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C.O. COVID-19 impacts: Courts, law enforcement, others making big changes

Central Oregon Emergency Info Network update

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Tuesday's announcements of changes in operations, curtailments and cancellations due to the COVID-19 outbreak stretched from the Deschutes County Courthouse to the sheriff's office and well beyond.

Here's the evening update roundup from the Central Oregon Emergency Information Network:

K-12 SCHOOL CLOSURE EXTENDED TO APRIL 28
Today, Governor Kate Brown extended the statewide school closure for Oregon students through April 28, via an executive order.

RESOURCES FOR LOCAL BUSINESSES
Many workers and employers are feeling the economic impact of COVID-19 through layoffs, work and hour reductions and perhaps even closures. Those with questions about individual benefits can learn more from the Oregon Employment Department. Oregon Employment Department (Worksource Oregon) is currently answering unemployment benefit questions due to the widespread economic impacts. As each situation is different, individuals may need to file a claim to learn if they qualify for benefits. As this situation may change, people interested in learning about their benefits should maintain contact with the Employment website.

The City of Bend is also providing resources for local businesses at City of Bend website: www.bendoregon.gov/bizresources. Individuals can sign up to receive email updates, as the situation is changing continually.

CHANGES FOR BARS, RESTAURANTS
Governor Kate Brown announced Monday that restaurants, bars and other establishments are to serve takeout or delivery food only beginning today, Tuesday, March 17. Those that offer food or beverages for sale are restricted with no on-site consumption permitted. The Governor also included an order that food service at health care facilities, workplaces, and other essential facilities will continue. This statewide action is to implement new orders and guidance on social distancing.

In Deschutes County, restaurants with questions may call 541-317-3114 regarding closure rules.

SUMMIT MEDICAL GROUP EXPANDS VIRTUAL VISITS
Summit Medical Group Oregon (SMGOR) has recently expanded its telemedicine and virtual triage services. The health provider now has the ability to offer video medical visits with an urgent care provider to any residents in Deschutes County experiencing flu-like symptoms or those who are concerned about COVID-19 exposure. Learn more here or call 541-706-2319. The telemedicine visits are approved by Medicare and many insurance companies in Oregon. Video visits are not for emergency services and patients experiencing life threatening emergencies still need to dial 9-1-1.

NEW PHONE LINE
St. Charles Health System and Deschutes County Health Services joined together to open a new phone line to answer questions from the public about COVID-19. The free phone line, available to individuals in Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson counties, will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday and will be staffed by caregivers and county health services professionals.

Phone line: 541-699-5109

REMINDER: WIPES CLOG PIPES
The City of Bend Utility Department offers a reminder to discard disposable wipes in the garbage and not into the toilet. Wipes, even those deemed “flushable wipes,” can cause infrastructure damage leading to sewer backups into homes and streets. All wipes, including cleaning and disinfectant wipes, cosmetic wipes, baby wipes, personal wipes and “flushable wipes” should be disposed of in the garbage sent to the landfill. 

For more information about what should and shouldn’t go down the toilet, visit www.bendoregon.gov/wipes 

UPDATED COMMUNITY CLOSURES, CHANGES

City of Bend
All City of Bend facilities, excluding the main Police Department lobby, will be closed to the public beginning on Thursday, March 19. The City will continue to provide services through other remote means as much as possible. Call 541-388-5505or visit www.bendoregon.gov.

The City of Bend Utility Department offices will be closed to the public beginning March 19. Customers are encouraged to interact with Utility Department staff remotely and make electronic payments if possible. Learn more and make online payments.

Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office and City of Bend Police Department
Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office and the City of Bend Police Department are now triaging access to the department lobbies for services needed. Both locations will continue to staff the front office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., however, they are asking community members to first consider calling the departments by phone prior to visiting. City of Bend Police Department 541-322-2960 and Deschutes county Sheriff’s Office - 541-388-6655.

