New COVID-19 Safety Requirements

 

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Oregon OSHA released new COVID-19 safety workplace rules effective Monday. Employers must provide masks, face coverings, or face shields for employees free of charge. Brooke Herbert/The Oregonian/OregonLive

New protections against the spread of coronavirus in Oregon workplaces go into effect Monday.

Oregon OSHA now will require employers to take a series of steps, some phased in, to reduce the risk of COVID-19.

The temporary rules will require employers to notify employees of a workplace COVID-19 infection and assess the risk of exposure to their workers. Another rule is that employers allow workers to wear a face covering even if not required.

Michael Wood, administrator for Oregon OSHA, said the rules would reduce “the serious threat to workers” from the pandemic. “It does so by establishing a clear, practical, and consistent set of measures for employers,” he said.

These rules are separate from the “pause” that started Nov. 11 in nine counties and the “freeze” that begins statewide on Wednesday and affects many businesses.

Under the freeze, Gov. Kate Brown is limiting all bars and restaurants to takeout only, closing gyms, limiting capacity at grocery stories and pharmacies, and requiring remote work when possible. The statewide freeze will be effective Wednesday and run through Dec. 2, except in Multnomah County where it lasts at least four weeks.

 The new OSHA workplace requirements, according to the state of Oregon:
  • Employers must ensure six-foot distancing between people in the workplace, unless it is not feasible for some activities.
  • Employers must notify affected workers within 24 hours of a work-related COVID-19 infection.
  • Employers must ensure that employees, part-timers and customers – at the workplace, or other place under the employer’s control — wear a mask, face covering, or face shield.
  • Employers must provide masks, face coverings, or face shields for employees free of charge.
  • If an employee chooses to wear a face covering, the employer must allow it even if government rules don’t require it.
  • When employees are transported for work-related purposes, all people inside the vehicle must wear a mask, face covering, or face shield, regardless of distance or duration of the trip, unless all people in the vehicle are members of the same household.
  • Employers must involve employees and incorporate their feedback to gauge risks of exposure to COVID-19, effective Dec. 7.
  • Employers must draw up an infection control plan that includes when workers must use personal protective equipment and that describes other measures to control specific hazards, effective Dec. 7.
  • Employers must provide information and training about COVID-19 to workers in a manner and language the workers understand, effective Dec. 21.

There are additional requirements, especially for high-risk jobs, such as first responders and people who work with patients.

A separate executive order by Gov. Kate Brown extended COVID-19 protections for agricultural workers in employer-provided housing through the off season.

Read the temporary rule, which includes provisions for specific industries and workplace activities, at https://osha.oregon.gov/OSHARules/div1/437-001-0744.pdf.

Multnomah County, Washington, Clackamas and Marion counties, among others, are in the midst of a two-week pause to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The freeze, starting Wednesday, also affects many businesses in addition to restaurants, bars and gyms. The freeze requires:

–Closing indoor recreational facilities, museums, indoor entertainment activities, and indoor pools and sports courts.
–Closing outdoor recreational facilities, zoos, gardens, aquariums, outdoor entertainment activities, and outdoor pools.
–Limiting grocery stores and pharmacies to a maximum of 75% capacity and encouraging curbside pick-up.
–Limiting retail stores and retail malls (indoor and outdoor) to a maximum of 75% capacity and encouraging curbside pick-up.
–Closing venues (that host or facilitate indoor or outdoor events).

–Requiring all businesses to mandate work-from-home to the greatest extent possible and closing offices to the public.

Hair, nail and other personal service salons, such as massage therapy businesses, can remain open with existing limitations. State health officials said the businesses had not been associated with spread of coronavirus and some, such as physical therapy, were important to health.

The new OSHA rules are temporary but are expected to be in effect until May 4, 2021.”

This article was written by Brooke Herbert of the Oregonian. The source can be found, here.

The Pandemic Boosts Portland Office Space

Businesses turn their interests into suburban markets for more space and to be closer to their employees.

In the third quarter of 2020, the amount of office space in Portland has increased compared with the previous quarter as a result of the pandemic, causing companies to reevaluate the location and space they need for their employees. In the second quarter, total office space has increased from 15.5 percent to 17 percent; The commercial real estate firm says that although this dip is abnormal, it has grown due to more companies subleasing their office space or not renewing leases. 

