August 16, 2021

Oregon Delegation Urges FEMA to Help State Respond to Recent Surge in COVID-19 Cases, Hospitalizations

Wyden, Merkley, DeFazio, Blumenauer, Schrader, Bonamici, Bentz: Latest COVID wave means “the state hospital and health care systems are facing an acute staffing need”

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s entire congressional delegation today urged the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to help the state cope with the latest surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations by providing medical personnel.

In a letter to FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell signed by U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and U.S. Representatives Peter DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer, Kurt Schrader, Suzanne Bonamici and Cliff Bentz, the Oregon lawmakers asked the agency to give “swift and full consideration” to an Aug. 13 request sent to FEMA by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown requesting medical personnel to aid in the state’s response to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

The seven Senate and House members from the state noted that although more than 71 percent of adult Oregonians are vaccinated and the state has had relatively low levels of infection during the pandemic, communities with low-vaccination rates are experiencing extremely high rates of COVID-19 infection and that hospitalizations are spiking statewide.

“As a result, the state hospital and health care systems are facing an acute staffing need,” they wrote FEMA. “State officials estimate that the current surge in cases is likely to exceed hospital capacity by 400-500 beds in a matter of weeks. The state has subsequently tightened mitigation measures, like indoor-masking, and has asked the National Guard to provide support to hospital staff in heavily impacted areas. In addition to these efforts, Governor Brown is requesting FEMA provide additional personnel to ensure Oregonians get the care that they need during this critical time.”

The full letter is here.