City of Prineville
All City of Prineville facilities, including city hall and the Police Department lobby, will be closed to the public beginning Tuesday,March 17, through Sunday, April 12. All standing advisory committee meetings and activities are canceled during this time. City council meetings will continue; the in-person attendance is limited to 25 individuals. Call 541-447-5627 or visit www.cityofprineville.com for any government needs.

Jefferson County
Beginning Tuesday, March 17, all Jefferson County buildings, other than the Sheriff’s office and County Courthouse, will be restricted to employees and pre-arranged appointments. Residents may request an appointment for urgent business and county services will continue. Call 541-475-2449 or visit www.jeffco.net. While this restriction includes the Public Health building, preventive health services not related to COVID-19 will continue. Clients will check-in via phone from the parking lot, then be escorted into the building.

Deschutes County Courts
The Deschutes County Justice Court’s office in Redmond City Hall is closed to the public, but court sessions are still being held; the courtroom can be accessed through the south door at the back of Redmond City Hall and is only open during court sessions. There are multiple ways to contact the court: 541-617-4758 or justicecourt@deschutes.org. Visit www.deschutes.org/court to pay fines and get more information. The Justice Court is not accepting new small claims filings at this time.

Due to the closure of Sisters City Hall, Deschutes County Justice Court sessions scheduled for Wednesday, March 18, in Sisters, are canceled. Defendants cited into that court location for March 18 will receive a new arraignment date/location by mail.

Bend Municipal Court has canceled court for March 19. Anyone scheduled for arraignments that day should call 541-388-5572 and press “9” to speak with a court clerk in regards to options. Phones operate from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Updates will be posted on www.bendoregon.gov.

Ride Bend
Ride Bend ride-share services are suspended beginning on Wednesday, March 18, continuing through Friday, March 27.

High Desert Museum
The High Desert Museum will close today, and remain closed through Sunday, March 29. All museum programs are postponed or canceled through April 11. Kids’ Camp Spring Break is also canceled for the week of March 23-27. 

Central Oregon Community College
At this time, COCC remains open to students. However, the college has placed new restrictions on some operations and facilities that will go into effect through Sunday, April 5.

The Mazama Gymnasium, weight room and recreational drop-in facilities are closed, except as needed for finals week. The Barber Library is closed to the public; however, the tutoring and testing center and the office of services for students with disabilities remain open. All events scheduled by outside groups on any of the four COCC campuses have been canceled.

Food service is available only to students who live on campus. For more information, call 541-383-7700.


Here's the full announcement from the Deschutes County Circuit Court:

The Deschutes County Circuit Court is implementing Chief Justice Order 20-006, which imposes statewide “Level 3 Restrictions” on court operations in Oregon.  The Order issued by Oregon Supreme Court Chief Justice Martha L. Walters, dated March 16th, 2020, may be found at www.courts.oregon.gov under the Alerts and Emergency Closures banner.

Consistent with the Chief Justice Order (CJO), the Court is rescheduling most hearings and trials scheduled through March 27th.  People with hearings that were scheduled within this time frame are encouraged to contact their attorney or use the Judicial Department’s On-Line Records and Calendar Search function found on the Judicial Department website to determine if their hearing has been rescheduled.

Consistent with the CJO, trials for in-custody criminal defendants may proceed if statutory or constitutional trial rights are implicated.  In the event the Court requires jurors to report for jury duty, the Court will ensure that the facilities used by jurors are rigorously sanitized and social distancing practices will be strictly enforced.  Jurors summoned to appear for the two-week term beginning Monday, March 23rd will be instructed to call the jury information line each night for jury service updates.  Earlier guidance allowing jurors in high-risk categories (see the Alerts and Emergency Closure Banner) to request and receive an automatic deferral remains in effect.

Individuals entering the Deschutes County Circuit Court will be greeted by a staff member who will direct them to the assigned courtroom or other service area connected to their visit.  Direction regarding social distancing will be provided.  Consistent with the CJO, individuals who exhibit symptoms associated with COVID-19 or flu will be directed to leave the Courthouse.

Individuals who call the Courthouse during regular telephone hours (8 AM to 2 PM) may be required to provide a telephone number for a staff member to call them back at a later time.  For safety reason, many staff are working remotely, and the telephone system cannot transfer to non-system numbers.