The nature of office work has been influenced completely by the COVID-19 pandemic, with many employees working from home and fewer workers going into the office due to social-distancing requirements. Some businesses have chosen to get rid of the office altogether, resulting in all employees working from home. 

“The trend has profound implications for Portland downtown businesses that rely on foot traffic from office workers, such as restaurants and retailers, and hotels that rely on business travelers” (Moore, 4).

The pandemic draws more attention to the suburban market for offices, leading to a renaissance of suburban-office markets. The vacancy rate for office space in the suburbs was 10.7% in the third quarter, virtually unchanged from the previous quarter – this includes Beaverton, Hillsboro, Clackamas, and Tualatin.

The trending increased interest in the suburban market has stood out for tenants interested in more space and being closer to their employees. 

Although downtown had the largest increase in vacancy rates, the three biggest deals of the third quarter were located in the downtown area. 

Tenants have leaned towards flexible or short-term leases due to the uncertainty that comes with the coronavirus and how the office market will adapt.

 

Agent Website Photos-KristaThis blog post was written by Krista Pham, our intern.

The article that inspired this piece can be found, here.

Oregon Announces Two-Week ‘Pause’ on Social Gatherings in 5 Counties

This past Friday, Governor Kate Brown and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) announced new COVID-19 restrictions on five counties: Umatilla, Malheur, Marion, Jackson, and Multnomah. After several weeks of unprecedented spread, stricter measures have been placed since the initial “stay home, stay safe” measures were implemented in March. Though Oregon has been doing better limiting the spread, Brown says we need to go back to our offensive strategies against the virus. The biggest challenge is the increasing outbreak is not due to school or workplace gatherings, but small social gatherings and one-on-one meetings.

Due to the increasing COVID-19 rates, counties with exceptionally high cases will be put on a two-week pause for social gatherings, starting November 11th to November 25th. “Businesses in those counties are encouraged to have employees work from home when possible, restaurants and bars are asked to limit dining to outdoor seating or take-out whenever possible, and businesses are asked to cap their total capacity at 50” (Ross, 3). In addition, visits to long-term care facilities will also be paused and private social gatherings are asked to be limited. 

Governor Brown is frustrated at the number of Oregonians not taking restrictions seriously. Looking at the data, it is clear that not everyone is listening to the suggested guidelines. “Let me be very clear: For this two-week pause, please, please, please limit your social interactions to your own household,” Gov. Kate Brown expresses. If cases continue to rise, Brown will increase restrictions. 

The two-week pause is intended to be either a wake-up call or call to action, for those who aren’t taking COVID-19 seriously. If people do not change their behavior, COVID-19 will grow out of control.

Once a county has a rate of 200 infections per 100,000 residents, new restrictions will come into effect for two weeks or more. “There are separate metrics for smaller, rural counties. Currently, five counties — Umatilla, Malheur, Marion, Jackson, and Multnomah — have crossed the 200-case threshold and will be put under the increased restrictions” (Ross, 7). Washington, Baker, Clackamas, Union, and Linn counties are also seeing cases rise at a rapid rate and are on the border of being added to the pause list; OHA plans to reevaluate its numbers today.

It is important to remember that just because a county is not currently on the pause list, does not mean people should continue their lives as normal. 

These policy changes are also hoped to be reflected in social gatherings as well for all Oregonians. Previously, officials have raised concerns that looser COVID-19 restrictions in public could potentially result in people taking fewer precautions in their private/social lives. These new public restrictions are hoped to convince people to take more daily precautions.

“The new call for action comes as cases climb across Oregon, with a record of 805 new cases reported Thursday. On Friday, 770 new cases were reported” (Ross, 14). Oregon reported 3,542 new COVID-19 cases from the week of October 26th-November 4th; The highest number yet, 34% higher than the previous week. 

In terms of exponential growth, the rate is incredibly concerning. The numbers Oregon is seeing are far beyond what OHA expected, even in the worst-case scenario projected. The worst-case scenario presented in the new model assumed that transmission would rise by 5%, and Oregon would be seeing 520 newly diagnosed cases each day by November 19th. Increased numbers were expected in the past, but not this high. 

