REMARKS AS PREPARED
Governor Kate Brown
QFund and CPOP Welcome
July 21, 2020
Good afternoon everyone. Thank you all for joining us today.
It’s become very clear that COVID-19 is not an emergency that will fade with a change of the season – this is the most prolonged statewide emergency I have ever seen and it has impacted every aspect of our lives.
You all have been the boots on the ground – truly the first on the scene – responding to COVID-19. Our state partnerships with public health officials and local emergency managers have been critical to our response to this crisis.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
We’ve had to build a testing and contact tracing infrastructure in a very short period of time. That system needs to grow and expand further.
And we’ve been challenged to develop culturally-specific responses so that every Oregonian has the tools and information they need to stay safe.
This pandemic has exacerbated disparities in our systems that already existed—especially for low-income communities, rural communities, and communities of color.
As we work to build a safer and stronger Oregon, I am committed to putting our communities of color at the forefront of our recovery and response. This includes our agricultural workers and food industry, where we have seen significant workplace outbreaks.
I recently learned that a worker in Hermiston was provided with a homemade mask made of a single folded paper towel with a rubber band stapled at each end as a facial covering for work. That broke my heart.
We have to put the needs of workers at the forefront of our response. Words are not enough.
We must secure our food supply and protect farmworkers. In June, a $30 million package was authorized to rapidly deploy resources to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
One of those resources is the Quarantine Fund, which provides resources for agricultural workers who are recovering from COVID-19. This $10 million fund allows workers to take the time they need to recuperate, seek care, and quarantine.
This is critical. No one should feel like their livelihood hangs in the balance, even when they’re sick. The Quarantine Fund is vital to keeping outbreaks contained.
Another resource is the Protecting Oregon Farmworkers Community Outreach Program (CPOP), which focuses on fostering strong connections between resources, services and farmworkers.
This culturally-competent health tool is essential to ensuring that agricultural workers get the information and resources they need to stay safe at work, get tested if they need to, find economic support programs, and help prevent the spread of the virus in their communities.
And they will do so in a way that builds and fosters lasting relationships within communities so that we can continue to build a safer and stronger Oregon.
We need your help.
Local Public Health Authorities and emergency managers are essential to ensuring that we connect the dots to workers to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Your collaboration with trusted community partners is critical to the success of these programs.
I wish I could say that all this will be over soon, but as you’ve witnessed in recent weeks, our struggle is far from over, and is not likely to wane anytime in the foreseeable future.
We are seeing an increase in transmission of COVID-19 over the past month. The latest data model and case counts serve as sobering reminders that we must remain vigilant.
I am counting on you to provide communities with information, education and resources so they can protect themselves at work, home and in the community.
Now as we continue to reopen, we will focus on those who are all too often left behind. And by focusing on those who are most impacted by the pandemic, we have the opportunity to build a better Oregon – for everyone.