The Court’s Electronic Case Management System allows staff to continue to work on court business, off-site.  Documents filed electronically will be processed in a timely manner.  Documents filed in paper at the Courthouse will take longer to process due to staff reassignments necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Court appreciates the efforts and understanding of the public, the local bar, law enforcement, Sheriff’s Office Corrections staff and many other community partners in making this quick transition to new limited service levels.  Speaking to his fellow judges as he outlined the measures being undertaken, Judge Ashby stated, “This will take more patience, not less, it will take more grace, not less.  We will continue to move forward and provide essential services consistent with the administration of justice.”


DESCHUTES COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE AND THE CITY OF BEND POLICE DEPARTMENT JOINT RELEASE: COVID-19 LOBBY PROTOCOL

In response to the additional guidance from the state, the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office and the City of Bend Police Department have expanded their declaration to focus on further restricting personal interactions in the work place.  We are dedicated to protecting and serving our community.  In order to do this to the best of our ability for the foreseeable future we have decided we need to triage access to the department lobbies for services needed.

At this time, office hours are 8 am to 5 pm, we are currently committed to staffing the front offices during hours of operation.  However, we are asking community members to first consider calling the departments by phone prior to coming in to discuss their need and determine if we can meet needs remotely.

If community members arrive at the department lobbies they will be presented with some options at the foyer to call the appropriate number for the appropriate service. 

We want to thank our community members for their patience, understanding and flexibility as we all work through these changes together.


DCSO TO LIMIT ACCESS INTO MOST BUILDINGS STARTING TOMORROW MORNING 

The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office will begin limiting access into most Sheriff's Office buildings, substations, and the adult jail administration lobby during business hours starting tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m.

We are taking this additional step to protect our staff and the community we serve.  All external doors to our Main Office, Adult Jail and outlying substations will be locked to prevent unnecessary access into the buildings.  Notices will posted on the outside doors notifying community members that they must call into the building by telephone and their need to access the building will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.  

If there is a need for in-person contact but the situation does not necessitate entering the building, office staff will get a vehicle description and then to provide for "social distancing", ask the caller to wait inside their vehicle or outside of the building for a deputy to contact them.  There are still certain circumstances where a citizen may need to enter one of our buildings to retrieve property, register as a sex offender, bail out an inmate, etc..  In those situations, office staff will then grant access into the building to accommodate and assist the citizen.

The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office Work Center lobby will remain open to alow for inmate video visiting and access to the second floor where Deschutes County Parole and Probation is located.

Anyone with questions or needing more information can call the DCSO main line at 541-388-6655 for assistance.


NEWPORT AVENUE MARKET PROVIDES SPECIAL SHOPPING TIMES FOR HIGH-RISK CUSTOMERS

Store will open one hour early three days a week

BEND, Ore. – Beginning tomorrow (Wednesday), Newport Avenue Market will provide a dedicated shopping window for adults aged 65 and older, along with those at elevated risk from the coronavirus.

Newport will provide a dedicated shopping hour between 6 a.m. -7 a.m on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for individuals most vulnerable to the COVID-19 coronavirus. The store will be open to serve all customers daily between 7 a.m. - 10. p.m.

Newport is piloting the program in response to a request from the Council on Aging of Central Oregon. The isolated shopping experience mirrors what is being done in other cities and countries to meet the needs of high-risk populations.

Newport is exercising extreme methods to keep its customers and staff clean, wiping down all surfaces in the store every three hours with concentrations of chemical cleaners higher than those recommended by the Center for Disease Control.

“We are dedicated to safely serving every member of our community,” said Newport Avenue Market CEO, Lauren Johnson.


Statement from Midstate Electric Cooperative:

La Pine, Oregon — Midstate Electric Cooperative (MEC) is closely monitoring the developments of the Coronavirus COVID-19 and taking precautions to protect the health and safety of our employees and members. In response to the Governor’s actions to contain the spread of the COVID-19, MEC shut lobby access to the public on Tuesday, March 17. The office will remain closed to walk-in traffic until further notice. Employees will be available to provide assistance by phone at 541-536-2126.

