Portland, OR

Portland Daily Round Up: OHA says mask mandate will continue, city council approves $62M budget surplus proposals

Emily Scarvie

(Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

By Emily Scarvie

(PORTLAND, Ore.) Hello Portlanders! It's Thursday, Nov. 18 - Here's your daily round up of all the news happening in the City of Roses.

1. OHA says COVID hospitalizations still too high to end mask mandate

Despite the number of new COVID-19 cases decreasing in the state, the Oregon Health Authority told lawmakers on Wednesday that the rate of hospitalization remains too high to get rid of the state’s mask mandate. OHA said people will likely have to continue to wear masks indoors through the beginning of next year due to current trends in Oregon.

“We’re still in a very high case load. Our hospitals continue to be at 90% or more COVID capacity. One in five Oregonians is completely unprotected from the virus, having neither been exposed nor vaccinated, so we will need to get to that point,” OHA Director Pat Allen said.

Even if Oregon got rid of its mask mandate, businesses could still require customers to wear face coverings in order to enter.

2. Portland City Council approves use of budget surplus for homelessness, policing

Portland City Council voted on Wednesday to spend the city’s unexpected $62 million budget surplus on public safety and homelessness, among other priorities. The surplus comes mostly from tax revenues collected from big corporations.

Of the surplus, city commissioners voted to spend more than $7 million on hiring more Portland Police Bureau officers, as well as implementing body cameras and new training programs. Another large portion of the funding is aimed at assisting people living on the streets. More than $18 million is expected to go towards additional shelter beds, housing assistance and more.

The surplus funding will also be used to expand the Portland Street Response.

3. Renovations to begin on Oregon state parks in 2022

After $50 million was approved to fund facility improvements, several Oregon state parks will undergo renovation projects starting next year. The Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission approved the list of park projects on Wednesday, which include upgrading electrical, sewer and water systems, building additional campsites and more.

There will be two separate disbursements of $25 million, issued in May 2022 and May 2023. Several state parks are set to undergo renovation in 2022, including Beverly Beach, Champoeg State Park Heritage Area, Fort Stevens State Park, Smith Rock State Park, Silver Falls State Park and Portland Women’s Forum State Scenic Viewpoint.

Additional projects scheduled for 2023 include Cape Lookout State Park, Milo McIver State Park and Nehalem Bay State Park.

4. Portland Holiday Market kicks off at the Expo Center

The Portland Holiday Market at the Expo Center debuted on Thursday and features hundreds of small, local vendors selling everything from ornaments and holiday décor to food and spirits and more. The market also features SantaLand, with Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus and live reindeer.

The market is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Nov. 18 through Nov. 21 at the Portland Expo Center. Admission for adults is $10 and free for kids under 12-years-old. Masks are required for everyone in attendance.

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