UPDATE (10:54 a.m. PT) — The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services issued an emergency order Wednesday requiring health insurance companies extend deadlines and grace periods. 

The new order requires health insurance companies to:

  • Provide at least a 60-day grace period for payment of past due premiums
  • Pay claims for any covered services during the first 30 days of the grace period
  • Extend all deadlines for reporting claims and other communications
  • Provide members with communication options that adhere to physical distancing

“It is encouraging to see the state’s health insurers step up to support both their customers and health care providers during this time,” Andrew Stolfi, the department’s director, said in a statement. “Providing grace periods and paying claims will provide peace of mind for Oregonians and help health care providers get paid for these essential services when they need it the most.”

The order is in effect through June 3 and can be extended.

The order does not apply to self-insured plans, but the state encourages self-insured plans to follow the same guidelines.

County seeking to reopen reports first case

Baker County in far Eastern Oregon confirmed its first COVID-19 case Wednesday.

A statement from the county public health department said the person has been directed to isolate while sick, which will continue until they are symptom-free for three days.

County health workers are also “performing contact tracing to identify and isolate anyone who may have come in close contact with this individual” over the past two weeks. The county did not release any details about the person or where they may have come in contact with the disease.

Baker County is one of several Oregon counties that have urged the governor to reopen Oregon, particularly east of the Cascades where there have been fewer cases.

In a plan sent to Gov. Kate Brown late last month, Baker County leaders said they’d like to reopen restaurants and non-essential businesses like barbers and beauticians soon, with social distancing guidelines in place.

Nearby Idaho has already begun to reopen portions of its economy under a four-stage plan outlined by Gov. Brad Little last week. Many of its coronavirus cases have been along the I-84 travel corridor from Oregon to Idaho.

OHA now reporting coronavirus cases by zip code

The Oregon Health Authority has started to release coronavirus case information by zip code in its weekly report.

The zip code with the most confirmed coronavirus cases per 10,000 residents is 97026 in Gervais. That area has 26 confirmed cases which translates to about 68 cases per 10,000 residents.

The zip code with the most confirmed cases regardless of population is 97236, in Southeast Portland, with 159 cases. That translates to about 43 cases per 10,000 residents.

Cases grow at Southern Oregon prison

As of Tuesday, 25 inmates at the Shutter Creek Correctional Institution near Coos Bay have tested positive for COVID-19. Another 20 tests are pending.

Shutter Creek, a minimum-security prison, represents more than 70% of the known positive cases across Oregon Department of Corrections facilities. Most of the inmates are set to be released in the next four years.

In addition to the 25 cases, two staff members at Shutter Creek have also tested positive for COVID-19.

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Many Oregon county jails have reduced their inmate populations to slow the spread of the coronavirus, but the state’s prison system has maintained it can socially isolate cases effectively without releasing inmates en masse.

2,817 confirmed coronavirus cases in Oregon

Health officials in Oregon Tuesday reported 72 new confirmed coronavirus cases, bringing the state’s total to 2,817 known cases.

Health officials also reported eight new presumptive cases. Presumptive cases are people who have not tested positive but have coronavirus symptoms and have had close contact with a confirmed case.

Oregon officials also announced four new coronavirus-related deaths.

In Oregon, 113 people are now known to have died from COVID-19.

Clark County reports 1 new COVID-19 death

In Southwest Washington, Clark County Public Health Tuesday reported one new confirmed case of coronavirus, bringing the county’s total number of known cases to 368. 

Health officials Tuesday also announced one new coronavirus-related death. In total, 22 people are known to have died of COVID-19 in Clark County.

The latest available data from the Washington Department of Health show 15,594 diagnosed cases of the coronavirus and 862 related deaths.

Oregon shuts down Portland nursing home

State officials ordered the shutdown of a Southeast Portland nursing home Tuesday following the deadliest outbreak of coronavirus at an Oregon care facility.

Officials with the Department of Human Services ordered the emergency suspension of Healthcare at Foster Creek’s state license due to inadequate infection control to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

An inspection in mid-April revealed that Foster Creek employees didn’t wash their hands, failed to properly socially distance and were not trained in how to slow the spread of infection. Some staff were only provided one face mask per shift.

According to a statement from DHS, that negligence has led to 117 positive cases of COVID-19 among residents and staff. Twenty-eight people have died in association with the facility’s outbreak as of May 5.

DHS is seeking alternative care providers for its remaining residents.

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