UPDATES in the Mid-Valley

COVID Update in the Mid-Valley

The OHA reported 324 new COVID-19 cases, and no new deaths on Monday (2/22). This brings the state’s total number of cases to 153,134. The number of deaths remains at 2,155. Looking locally, Marion county has 18,209 cases and 281 deaths. Polk county has 2,993 cases and 42 deaths.

Further, the economic impact of the shutdowns and indoor dining restrictions have crippled the restaurant business locally and abroad. There are over a dozen small restaurants that have been forced to close their doors for good. Some notable Salem area restaurants that permanently shut down are Kyoto Japanese Restaurant, Salem Ale Works, Table FIVE08, and Robert’s Crossing. Despite the historic CARES Act bill passed last year that contained billions of dollars for small businesses, it wasn’t enough. The Biden Administration unveiled a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief proposal last month and hopes it will make its way through Congress. Will the funds within this package provide enough relief to small businesses to stay afloat?

The Homeless

Despite new shelters opening for the homeless here in Salem, many still reside on the street. With the challenges of physical distancing and low temperatures, shelters quickly reach their maximum capacity, leaving others to face the elements. In trying to brave the cold and wet weather, homeless individuals are forced to areas where they keep dry. This is most prevalent under the I-5 overpass off Market Street. Large encampments encompass both areas next to the north and south onramps.

Here’s what needs to be done to help get homeless off the street:

  1. More infrastructure – There needs to be more shelters, especially with COVID concerns and low temperatures. The County Fairground has opened up as a temporary shelter, but it’s not enough.
  2. Rehabilitation centers – Drug and alcohol abuse/addiction explains a large reason as to why homelessness is cyclical. We must ensure that our vulnerable populations have access to professionals at all times.
  3. Training centers – As individuals ready themselves to get off the streets for good, they need to have the training necessary to prepare them for careers. Securing a career is one step towards being financially secure to pay for housing and other basic necessities.

Ice Storm Updates

Thousands of Salem area residents are still without power as of Monday (2/22). Reeling from the ice storm that rocked the Mid-Valley over President’s Day Weekend, PGE, Salem Electric, and Pacific Power had their hands full with approximately 142,000 people without power in the Mid-Valley and Salem area alone. Now, nearly two weeks since the area was blanketed with 1.25 inches of ice, many are still suffering. Poor communication and a lack of transparency from the electric companies’ administrations leave those without power with one question: How much longer?

The ice storm not only took down powerlines, but hundreds of trees. Salem crews have worked tirelessly to remove debris from roadways, paths, and parks to restore normal function. In order to speed up the process the city hired the service of approximately 5 services.

Accessing Your Legislature

Due to COVID concerns, the Capitol is closed to unauthorized individuals. In-person public testimonials are also not allowed. However, people are able to testify remotely. This will be available for every public hearing. For more information, please visit www.oregonlegislature.gov or call 1-800-332-2313.