Douglas County Commissioner Tom Kress speaks during a press conference in Roseburg on Friday.

Just days before state legislators are scheduled to meet to discuss how to spend up to $800 million in coronavirus relief funding, the Douglas County Board of Commissioners on Thursday issued a call to arms in support of local businesses hit hard by COVID-19.

The board asked local and state officials, as well as local chambers of commerce, city councils and business leaders to rally behind a business reopening plan recently submitted to Gov. Kate Brown and state lawmakers by the Oregon State Chamber of Commerce.

“As fellow citizens and business owners, we share in the frustration that our local businesses, families and residents are dealing with,” Douglas County Commissioner Tom Kress said in a news release. “The last nine months have been challenging to say the least, and now more than ever before our local businesses need your support, and a united front backing them with a solid, productive plan that will provide relief and a future for their livelihoods. Please consider joining us in supporting the plan presented by the OSCC.”

The Oregon State Chamber of Commerce issued its “Business Reopen Plan” two weeks ago.

“The Oregon State Chamber of Commerce is stating as clearly and plainly as possible: Local businesses need to be made whole, and they need to be able to re-open for business now,” the plan states.

The plan, the state chamber said, is based on the fact that businesses have acted responsibly to the community and to the COVID-19 guidance coming from the state; local businesses deserve the same consideration as large corporations; the remedies being offered by the state to small business are “completely inadequate;” and shutdowns are sending workers into “a failed state unemployment system” that has been unable to deliver timely benefits.

“OSCC is calling on Governor Brown and lawmakers to give local businesses and their employees the same consideration given to others during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the group said. “Local businesses and their employees have shouldered the largest costs imposed by state government and now is the time to help them recover.”

To do that, the Oregon State Chamber of Commerce and its members are calling for the following:

  • The immediate reopening of all Oregon businesses.
  • Substantial remedies to local businesses that have been forced to shut down through no fault of their own, since the state “has deprived these businesses and employees of their livelihoods.”
  • A $75 million “Hospitality Relief Fund” dedicated to helping Oregon’s restaurants and hospitality businesses recover.
  • A moratorium on new or increased taxes and fees at the state and local level.
  • A short-term tax credit for property owners willing to waive debt for commercial tenants that are behind on rent.

Brown will convene a special session of the Oregon Legislature on Monday to address pressing needs surrounding the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. For the one-day session, Brown has asked legislators to consider $800 million in relief for those suffering financially from the COVID-19 pandemic and the spate of wildfires this year.

The state Chamber of Commerce’s proposed business reopen plan also comes at a time when the number of coronavirus cases and deaths continue to climb in Douglas County and Oregon.

Douglas County had 1,244 cases of coronavirus as of Thursday, and 36 deaths, compared to 678 cases and 12 deaths a month ago. That represents an 83% increase in cases and a 200% increase in deaths in the last 30 days.

Additionally, the county had more than 700 people either in isolation or quarantine on Wednesday.

Statewide, Oregon on Tuesday announced a record high of 54 coronavirus deaths. That was followed by 48 deaths on Wednesday and another 21 on Thursday, bringing the state’s death toll to 1,283 people.

The state is also racing toward the 100,000 mark in confirmed and presumptive cases, with 98,936 as of Thursday. The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 across Oregon stood at 551 on Thursday; 113 of them are in intensive care unit beds.

Scott Carroll can be reached at scarroll@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4204. Or follow him on Twitter @scottcarroll15.

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(9) comments

Backwoods sawyer

What I find lacking from the commissioner's is any response to the fire fund's.... other than cutting red tape for the timber industry... What about cutting the red tape for those rebuilding... planning department is the bottle neck...

Notice they aren't representing the people... Just corporate...

We all wish the virus wasn't out there but since it is... So we need to think of others safety... Yet...

Not a word about opening up "Safely"...

Out of touch with those who they claim to represent...? Or just don't care...!!!


I think that we all want local businesses to open as soon as it is safe to do so.

But until the businesses and other organizations, as well as the people who patronize them, consistently conform to mask-wearing, social distancing and other measures, it is not safe.

Case in point, the commissioner's business where the staff are not complying with the safeguards; another one- convenience stores like the Melrose store.

So yeah, once businesses start holding up their end of the deal, open them up. You know--the "personal responsibility" mantra that the republicans keep pushing.


melrosereader: yes! The quickest, nay, the only way toward normalization is to crush the virus, first; we can do it quicker though the masking, distancing, washing, etc, measures, and most thoroughly with vaccinations--and everybody who does not comply is simply making the situation worse and more prolonged.

Which business, which commissioner? I really do want to know who is on the side of the virus.


I don't know which business. Ask AC56 in the comment below mine.


I recently needed to use one of the commissioners businesses. His staff were not wearing masks or not wearing them appropriately. We are an extreme risk county which impacts our ability to open small businesses. If we want to open, we all have to do our part and meet the bare minimum requirements of wearing masks. Unless the county commissioners are willing to do their part and make their businesses compliant to STATE MANDATES to combat the cause of the closure aaaaand to protect our community then I'm not interested in spending time reading about their tantrums.


14 new coronavirus cases were reported in today’s press release by the County Commissioners Coronavirus Task Force, bringing the county totals to 1,258 cases and 36 deaths. But 36 deaths are not nearly enough for our County Commissioners in their attempts to make Douglas County the most deadly place to live in Oregon. Douglas County Commissioners are now pushing to reopen all Douglas County businesses to increase the death rate and make Douglas County #1 on Oregon’s county death list.

In our Commissioner’s eyes, Douglas County’s 17 coronavirus deaths over the past two weeks are meaningless, negligible. The Commissioners know that by reopening bars and restaurants they should easily be able to achieve triple digit daily deaths and help out the ailing hospitals, mortuaries and funeral homes to boot. We Douglas County residents should indeed feel proud for having elected such deathmongers to be our leaders.


Douglas County is only the 11th most deadly county in Oregon for per capita coronavirus deaths. By opening all the businesses, our County Commissioners will have a good chance to claim bragging rights for first place. The mortuaries, funeral homes, crematoriums and hospitals must certainly be big campaign contributors.

Have the Commissioners considered what happens to schools if all the businesses reopen and coronavirus cases increase. What schools are open with have to shut down again. But that doesn't matter to the Commissioners because schools don't donate to their re-election campaigns, only the businesses that want to reopen do.

George Weston

Of course the OSCC wants business to open. All they care about is their financial well-being and not the health well-being of their employees or customers. I know that they are having a hard time, but what is more important their financial health or their physical health? One must be healthy before they can become wealthy. Otherwise they will never be able to declare that they are wise.


If our commissioners ever support an idea that is neither stupid, nor dangerous, nor self-serving, *that* will be news. Immediately opening *all* businesses ticks off each of those boxes. So: trifecta!

Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress have taken another hostage; they are demanding, as part a COVID-19 relief package, that the Federal Reserve be hobbled--now and in the future--in its efforts to support businesses, small and large, inter alia.

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