In support of our members impacted during this time, MEC is temporarily suspending late fees and disconnections. Members having difficulty paying their electric bill are asked to call 541-536-2126 so we can work with them to set up a payment plan.

Alternative payment options are:

  • Automated payment system, 541-536-2126 option 2
  • By mail, MEC Payments, PO Box 127, La Pine, OR 97739
  • Kiosk at the front entrance of the headquarters office
  • Payment drop box to the west of the headquarters office
  • Payment Portals, SmartHub (standard billing) and MyUsage (prepaid billing) located at: www.mse.coop

We apologize for any inconvenience to our members; our focus is to maintain a healthy workforce to ensure that business critical operations continue without interruption. We ask for your patience and understanding as we take steps to protect the health of our communities. If you need to report an outage, you can continue to call our 24-hour outage line at 800-752-5935. We will keep members updated on the most recent impact of COVID-19 on our website, www.mse.coop and on our social media pages.

About the cooperative: Midstate Electric Cooperative (MEC) is a not-for-profit, member-owned electric cooperative headquartered in La Pine, Oregon. The cooperative serves over 18,000 residents in four counties in Central Oregon.


ODFW fish hatcheries to close to visitors as precaution against COVID-19

SALEM, Ore.—Effective Wednesday March 18, all of ODFW’s state-operated fish hatcheries are closed to public access and all visitors.

The closure is meant to protect staff so they can continue to operate the 33 hatcheries which raise millions of fish critical to the state’s economy and biological systems.

While hatcheries are closed, fish stocking of lakes and ponds continue for now. See the trout stocking schedule at https://myodfw.com/fishing/species/trout/stocking-schedule or visit the Recreation Report

Fishing and other outdoor activities like wildlife viewing, hiking and hunting can enable people to get outdoors and still practice social distancing (staying ideally 6 feet from others). Remember before heading outdoors that besides social distancing, you should stay home if you are sick, wash your hands frequently, cover your cough and sneezes, and take other recommended steps to protect yourself, friends, and family while slowing the spread of COVID-19. 

ODFW’s wildlife areas, which are great places to watch wildlife, will remain open for now, except those areas annually closed until spring to protect wintering big game or migratory birds (see list below). However, visitor centers or areas where the public might congregate indoors will be closed. Bathrooms at wildlife areas remain open. More information about wildlife areas is available at https://myodfw.com/visit-odfw-wildlife-areas

ODFW Deputy Director Shannon Hurn notes that many fish hatcheries are operated by a small number of staff (<6) that live on site with their families in state housing. These facilities have confined spaces where the public congregates to view fish or educational materials.

“The risk of having one of our staff exposed to COVID-19 thru interaction with the public or while cleaning areas extensively used by the public (ex. restroom facilities) is concerning,” said Hurn. “If a COVID-19 outbreak occurs in our hatchery employees, the department will struggle to operate the facility, and potentially have to expose more employees if onsite staff become unavailable due to illness.”

The announcement follows actions by ODFW’s federal partners that are also closing public access to federally-owned and operated hatcheries.

Below is a list of wildlife areas that are entirely or partially closed annually until spring to protect wintering wildlife including big game and migratory birds (see the Wildlife Area Visitor Guide, or Big Game Regulations and Bird Game Regulations for details). Please follow any motor vehicle restrictions at other wildlife areas.

  • Bridge Creek WA (Umatilla County ) – Reopens April 15.
  • Elkhorn WA (Baker and Union counties) – Reopens April 11.
  • Fern Ridge WA (Lane County) – Portions closed through April 30 except on Saturdays.
  • Jewell Meadows WA (Clatsop County) – Some refuge and area closures in effect.
  • Klamath Wildlife Area (Klamath County)  – Portions closed through April 30, reopen May 1.
  • Ladd Marsh WA (Union County) – Lands west of Foothill Rd reopen April 1.
  • Phillip W Schneider (Grant County) – Reopens April 15.
  • Prineville Reservoir WA (Crook County) – Closed to motor vehicles but reopens April 16.
  • Sauvie Island WA – There are viewing opportunities but much of WA is closed until April 16 or May 1.
  • Wenaha WA (Wallowa County) – Reopens April 1.
  • White River WA (Wasco County) – Lands north of Forest Road 27 reopen April 1.

