UPDATE (7:12 p.m. PT) - Oregon’s death toll from COVID-19 rose to 154 Monday, according to the last figures released by the Oregon Health Authority.
In a release late Monday, OHA said the most recent death was a 59 -year-old man from Marion County. He died May 29 at Salem Hospital, the same day he tested positive.
The health agency reported 59 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19, putting the state’s running total of current cases at 4,302. By far the highest number of new cases is in Marion County, where OHA identified 13.
Presumptive cases are people who have not tested positive for the virus but have symptoms and have had close contact with a confirmed case.
Oregon COVID-19 Map
Washington Lifts Blanket Stay-home Order
Monday begins a new chapter in Washington’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. For the first time in more than two months, the state is no longer under a blanket stay-home order from the governor.
While that order is lifted, restrictions on daily life are not. Gatherings and non-essential travel are still limited under Gov. Jay Inslee’s previously announced phased reopening plan. Also, starting June 8 he will require people to wear masks at work if they’re not alone. Businesses must also strongly encourage customers to use masks.
Inslee has also unveiled a new set of targets that counties must aim for if they want to move to the next phase. That should make it easier for some of the dozen or so counties still stuck in Phase One to begin to advance.
Gov. Kate Brown fires state employment agency director
On Sunday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown fired the head of the state’s embattled employment department. Kay Erickson’s departure was the culmination of technological and logistical breakdowns at the agency that resulted in tens of thousands of newly out-of-work Oregonians being forced to wait weeks and even months for unemployment benefits in the midst of a global health crisis that cratered the state economy.
Brown announced that she had asked for and received the resignation of Kay Erickson one day after state lawmakers grilled Erickson over her department’s performance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Oregon’s unemployment rate was at a historic low of 3.5% before COVID-19 struck here. In April, after social restrictions took effect to limit the spread of the virus, joblessness hit 14.2%. About 266,000 Oregonians reported losing their jobs that month.
The resulting rush of unemployment insurance claims overwhelmed state government, which was asked to process an unprecedented deluge of claims and simultaneously adapt its archaic computer system to handle new rules authorized by the CARES Act.
Officials within the Employment Department have said old technology and inadequate staffing created the massive backlog that Brown has ordered them to clear.
Oregon starts opening state park campgrounds
Several Oregon state park campgrounds have begun reopening, after being closed in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department reopened seven first-come, first-served campgrounds in Eastern Oregon and expect to add dozens more throughout the state, including popular areas like the coast and the Columbia River Gorge. Parks that do open have limited services.