Extra step required for some people to receive additional COVID-era unemployment benefit

By Courtney Sherwood (OPB)
Sept. 12, 2020 1 p.m. Updated: Sept. 12, 2020 8:34 p.m.

As Oregon’s coronavirus death toll passes 500, state health officials have tips for people evacuating fires while battling the virus

Out-of-work Oregonians hoping to get an extra $300 on their weekly unemployment benefits may need to take an extra stop to start receiving those funds.

For people getting unemployment through the state’s Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, the extra payment authorized by executive order of President Donald Trump should appear automatically.


But people receiving regular benefits or the extra 13 week of payments under the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program need to go online to certify they’ve lost work because of the pandemic.

The state has six weeks' worth of federal funding. People qualify if they received unemployment benefits between July 26 and Sept. 5.Payments are expected to begin later this month.

More than 500 Oregonians have died of the coronavirus

With six more deaths to COVID-19 announced Saturday, the coronavirus has now taken more than 500 Oregon lives.

“These are our family members, our friends, neighbors and colleagues,” Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen said in a written statement. “We extend our deepest condolences to every Oregonian who has suffered a loss to COVID-19."

The state releases few identifying details of those who die of the virus, a concession to privacy concerns, but did share some facts about the people who brought the COVID-19 death toll to 505. They were:

  • A 49-year-old Umatilla County woman who tested positive Aug. 12 and died Sept. 2 at a Walla Walla, Washington, hospital.
  • A 76-year-old Washington County man who tested positive Aug. 27 and died Sept. 6 at Adventist Medical Center in Portland.
  • A 97-year-old Clackamas County woman who tested positive June 29 and died Aug. 29 at Legacy Meridian Park Hospital in Tualatin.
  • A 74-year-old Multnomah County woman who tested positive Aug. 27 and died Sept. 5 at her home.
  • A 63-year-old Multnomah County man who died Aug. 28 at Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland. The state did not have details about when he was diagnosed with the virus.
  • An 82-year-old Lane County man who tested positive Aug. 26 and died Sept. 2 at his home.

The state also announced 293 new confirmed and presumed COVID-19 cases Saturday, bringing total known infections to 29,156.


Nearly half of Oregon’s deaths to COVID-19 — 240 of the total — have been in the greater Portland metro area’s Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties.

Another 85 people have died in Marion County, and 41 in Malheur.

Despite Saturday’s grim milestone, deaths and new diagnoses have been falling in Oregon for five straight weeks. New diagnoses are down 5% in the most recent week from the prior week, according to the Oregon Health Authority, which said deaths are also dropping, and a smaller percentage of people tested are coming back positive for the virus.People in their 20s continue to be the most likely to contract COVID-19, while those older than 80 make up nearly half of all Oregon deaths from the virus.

Oregon offers tips for fire evacuations while infected

As COVID-19 infections slowly climb, health officials continue to express concerns that smoke from wildfires across the Pacific Northwest could affect recovery for people infected with the virus. Evacuating from fires while battling the coronavirus also comes with its own set of concerns.

“The first priority in wildfire situations is responding to the evacuation and safety instructions of local and state fire officials — and heeding their warnings. Regardless of disease status, if you are asked or ordered to evacuate, you should do so,” the Oregon Health Authority said in a press release Thursday.

The agency also asked people evacuating while quarantining to take these precautions:

  • If you have time, reach out to your local public health authority, who should have already been in contact with you about your isolation or quarantine. They may have solutions to help you continue to remain isolated if you must evacuate.
  • If you are directed to a shelter or other evacuation space, let officials know you are in isolation or quarantine so that they can take steps to keep you distanced from other evacuees.
  • Wear a mask at all times when outside your home, or if you may come into contact with people who do not live with you.
  • If you are an older adult or a person with disabilities, reach out to the Aging and Disabilities Resource Connection for information about resources at 1-855-673-2372.
  • Practice physical distancing to the greatest extent possible, if you must travel outside your home for any reason, including evacuation.

Umatilla County allowed to ease COVID-19 restrictions, Jackson and Jefferson counties removed from watchlist

Umatilla County is allowed to relax some coronavirus restrictions, effective immediately, the East Oregonian reported Friday.

That’s a reversal from last week, when Gov. Kate Brown and the Oregon Health Authority rejected the county’s application to enter Phase 2 of reopening. At the time, they said the county had more than 100 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents and did not meet other state metrics for easing restrictions.

Jackson and Jefferson counties have been removed from Oregon’s coronavirus watchlist, which documents the counties with the broadest spread of COVID-19, according to the Mail Tribune. The list allows the state to prioritize resources and increase monitoring. Both counties have seen improvements in transmission of the disease.