Weekly Coronavirus Update: April 10, 2020
From State Representative David Gomberg
At long last, we have some good news.
The difficult steps we have taken together appear to be making a difference. Oregon is nearing its peak for the novel coronavirus. The new forecast shows Oregon’s hospital system is capable of handling patients, with a peak on April 20 — as long as people continue to stay home and stay safe.
Let me be clear. Good news is no reason to become complacent. We beat this thing by staying home, staying distant, and staying careful.
Social distancing guidelines have cut the amount of expected positive cases in the state by up to 70 percent.
This has not been without a cost. Schools are closed. Businesses are shuttered. Unemployment is at unimaginable levels. And we are all making sacrifices that range from inconvenience to personal economic catastrophe. The response from government has been extraordinary as we expand benefits, change qualifying rules, and plan to issue personal stimulus checks. But I fear that is little comfort to families and small business owners that are struggling with paperwork, trying to maintain their children’s education, and waiting for an agency to answer the phone.
The news is good. Certainly much better than in neighboring Washington State. But that doesn’t help the thousand here that are sick or may become so soon. And it certainly doesn’t offer any consolation to the families of those Oregonians who have died.
As we drive through our small towns – and you should not go out often – we see darkened store windows. That is the most visible sign of the economic epidemic we face. But it is only the most obvious symptom.
Susan emptied our kitchen pantry this week to make a point. She wanted to show me all the Oregon sourced food products we rely on. From blueberries to yogurt, with cheese, pasta, tofurky, jams and jellies, ice cream, olive oil, salt and beer, the list was expansive. And each represented a small firm and people – people who had risked everything for the dream of owning their own business. Most small business is financed with family loans, credit cards, or a second home mortgage. Now each of those businesses is worried their dream may not be sustainable. And they worry about their employees who have become like family.
I talk all the time about buy-local. Spend local. Support local.
Our hotels and restaurants are the most visible sign of our economic challenge. Craft food producers, carpenters and contractors, real estate, massage and physical therapy, and everything from hair care to lawn care are all part of the mix. Even our hospitals are suffering financially as they turn away non-critical care and elective surgery.
Fortunately, our coastal economy is stronger because we rely on pensions, social security, and investments for much of our regional income. One in three are over the age of 65 and transfer payments are our largest economic sector.
By behaving responsibly we can beat this disease. And by spending responsibly, generously, and locally we can help re-build our communities. Please join me and be part of the solution.