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  • Writer's pictureLisa Reynolds, MD

Oregon Coronavirus Update 4/28/2020: Oregon's Economic Forecast; Masks work!

Oregon Coronavirus Update

Tue 4/28/2020

Lisa Reynolds MD

This is Lisa Reynolds, MD. Portland Pediatrician, mom and daughter. Candidate for Oregon HD36.

Today: The Grim Economic Outlook for Oregon. The Case for Universal Masking.

Coronavirus: The numbers

  • WORLDWIDE: 3 million confirmed cases, 205,000 deaths

  • US: 988,000 confirmed cases, 51,000 deaths;

  • OREGON: 2300 confirmed cases, 92 deaths

  • Week 6 of Gov Brown’s Stay Home Order

Oregon’s Economic Outlook - It’s grim

Ted Sickinger of the Oregonian describes the mounting challenges and threats to Oregon’s economy.

Loss of Revenue

85% of Oregon’s revenue comes from personal income tax. With job losses, job furloughs, cuts to hours and pay, we can expect a decrease in this bucket of revenue to be 22%, or $2.7 billion for the biennium (2 year budget cycle).

Other revenue streams that will decline: Gas tax, lottery revenue (loss of $250-$500 million), park visitor revenue, registration fees, lodging tax, corporate income tax, capital gains

Increased Costs

Oregon Health Authority has increased costs for COVID testing, a public health workforce, and other COVID response.

Oregon Employment Department has increased its workforce from 105 to 600 with a goal of 800 employees to help process unemployment claims.

Department of Human Services (9K employees, budget $12.5B/biennium) - increased demand for services

Unemployment in Oregon

330,000 have filed for unemployment, which is double the number who filed in the 2008 recession

Federal Dollars ($2.45B)

Earmarked for local jurisdictions and specific services and projects. Cannot be used for backfilling state revenue holes. Indeed Sen Mitch McConnell says states will just have to file for bankruptcy.

Clearly more federal dollars are needed, with fewer strings attached.

Rainy Day Fund = $2.5B

Actions by State (40K employees)

Some agencies are cutting hours. State Parks is not hiring its usual seasonal workforce (half its workforce). No direction for cost cutting by Gov Brown who is waiting for the May 20 forecast.

Lisa's conclusion: We need bold ideas to fill our revenue hole. Oregon COVID bonds to stimulate investment in our future is just one idea I am pursuing. What do you think?

The case for Universal Masking

Universal masking: It’s cheap, it’s easy and it can really stop the spread of COVID!!

  • NYState requires universal masking, as does SF and LA.

  • 25% of countries mandate masks in some public settings.

  • Most countries recommend masking

  • Half of COVID is spread from someone with sx, ½ spread by asymptomatic or presymptomatic.

  • If just 60% of folks wear masks that are 60% effective, we could control the spread!

The spread of COVID

  • Initially thought to be via large droplet from a coughing or sneezing contagious person, which would fall to the ground within 6 feet. So: 6 feet of social distancing.

  • Then - evidence showed that the virus could travel farther - tiny droplets. AND that singing or talking propels virus into the air.

  • Masks will prevent a contagious person from emitting virus by keeping the virus behind the mask. A mask prevents droplets from “entering” a potential victim. Masks can have a tremendous impact on reducing transmission of virus.

  • About half of contagious people are without symptoms (it’s before they develop illness or they are in the minority who can spread the virus without ever having any symptoms).

Why are we NOT recommending universal masking?

  • Misunderstanding of how virus is spread (6 feet separation was felt to be sufficient. This is now discredited.)

  • Concern for shortage of masks for medical personnel

    • But now we know home-made masks are effective for stopping spread

  • Oregon language in OHA “You can wear a mask…” I think we should change to “you should wear a mask.” or even “you must wear a mask”

Okay, so we should be universally masking. What kind of mask?

  • Medical personnel need medical masks

  • OTHERS: Homemade: Most any material will work - the tighter the weave, the better. The more layers the better.

  • Here is a link to quickly make your own mask without sewing. Many sewers are making masks - check fb or etsy.

  • If 60% of us wore masks that were 60% effective at blocking the droplets/virus, we would decrease the transmission rate to one person per positive case. This halts the spread of COVID.

Lisa's conclusion: Masks are a cheap, quick, no-risk intervention that could slow (or halt) the spread of COVID19. Oregon should call for universal masking now.

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This website is written by Lisa Reynolds, MD, Portland, Oregon Pediatrician on the front lines of the coronavirus epidemic. Mom and daughter. Candidate for Oregon HD36.

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