How to help during the wildfires; Paid leave available for COVID-19 quaratine; Wastewater monitoring project

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Life is stressful for people in Oregon right now with COVID-19. We’ve adapted our lives to cope with the disease, and now we are faced with wildfires and dangerous smoke as well.

Helping is not only a great way to contribute to the community, but it also helps us feel like we can make a difference. People in Oregon are stepping up. Folks are adding displaced chickens to their urban chicken coops, passing on extra filters and fans to make air purifiers and donating food and clothes to evacuation shelters.

If you are considering monetary donations, a guide to safe giving is available at this link.

Here are some other ways you can help:

Ways to help during wildfires: Check on neighbors Donate to organizations responding to fires or helping people who are houselessPaid leave available for COVID-19 quarantine or isolation

Do you have to quarantine or isolate because of COVID-19 but don’t have paid time off?

A new program starts this week to help people who work in Oregon and need to quarantine or isolate due to COVID-19 exposure, but do not have access to COVID-19-related paid sick leave.

The COVID-19 Temporary Paid Leave Program was created with $30 million received from the federal government to help Oregon respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

People who qualify will receive a $120 per-day payment for up to 10 working days ($1,200 total) for the time they are required quarantine.

Employees can apply online starting today at oregon.gov/covidpaidleave.

The application form is available in English, Spanish, and Russian. Those who do not have access to electronic applications can call 833-685-0850 (toll-free) or 503-947-0130. Those who need help in a language other than these three can call 503-947-0131 for help.

The Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) and the Department of Revenue are collaborating on the new program to ensure employees meet the necessary eligibility requirements. To see if you meet them, take this eligibility quiz, or see the requirements on the DCBS site.

Because the available funds are limited, the program is available only to quarantine periods that were in place on or after Sept. 16. Applicants can claim only one quarantine period.

Have you been exposed to COVID-19 and need to quarantine, your employer doesn’t provide paid sick leave? Oregon.gov/covidpaidleave

OHA announces new COVID-19 wastewater monitoring project

OHA today announced it had launched a statewide COVID-19 wastewater monitoring project to study the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in more than 40 small- to medium-sized communities around the state. The project, which will include weekly wastewater testing over the next 30 months, will enable epidemiologists to better understand the circulation of COVID-19 in some of Oregon’s communities. It will serve as an “early warning” system to tell if COVID-19 is spreading silently in communities.

“This program holds promise to help us monitor COVID-19 in our communities,” said Melissa Sutton MD, MPH, Medical Director for Respiratory Viral Pathogens at OHA and a principal investigator for the wastewater study. “We look forward to our partnership with local communities and researchers. Together we hope to better understand the spread of COVID-19 in Oregon.”

Much of the work will be carried out by Oregon State University researchers, along with local partners. Funding for this program comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Oregon reports 195 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, two new deaths

COVID-19 has claimed two more lives in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 521, the Oregon Health Authority reported Wednesday September 16th.

Oregon Health Authority reported 195 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19, bringing the state total to 29,850.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported are in the following counties: Benton (1), Clackamas (10), Clatsop (2), Coos (2), Deschutes (4), Douglas (2), Hood River (1), Jackson (15), Jefferson (5), Klamath (14), Lane (15), Linn (1), Malheur (17), Marion (23), Multnomah (32), Polk (3), Umatilla (2), Union (1), Wallowa (6), Wasco (2), Washington (33) and Yamhill (4).