Appeal tribune. (Silverton, Or.) 1999-current, February 09, 2022, Page 4, Image 4

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Continued from Page 1A
At the bill’s first public hearing
Wednesday, Rep. Pam Marsh, D-South-
ern Jackson County, one of the bill’s
chief sponsors, said the coronavirus
pandemic has shown that broadband
access is critical for the emotional, so-
cial, economic and physical health of
“Individuals and families who lacked
access to broadband over the past al-
most two years missed out on public ap-
pointments, remote work opportuni-
ties, online learning, digital grocery de-
liveries, live-streamed religious services
and much more,” she said.
Planning for funding
In November, President Joe Biden
signed the Infrastructure Investment
and Jobs Act, which allocated $65 bil-
lion for broadband expansion nation-
wide. Oregon will receive at least $100
million of that, with the potential for
more based on need.
An additional $100 million is antici-
pated from the American Rescue Plan
Marsh called the investments “once-
in-a-generation” and said the state
needs to be prepared to utilize the mon-
ey when it arrives.
The bill is an omnibus package with
five key components:
h Updates the membership and au-
thority of the Oregon Broadband Advi-
sory Council and provides oversight and
recommendations to implement broad-
band goals.
h Sets a strategic framework for uti-
lizing state and federal broadband in-
h Creates criteria for Oregon to work
with providers to collect information
and develop statewide maps for deter-
mining eligibility for funds and to con-
firm the allocation.
h Establishes the Connecting Oregon
Libraries Fund and allocates funds for
the purpose of providing matching
funds for federal money received by the
State Library.
h Requires the Public Utilities Com-
mission to study the feasibility of ex-
panding the Oregon Telephone Assis-
tance Program, which lowers the
monthly cost of phone or broadband
services for low-income individuals.
Efforts to date
Broadband access has been a topic of
concern for lawmakers for some time.
The Oregon Broadband Office was es-
tablished in 2018 to develop broadband
investments, deploy strategies to reach
underserved areas and advocate for pol-
icies that would expand broadband
In the early months of the pandemic,
the state allocated funds to expand
broadband access and created the
Broadband Fund in special session to
support those efforts.
Despite those recent actions, signifi-
cant gaps in broadband access remain.
An analysis by USA Today and the
Stateman Journal in July showed that
while broadband is available to resi-
dents, fewer have actual high-speed ac-
According to a Federal Communica-
tions Commission study, in about half of
Oregon’s counties, broadband access is
available to at least 86% of residents. Yet
also in about half of the state’s counties,
according to Microsoft, no more than
49% of households have high-speed ac-
cess, a USA TODAY analysis shows.
Poorer counties tended to have less
Another of the bill’s chief sponsors,
Rep. Mark Owens, R-Crane, said the
need for broadband access in rural com-
munities was becoming more apparent
even before the pandemic. Now, Owens
said, it’s clear broadband is one of the
three critical components to ensuring
rural communities are viable into the fu-
“In order to have any type of sustain-
able growth in our rural or frontier com-
munities, we have to have good schools,
good medical and broadband,” he said.
“Without broadband, we’re not going to
have any type of sustained growth.”
Broadband is particularly important
for augmenting rural economies, he
said, allowing communities to become
less reliant on agriculture and natural
While the bill does have substantial
support, the biggest concern from some
is the collection of data for the creation
of the broadband access map.
Beth Cooley, assistant vice president
of state legislative affairs at CTIA, told
lawmakers Wednesday that while the
trade association supports the goals of
HB 4092, they oppose the bill in its cur-
rent form.
CTIA is a trade association that rep-
resents the wireless communications
industry in the United States.
The organization’s concern is that the
bill’s text is not aligned with the drafter’s
stated intent to keep broadband access
data private. Cooley requested an
amendment that would specify the
maps are only provided upon applica-
tion of a broadband grant.
“HB 4092 reads as a broad, sweeping
data collection mandate on the entire
broadband ecosystem, including wire-
less, outside of the broadband grant
process,” she said.
USA Today contributed to this report.
Reporter Connor Radnovich covers
the Oregon Legislature and state gov-
at or
503-399-6864, or follow him on Twitter
at @CDRadnovich.
Continued from Page 1A
Cochran has spent a fair share of the
pandemic with her children and at her
timeshare on the coast in an effort to
stay away from her home of Capital
Manor – and safe from COVID-19.
Capital Manor is one of dozens of
Oregon facilities that primarily care for
older adults that have seen repeated
outbreaks of COVID-19 in the past two
years. As of Jan. 12, approximately 170
facilities had reported three or more
COVID-19 was first reported at Cap-
ital Manor in March 2020, according to
state records.
The facility reported its first CO-
VID-19 outbreak – which the state de-
fines as three or more cases, or at least
one person dying – about four months
later, according to the Oregon Health
It would be the first of seven out-
breaks the community has seen.
With 480 residents, Capital Manor is
“far more likely to have several cases
than another place with 60 residents,”
David Lewis, executive director of Cap-
ital Manor, said in an email to the
Statesman Journal.
Lewis said that between March 2020
and early this January, 9% of Capital
Manor residents have contracted CO-
VID-19. He said other neighboring facil-
ities have had higher rates of COVID-19.
“When Capital Manor has 10 times
the census of many of the places to
which we are being compared, of
course, we would have more incidents
of three cases,” he said.
Lack of urgency stopping
spread in facilities
When a care facility reports a case of
COVID-19, that triggers a state process
called an “executive order.” Notices are
posted publicly on the facility building
and the state’s website.
The orders required facilities to stop
accepting new residents without writ-
ten approval from DHS. The orders also
required facilities to separate residents
with COVID-19 and conduct testing of
residents and staff.
