U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley said Monday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention awarded $7.2 million to Oregon to help with its coronavirus response.

Merkley and U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden are pushing the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to create a comprehensive plan to protect veterans against the COVID-19 outbreak.

U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio is also pressing the federal government to increase testing capabilities, protective equipment and medical supplies so that all Oregonians can get tested.

And U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, appears to have taken a page out of former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang’s book — suggesting every American immediately be sent a $1,000 check.

These are among the actions federal leaders are letting their constituents know about this week as concerns over the COVID-19 outbreak grow. As 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, the number of Oregonians who have tested positive for the disease is 51, but limited tests are available.

Merkley, Wyden and 10 other senators wrote a letter to Richard Stone, executive in charge of the Veterans Health Administration, last Thursday.

The Oregon Veterans’ Home in Lebanon has now reported 13 residents have been diagnosed with the potentially fatal illness, and have put the facility in lockdown. A patient at the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center died Saturday after having tested positive for the virus.

“We write to request details regarding VA’s approach to coronavirus preparedness and how the Department’s response had changed. We recognize that the COVID-19 outbreak is an evolving situation, with a growing impact on the U.S. and global community and want to ensure that the VA has all of the resources needed to keep veterans, staff, and communities safe,” the senators wrote in the letter.

DeFazio has also reached out to the Roseburg Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the regional network that oversees it to request information about preparedness and the response to COVID-19.

DeFazio also issued a statement Monday saying he had voted in support of a House bill that will provide economic assistance and relief to families and small businesses impacted by the outbreak. The bill provides $1.2 billion in nutrition assistance and gives states money to provide free and reduced-price lunches while schools are closed.

The legislation also would ensure that COVID-19 testing is free for everyone. The House is already working on another emergency response package, DeFazio said.

“As this situation develops, I will continue working to ensure that the federal government provides all necessary resources as well as financial assistance to Oregonians, and that there is a coordinated response at all levels to tackle this public health threat,” DeFazio said.

The Romney plan, according to a press release from his office, also includes grants to small businesses that lost 50% of their revenue compared with the same month last year. Unexpected costs due to COVID-10 would be included as a factor in Pell Grants and recent graduates would have loan deferment. Insurance plans would also be required to temporarily cover telehealth services.

Wyden has joined other Democratic senators calling for emergency unemployment insurance, paid sick days, loan payment relief, rental assistance and small business relief.

Wyden’s office said via email Monday that “Senator Wyden is considering Senator Romney’s proposal while working round-the-clock on this comprehensive response for unemployment, sick leave, assistance for rent and mortgages, anti-hunger programs and more in Oregon and nationwide.”

Reporter Carisa Cegavske can be reached at ccegavske@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4213.

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Senior Reporter

Carisa Cegavske is the senior reporter for The News-Review. She can be reached at ccegavske@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4213. Follow her on Twitter @carisa_cegavske

(3) comments


WOW. Several of Oregon’s elected officials are finally taking actions to protect their fellow Oregonians. Actions that fall into the “better late than never” category. Actions similar to our President that attempt to hide their woeful neglect of their responsibilities to protect the people they were elected to represent. The media has been reporting China’s horrifying prelude to thousands of diseased deaths for over 4 months and just now our elected officials are finally scrambling to cover up their negligent inaction in hopes the public will forget before the next election.

That’s right; it’s been over 4 months now. Our deadly strain of coronavirus was discovered December 1, 2019. At the time, the Chinese didn’t know what it was, but they knew it was a problem. It wasn’t until December 14, that they named it “coronavirus” because of the squiggles jutting from a cell that resembled corona bottles. After 59 confirmed cases, China experienced their first death on January 9. The U.S soon after confirmed their first case in Washington on January 21. That was almost 2 months ago. The first U.S. death was on February 28. Fast forward to today and we now have 101 deaths.

That brings me to our Douglas County Supervisors, the three ghosts. Remember the recent scandal highlighting how our Supervisors attended timber related boondoggles all over the U.S. and sought reimbursement with taxpayer’s money without ever submitting expense reports. Those same Commissioners wrote multiple articles to the NRToday arrogantly defending their violation of County policies. Then they had their staff and buddies write articles to NRToday defending their behavior, all of which took significant time and energy. That same energy regarding coronavirus is non-existent.

Now that coronavirus has drawn attention from timber sales and wilderness designations, I look forward to multiple NRToday articles written by our ghostlike County Supervisors and their staff describing their heroic efforts to fight this deadly disease. Then again, maybe not. Maybe our County Supervisors will continue their imitation of Casper.


Police departments, sheriff’s departments and prisons nationwide have quietly begun releasing some of the 2.2 million U.S. inmates due to coronavirus concerns. Some jails already experiencing coronavirus infected inmates are trying to reduce spreading through the jail. Others have released inmates due to staff shortages because their guards are under quarantine for the disease. This same thing happened in Iran which released more than 54,000 prisoners, the majority of the prison population in their small country.

I understand the goal of jails and prisons are to protect both the community and the safety of the inmates. What I don’t understand is where these potentially violent criminals are supposed to go when released. Do they have homes to go to? How do they feed themselves? Where can they quarantine in place? None of this is being explained to a concerned public worried about crossing their paths with inmates. It appears prisoner’s right to safety trumps that of the public so to speak.

Remember Ignaz Semmelweis

COVID-19 could be dealt with by other means, good nutrition and supplements and anti-viral foods and herbs could do a lot to make infections less serious.

But nobody in government talks about that, they don't dare threaten their Big Pharma friends profits and steady stream of bribes, aka campaign contributions and cushy post-government jobs, from drug companies.

But then there would be less of a crisis. And creating crisis to take away people's rights is a common tactic for government.

So they release prisoners to create more chaos and fan the crisis flames.

Same reason they don't talk about the scientific research that Chinese skullcap and licorice root can help reduce infection from many viruses. Chinese scientists showed plants like these worked against SARS coronavirus years ago. Probably they will work against COVID-19 since it is so similar to SARS coronavirus.

No, it will be hidden so that Big Pharma companies can figure out how to isolate the chemical compounds from the plants and chemically manufacture them, patent them, and sell them for 1000 times the price.

Meanwhile, they will threaten to take away your guns because the prisoners they let out are using stealing them and harming others.

Also, have you noticed the huge lines and hours of waiting they have caused at airports is a prime situation to spread even more viral infections?

They should have just shut down the airports. Instead they are using them to multiply the infections.

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