LATEST RELIEF PACKAGE (updated 12/22):
The latest, $900 billion coronavirus relief package includes a number of provisions that I fought for that will begin to address the desperate need among Americans. I will continue to fight for additional resources that our families and communities need to thrive.
- $600 in direct payments for individuals with incomes below $75,000, $1,200 for couples making up to $150,000, and $600 for each child dependent. Importantly, this payment will also apply to mixed-status households.
- $300 in supplemental federal unemployment benefits for the next 11 weeks, as well as an extension of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program for gig workers and the self-employed.
- $25 billion in rental assistance funding, which is new to this package.
- $13 billion for food assistance programs.
- $82 billion for colleges and schools.
- $7 billion for rural broadband, with $3.2 billion going to support connectivity for low-income families, and $1 billion for tribal broadband.
- $284 billion for business loans through the Paycheck Protection Program, which now includes 501(c)(6)s and local journalism outlets. Those expenses are now also tax deductible.
- $15 billion for live entertainment venues, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions, which is new to this package.
- $20 billion for Economic Injury Disaster Loans for businesses.
- $3.5 billion for Small Business Administration debt relief, and $2 billion for enhancements to SBA lending.
- $32 billion to procure vaccines and for vaccine distribution.
- $22 billion for states to support COVID testing, tracing and mitigation.
CARES Act FAQ'S:
PRIORITIES FOR THE NEXT CORONAVIRUS EMERGENCY RELIEF BILL:
The December deal is certainly better than nothing at all, given the great need across our state and nation, but much more is needed to get American families and businesses back on their feet, and the economy back in gear.
We need another emergency aid package that prioritizes families, workers, small-businesses, and local and tribal governments. I have introduced legislation that would give small businesses greater flexibility and access to resources, especially restaurants that have been battered, and I continue fighting to pass a nationwide moratorium on utility shut-offs to ensure individuals and families can stay safely at home. If we want to avoid laying off teachers, firefighters, and other critical state, local and tribal government employees, we must include substantial support for those governments. And we must not allow this and any future emergency aid bills to become slush funds for special interests, and I continue to call on Congress to prevent emergency funds from being siphoned away from the people who really need it.
I’m going to continue pushing to make sure the federal government works quickly and with compassion so families, small businesses, and our communities have the resources they need to get through this crisis, and then to thrive. We must rebuild the economy from families and Main Street up, not Wall Street down.
RECENT HIGHLIGHTS (updated 12/22):
- On Dec. 14, Oregon started distributing COVID-19 vaccines, prioritizing frontline health care workers and long-term care residents. The state is guaranteed 1.2 percent of the national supply—and Sen. Merkley has pushed to make sure that Oregonians receive that share. For more information on the COVID-19 vaccine in Oregon and future priority groups, visit the Oregon Health Authority vaccine website, CovidVaccine.Oregon.Gov. LEARN MORE
- As of Oct. 19, Oregon has expanded its statewide, enforced masked mandate. In addition to wearing masks when in public, indoor spaces, and in outdoor settings when they are not able to maintain physical distance (such as passing others on a narrow sidewalk or trail), individuals must also wear face coverings in all private and public workplaces when not alone, and also in outdoor and indoor markets, street fairs, and private schools. Learn more
- The CDC has recently updated its guidance on transmission to recognize that the coronavirus can spread through airborne transmission. This means that Oregonians should be especially cautious indoors and in poorly ventilated spaces, and be vigilant about wearing masks with others outside your household when indoors or when outdoors and unable to maintain distance. Learn more
- Through December, Oregon will have enough coronavirus test kits to do up to 80,000 “rapid antigen” tests a week, more than double the state’s current capacity. That means that OHA has updated its testing guidance: every close contact of a confirmed case will get tested, regardless of whether or not they’re showing symptoms. Learn more
- If you’ve lost your health insurance, you can apply for coverage through Oregon’s health insurance marketplace. Learn more
- I have launched a new online economic recovery hub to help Oregon businesses and 501(c)(3) nonprofits to navigate and access emergency aid. Visit "Operation: Main Street"
HAZ CLIC AQUÍ para recomendaciones e información acerca de cómo prevenir la exposición, las síntomas conocidas, y qué hacer si usted cree que ha estado expuesto al coronavirus de los Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades (CDC). Para información específica de Oregon, por favor visite el sitio web de la Autoridad de Salud de Oregon (OHA).
COVID-19: The Coronavirus
America and the world are in the midst of dangerous global outbreak of the respiratory disease known as COVID-19 – the coronavirus. Confirmed cases continue to rise in the United States and will likely continue to for some time.
At this time, the CDC estimates that roughly 35% of COVID-19 positive Americans don’t display symptoms, and therefore may not realize they are spreading the disease. This makes social distancing, wearing personal protective equipment (like cloth masks), and adhering to stay-at-home guidelines critical to beating the coronavirus. We must slow the spread of this disease as much as possible to protect at-risk populations and prevent a catastrophic overload on our hospitals and health care system.
- Stay home and work from home, if at all possible.
- If you have been around a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 (within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes), self-isolate for at least two weeks.
- Avoid crowds of any size and attempt to keep a 6-foot distance between yourself and others at all times.
- Wear a mask in public to control particle spread. A cloth mask will suffice; medical-grade masks should not be purchased by the general public at this time, so that adequate supplies are available for health care professionals.
- When supporting local businesses or accepting home deliveries, ask for contact-less pick-up or delivery options, if possible, to minimize transmission risks.
- When grocery shopping, buy only what you need and avoid hoarding so that others may buy what they need as well.
- Continue to be vigilant about washing your hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds, using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol (soap and water is better though), and avoiding touching your face, eyes, and mouth.
- If you develop symptoms, call your health care provider, local urgent care, or emergency room BEFORE going in. They will advise you how to proceed to protect yourself and other patients.
As developments unfold, my team and I will update this page with new information for you and your loved ones. Like any major flu or respiratory virus, please follow the advice and recommendations of medical professionals to minimize and mitigate public health risks.
As a reminder: Oregon has a protected sick time law. This is very important in the face of a contagious illness like the coronavirus, when individuals are encouraged to stay home when sick to minimize exposing others and to give yourself time to recover. This law also protects those who must care for a sick family member, or who need to care for a child if their school or place of care is closed due to a public health emergency. Learn more about Oregon’s sick time law
Prevention, Symptoms, and Care:
Please visit the CDC website for recommendations on how to limit exposure, what to do if you think you’ve been exposed and/or have contracted the coronavirus, and how to manage symptoms for milder cases of COVID-19.
This is a dangerous disease no matter your age or health, but certain communities are especially at risk. Learn more about specific risk groups from the CDC:
The stress of this situation can and will take a toll on many Americans. Resources are out there to help people manage stress, anxiety, and depression at this time. Please visit the CDC mental health resources page for more information and recommendations.
Communicating with Children about COVID-19:
The CDC has also compiled recommendations for how to talk to children about this situation. Please visit the CDC website for ideas on what to say and how to help children cope.
Federal Response and Emergency Assistance:
I take the safety of Oregonians and Americans incredibly seriously, which is why I pressed my Republican and Democratic colleagues to hammer out additional emergency resources for individuals, front-line responders, and communities.