VA SUSPENDING VOLUNTEER TRANSPORTATION NETWORK

VA Portland Health Care System is exercising an abundance of caution in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) to protect the Veterans we are privileged to serve, along with those who work, volunteer, and visit the facilities. As part of this approach, effective Wednesday, March 18, 2020, we are temporarily suspending the Volunteer Transportation Network (VTN), commonly referred to as the “Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Transportation Program.”

This decision is made after close consideration of how VA facilities are managing nationally along with worries expressed to the local VA Voluntary Services (VAVS) office due to the ages and health concerns of our local drivers. The VTN program provides a vital resource for Veterans in our community, however, we have also seen a decrease in ridership over the past week as patients are choosing to minimize their exposure risk by selecting telehealth visits or rescheduling appointments. Because this is a constantly evolving situation, we do not have a timeframe on when the VTN service will resume. Thank you for your flexibility and patience as we all work together throughout this event.

Click these links for more information about the VA Portland Veterans Transportation Program (VTP) including the Veterans Transportation Service (VTS) that serves eligible Veterans within 20 miles of Portland VA Medical Center, as well as other community transportation resources across the Pacific Northwest.


LOTTERY DISABLES PLAY ON VIDEO LOTTERY TERMINALS

In compliance with Governor Brown’s recent executive order on social distancing, Oregon Lottery is disabling play on its statewide network of Video Lottery terminals, effective at 5 p.m. today.

Video Lottery terminals will be disabled until further notice. Terminals will remain in the field and Lottery staff will continue providing scheduled maintenance.


Wyden, Merkley Call on FEMA to Mobilize Land Management Agencies to Support COVID-19 Emergency Response in Rural Communities

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today called on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate with other federal agencies so thousands of federal civil servants, who have experience with rapid emergency response, can help rural communities that are increasingly overwhelmed by the challenge of responding to the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak.

“We write to request your immediate assistance in mobilizing your agencies to offer coordinated support for rural counties, municipalities, and tribal communities as they respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19),” the senators wrote in their letter to FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue and DOI Secretary David Bernhardt. “Rural communities are working to set up local emergency operation centers to help manage their response, but face challenges with limited staff capacity. Across many of our states, rural counties are experiencing outbreaks and some communities are already overwhelmed with the challenge.”

Federal civil servants across the country at agencies like the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management are uniquely qualified in emergency management. Many are Incident Command System qualified, have experience mobilizing resources and coordinating communication to respond to and contain crises like forest fires. This expertise would bolster the response to COVID-19 in rural communities across America.

 “We believe these federal professionals are well suited to partner with rural counties and municipalities to enhance staff capacity and support communities facing this public health crisis,” the senatorscontinued. “Therefore, in light of the national emergency declaration, we urge you to take immediate steps to ensure your agencies are working together to make your respective staff and resources available and able to assist with emergency response to COVID-19 across the country.”

 Joining Wyden and Merkley on the letter were U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet, D-Colo, Cory Gardner, R-Colo., Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Steve Daines, R-Mont., Gary Peters, D-Mich., Tom Udall, D-N.M., Mark R. Warner, D-Va., Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., Bob Casey Jr., D-Pa., Doug Jones, D-Ala., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., Thomas Carper, D-Del., Tina Smith, D-Minn., Benjamin Cardin, D-Md., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Jon Tester, D-Mont.

A copy of the letter is available here.


Merkley, Wyden Urge President Trump to Boost American Manufacturing of Critical Coronavirus Safety Equipment

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, along with Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), are pressing President Donald Trump to use an existing authorization, the Defense Production Act (DPA), to strengthen America’s domestic manufacturing capacity and supply to meet the nation’s urgent pandemic safety equipment needs.

