REMARKS AS PREPARED
Governor Kate Brown
Coronavirus Press Conference
March 20, 2020
Good morning everyone.
I’d like to start by giving a quick update:
Yesterday I participated in a phone call with President Trump, Vice President Pence and governors from across the country.
I have made a request to the President and the federal government to extend the REAL ID deadline for one-year. This will ensure Oregon can comply with the Act, and that Oregonians will not be adversely impacted when attempting to travel domestically.
I am concerned about the prolonged impact of COVID-19 in Oregon, particularly on our travel industry. An extension will allow us to focus efforts on fighting this virus, while still developing efficient Real ID services.
I have followed up with a letter on this issue to Acting Secretary Wolf of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
I also want to talk about the work our employment department is doing. Our unemployment insurance fund, with around $5 billion, was the second best funded UI fund in the country. The department has taken several steps this week to make enrolling in unemployment easier and faster, including:
● Relaxing rules for any Oregonian who is unable to work due to coronavirus — whether it’s because they are ill, a family member is sick, or they’ve been advised by public health officials to self-quarantine.
● This includes if a person is unable to work because they need to stay at home to care for a child due to the closure of schools and child care providers.
● It also includes people who are unable to work because their employers have ceased or curtailed operations during this public health emergency.
A few items I’m moving forward on:
● Today, the Oregon Department of Transportation is partnering with law enforcement agencies to suspend enforcement of driver licenses, vehicle registrations, and trip permits that expire during this public health emergency. This suspension will protect the health and safety of those who would otherwise need to go to a DMV office.
I also want to keep you in the loop on other items we’re exploring:
● My team and I are looking into a statewide moratorium on evictions. I think this is incredibly important during an unprecedented crisis like the one we are facing, and want to reduce people’s anxiety about potentially losing their home in the event they are unable to pay rent.
● We are submitting a Disaster Relief Waiver to Medicaid to give people on the Oregon Health Plan flexibility to maintain their coverage. If the waiver is approved, new applicants won’t have to wait for income verification to obtain health insurance on Medicaid during the course of this public health emergency.
● We will also be suspending terminations of Medicaid coverage to make sure no one loses their insurance at this time.
Last, I’d like to end with an update on PPE. Yesterday, my team put in an order to FEMA for 1 million N-95 surgical masks, 300,000 test swabs, and 140 ventilators. I will keep you posted on when we may receive those items.
With that, I will open it up for questions.