Government, Salem, TRANSPORTATION

State dispatch: DMV (mostly) closes, studded tire season extended, Republican legislators promise bipartisanship

The Oregon Capitol building in Salem. 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

Coronavirus in Oregon: the numbers

With more and more testing coming to Oregon, more and more positive cases are being confirmed. 

As of Tuesday morning, the most recently available numbers, the Oregon Health Authority reported that there were 208 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, with 76 of them in Washington County, more than any single other county. Statewide, 4,350 tests have returned negative results. 

In Oregon so far, at least eight people with the coronavirus have died.

[We rely on subscribers to keep the lights on at the Gales Creek Journal. Support us with a digital subscription: Click here to start]

ODOT moves studded tire removal deadline to May 1

Those who’ve held off on removing their studded tires have been granted a reprieve, at least until May 1. 

The Oregon Department of Transportation has extended the deadline to remove studded tires until May 1, in response to the coronavirus public health crisis, with nonessential travel throughout the state being nixed by Governor Kate Brown.  

Typically, the agency allows motorists to use studded tires between November 1 and March 31; in 2018 both the Washington Department of Transportation and ODOT extended the studded tire deadline in their respective states to April 15 due to forecasts calling for late-season snow that could impact travel throughout both states. Previous to April 2018, the last time the ODOT extended its March 31 deadline was in 2012.

ODOT says studded tires over time cause major damage to local, county and state roadways. A 2014 study conducted by the state agency concluded that studded tires cause about $8.5 million in damage each year to Oregon roads, highways, and freeways.

DMV offices close for most motorists

With Governor Brown’s “Stay Home, Save Lives” Executive Order mandating that Oregonians stay home as much as possible, the DMV is curtailing most of their in-person operations.

Firstly, the agency has shuttered all but six of their field offices, leaving just the following cities with DMV locations open: Baker City, Bend, Hermiston, Medford, North Salem, and the Southeast Portland location at 8710 SE Powell Blvd. 

Secondly, at those locations, only those seeking to take a commercial driver knowledge test or receive a commercial driver license will be allowed an in-person visit, and it must be done by appointment only. 

Those looking for the commercial driver options should schedule an appointment for a knowledge test or commercial driver license issuance by calling their local DMV office phone number, 503-299-9999 in the Portland area, or 503-945-5000 elsewhere.

To schedule a CDL drive test, you must use a private third-party CDL tester business, according to ODOT. More information can be found at

For all others, online and by mail is your only option until April 28.

You can accomplish many tasks at and

Because DMV offices, as well as DEQ offices are closed, a grace period for the duration has been extended for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic, according to ODOT. 

In partnership with Oregon State Police, the Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association, and the Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police, the agency and law enforcement agencies will exercise discretion in enforcement of certain laws that are near-impossible or difficult to follow during the crisis, including the enforcement of expired driver licenses, vehicle registrations, trip permits, and disability permits. 

With the May 19 primary elections coming in Oregon, those wishing to register to vote can check the status of their affiliation or lack thereof with a party or register to vote at

Oregon legislature: A spirit of bipartisanship

Prior to the coronavirus crisis, Oregon’s short legislative session was marked by acrimonious partisanship as most Republican legislators boycotted the session over a cap-and-trade bill. 

But that’s all behind, for now, as most Oregon politicians set aside their differences to address the coronavirus pandemic, and it’s more important than ever, with the legislature expected to convene in the coming weeks for a special session to address the coronavirus. 

In a letter to Governor Kate Brown, the Oregon House Republican Caucus expressed their desire to work in a bipartisan fashion. 

“We are in uncharted territory, and the House Republican Caucus stands ready to work with our colleagues in the Oregon Legislature to respond quickly and responsibly to threats to public health and our economy. It is important that any action taken by the state balance the immediate health risks with the long-term well-being of our families through support for employees and main street businesses.

We continue to strongly support stay at home recommendations, social distancing, handwashing and less frequent person-to-person contact. The Stay Home Stay Safe initiative is appropriate and needed.”

The party noted a list of requests of the governor in regards to executive order 20-12, the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” mandate, and closed with a call for bipartisanship. 

“The response to COVID-19 is and needs to remain a bipartisan effort. Our commitment to working together for the benefit and well-being of all Oregonians has never been stronger.”

Chas Hundley is the editor of the Gales Creek Journal and sister news publications the Banks Post and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

Sign up for free Gales Creek news in your inbox ↓

The groceries your family needs!

New patients only, no cash value, cannot be combined with any other offers