Daily Coronavirus updates: what you need to know
March 19, 2020
Curious about the latest news on the COVID-19 outbreak? Check here for recent developments regarding Oregon and the U.S.’s response to new cases, as well as Jesuit’s efforts to keep students safe and proceed with a prolonged period of Digital Learning Days.
Friday, March 20
School updates: Throughout the week, Jesuit’s administration has sent the student body daily videos of various faculty members with a message for the day. Sometimes the video encourages us to get out and exercise, and other times it’s just a fun, entertaining clip.
World updates: On Thursday night, California Governor Gavin Newsom ordered California’s 40 million residents to stay home for an indefinite period of time, enacting the country’s largest lockdown as U.S. cases of COVID-19 now number over 15,000. California residents may still leave their homes to purchase pharmaceuticals, groceries, and healthcare, as well as for essential work commutes. Any further travel is now a misdemeanor under California law. Newsom has publicly predicted that 56% of Californians will contract or test positive for COVID-19 over the next eight weeks without proper resources and extraordinary preventative measures such as the lockdown.
The Oregon Health Authority reported 27 new coronavirus cases Friday, bringing Oregon’s total case count to 115. Washington County remains the top county for positive COVID-19 results, with 31 confirmed cases. OHA also reported 2,003 negative COVID-19 results and 433 tests pending.
Congress continues to chip away at a stimulus package now projected to significantly exceed $1 trillion, with Democrats adding their own must-haves in four bipartisan working groups that convened in the Senate on Friday. Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, have called for unemployment insurance that guarantees laid off workers receive close to their full salaries, as well as a so-called “Marshall Plan” for hospitals. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has urged senators to reach agreement by the end of the day today so that the Senate can begin drafting the bill Saturday and potentially have a final vote on the legislation Monday.
Thursday, March 19
School updates: Online learning allows students to complete their tasks anytime that day, giving students lots of free time to occupy themselves with. To utilize these digital learning days effectively, Jesuit has decided to send out a google form today surveying student’s thoughts on how their online learning days have played out, as well as urging students to contact their counselors anytime they need help.
Wednesday, March 18
World updates: As of Wednesday morning, there are currently 68 cases of COVID-19 in Oregon, a steep increase from Sunday’s count of 39 total cases. In response to the uptick, Gov. Brown has extended the closure of all public schools until Apr. 28, which Jesuit has followed as well.
In federal news, President Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the suspension of all non-essential travel between the two countries to contain the spread of the virus. While the temporary suspension’s timeline is still being hammered out via joint agreement, essential travel, particularly supply chains that involve the trucking of food, medicine, and fuel across the U.S.-Canada border, will be exempted from any border closure.
The Senate also passed the $100 billion House bill to provide paid sick and childcare leave, expanded unemployment insurance, and free coronavirus testing. That bill now heads to Trump’s desk for his signature. Senate Republicans are now working in coordination with the White House on a much larger, $1 trillion-plus package–known as “Phase 3”–that lawmakers and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin have suggested will provide $2,000 to individual adult Americans in separate $1,000 cash installments, with a cutoff at some point and lesser, fixed amounts for wealthier Americans. Other details of the unprecedented economic stimulus proposal, such as small business loans and affected industry relief, are in the midst of negotiation.
Tuesday, March 17
School updates: Alongside teachers who are trying to ease students around the tension of this new type of learning, counselors and librarians are trying to help students adjust to online learning by offering their own office hours as well. Additionally, Ms. Tormala and student government sent out a Google form allowing students to ask general questions should one arise.
World updates: The Senate is currently drafting bipartisan legislation in coordination with the White House to address the spiraling economic ramifications of COVID-19. President Trump and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin have proposed a roughly $1 trillion stimulus package to provide large-scale consumer and industry relief (Washington Post). The sweeping package would build upon a $100 billion spending bill passed by the House, which mandates employers with 50 to 500 employees provide 10 days paid sick leave to their employees, while also increasing funding for federal unemployment insurance and free COVID-19 testing (The Hill).
The additional $850 billion in stimulus spending will likely be directed towards providing broader relief to Americans impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, particularly those with children and those with service industry jobs. Mnuchin and Trump have proposed $50 billion in airline industry relief, an attempt to ease tensions in a flagging, volatile stock market. Most significantly, the White House and several Senate Republicans, including Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK) have signaled support for immediate $1,000 cash distributions to many Americans. While it’s unclear how many Americans will actually receive the payments, with Sen. Cotton suggesting that imperiled wage workers are the primary intended recipients, the bipartisan support for a temporary form of Universal Basic Income (UBI) represents a surprising development for Capitol Hill, where many members of Congress have been previously wary of the policy.
Monday, March 16
School updates: The spread of the Coronavirus sweeping the whole nation calls Jesuit into action. Starting this week, March 16th, Jesuit high school has decided to close down the building in attempt to reduce person-to-person contact. In doing so, students and teachers switch to online learning through canvas.
Teachers are expected to post their assignments for the day by 10 am so students have the rest of the day to complete them. The due date for all assignments is 10 am the following day. In an effort for this week to run smoothly, teachers have set up various office hours, which is a set time block where students can email teachers with questions and expect a quick response.
World updates: In an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19, Governor Brown announced Monday that all restaurants and bars must close except for take-out and deliveries. She also banned gatherings of more than 25 people for at least four weeks, a significantly more restrictive measure than the ban she placed on gatherings of 250 or more last week. President Trump has also advised the country to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people.
Brown’s additional restrictions come two days after her Saturday announcement of Oregon’s first fatality due to the Coronavirus, a veteran in his seventies. As of Sunday afternoon, Oregon had 39 confirmed cases of COVID-19.