Where did summer go?? Suddenly the Labor Day weekend is upon us.
This is a time to celebrate working people, enjoy family, and embrace our spectacular Autumn weather as Summer comes to an end.
I’m also hearing your concerns that heat in the valley, limited travel options, and pressure to grab one last long-weekend trip will bring throngs of visitors to our beaches. I have spoken before in these newsletters about the problem of parking chaos, trash, and bad manners. Please know we are regulating parking areas, increasing traffic enforcement, and maximizing staffing for sanitation and garbage management. State and local authorities are doing their best. And yes, there will still be problems.
This Labor Day weekend, we all need to make smart choices:
Stay local: Travel as little as possible to build on the progress we’ve made in reducing the spread of COVID across Oregon
Stay small: We know that larger gatherings can dangerously spread COVID, especially by those without symptoms who unknowingly spread this disease. We all stay safe by sticking to small groups
Stay outside: If you want to get together with others in a small group, do it outdoors. Your risk of getting infected is much lower.
Stay safe by covering your face: Wear a mask or face covering. It will protect you and the people around you.
Support local businesses: It’s one of the best things you can do for our economy and fellow Oregonians right now.
Expect & Prepare for Busy Roads This Weekend. Travelers are expected to be out on the road in large numbers. If you are planning a trip, the Oregon Department of Transportation provided some travel tips:
Plan your route in advance and stay socially distant whenever possible.
Businesses around the state require masks. Make sure that you and your passengers have several face coverings.
Carry plenty of hand sanitizer, toilet paper and other sanitation items.
Motorists need to keep a special eye out for bicyclists, who are expected to be out in big numbers over the three-day weekend.
Don’t use backroads or logging roads to get around traffic congestion. These roads are typically unimproved and present a number of potential hazards.
There are many parking/camping restrictions on beach highways and county roads. Please obey the signs that are there for your safety. Law enforcement can cite you for parking illegally.
Protect our health and the environment by disposing of your garbage appropriately or packing it out.
And whether you are traveling across the state or just across town, please, watch the crosswalks. Be kind and let traffic turn or merge. And obey the speed limit. We are seeing a lot of excessive speeds and too many crashes. Please be patient!
Wildfire Response during COVID. We are now in the midst of our annual fire season. And whether it results from cigarette butts, campfires, fireworks, or even target shooting ricochets, we are seeing a measurable increase in human-caused fires.
Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) maintains a Wildfire website, which includes links to a current wildfire map and a blog for wildfire news. To learn about restrictions and wildfire activities at home, at work and when you are out and about, visit www.KeepOregonGreen.org/prevent-wildfires. For additional information, Oregon's smoke blog and ODF's Significant Fire Potential Map .
COVID-19 continues to impact all fire agencies, from PPE supplies to managing safety protocols that minimize virus transmission among workers. The Governor’s Council on Wildfire Response described this year’s fire conditions as a “new wildfire reality.” Around 90% of the state is currently in a drought. Warmer and drier-than-normal conditions are expected to last through the end of the month. “Escaped debris burns” are the largest cause of wildfires statewide.
Be prepared for two weeks in response to any disaster. Oregon’s "2 Weeks Ready" initiative encourages us to prepare for natural disasters and emergencies, such as fires, drought, or the Cascadia earthquake. Having a minimum of two weeks of supplies on hand allows your household to be self-sufficient and lessens the burden on emergency supplies and responders. Being prepared also mitigates the effects of risks such as heat waves, power outages, and even COVID-19 as people may need to isolate at home for as long as 14 days.
Everyone’s kit will be customized differently to fit the needs of their household. Go to Oregon Office of Emergency Management's website for more information.
Filling out the Census means Oregon can receive the resources, funding and representation our state deserves.Every ten years, a nation-wide Census is conducted. The purpose of the Census is to get an accurate tally of everyone in the United States and where they live. The federal government uses this information to distribute more than $675 billion in federal funds to local, state and tribal governments each year. Oregon and our local governments also use that information to invest in schools, public health and other critical resources and supports.
The Census data also helps determine how the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are divided among the 50 states and helps us draw Oregon legislative districts.
We Count Oregon is our state’s effort to ensure Oregon has an accurate count. It can feel like a lot of questions, and the Census Bureau has useful information on why they ask and about their legal requirement to keep your information confidential no matter what.
Current self-response rates show Lincoln County at 45%, Tillamook County at 41%, Yamhill at 70% and Polk at 73%. The Oregon average 68%. Clearly the Coast is lagging.
The Census is available online, over the phone and by mail. Follow this link to learn how to access these options.
Healthcare Coverage & Enrollment. Uninsured Oregonians who have lost private health coverage due to COVID-19 can enroll in HealthCare.gov, which has made it easier for uninsured consumers to enroll.
Oregonians who were eligible for a standard special enrollment period, but missed this window due to COVID-19, can still enroll. Applications are being accepted at HealthCare.gov and at 800-318-2596.
If you need other assistance, there are several options available:
NEED HELP PAYING RENT? The Legislature has allocated over $40 million to help individuals who are struggling to pay rent due to the financial impact of COVID-19. Funds are distributed by local community action partners (CAP). You can learn more about eligibility by calling 211 or visiting www.caporegon.org/find-services/ to find the nearest CAP.
NEED HELP PAYING UTILITIES? Your local CAP may also be able to help. Please see: www.caporegon.org/find-services/ Many utility companies are waiving late fees, suspending disconnections, and making payment plans available. Please see https://www.oregon.gov/puc/Documents/OregonEnergyAssistance.pdf for information about what your specific gas, electricity, internet, or telephone company may offer.
NEED HELP PAYING YOUR MORTGAGE? The Oregon Legislature has released $30 million in mortgage assistance. If you need or anticipate needing mortgage assistance, please sign up for Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) updates at https://www.oregon.gov/ohcs/about-us/Pages/news-updates.aspx. You can also contact the Oregon Homeownership Stabilization Initiative (OHSI) at (503) 986-2025.
Good News to Share. Each week we have been trying to conclude with a “Thumbs Up” to recognize people or groups working to make our part of Oregon stronger, safer, and more resilient. Several of you wrote to me to recommend Acompañar.
Concerned local volunteers in Lincoln County formed Acompañar to provide asylum-seekers with free transportation to their monthly ICE appointments in Eugene. Travelers had been paying up to $200 for transportation each month.
During the COVID crisis, concerns turned to serving families in the community who are not eligible for government financial assistance. The majority of this population work in the service industry, in our restaurants and motels, and were left without any income. Although these families are an integral part of our tourism economy in Lincoln County they received no unemployment and no stimulus checks.
Acompañar began a fundraising effort to help families with costs for food and utilities. They receive referrals through local individuals connected with the immigrant community, a county program serving young mothers, and also local pastors. At this time they serve 50 plus families each month with food subsidies of $120 per family. Yachats Community Presbyterian Church has agreed to act as fiscal agent and their non-profit status allows tax-deductible donations.
Thank you to Acompañar and groups like you for remembering we are all in this together.
That’s the news for now!
Our small businesses look to the holiday weekend for one last surge before they begin to wind down in the Fall. I wish them success! As you spend time with family and friends this weekend, please remember the importance of keeping health and safety at the forefront of your decisions.
Happy Labor Day!
Representative David Gomberg
House District 10