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Oregon delegation COVID-19 news releases

WASHINGTON (KTVZ) -- Here are several of the latest COVID-19-related news releases and statements from Oregon's congressional delegation:

Merkley, Wyden, Colleagues Announce Legislation to Meet Urgent Medical Supply Shortage

Bill would increase production of critical supplies and ensure they get where needed

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, along with 44 of their Senate colleagues, have introduced legislation that fills the vacuum left by Trump administration inaction, laying out a framework for an effective, strong, national COVID-19 response.  The bill would direct production of, and add critical oversight and transparency to the supply chain for, vital medical supplies and equipment.

The Medical Supply Transparency and Delivery Act requires the president to utilize all available authorities under the Defense Production Act (DPA) to mobilize a federal response to the pandemic through an equitable and transparent process.

“No worker on the frontline of this crisis should be forced to ration the equipment they need to stay safe while doing their jobs,” Merkley said. “Unfortunately, that’s the nightmare countless Americans are living every day as they take care of our communities. It’s alarming and frustrating that the Trump administration has refused to follow through on its commitment to use the Defense Production Act to meet our workers’ critical supply needs. If the President won’t, Congress must.”

“Since Donald Trump refuses to use the available Defense Production Act to protect essential workers and health care providers, Congress needs to act now,” Wyden said. “This legislation provides the urgent and comprehensive response that front-line workers deserve by producing medical supplies that meet the demands of this public health crisis in Oregon and nationwide.”

Specifically, the Medical Supply Transparency and Delivery Act would require publicly reported national assessments on a weekly basis to determine national critical equipment supply and requirements. These reports would include direct outreach with essential employees and health care workers, and identify industry sectors and manufacturers most ready to fill orders, stockpiles that can be refurbished or repaired, manufacturers that could expand production into PPE and medical supplies, and supplies and equipment that can be redistributed to new hotspots. 

The legislation would also establish an Executive Officer position to oversee acquisition and logistics for COVID-19 equipment production and delivery, and require that officer to issue major purchase orders under the DPA for supplies identified in the assessments, oversee all distribution of critical medical supplies, and make recommendations to the president on increasing national production capacity of supplies.

In addition, the bill would increase transparency regarding the distribution of supplies and equipment; require a comprehensive plan for a COVID-19 vaccine and testing, including viral and antibody testing; and establish an Inspector General to oversee the implementation of the legislation.

The full bill text is available here.

The legislation is supported by 46 Senate Democrats, as well as the AFL-CIO, SEIU, National Nurses United, and United Steelworkers.

Wyden, Western Democrats Press Forest Service on Wildfire Season Plans Amid COVID-19

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and 10 Western Democrats, today sought answers on the planning efforts of the U.S. Forest Service to protect communities and firefighters heading into the upcoming 2020 wildfire season amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Wyden was joined by U.S. Sens. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Patty Murray, D-Wash., Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., in a letter to U.S. Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen.

"The impacts of the novel coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), combined with high levels of drought throughout the West, will create unprecedented wildland firefighting challenges and may hurt numerous rural areas across the country, making the 2020 wildfire season potentially one of the most threatening seasons to date," the senators wrote. "Beyond the basic need to ensure the protection of communities, critical infrastructure, and firefighter safety, we recognize that the COVID-19 pandemic is placing unprecedented demands upon agencies that provide essential public services." 

The senators requested answers on Forest Service plans to:

  • coordinate with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and state and local health departments to ensure communities impacted by wildfire smoke have access to health care and related supports;
  • maintain core operations, while limiting exposure to and transmission of the virus to agency employees and non-agency personnel;
  • continue planning and implementing forest management and hazardous fuels reduction activities to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires, while preventing the spread of COVID-19; and more.

A full copy of the letter can be found here.


Friday, May 1, 2020

WASHINGTON, DC – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley today pressed Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Jovita Carranza to provide urgent assistance to help America’s farmers and agricultural producers navigate the economic abyss caused by the coronavirus.

Despite the fact that Congress increased funds for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program—and specifically included language making farmers and agricultural producers with fewer than 500 employees eligible for the program—the SBA has failed to accept new applications, citing a backlog in applications to process. The SBA’s failure to consider new applicants will likely keep farmers and producers from receiving assistance before the program runs out of funding.