Oregon’s epidemiological models, predicting the increase of rates, also serve to predict hospital capacity needs; But with cases rising exponentially, models can be outdated by the time they’re published, posing additional challenges for public health officials who want to increase needed restrictions before hospitals are full, which may be inevitable.

Oregon officials think there may still be time to slow the progression of the pandemic, but with little ICU capacity left, results need to be seen fast. 

 

Agent Website Photos-KristaThis blog post was written by Krista Pham, our intern.

The article that inspired this piece can be found, here.

Updated Oregon School Metrics Allow More Students to Return to In-Person Learning

The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) released updated school metrics that allow for more Oregon students to return to in-person learning.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced the changes Friday, October 30th at a news conference, stating the updates to the school metrics are necessary. She argued the benefits students receive from in-person learning in schools outweigh the risks of COVID-19.

“COVID is here to stay. It’s here to stay for the foreseeable future,” Brown said. “What’s also clear is we must prioritize getting our students into the classroom for in-person instruction.”

The ODE and OHA issued the first school metrics in August. The updated metrics released Friday took account for school districts country-wide and aligned with the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The new metrics are based on the latest COVID-19 studies and data, bringing Oregon in sync with other states like California. They will be taken into effect immediately and potentially allow about 130,000 Oregon students to return to some form of in-person learning.

According to ODE, updates for the statewide metrics include:

  • A transparent set of realistic goals for communities to strive for in regards to in-person instruction.
  • Acknowledgment that Oregon’s Ready Schools, Safe Learners guidance’s strong public health protocols are structured in school settings, can greatly reduce transmission of the coronavirus.
  • Additional time for schools to transition between in-person and remote learning models.
  • Increased access to in-person learning at the elementary level.
  • A two week “Look Back” at the metrics data rather than a single week at a time over three week periods.
  • Removes State Positivity Rate in favor of county positivity rates.

As a state, one of the biggest priorities we need to recognize is getting students back to in-person learning. Schools act as a center of service for students and families, offering meals, access to mental health support and resources, and physical health services.

The new metrics allow all school districts, with regards to local public health, to make final decisions about when schools can move to in-person learning and instruction.

According to the updated metrics, the following counties are eligible for K-12 students to return to some form of in-person learning:

  • Baker
  • Clatsop
  • Curry
  • Gilliam
  • Grant
  • Hood River
  • Jefferson
  • Josephine
  • Klamath
  • Lake
  • Lincoln
  • Sherman
  • Tillamook
  • Union
  • Wheeler

The following counties are eligible for elementary education students to return to some form of in-person learning:

  • Benton
  • Clackamas
  • Columbia
  • Coos
  • Deschutes
  • Douglas
  • Polk
  • Wallowa

The following counties are not yet eligible for in-person learning:

  • Crook
  • Harney
  • Jackson
  • Lane
  • Linn
  • Malheur
  • Marion
  • Morrow
  • Multnomah
  • Umatilla
  • Washington
  • Yamhill

Agent Website Photos-KristaThis blog post was written by Krista Pham, our intern.

The article that inspired this piece can be found, here.

Puppy with Green Fur Born in Italy

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Pistachio the green dog. CRISTIAN MALLOCCI/VIA REUTERS

“An Italian farmer welcomed a litter of five dogs earlier this month – and one of the pups stood out among the rest. Cristian Mallocci couldn’t believe his eyes when one of them was born with green fur, Reuters reports.

Mallocci’s dog, Spelacchia, gave birth to four other dogs with white fur, the same color as her’s. Spelacchia is mixed-breed, but that doesn’t explain why one of her pups came out with green fur.

The strange pigmentation is believed to occur when pale puppies come in contact with biliverdin in their mother’s wound, according to Reuters. Biliverdin is also the pigment that makes bruises to sometimes appear green.

The dog, however, won’t always be green. The color will continually fade as the puppy grows and gets older, Reuters reports.

Still, Mallocci, who runs a farm on the island of Sardinia, promptly chose a fitting name for the green dog: Pistachio.