The orders, however, do not require
documentation of how facilities “mon-
itor and document” infection control
practices, state auditors found in March
The head of the state’s program for
Safety, Oversight and Quality in care
homes, Jack Honey, told auditors in late
2020 that the process was not meant to
be punitive.
Honey told auditors, according to
their notes, that “they don’t want to pe-
nalize a facility for reporting.”
Back in the fall of 2020, a few days
before Thanksgiving, Fred Steele, the
state’s official advocate for long-term
care residents, sat at his dining room ta-
ble writing a letter to Gov. Kate Brown
and state agency heads.
In the letter, dated Nov. 24, 2020,
Steele implored leaders to take stricter
action to contain the virus and stop the
spread in care facilities.
Looking back a year later, he said,
maybe his letter was “too late.”
Steele said he asked for more “urgen-
cy” from state leaders, whom he feels by
that time had turned their focus toward
distributing COVID-19 vaccines. He said
he recognizes that shift might have con-
tributed to what felt like a “lack of re-
But Steele said he believes the state
could, and should have, done more to
slow the spread of the virus. He sent his
letter before a massive surge of CO-
VID-19 hit care homes in late 2020, and
long before the delta and omicron vari-
ants took hold.
Norma Cochran looks through old photographs of her husband, Bob, who lived in the memory care unit at Capital Manor in West
“But I still recognize too,
that more people died in
long-term care from COVID
than needed to, because
there wasn’t additional
enforcement, there wasn’t
additional responses that
needed to occur at that
point in time.”
Fred Steele
State’s official advocate for long-term care
“But I still recognize too, that more
people died in long-term care from CO-
VID than needed to, because there
wasn’t additional enforcement, there
wasn’t additional responses that need-
ed to occur at that point in time,” Steele
Wanting more info to
ensure safe environment
Cochran was concerned because, she
said, the facility didn’t inform her or
other residents where the cases were lo-
cated. She didn’t want to know who the
person was – she just wanted to know
on what floor, or in what part of the
complex, they were.
“I wanted to be able to avoid the
area,” said Cochran, who lives in an area
for people who live independently. “And
they wouldn’t tell us that, because of
confidentiality, which to me, is not com-
mon sense. And I wondered if they real-
ly understood it.”
Lewis said the information was not
shared “to protect the health informa-
tion privacy of all residents and staff.”
All staff who test positive “are re-
moved from working during their isola-
tion time,” Lewis said, and residents are
isolated in their living units so “there is
no location to avoid.”
“If the residents follow the safety
protocols in place, they are protected,”
he said. “We do not want residents to
feel safe or avoid certain places while
being less safe in others. No one know
(s) who might be carrying undiagnosed
When the pandemic took hold, Coch-
ran’s children would study state reports
on cases and outbreaks. The state’s
health department has been publishing
outbreak data for the entire Capital
Manor campus during the pandemic.
The state doesn’t regulate indepen-
dent senior living communities, but at
Capital Manor, some workers are shared
between independent living and other
areas that do face state regulation.
“Depending on the state require-
ments at a given time, masks and face
shields were required when any worker
was in the licensed areas,” Lewis said.
“Workers are screened for COVID-19, are
required to wash hands frequently, and
to always wear a mask (unless in an of-
fice privately or actively eating or drink-
Residents shared common areas dur-
ing the pandemic when the state al-
lowed it, Lewis said.
Cochran started visiting more often
in Portland in April 2020, said her
daughter, Claire Martin.
Martin and her brother and sister live
together in Portland, and Cochran’s vis-
its with them started getting longer that
fall. She moved in with them in early No-
vember 2020, Martin said.
“My children and I decided it would
be safer in an environment that was
more controlled,” Cochran said.
Cochran stayed until mid-February
2021, but she still visits and stays in
Portland often. She also spends time on
the coast, where she has a timeshare.
‘I don’t see an end to it for a while’
Cochran was born in 1933, the same
year that Franklin Delano Roosevelt,
partially paralyzed by polio, was sworn
in as president of the United States.
It wouldn’t be until the mid-1950s be-
fore a safe and effective polio vaccine
was developed.
“It was a mystery disease,” Cochran
said. “Polio was really terrible. They
closed down the swimming pools – I
was a swimmer. And movies. You didn’t
go anywhere. It was a very frightening
Now that Cochran is fully vaccinated
against COVID-19, including a booster
shot, she’s been back playing mahjong
and going to her study club.
Cochran and some neighbors like to
have a cocktail in the evenings, and
she’s a frequent visitor to the communi-
ty’s fiber arts room, where she’s been
making colorful little stuffed elephants
for kids in the Head Start program.
But she said she’s still not going to
the movies or eating inside at busy res-
“How long is this going to last?”
Cochran asked. “I don’t see an end to it
for a while.”
She wishes people would wash their
hands, avoid crowds and get vaccinat-
ed. Asked in late November whether she
was frustrated by the length of the pan-
demic, she said yes – but was in good
“I think I have more knowledge about
what happens, and it’s a little frighten-
ing too, certainly,” Cochran said, “But
I’m in a good stage of life because I don’t
mind staying in. I’ve got lots of things I
do here. And it really hasn’t been a big
In early January, Cochran had to
quarantine for a week because she was
exposed to COVID-19. Her daughter
brought a rapid test down to Salem, and
she tested negative.
Cochran missed taking walks out-
side, but took a practical approach to
being stuck indoors.
“Since I’m stuck at home, I decided to
try to get my taxes in order as far as I can
at this time,” Cochran said. “And I hate
doing that. So this is a good time to get
that going.”
Claire Withycombe is a reporter at
the Statesman Journal. Contact her at,
503-910-3821 or follow on Twitter