Vulnerable Populations

A young male teen smiling up from his wheel chair with his hands clasped.
Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Guidance for vulnerable populations can be found on the reopening guidance page

Physical distancing recommendations can be stressful and leave people feeling isolated from friends and families. It is important that the most vulnerable in our communities remain connected to social services and supports during the current COVID-19 situation. These populations will be the most impacted by economic and healthcare disruption brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are a few things you may want to know more about.

This is stressful financially and I am concerned about how to continue to support myself.
Financial stress, economic impacts, and job uncertainty related to COVID-19 are significant sources of stress and anxiety in our community. This may also contribute to feelings of isolation and uncertainty.

Some helpful resources are:

  • The Federal Government has recently passed legislation to provide a stimulus relief package to help American families and businesses. For more information visit: www.irs.gov/coronavirus
  • Utility providers in our community are working to support those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This may include suspending nonpayment disconnections and late fees. Please contact your provider directly for the most current information.
  • Energy Assistance Funds: The Community Services Consortium (CSC) offers financial assistance to income-qualified individuals and families to assist with utility payments. They can be reached at 541-752-1010.

Oregon Health Plan (Medicaid)
If your income has changed, you may be able to qualify for Oregon Health Plan. Oregon Health Authority also now has flexibility to remove barriers for people to get and keep their Medicaid/Oregon Health Plan Coverage. Specifically, this means:

  • All members who are currently enrolled in OHP will not lose coverage during this crisis. This includes coverage that is only state-funded (i.e. Cover All Kids).
  • Individuals can sign up for OHP without having to verify their income (submit a pay stub) with their application. They will be able to self-attest, which will help get access to coverage more quickly.
  • Federal stimulus payments and increased unemployment payments will not affect OHP eligibility. They will not be counted during the application process or when members report a change in their household.
  • Oregon will have additional flexibility to add to its healthcare workforce, provide treatment in temporary sites, and for paying for providers during this public health emergency.
  • For questions about OHP, to sign up, or to learn about other insurance options – contact The Community Health Centers of Linn and Benton County at 541-766-2130.

How can I practice physical distancing and still maintain social connections? 

There are many safe ways to connect with friends and loved ones. Some suggestions include:

  • Interact with friends or family over the internet, or apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat.
  • Talk to them through video phone calls such as FaceTime or Skype.
  • Do a virtual group hangout, such as Discord, Zoom, Google Hangout, or Netflix Party.
  • Use livestreaming and face-to-face apps or features, such as Facebook Live, YouTube Live, and Instagram media sharing.

Special considerations for those who are homeless or experiencing housing challenges
The number of people experiencing houselessness is likely to grow this year. A few special considerations are: 

  • Oregon Governor Kate Brown issued an executive order to stop residential evictions due to non-payment of rent from 3/22-6/22/20. The executive order does not waive the tenant's responsibility to pay rent that is due, and does not waive the tenant's responsibility to honor the fixed term of a lease. Tenants who are concerned they will not be able to pay their full rent are encouraged to notify their property manager as early as possible. For more information, visit: https://govstatus.egov.com/or-covid-19
  • For those who are homeless:
    • Remember to spread out your camp to maintain physical distancing of at least 6 feet. This includes sleeping at least 6 feet away from others.
    • As much as possible, limit sharing personal items, particularly cigarettes, food, phones, utensils, and other items. 
    • As much as possible, limit sharing bedding, clothes and other personal items, especially with someone who has those symptoms and has been coughing on their blankets and clothes.

Special considerations for English language learners
Benton County and Oregon Health Authority have several resources in multiple languages on COVID-19:

Benton County:

  • COVID-19 Website (Spanish)
  • Fact Sheets:
    • Spanish
    • Arabic

Oregon Health Authority:

  • Fact Sheets:
    • Spanish
    • Simplified Chinese
    • Traditional Chinese

For those experiencing abuse or domestic violence
For those, such as victims of abuse or domestic violence, home may not be a safe place and can lead to fear for safety and deeper feelings of isolation. The economic impacts of COVID-19 can additionally contribute to people being trapped in abusive relationships and homes, as losing income makes it harder to leave an abusive partner. 

In the U.S., you can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline. 

  • Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) (English and Spanish Speakers)
  • Deaf/Hard of Hearing: 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)
  • Chat online at: www.thehotline.org 

In Benton County, the Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence (CARDV) is still staffing their 24 hour crisis and support line.

  • For support, services, or questions about their policies during COVID-19, please call 541-754-0110. They also will continue to provide shelter to survivors, and you can contact them if you or someone you care about is in need of emergency shelter.

Taking care of your mental health and wellbeing

  • Do art projects, play games, do puzzles, or read books.
  • Read books, listen to podcasts, or watch movies or shows.
  • Get outside and take a walk, go on a bike ride, or go for a run.
  • Check in with yourself on whether your increased levels of stress or anxiety are resulting in higher than normal consumption of substances. 
  • The Oregon Recovery Network is a centralized location with the latest state and local support, treatment, and recovery resources. Please visit https://oregonrecoverynetwork.org for more information.
  • Stress, anxiety, and feelings of depression are common reactions to these difficult times. Crisis Text Line is here to help you get through it. To speak with a Crisis Counselor, text OREGON to 741741
  • The Disaster Distress Hotline is available 24/7:
    • 1-800-985-5990
    • Deaf/Hard of Hearing Individuals: Text TalkWithUs to 66746
    • TTY 1-800-846-8517
    • Spanish Speakers: Call 1-800-985-5990 and press "2"
    • Deaf/Hard of Hearing Individual: (Spanish): Text Hablanos to 66746
  • You can contact Benton County’s Crisis Line at 1-888-232-7192
  • Benton County Counselor of the Day is still available for anyone in crisis and needing to talk with a therapist or counselor immediately. Please call 541-766-6835

For resources around COVID-19, people can visit:

  • The Benton County COVID-19 Website is updated daily: www.co.benton.or.us/coronavirus.
  • Benton County Recovers page for donations and volunteer opportunities: www.bentoncounty.recovers.org.
  • For general questions about COVID-19, please call the Benton County Phone Bank at 541-766-6120. The phone bank is staffed by volunteers and is open 8:00am - 5:00pm, Monday through Friday. Callers can also leave a voicemail for a return call.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): www.cdc.gov/coronavirus or call 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636)