It is extremely rare for a dog to be born with green fur, but other pups like Pistachio have made headlines before. In 2017, when a green puppy was born in Massachusetts, a young boy with his own rare condition adopted him, CBS Boston reported.

Earlier this year, a green puppy was born outside of Asheville, North Carolina. The dog’s family appropriately named him The Hulk, CBS affiliate WNCN reported.

It paid off being the odd one out – the rest of Pistachio’s brothers and sisters will be given new homes, while Pisatchio will stay on the farm. Mallocci will train Pistachio to look after sheep, just like Spelacchia, Reuters reports.

Green is a symbol of luck and hope, so it may have been meant to be that the dog could make people smile amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Mallocci said.”

This article was written by Caitlin O’Kane and can be found, here.

What to Do About Halloween

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Photo by NeONBRAND

“Halloween in America looks extra terrifying this year.

Coronavirus cases are surging across the country for the third time, and the number of recorded cases in the U.S. just hit eight million. Seventeen states have added more cases in the past week than in any other week of the pandemic.

So is it safe to trick-or-treat? Is it safe to celebrate Halloween at all?

Public health experts have warned that going door-to-door for candy could lead to a spike in cases. Several states, including California and Massachusetts, have discouraged trick-or-treating but have not issued an outright ban.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued Halloween safety guidelines that classify traditional trick-or-treating as a high-risk activity, along with indoor haunted houses and crowded costume parties. For safer alternatives, the agency suggests holding costume contests via Zoom, candy scavenger hunts in the home or yard and hosting scary movie nights.

Still, experts say that there are ways to salvage trick-or-treating, or at least to reduce the considerable risks.

If you’re planning to head out, avoid large groups and indoor gatherings, and use a face covering (your costume’s mask doesn’t count). Bring hand sanitizer, and while experts say you probably don’t need to sanitize each and every candy wrapper, you should make sure hands are clean before they touch any sweets.

Dr. Aaron E. Carroll, a professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine, suggests in an Opinion article that homeowners place a candy bowl six feet from the door, or on a platter, so children don’t do too much rummaging. Neighborhoods, he adds, can commit to starting earlier so that everyone isn’t all out at once, or even stagger the hours by age groups.

It’s important to remember that Halloween means a lot to children, especially during a year in which they may not be attending school in person or have had their daily routines upended to the virus.

“I think completely taking away Halloween could be detrimental to some of the mental health issues that kids are facing right now,” said Dr. Tista Ghosh, an epidemiologist at Grand Rounds, a digital health care company in San Francisco. She added that it’s best to “balance the risk of whatever activity they’re doing with mental health risks as well, and look for ways to minimize risk rather than reduce risk to zero because that’s just not possible.”

If trick-or-treating is not your thing, here are a few other ways to celebrate the spooky season.

This is an article from the New York Times.

 

Art for difficult times: The sculpture of Wataru Sugiyama

“Ashland sculptor Wataru Sugiyama began crafting his “May you feel peace within” statue just before the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Oregon. When finished, this owl-like figure will be cast in bronze.

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Now covered with wax clay, the owl-like figure is ready for molding materials. Liquid bronze will then be poured into the molds to complete the statue. August 26, 2020 | Wataru Sugiyama

 When Gov Kate Brown issued her “Stay-at-Home” order back in March, it was as though Ashland sculptor Wataru Sugiyama had received the assignment for his latest sculpture weeks earlier.

“I started creating this sculpture before this pandemic,” recalls Sugiyama, who immigrated to the United States more than 30 years ago from Japan.

“The title of this sculpture is ‘May you feel peace within.’ I am planning to make the sculpture face a little bit looking down, so the person standing close in front will have an eye contact.”

The 13-foot-tall sculpture is an anthropomorphized owl, whose sweeping wings wrap around its torso in a gesture of self-care. Sugiyama considers the project “a mission from the universe.”

“I will try my best to make the sculpture’s eyes as gentle and tender as possible. I am trying to inject my feelings of mercy, compassion, forgiveness and love. My message (is) that whoever stands and looks up in front of the sculpture will right away feel calm and peace within.”

