CORONAVIRUS, department of forestry, Salem

State Dispatch: Coronavirus updates, ODF seeks public input, election update

The Oregon Capitol building in Salem. Photo: Chas Hundley

Coronavirus resources: CDC on the coronavirusOregon Health Authority resourcesWashington County resourcesOregonian reporting on the coronavirusOPB glossary of coronavirus termsNYTimes free reporting on the coronavirus

Coronavirus in Oregon: By the numbers

As of Wednesday, April 8, the most recently available numbers, the Oregon Health Authority reported that there were 1,239 positive cases of COVID-19. Statewide, 23,325 tests have returned negative results. 

In Oregon so far, at least 38 people with the coronavirus have died.

In Washington County, there were 295 positive tests, 3,195 negative tests, and six county residents have died with the coronavirus. 

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Oregon ships 140 ventilators to New York

“New York needs more ventilators, and we are answering their call for help,” said governor Kate Brown in a tweet on Saturday, April 4.

“We’ll be sending 140 ventilators to help NY because Oregon is in a better position right now. We must do all that we can to help those on the front lines of this response,” Brown said.

New York remains the center of the worst outbreak of the virus, though state officials believe they are nearing a plateau, with fewer people admitted to Intensive Care Units in recent days than last week.

“We are so grateful to [Oregon Governor Brown] and the people of Oregon. On behalf of the people of NY, I thank you and rest assured that NY will repay the favor when Oregon needs it,” said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in a tweet. 

Governor Brown recommends cloth masks for the general public

 While masks were not recommended by public health officials at the onset of the COVID-19 health crisis, officials and health experts are now saying that masks — in addition to social distancing and handwashing — should be used as an additional measure to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. 

In a press release, Governor Kate Brown gave her support for masks to be worn publicly, but cautioned against using medical-grade masks, asking Oregonians to save those for medical professionals only. 

“This is a rapidly-evolving situation, and each day we learn more about this virus,” said Governor Brown. “Early in this pandemic, health experts advised that masks were not an effective way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Now, the CDC has updated their guidance regarding the use of cloth, homemade masks in public: they now say that wearing cloth masks in public places like grocery stores can help prevent those who are sick––particularly unknowingly infected, asymptomatic people––from spreading the virus further.

“That last point is a very important detail: wearing a cloth mask may not keep you from getting sick, but it can help you prevent spreading the virus to others.

Oregon Department of Forestry asks for input

Through 5 p.m. on May 6, the Oregon Department of Forestry is asking for public input on the agency’s draft Annual Operations Plans for state forests., which define a number of activities expected to take place in the coming fiscal year. 

“State forests by law must provide economic, environmental and social benefits to Oregonians,” a press release from the agency said. 

the draft Annual Operations Plans can be viewed online at and are also available at district offices, though note that offices are closed except by appointment only due to the governor’s stay at home order. 

According to ODF, common topics in the plans include timber harvest operations, recreation projects, forest road construction and maintenance, reforestation, habitat improvement, invasive species management, and more. 

An online survey to offer comment on the plans can be found at; online comments can also be made at

Comments can also be mailed to:

ODF Public Affairs, 2600 State St., Salem, OR 97310.

Will Oregon postpone the May 19 primary elections?

When it comes to choosing a party nominee for president, primary elections in Oregon are usually a formality.

Once again, that’s been proven true, after Senator Bernie Sanders announced the suspension of his campaign on Wednesday, April 8, leaving former vice-president Joe Biden the presumptive Democratic Party nominee.

Primary elections are held so late — May 19 this year — in the cycle that the nominee is usually already decided, or (in this case) most candidates have been winnowed away already. In 2016, Donald Trump was already the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party by the time party members in Oregon got to cast their votes, and Bernie Sanders’ efforts to uncrown the eventual Democratic Party choice of Hilary Clinton was basically dead by the time those in the blue column voted. Sanders won the state, but he’d already laid off most of his campaign staff weeks before. 

But this year, 16 states and U.S. territories are postponing their primary elections due to concerns around the coronavirus, many after the Oregon primary election on May 19.

Oregon won’t be postponing the primary, a product of Oregon’s vote by mail system.

“Because Oregon votes by mail we do not have to be concerned about social distancing issues at polling places that so many other states are struggling with,” a press release from the Oregon Secretary of State’s office read. “Many states are looking to implement our vote by mail system as a safer way to conduct elections in November. Contingency plans are being prepared to deal with any impacts the COVID-19 virus may have on our election processes.”

Prohibition on dine-in restaurants and bars extended

On Tuesday, April 7, Governor Kate Brown issued executive order 20-14, which extends the prohibition on dine-in food and drink consumption in Oregon, originally put in place by executive order 20-07, which would have expired on April 14.

Now, the order will remain in place until lifted by the governor. 

 “We all want to return to a day where we can frequent the restaurants and businesses that have given Oregon its well-deserved culinary reputation and provided so many jobs for Oregonians,” said Governor Brown. “I wish I could say there was a date certain when that could happen. But it would be irresponsible to lift these restrictions in the middle of this outbreak.

“I will be working with my Medical Advisory Panel, the Oregon Health Authority, and local officials to continue to evaluate how and when we can begin to return to a time where public spaces are safe from the spread of COVID-19.”

Chas Hundley is the editor of the Banks Post and sister news publications the Gales Creek Journal and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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