Responding to the Coronavirus Outbreak – March 18, 2020

I talked today with a few of my clients who have suddenly and unexpectedly lost their livelihoods.  My heart goes out to you.    Words seem so inadequate at a time like this. 

Things are changing fast in Oregon and in the US as the coronavirus spreads, and government, businesses and people react and adapt.   Last Sunday during a CNN interview New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “It’s changing every hour. So, we’re going to constantly make new decisions.”    He was right about that rate of change.  And the need to make new decisions quickly.

When the initial wave of substantive changes unfolded in early March, I anticipated writing about wellbeing during change or crisis. Sharing information about stress reduction, resilience, and thriving.   But today I think I’ll share information about unemployment and economic assistance for small businesses.

The first layoffs happened quickly for Oregonians in the service sectors of our economy.  As restaurants, bars, music venues, theatres, meeting facilities, spas, and other service-oriented businesses closed, it was inevitable that workers would be laid off or furloughed.  The impact of this is big.  Consider just the impact on restaurants and bars:  The Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association estimates that 211,200 persons were employed in restaurant and foodservice jobs in 2019 and accounted for 11% of employment in Oregon and $9.7 billion in annual sales in 2018.  Add to that impact other service businesses (entertainment, theatres, spas, etc.) that have closed during the crisis, and the number of people impacted is a significant percentage of Oregon’s workforce.


A couple of local news sources have quickly published guides about practical matters for the unemployed – filing for unemployment benefits, what agencies to direct questions to, and also a list of who’s hiring in Oregon.   Turns out there are jobs out there waiting to be filled.  Check out:



The Oregon Employment Department has an FAQ about what benefits may be available to you during this time:


The Oregon Health Authority daily newsletter for March 20 advises that Oregonians whose monthly income has changed may be eligible for OHP assistance. You can find the March 20 update here –

Image shared from OHA update, March 20, 2020

Small/Micro Business Owners

If you’re a small business owner in Oregon impacted by the coronavirus crisis, there may be some assistance available.   Here’s an excerpt from a newsletter this week from Oregon House Representative and Chair of the House Health Care Committee, Rep. Andrea Salinas:

Economic Impact and Resources

The Governor’s office is working to advocate for federal assistance for our small businesses. In order to do so, they need to collect stories about the loss of revenue in our business community. Businesses with impacted revenue as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak should fill out the ‘Estimated Disaster Economic Injury Worksheet for Businesses’ form and send to Leah Horner:

Business Oregon also has compiled a list of the resources available to small business owners on their coronavirus response page, available here. 

The Bureau of Labor and Industries also has a FAQ specific to COVID-19 on their website to help both employers and employees.

Work Share

Work Share (STC-Short Time Compensation) is a state program that offers an alternative to laying off employees. It allows a business to keep skilled employees during slow times by reducing work hours. Eligible staff whose hours and wages are reduced receive a portion of their regular unemployment insurance benefits to compensate for the lost wages. You can find out more information on the Employment Department Work Share website and here is a program infographic.  

You can read the full newsletter article from Rep. Salinas here:

My heart goes out to those whose livelihoods have been impacted.   I’m planning to share resources about dealing with loss, grief, and resilience in upcoming posts.  

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