Masterful and highly collectable, Sugiyama’s sculptures range from the whimsical to the sublime and evoke both mirth and awe. Since February, Sugiyama has made almost daily trips to from his home in Ashland to work in a large studio he shares with other artists in nearby Phoenix, Oregon. Like many artists, he is used to working in isolation.

“I do not need the contact with many people. I wake up in the morning and work at the studio alone. I see two (of) my sculpture friends from time to time. But basically, work at the studio alone. So, my life as a sculptor is not affected by this virus.”

When the wax and clay sculpture is finished, Sugiyama plans to submit it for inclusion at the Meijer Sculpture Garden in Grand Rapids, Michigan. But before that can happen, Sugiyama will face several challenges.

“I am facing the financial difficulty. I was planning to buy some mold materials & tons of bronze to complete this large sculpture. Now I have to see how it goes.”

So far, gallery shows in San Francisco and Sacramento, California planned for early next year are still moving forward, but Sugiyama knows that could easily change.

Then in September, the Almeda Fire came within yards of Sugiyama’s studio in Phoenix. Unable to get there due to road closures, Sugiyama said his studio partner, artist Jack Langford had to climb onto the facility’s roof and douse embers with a garden hose.

“All houses across Highway 99 from (the studio) burned down. But the sculptures are safe,” Sugiyama said.

Though relieved, he is not one to worry in the first place. A lifetime of mediation practice has equipped Sugiyama to stay calm in difficult times and to trust the spirit voices that guide his hands, his chisel and his life’s path.

“Until I hear that voice, I don’t want to do anything,” he explained. “And I still have plenty time before the bronze process, so I would like to spend enough mindful time to (make the owl’s) facial expression best.”

“I feel lucky I am able to inject my passion into my sculpture every day at the studio since most of people stay home in stress, do job on computer. But I want to see people walking on street, smiling.”

He also hopes the completed bronze owl sculpture will provide comfort and cheer to people experiencing difficult times long into the future.

“At this point, (I) do not know where the sculpture goes, but I know the sculpture knows where to go.””

This article was written by Jule Gilfillan. You can find the source, here.

Moving During the Pandemic

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reSPACEd is a company that helps people prepare for a move or unpack in the Portland area.MaryJo Monroe/reSPACEd

“Moving is already hard enough. Add in precautions to reduce the spread of the deadly coronavirus, and packing up the old place and hauling cherished items to a new home can make you rethink your whole decision and stay put.

Or, you could find an upside to moving during a lockdown.

Just ask Jeff Chase. The guitar technician would be touring with musicians right now if the world hadn’t come to a halt. Instead, he moved to Estacada on April 1 and has had no other option than to stay at home and settle in.

The last time Chase moved, to Portland in 2005, he recalls stuffing boxes into the house and leaving on a tour the next day. He unpacked in between tours. It took him more than a year to finish.

“With Covid, I’ve had the time to plan and execute every room, DIY my whole winterization plan, make needed upgrades and enjoy the view,” he says. “The stress level is much lower.”

Safely Making a Move

A day after the sellers vacated, Chase fished his new house keys out of a lockbox. “There was no formal presentation or an unveiling like you see on makeover shows,” he jokes.

He scheduled a crew to clean and disinfect the surfaces, then he hired out-of-work stage hands with trucks to move his possessions.
“Since I’m in the music industry and was just there, cooling my jets, I wanted to support others who weren’t working either,” he says.
On moving day, he bought packing supplies and rented a U-Haul truck. The receipt was passed to him on a long stick “like a pizza spatula,” he says. “I was impressed with how easily people adapted. You tell a few jokes, do a transaction,” he says.

Pack, Move and Unpack Easier

At the start of stay-at-home orders, no one could have foreseen moving and storage companies like WayForth in Portland laying off employees and locking out about 600 customers from retrieving their furniture and other belongings.

STORAGECafé, a nationwide self-storage search website with more than 25,000 storage facilities listings, found most storage facilities have stayed open and installed ways for customers to avoid direct contact with the staff such as drive-up access and online payments.

“Some storage facilities decided to delay auctions and show leniency on late fees during this time,” reports Maria Gatea, senior editor at STORAGECafé’s blog.

