People Of Color Disproportionately Represented In Coronavirus Caseload

By OPB Staff (OPB)
Portland, Ore. April 30, 2020 2:15 p.m.

UPDATE (7:05 p.m. PT) — The Multnomah County Health Department Thursday released a new data dashboard in collaboration with Clackamas, Washington and Yamhill counties.

Demographic information in that data shows that people of color make up 40% of the confirmed coronavirus cases in Multnomah County.


For the entire Portland region, including those four counties, people of color make up about 43% of confirmed cases.

“Black, indigenous people of color are more likely to be exposed to coronavirus because they’re more likely to engage in public facing essential work,” Aileen Duldulao, a research scientist and senior epidemiologist with Multnomah County said in a press briefing Thursday. “So, [they are] working in grocery stores, in janitorial services, working as nurses.”

Duldulao said coronavirus testing will need to increase to get a more accurate sense of how cases are distributed demographically across the region.

Known Oregon coronavirus cases surpass 2,500

Health officials in Oregon on Thursday confirmed 64 new coronavirus cases, bringing the state’s total to 2,510.

Health officials also announced Thursday two new coronavirus-related deaths.

The Oregon Health Authority detailed the new deaths as:

  • A 69-year-old man in Multnomah County who tested positive April 7 and died on April 26 at Legacy Emanuel Hospital. He had underlying medical conditions.
  • A 77-year-old man in Marion County who tested positive April 25 and died on April 25 at his residence. He had underlying medical conditions.

The number of people who are known to have died of COVID-19 in Oregon is now 103.

Oregon COVID-19 Map

Jacob Fenton, The Accountability Project at the Investigative Reporting Workshop 


Washington surpasses 14,000 confirmed cases

In Southwest Washington, Clark County Public Health on Thursday confirmed eight new cases of coronavirus, bringing the county’s total to 359.

No new deaths were reported Thursday. In total, 21 people are known to have died of COVID-19 in Clark County.

The latest available data from the Washington Department of Health show 14,327 diagnosed cases of the coronavirus and 814 related deaths.

The U.S. as a whole has hit 1 million coronavirus cases Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University.

More than 28,000 Oregonians filed for unemployment last week

The Oregon Employment Department reported Thursday that it received 28,500 initial claims for unemployment benefits last week.

Since public health and safety measures related to the coronavirus began the week of March 15, the agency said it has received more than 362,200 initial unemployment claims.

The department said it has processed three out of every four initial claims it has received between March 15 and April 25, and it is continuing to expand its processing ability.

“The agency now has 610 employees dedicated to processing unemployment claims,” the employment department said in a statement. “A new contact center is expected to open in May.”

An unusual planting season

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the spring gardening season this year. At Portland Nursery, new social distancing rules meant closing the store to customers and redesigning how people shop for plants, soil and seeds.

Coalition to Gov. Brown: "Act with children as our north star"

Wednesday, a coalition of organizations including the Chalkboard Project, FACT Oregon, Stand for Children, and the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon sent a letter to Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, requesting a collaborative approach to "helping students advance their academic learning and social-emotional growth during and beyond COVID-19."

With leaders at the state and local levels facing budget cuts due to COVID-19, the coalition asked Brown to “act with children as our north star” and consider the impact of the pandemic and budget cuts for Oregon’s most vulnerable children. Addressing leaders in the Legislature and the Oregon Department of Education, the coalition asked state decision makers to think about how they are engaging families and directing resources to students who need it most.

The state’s new Student Success Act was meant to directly serve those children, with each school district required to submit plans to the state outlining how they’d spend new funds on underrepresented communities.

The coalition's letter comes as businesses prepare their first quarterly payment for the Commercial Activities Tax, the funding mechanism that supports the Student Success Act. Hundreds of businesses have asked to delay that payment. On Monday, Brown announced a tax exemption for companies who expected smaller tax bills.

The group of organizations asked to be involved in policy efforts to better engage families and direct resources to students who need support.