New COVID-19 Safety Requirements

 

AO77PQGQGJHZ5LBCLJGNR5IB6M
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.

What to Do About Halloween

neonbrand-A59lWOrZVnw-unsplash
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.

 

How to Buy and Sell Portland Real Estate During the Pandemic

FDVLKLIYTFDU3PG6SBQXXTYSA4
Charles Lewis of Nonprofit Home Inspections, which services Oregon and Washington state, uses a respirator in a crawlspace.

It’s nice to know that there’s still job security in the real estate market. Homes are still being purchased despite the pandemic. The industry has taken all necessary precautions to make sure we still thrive. This article dives into the procedures and safety measures taken for a safe home viewing, buying, and move in. One thing is for sure, this process will never be the same post-pandemic.

“…In the last three weeks, precautions to reduce the spread of the deadly virus have altered almost every aspect of a real estate deal, from seeing a property to signing the deed.

And yet, despite a whipsawed stock market and stay-at-home orders, properties are still being toured, inspected, appraised and sold.

As J. Lennox Scott, chairman of John L. Scott Real Estate, stated in his latest regional housing sales report, “the real estate market remains in motion.”

His March report saw a “surge” in sales activity in Portland metro homes priced below $250,000 and a “frenzy” for homes priced between $250,000 and $750,000. His assessments were based on low supply and the percent of new listings that received an accepted offer within the first 30 days of being on the market.”

Continue reading, here.