NURSING HOMES AND HOSPITALS SEEK LEGAL PROTECTION: Nursing homes and hospitals have asked Oregon Gov. Kate Brown to use her executive orders to protect them from lawsuits resulting from COVID-19. In a letter dated April 3, obtained exclusively by WW, the health care groups and businesses argue the governor has the power without legislative action to shield them from legal liability. They ask for three specific protections, including to be "immune from civil liability for any injury, death or loss that results from their acts or omissions while rendering, withholding or delaying medical or other care and services unless it is alleged and proved" that the company or group "was grossly negligent." Among the groups and businesses that signed the letter were the Oregon Medical Association, Oregon Association of Health and Hospital Systems and Oregon Health Care Association, which represents nursing homes, along with most of the state's largest hospital systems. The groups cite the example of New York state, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo included liability protections in an executive order. Brown says she's made no decision.
PRISONS ORDER HYDROXYCHLOROQUINE: President Donald Trump isn't the only one looking to hydroxychloroquine as a cure for COVID-19. The Oregon Department of Corrections recently purchased the antimalarial drug to treat inmates afflicted with the coronavirus, department spokeswoman Jennifer Black says. The department purchased the drug "both for usual use as an anti-inflammatory drug in patients with rheumatologic disorders, and also a limited quantity for COVID-19 use," Black adds. After follow-up questions from WW, the department said it hadn't purchased any of the hydroxychloroquine solely to treat COVID-19 cases and declined to say how man inmates, if any, it had treated with the drug. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says hydroxychloroquine has not been approved for treatment of COVID-19, and the Food and Drug Administration warns it is not "safe or effective" in treating the virus. Despite the risks, President Trump himself has been taking the drug to stave off the virus, The New York Times reported May 18.
ELECTION COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST OUR OREGON: The Freedom Foundation, an anti-union nonprofit based in Salem, filed a 22-page elections complaint May 13, targeting Our Oregon, the labor-backed 501(c)(4) nonprofit that has dominated Oregon ballot measures for more than a decade. At the heart of the complaint: a claim that Our Oregon has failed to observe state disclosure laws. "Our Oregon has operated as a political committee without filing a statement of organization with the Secretary of State as required," the complaint says. Our Oregon executive director Becca Uherbelau says the complaint is frivolous. "Everyone knows that 501(c)(4) organizations are allowed to engage in electoral work," she says. "This complaint is a waste of time and a complete waste of taxpayer dollars."
READ ELECTION RESULTS NOW: It's unclear why, but voter turnout hit an uncharacteristic lull Monday, May 18—the day before ballots were counted. Normally, the final two days of a vote-by-mail cycle yield as many as half the ballots returned. But tepid returns May 18 left turnout at a lower than normal 36.4 percent in Multnomah County going into election day (slightly higher than overall state turnout). By the time you read this, dozens of Portland-area races will be decided. Visit wweek.com for results and analysis of a primary election inexorably altered by the COVID-19 pandemic.