increase allowed by statute for calendar year 2021. The DAS Office of Economic Analysis has calculated the maximum percentage as 9.2%.

Following the passage of SB 608 in the 2019 legislative session, Oregon law requires DAS to calculate and post to its website, by September 30 of each year, the maximum annual rent increase percentage allowed by statute for the following calendar year. Per statute, OEA calculates this amount as 7% plus the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers, West Region (All Items), as most recently published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The allowable rent increase percentage for the 2021 calendar year is 9.2%. DAS will calculate and post the percentage for the 2022 calendar year by Sept. 30, 2021.

Information about the maximum annual rent increase percentage, as well as the provisions of ORS 90.323 and 90.600 (statutes governing rent increases), can be found on the OEA website.  

For information on the new law, please see the full text of SB 608 at the link below. DAS does not provide legal advice regarding other provisions of SB 608.https://www.oregon.gov/das/OEA/Pages/Rent-stabilization.aspx

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