“It is critical that we substantially and immediately bolster domestic testing capacity to identify cases and, accordingly, help slow the spread of COVID-19,” the senators wrote. “In addition to meeting the acute and immediate needs of our health care system, we must also anticipate potential medium to long term needs for ventilators, PPE, test kits, and other goods as the disease spreads in the coming months, including a potential second wave.”

With over 4,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus within the United States—a conservative estimate given the inadequate supply of tests available—health professionals are sounding the alarm over a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators, diagnostic test kits, and other medical supplies that are needed to fight the public health crisis. The shortages have prompted many medical facilities to ration their items, which in turn is jeopardizing the safety of health workers and hindering the effectiveness of response efforts.

“The federal government must lead in making sure our nation’s industrial capability is harnessed to address this urgent need.  We urge you immediately to invoke DPA authorities to respond to this pandemic and alleviate these stresses on our health care system,” the senators continued.

The DPA was first passed in 1950 to authorize the president to undertake actions to boost domestic manufacturing of goods in extraordinary circumstances. In 2009, Congress extended that authority to include domestic preparedness and national emergency response efforts.

In addition to Senators Merkley, Wyden, and Brown, the letter was signed by Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL), Jack Reed (D-RI), Tom Carper (D-DE), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Tom Udall (D-NM), Michael Bennett (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Angus King (I-ME), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Gary Peters (D-MI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Doug Jones (D-AL).

The full text of the letter follows below.

###

Dear President Trump:

The Defense Production Act of 1950 (DPA) authorizes the president to strengthen domestic manufacturing capacity and supply in extraordinary circumstances, and to direct the production by private sector firms of critical manufactured goods to meet urgent national security needs.  In 2009, Congress amended DPA to explicitly extend those authorities to support domestic preparedness and response to national emergencies, like the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

There are widespread reports of shortages in personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators, diagnostic test kits, and other medical supplies that require medical professionals to ration existing supplies. The Department of Defense, in collaboration with Governors and appropriate federal agencies, should immediately undertake a national assessment of the supply and anticipated needs for PPE, ventilators, diagnostic test kits, and other needed medical supplies to support the use of its DPA authorities, as well as determining the potential use of the Defense Logistics Agency to support the rapid deployment of needed equipment, including from existing reserves. It is critical that we substantially and immediately bolster domestic testing capacity to identify cases and, accordingly, help slow the spread of COVID-19.   In addition to meeting the acute and immediate needs of our health care system, we must also anticipate potential medium to long-term needs for ventilators, PPE, test kits, and other goods as the disease spreads in the coming months, including a potential second wave.

In each of our states and across the nation, we know how to make things, quickly and efficiently.  But these decisions cannot be left solely to the market or to individual states.  The federal government must lead in making sure our nation’s industrial capability is harnessed to address this urgent need.  We urge you to invoke DPA authorities immediately to respond to this pandemic and alleviate these stresses on our health care system.  

Sincerely,


OREGON COMMISSION MAKES DECISIONS ON UTILITIES' TARIFFS TO ALLOW SUSPENSION OF LATE CHARGES FOR CUSTOMERS

SALEM, Ore. – The Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) has approved the filings by Idaho Power and Pacific Power to modify their rate and service schedules, or tariffs. Tuesday’s decisions provide these utilities the needed flexibility to waive late payment fees for customers during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Additionally, the PUC chose to take no action on Portland General Electric’s (PGE’s) similar filing, as the language in PGE’s tariff already provides the flexibility needed to waive late payment fees for customers.

“The utilities recognized the importance of waiving late fees for their customers during this difficult and continually evolving coronavirus situation,” said Megan Decker, PUC Chair. “The PUC and the utilities have been working together to ensure continued service without fear of disconnects or penalty charges in the event families experience personal hardships during this health crisis.”

Avista, Cascade Natural Gas, and NW Natural have all indicated that they will be waiving late payment fees and suspending disconnections of service to benefit their customers.

To further benefit customers, last week various electric, natural gas, water, and telecommunication utilities announced they would not be disconnecting service due to non-payment during this public health emergency.

