CONGRESS, Coronavirus, Politics

National news dispatch: More than 50,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in U.S., Real ID rollout to be delayed

United States Capitol. Photo: Chas Hundley

Coronavirus resources: CDC on the coronavirusOregon Health Authority resourcesWashington County resourcesOregonian reporting on the coronavirusOPB glossary of coronavirus termsNYTimes free reporting on the coronavirus

the numbers: COVID-19 cases climb in the U.S.

Diagnosed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. continue to climb, with the New York Times reporting at least 52,215 cases across every state, three U.S. territories, and Washington D.C. as of Tuesday afternoon.

At least 675 people with the coronavirus have died in the U.S. 

President Trump said he will delay Real ID rollout

This article was originally published by the Oregonian/OregonLive, one of more than a dozen news organizations throughout the state sharing their coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak to help inform Oregonians about this evolving health issue.

Andrew Theen | The Oregonian/OregonLive

President Trump said Monday that he will extend the deadline for having a federally recognized form of identification to board a domestic airline.

The deadline to comply with the 2005 Real ID Act was supposed to be Oct. 1. Oregon was expected to be the final state in the country to meet those requirements, which stipulate that a passport, passport card or Real ID card are required to board a domestic flight, enter a federal building or government facilities.

“At a time when we’re asking Americans to maintain social distancing, we do not want to require people to go to their local DMV,” the president said in a news conference Monday. He wasn’t specific when the new deadline would be.

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., had introduced legislation last week calling on the administration to push back the deadline until September 2021.

U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, a Springfield Democrat who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, has also called for a delay.

Wyden said Monday, “I am gratified that our bipartisan call for postponement of the Real ID Act appears like it’s on the route to reality. While I am glad Donald Trump has finally seen reason on this public health concern for Oregonians, I am pressing the White House to deliver specifics. Those details are essential to reassure Oregonians the deadline will be delayed at least a year and won’t be forced amid a global pandemic to risk their health by jamming into DMV offices to get documents.”

Oregon is one of, if not the last state in line by its own design, and it would not be able to start issuing the licenses, per the state’s own timeline, until July 6.

The state had estimated that some 960,000 drivers would want a Real ID card this summer. It estimated that would translate to 32 licenses issued per minute for 62 business days between July 6 and Oct. 1.

Oregon last fall started encouraging residents who didn’t have one to get a passport instead of banking on obtaining a Real ID during the summer crunch.

According to the U.S. State Department, it can take six to eight weeks to obtain a passport. Passports can be expedited in certain cases or issued the same day in certain locations.

Oregon is one of the last in the country to take action on Real ID because lawmakers stiff-armed federal regulators in 2009 and prohibited the state from spending money to comply with the federal act. The state wasn’t the only one to do so. But it was one of the last to change its stance. In 2018, the state Legislature repealed the previous bill and set a path toward compliance by 2020.


Sen. Merkley: Small businesses hurting

Oregon’s junior senator addressed the impact of the coronavirus health emergency to small businesses in Oregon in a statement on Tuesday evening. 

“Over the past few weeks, I’ve spoken with and heard from small business owners from all across Oregon about the massive economic consequences of the coronavirus crisis. In each and every one of our communities, families rely on these businesses in order to keep the lights on and put food on the table, and as we continue to respond aggressively to this pandemic, we have to stand with them,” Sen. Merkley said.

“I’m working hard to give our small and mid-sized businesses the resources they need to continue to support our families and contribute to the vitality of our economy. Last week, I joined a delegation-wide effort to support Governor Brown’s request for an economic disaster declaration from the Small Business Administration (SBA). I’m pleased that this request was approved, giving our small businesses the ability to apply for critical resources as they face closures and layoffs because of their efforts to help contain the spread of the virus.”

“But many small businesses have also expressed concern that normal SBA loans might not be enough to make it through this unprecedented challenge. That’s why I’m pleased that the third coronavirus emergency relief bill, which is focused on the virus’ economic impacts, includes $350 billion in fully forgivable loans to small businesses — a concept similar to the grant program that I proposed last week. I’ll follow up with you as soon as application information for these grants is available.”

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