“As you are aware, Congress explicitly made farmers and agricultural producers with fewer than 500 employees eligible for EIDL and the Emergency Economic Injury Grant (EEIG) in the recently passed CARES 3.5 package; this provision was in direct response to the SBA’s failure to allow these essential producers to participate in this much-needed funding from the start,” Senator Merkley wrote. “By failing to open up applications to newly eligible agricultural entities, the SBA is effectively nullifying the express direction of Congress to make agricultural producers eligible for these programs.”

“Our farmers and agricultural producers are keeping the United States fed during this crisis, while at the same time dealing with significant challenges of their own. I urge you to take the necessary steps to ensure they are given the opportunity to apply for EIDL and EEIG funds as intended by Congress,” Senator Merkley continued.

Senator Merkley, who serves as the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has been in consistent contact with farmers and members of the agricultural community—the lifeblood of countless rural communities across Oregon and across America—throughout the coronavirus crisis. Last month, Senator Merkley teamed up with a bipartisan group of senators to urge USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to provide urgent relief to America’s farmers.

The full text of the letter is available here and follows below. 


Dear Administrator Carranza,

I write to express my continued concern with the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) implementation of the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), particularly in regard to the program’s eligibility regarding farmers and agricultural producers in Oregon and across the country.

It has been brought to my attention that despite the additional $50 billion in funds allocated to the SBA for the EIDL program, the agency has declined to take on new applicants, instead processing the backlog of applicants that accumulated over the last month. While I understand the SBA is operating on a first-come, first-served basis, this decision functionally renders EIDL funds inaccessible for agricultural producers.

As you are aware, Congress explicitly made farmers and agricultural producers with fewer than 500 employees eligible for EIDL and the Emergency Economic Injury Grant (EEIG) in the recently passed CARES 3.5 package; this provision was in direct response to the SBA’s failure to allow these essential producers to participate in this much-needed funding from the start. By failing to open up applications to newly eligible agricultural entities, the SBA is effectively nullifying the express direction of Congress to make agricultural producers eligible for these programs.

Our farmers and agricultural producers are keeping the United States fed during this crisis, while at the same time dealing with significant challenges of their own. I urge you to take the necessary steps to ensure they are given the opportunity to apply for EIDL and EEIG funds as intended by Congress. Please let me know immediately if you believe you will run out of funds before you are able to re-open the application portal.


Wyden, Merkley Call For Tax Credit Expansion to Help Working Families During Coronavirus Economic Downturn

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today called for a temporary expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC) in the next coronavirus relief package.

As the economic effects of COVID-19 are expected to last into next year, the expansion of those two tax credits would put money back in the pockets of working Americans as they continue to weather the economic downturn, according to the letter from Wyden, Merkley and 37 other senators to Senate leadership.

“COVID-19 has presented our nation with an unprecedented public health challenge,” said the letter led by Wyden, Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Dick Durbin (D-IL). “This Congress has taken several bipartisan steps to address it, along with the resulting economic effects we’ve already seen. However, additional measures are critical to confront and reverse ongoing economic paralysis.

“The EITC and the CTC are proven and effective tools to increase financial stability for workers and their families,” the senators wrote. “Expanding them will provide much needed support to families and boost our economy as our nation recovers from COVID-19.”

The letter calls for filling gaps in the EITC and CTC that leave out the youngest adult workers, workers not raising children in the home, and the lowest-income families. Currently, the youngest adult workers – including those on the front lines of coronavirus like health aides, grocery store clerks, and truck drivers – are ineligible for the credit. Workers not raising children in the home are only eligible for a small credit. These gaps mean 5 million American workers are taxed into or further into poverty by our current tax code. Expanding the EITC for these workers would fix this.

The letter also calls for making the CTC fully available to all children as a refundable credit and increasing the credit amount for kids under 6 years of age, to provide additional support to children and families at a time in life that is critical for cognitive development. As the economic effects of coronavirus continue, these changes to the CTC will benefit 26 million kids whose families currently cannot receive the full value of the $2,000 credit. 

Today’s letter builds on the senators’ Working Families Tax Relief Actwhich would cut taxes for workers and families by expanding the EITC and CTC. EITC and CTC are two of the most effective tools we have to put money in the pockets of working people and pull children out of poverty. Expanding them will give millions more Americans a foothold in the middle class.