American Moving & Storage Association members can provide virtual estimates, rather than visiting the home. They recommend buying new moving boxes and tape instead of using recycled boxes and if you’re in a vulnerable group, over 65 or have a compromised immune system, they suggest postponing a move until the pandemic is over if possible.

MaryJo Monroe is a professional organizer with reSPACEd, which has helped thousands of people since 2008 declutter in preparation of a move or unpack after a move to the Portland area.

“This summer, we did things a bit differently with the pandemic, but we still had one of our busiest move seasons ever,” she says.

Monroe, who is also the past president of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) Oregon, offers these tips:

Before You Move

  • Take the time to put aside anything you don’t need or want to avoid packing it and paying to have it transported. Look online or call charity thrift stores to confirm they are accepting donations.
  • Keep your pre-pandemic clothes that you haven’t worn in six months, suggests Monroe, but separate them from the rest of your wardrobe. Keep them in a labeled packing tub to avoid wasting time and space in your new closet hanging up clothes that you may not wear for awhile.
  • Put face masks and sanitization supplies in a clearly labeled box and keep it nearby during the move so it can be one of the first boxes you can access when you arrive. Clorox wipes will dry out and be useless if stashed in a hot garage or car trunk for days.

After You Move

  • If you have kids, need to start work right away or just hate the thought of unpacking boxes for the next several weeks, do yourself a favor and hire an unpacking company to set up your house. Insist that any workers in your home wear masks and gloves the entire time, even if they are working alone.
  • Coordinate with your internet provider so you can get online within 24 hours of your move.
  • If you are working from home, the home office will probably be one of the rooms, along with the kitchen and bathroom, that you will want to unpack and set up first. If you will be doing video conference calls, hang artwork or set up bookshelves on the wall opposite your computer screen to project a professional appearance on your calls. Read: More tips for setting up a work-from-home space
  • If you have school-age children, they will need their distance learning space set up right away too. It can be tough to get a desk at some of the Portland area’s big box stores right now due to office furniture shortages, so in a pinch kids can use an oversize clipboard on their lap. Read: More tips for setting up a distance learning space
  • Save room in your pantry to accommodate cleaning supplies and extra nonperishable food in case you have to quarantine for two to three weeks.
  • Don’t feel rushed to unpack entertaining cookware or servingware. Parties are on hold, so put those items in the garage or basement, freeing up space in your pantry.
  • The garage and basement are typically the last rooms to be unpacked and set up after a move. During this pandemic and wildfire season, leave extra storage space on the shelves for emergency supplies such as bottled water, paper products and outdoor sleeping gear. Many families are also making room in their garages or basements for an extra freezer to store additional food, says Monroe.

Helpful Sources

U-Haul has moving kits with boxes, tape, bubblewrap and of course, trucks and trailers to rent. Or if you’re moving within the city, you can book a Zipcar for the time you need.

Staples has measuring tapeboxes and other moving supplies.

If you need a second pair of hands, TaskRabbit can connect you to people skilled to help with cleaning, furniture assembly and small home repairs.

After you find out who’s the best company in your new area, get WiFi connected with AT&TVerizon or a Google Nest from Verishop.

Organize your new home with Open Spaces or The Container StoreHome Depot and Wayfair also have closet systems and solutions.”

This article was written by Janet Eastman. It can be found, here.

Arrival of COVID-19 Tests Provide Hope for Reopening Schools

A massive shipment of federal testing supplies could provide Oregon with its best chance to reopen on-site learning in schools. The federal government has promised to accommodate Oregon with 60,000 to 80,000 tests each week through the end of the year, allowing for better identification of new cases. 

While state officials claim there is no way the testing supplies would qualify for on-going testing at schools and a sweeping, immediate reopening, it has helped advance schools to pick back up.

The Director of the Oregon Health Authority thinks focusing these tests on driving down the prevalence rate will help get us to a sufficient environment in which we could start in-person learning for the long run safely. While there is optimism, there are prevalent challenges that could interfere with the return of schools; Public Health Officials worry the spread will increase during flu season, making coronavirus even more threatening.