Customers are encouraged to reach out to your utility service provider to ask about late payment fees and services available during the COVID-19 outbreak. Additionally, the PUC Consumer Services staff is available to help answer customer questions by email at puc.consumers@state.or.us or by phone at 503-378-6600 or 800-522-2404/

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Comments

18 Comments

      1. Comprehension skills gone awry this morning ? The country of “Origin” of the Wuhan Virus was originally built into the name- “The Wuhan Chinese coronavirus”- but CNN arbitrarily decided to remove both Wuhan and China from the name back in February. The intent was to confuse people like you as to the origin of the virus- more evidence that the virus has been politicized.
        __
        seems it worked- at least on you.

        1. Assie asks: “Wouldn’t it have been better to close the borders in and out of the country the virus is originated from BEFORE it spread to the world?”

          Who would have the authority to close the borders?

  1. Taken in context with what seems to be the evolving policy of “flattening the curve” in order to not overwhelm medical support, the actions described above are a good start. I’m glad that there’s been a somewhat coordinated response on the state and local levels, and feel confident that we’ll be able to get through this in better shape than most other states.

  2. I agree. Gov Brown’s better-safe-than-sorry strategy might mitigate the severity of this crisis. There will be pain, but hopefully it won’t be as bad as WA or NY.

    1. And there’s your flip-flop of the day !
      __
      A complete 360 acrobatic move designed to confuse the masses to the vast majority of your posts that clearly stated the President of The US is in control of the State’s- that he alone is responsible for what happens in Oregon- that the “Orange-Man-Bad” has completely wasted our lives.
      ___
      Now it’s “OK-OK- breathe… OK- there will be pain- but it won’t be as bad as Washington- who makes up half of the US total death toll to this virus” !
      ___
      Whatta dope !

  3. This is all smoke and mirrors! The flu is the real killer out there and we ignore it! over 140 children have died this year from the flu but was anyone washing their hands? NO!! See below for the real killer of our children!

    Of the 144 influenza-associated pediatric deaths occurring during the 2019-2020 season and reported to CDC:

    96 deaths were associated with influenza B viruses, and 20 had a lineage determined; all were B/Victoria viruses.
    48 deaths were associated with influenza A viruses, and 27 were subtyped; 26 were A(H1N1)pdm09 viruses, and one was an A(H3) virus.

      1. And clearly you are on an agenda to refute those obvious numbers. Generalized “Mortality Rates” don’t mean squat when confined to clusters- or specific at risk populations. The CDC clarified what I’ve been telling you for weeks now- the “at risk” population is clearly those aged 65 or older- those with underlying health concerns- or compromised immune systems.
        ___
        Hummmp69 should be allowed to present the facts without ‘intimidation” from the moderator- and you dare call me a bully ???
        ___
        To borrow a phrase- “Sigh” !

      2. How come no story on the bars all over the us NOT COMPLYING, including right here in Oregon? Are you aware that the Judge in Pendleton is holding OPEN COURT despise the order? Whyaren’t you telling us these things? Are you purposely leaving them out so as not to incite the rest of us? Why are you not giving ALL the info?

        1. Easy there BT- you know by now that this site attracts a certain kind of individual that doesn’t want to know anything but the negative- they feed on it- wallow in it- and when you push anything positive- the mod will step in and inform you that you are pushing mis-information- that the scaredy-cats find to be somewhat offensive- even though your so-called “mis-information comes directly from reputable sites like John Hopkins- or the CDC.

          So don’t expect anything less than a mountain of gloom and doom- sick and twisted I know- but that’s the environment the Z wishes to maintain.

    1. If you want to compare mortality rates, let’s apply Covid-19’s rate to the flu. Of the CDC’s estimated 51m cases in the US with Covid-19’s number of deaths, a 1.7% mortality rate, that would be about 867k deaths. The reality is that 55k will die due to influenza this season alone, which is beyond terrible, but not on the same scale as Covid-19.

      Stay healthy, practice good hygiene, and help curb the spread by obeying all official recommendations.

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