In addition to Wyden, Merkley, Brown, Bennet and Durbin, the letter was also signed by Sens. Baldwin (D-WI), Blumenthal (D-CT), Booker (D-NJ), Cardin (D-MD), Casey (D-PA), Coons (D-DE), Cortez Masto (D-NV), Duckworth (D-IL), Feinstein (D-CA), Gillibrand (D-NY), Harris (D-CA), Hassan (D-NH), Heinrich (D-NM), Hirono (D-HI), Kaine (D-VA), King (D-ME), Klobuchar (D-MN), Leahy (D-VT), Markey (D-MA), Menendez (D-NJ), Murphy (D-CT), Murray (D-WA), Peters (D-MI), Reed (D-RI), Rosen (D-NV), Schatz (D-HI), Shaheen (D-NH), Smith (D-MN), Stabenow (D-MI), Udall (D-NM), Van Hollen (D-MD), Warner (D-VA), Warren (D-MA), and Whitehouse (D-RI).

A copy of the letter is here.

Wyden: Oregon Should Have a Strategic Food Reserve

Senator asks USDA to support the creation of strategic food reserves in Oregon as a model for the nation facing emergencies like the current COVID-19 crisis.

Washington, D.C. -- U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden today asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to support the creation of strategic food reserves in Oregon as a model for the nation facing emergencies like the current COVID-19 crisis.

In his letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Wyden said the reserves would address year-round food insecurity while preparing the state for increases in food demands during times of emergency.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated an already fragile food supply chain in Oregon and the nation,” Wyden wrote Perdue. “The farmers and agriculture producers who help feed my state have been hit hard by this pandemic and the need for a program that provides long term stability in times of crisis, has never been more apparent.”

Wyden noted in the letter that USDA has the ability to support farms and ranches with loans, purchases, payments, and other operations as well as the authority to buy and donate food to domestic relief agencies and assist in the development of new domestic markets and marketing facilities for agricultural commodities. 

“I ask the USDA to use its capacity to support the current hunger needs in Oregon and an Oregon specific program that identifies immediate availability of food that is in oversupply and at risk of being dumped due to market disruption,” Wyden wrote. “It can also work with and pay Oregon processors to freeze, aseptically pack, dry, and create shelf-life for their product to go into storage.”

Wyden also asked the Agriculture Department in his letter to provide emergency food supplies to Oregon as soon as possible to fill the current 70 percent rise in demand the Oregon food banks are currently experiencing. 

A copy of the entire letter is here.

To read more about the strategic food reserve, go here.

Greg Walden: 'This is good news for rural Oregon' 

HHS Awards over $172 million for Rural Oregon Providers

WASHINGTON, D.C. --  Today, Representative Greg Walden (R-Hood River) released a statement after the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced they are awarding an additional $172,109,975 to 165 health care facilities in Oregon.

This funding is in addition to the over $300 million Oregon has already received from HHS.

The funding comes from the $100 billion that the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act designated for provider relief.  This wave of funding is targeted towards coronavirus hot-spots and rural areas. Nationwide, HHS awarded $12 billion to providers in hot-spots and $10 billion to providers in rural areas, which includes the over $172 million for Oregon. 

"This funding is good news for rural Oregon and all the rural health care providers across the Second District. I am confident that this funding combined with the relaxing of restrictions on elective procedures in certain areas will help ease the burden so many providers in the Second District have told me they are facing. I commend the Administration for listening to the concerns of rural hospitals and providing them this necessary funding as well as for the administration's recent decision to make them eligible for the PPP program.  As a member of President Trump’s bipartisan task force on reopening the economy, I am committed to ensuring our health care providers, as well as our small businesses, have the resources they need when the governor decides it’s time to safely reopen Oregon,” said Walden. 

Greg Walden Shares What You Need to Know on COVID-19 - May 1

An Update for May 1, 2020

Representative Greg Walden (R-Hood River) released an update on COVID-19 for May 1, 2020.

The latest on the coronavirus:

Searching for a Cure:

Earlier this week, the NIH shared promising information that showed patients in a clinical trial that used the antiviral drug  remdesivir recovered from COVID-19 at an accelerated pace compared to those who did not use the drug. Learn more here.

New Guidance on Disinfecting Spaces:

Recently, the CDC and EPA released updated guidance to help facility operators and families properly clean and disinfect spaces.  The guidance provides step-by-step instructions for public spaces, workplaces, businesses, schools, and homes, and falls in line with the Opening Up America Again guidelines. Learn more here.

An Update on Testing:

More than 6.2 million tests for COVID-19 have been performed in the United States. 

On Monday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention broadened its priority for testing, adding symptomatic first responders and people in long term-care facilities, prisons and shelters to the top tier. The priority list for the first time includes people without symptoms at a clinician or public-health authority’s discretion. 

The FDA has worked with over 380 test developers who have said they will be submitting emergency use authorizations (EUA) requests to FDA for tests that detect the virus. The FDA has issued  over 50 individual EUAs for test kit manufacturers and laboratories. 