As part of a commitment from the Trump Administration, they will be providing 100 million tests across the country; This is good news for Oregon as we will be receiving a large wave of tests. In response to the new tests coming our way, the first step will be expanding testing guidelines by advising testing for anyone exposed through close contact to a confirmed or suspected infection, even if the person lacks symptoms. While it is unclear how many Oregonians will be tested as a direct result of the change in criteria, most people infected come in contact with ten people on average who would now be eligible for examination.

“Oregon has relatively few coronavirus cases and deaths compared to other states. Oregon also has one of the nation’s lowest per capita testing rates, with only about 30,000 tests completed each week” (Schmidt 12). Patrick Allen, the Director of Oregon Health Authority, wants to see the state use at least half of the government’s share along with the state’s existing benchmark; This means at least 600,000 Oregonians should be tested weekly in the fall. The set expectation is doable and should use the testing equipment to our utmost advantage.

Development in testing called the Abbott BinaxNOW is an antigen test that provides results within 15 minutes through the nasal swab. It detects proteins on the surface of the virus rather than detecting the underlying genetic material. While this is convenient and inexpensive, the tests are not always accurate and could produce a higher rate of false negatives, giving infected people the wrong impression. It is important to stress the reality that false negatives are not uncommon, so you should continue wearing your masks and social distancing.

The state is reviewing its school reopening criteria and making changes within the coming weeks.

“The state is likely to keep requirements that a county must have fewer than 10 cases per 100,000 residents in recent weeks to fully reopen to on-site learning, or 30 cases per 100,000 residents to reopen kindergarten through third grade” (Schmidt 26). If the state’s positivity rate is above 5%, officials may block full reopenings.

While distance learning is tough, it may be worse for kids and their families to be moving back and forth between closing and opening.

 

Agent Website Photos-KristaThis blog post was written by Krista Pham, our intern.

The article that inspired this piece can be found, here.

Portland Homes for Sale: Prices Rise, Inventory Plunges, Both Favoring Sellers

Despite a roller-coaster stock market, lingering pandemic and uncertainty caused by natural and made disasters, the real estate market continues to connect buyers to sellers (Eastman 1). In August, 3,149 Portland residential properties switched hands, according to the latest report by RMLS. Somehow, above all of the drama and contingency, real estate still progressed onward in the past month.

The low number of homes for sale continues to trouble home shoppers and favor sellers. As a result of the few houses on the market, the median sale price rose to $449,000, a 0.9% increase from the month of July.

Inventory of homes for sale in August scarcely rose, to 1.3 months, compared to July’s 1.2 months. “Basement-level inventory in a state with the largest housing shortage in the nation is offering buyers the fewest choices in years” (Eastman 5).

The coronavirus lessened the number of homes for sale in the Portland metro area and across the country. The number of Portland listings in August plummeted 8.3% (3,385) compared to July (4,236). When examining the first eight months of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019, new listings (27,379) declined by 10.1%.

The most influential factor of not selling was the concern of not finding another home.

The majority of sellers also served as buyers, so as new listings hit the market, another buyer is also added. As for the issues in inventory, previously vacant homes that acted as second homes and rentals have been reoccupied by their owners, taking them off the market. With inventory still at a low though, prices have been bumped up for homes.

“Buyers who haven’t lost their source of income and have acceptable debt-to-income ratios are cashing in on mortgage rates in the historically low 2.9% range, according to the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, known as Freddie Mac” (Eastman 17).

3,679 pending Portland homes increased 1.1% in August compared to July but skyrocketed 26.2% from the 2,929 offers in August 2019.

The deadly wildfires that wrecked Oregon properties in early September took a consequential impact on home sales too. Thousands of people were left relocated from their homes, living in temporary housing and mobile home parks. While the market was already desperate for inventory before the fire, with properties damaged and destroyed, the situation has only worsened. The cost to rebuild later resulted in higher asking prices. The fires delayed transactions that were able to continue during the pandemic, and homeowners became timid to list their homes. People are desperate for housing, so if you put your house on the market with a reasonable asking price, you will be bombarded with offers.

 

Agent Website Photos-KristaThis blog post was written by Krista Pham, our intern.

The article that inspired this piece can be found, here.