SBA Provides more PPP Loans:

Starting this week, the Small Business Administration (SBA) began processing more Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loans. This comes after President Trump signed into law more funding for the PPP.

As of Wednesday afternoon, SBA announced that they had approved over 960,000 loans for a total of nearly $90 billion from more than 5,300 lenders. This total is in addition to the first tranche of PPP loans, where over $340 billion went out to over 1.6 million small businesses. 

The average PPP loan is for $206,000 and nearly 75% of all loans have been for $150,000 or less. Wednesday, Secretary Mnuchin said that he expects the PPP to impact over 60 million workers, which is half the private workforce, and said that one million loans that have gone out so far are for companies with under 10 people. Learn more here.

More Funding for Health Care Providers & Hospitals:

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded over $40 billion to health care providers and hospitals - including $103,577,091 for providers in Oregon. The funding comes as a result of HHS distributing over $40 billion of the $100 billion that the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act designated for provider relief. In addition to this funding HHS has already distributed $30 billion nationwide, including $291 million to Oregon. Read more here.

Watch out for COVID-19 Scams:

Both the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission are reporting a spike in coronavirus related scams including home testing kits, fake cures, and other malicious attempts to prey on COVID-19 fears. The Treasury Department will NOT ask you to pay anything for the payment most Americans will receive as a result of the CARES Act and will not contact you for your bank account information. If you are contacted by someone claiming to be from the government asking for this type of information, please report it to You can learn more about how to protect yourself from these types of scams here.

Resources to Know and Share: Here are some helpful resources and information on COVID-19.

How to Get Your Individual Payments:

The IRS launched the “Get My Payment” web portal with features to let taxpayers check on their Economic Impact Payment date and update direct deposition information. Click here to check on the status of your payment.

Veterans who receive disability compensation, a pension, or survivor benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs DO NOT need to do anything to receive their payment.

Those on Social Security who do not file taxes also DO NOT need to file anything to receive this new payment.

Low income individuals with a gross income between $12,200 for individuals and $24,400 for married couples that do not file taxes, WILL need to submit information to the IRS to receive this payment. You can provide this information through the IRS’s website here.

Helpful Resources on PPE:

CDC updated the PPE Burn Rate Calculator, a spreadsheet-based model that will help health care facilities plan and optimize the use of PPE for response to COVID-19.  More here.

You can now see PPE shipments to Oregon counties here.


The Paycheck Protection Program prioritizes millions of Americans employed by small businesses by authorizing billions in funding toward job retention and certain other expenses.

Small businesses and eligible nonprofit organizations, Veterans organizations, and Tribal businesses described in the Small Business Act, as well as individuals who are self-employed or are independent contractors, are eligible if they also meet program size standards.

For a top-line overview of the program CLICK HERE
If you’re a lender, more information can be found HERE
If you’re a borrower, more information can be found HERE
The application for borrowers can be found HERE

Other resources on the Paycheck Protection Program:


The State Department has repatriated over 70,000 Americans from more than 120 countries.

The State Department is making efforts to bring home Americans, including through commercial flights, chartered flights, and military transport.  Any American abroad who needs assistance should contact their local U.S. embassy and register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), available here or by calling 1-888-407-4747.

If you decide to travel abroad or are already outside the United States:

  • Consider returning to your country of residence immediately using whatever commercial means are available.
  • Have a travel plan that does not rely on the U.S. Government for assistance.
  • Review and follow the CDC’s guidelines for the prevention of coronavirus.
  • Check with your airline, cruise lines, or travel operators regarding any updated information about your travel plans and/or restrictions.
  • Visit to view individual Travel Advisories for the most urgent threats to safety and security.
  • Visit Embassy webpages on COVID-19 for information on conditions in each country or jurisdiction.
  • Visit the Department of Homeland Security’s website on the latest travel restrictions to the United  States


HHS and FEMA have fielded many requests to assist or partner with the Federal Government in response to the COVID pandemic.

  • Organizations or individuals seeking to contract with the federal government to import or manufacture medical products to aid the U.S. response submit information to FEMA through a Request for Proposal, available here.
  • Organizations or individuals that wish to donate medical supplies or equipment can submit that information here.
  • Other inquiries from organizations or individuals, including individuals who want to volunteer or organizations that want to produce a product related to the COVID response, among other inquiries, can be referred to 

How to schedule a blood donation appointment:

Article Topic Follows: Coronavirus

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