ENTERPRISE — Nonessential businesses and others can qualify for COVID grants through the Northeast Oregon Economic Development District (NEOEDD), with funding from Business Oregon, according to a press release.

NEOEDD is offering grants for small businesses and nonprofit organizations that experienced revenue reduction due to COVID-19 restrictions, and which were unable to access the Small Business Administration’s Economic Impact Disaster Loans or the Paycheck Protection Program loans. Businesses that were closed via state mandate automatically qualify; others may qualify by demonstrating substantial COVID-related income loss.

Go to the NEOEDD’s website to access the form in English and Spanish (available in other languages upon request). There is also a form for “nominating” a business (NEOEDD staff will contact them). www.neoedd.org/covid-19-resources/.

“This funding from Business Oregon will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis,” said Lisa Dawson, NEOEDD executive director. “It is not a competitive process — if you qualify, you will receive funding, until we have exhausted our allotment.”

The NEOEDD will distribute funds to business owners and executive directors of qualified organizations on a rolling basis until approximately Aug. 23.

This program is funded, in part, with state of Oregon General Funds and Lottery Funds administered by the Oregon Business Development Department.

WALLOWA — The Wallowa Resale Store, which reopened Thursday, July 23, has been under the Lostine Presbyterian Church and its 501(3) since January 2019, according to Anne Farmer.

Last week’s Biz Buzz stated that the store is a project of the Wallowa Methodist Church, which it originally was, Farmer said, though it is now affiliated with the Lostine church.

For more information about the store, contact its manager, Deb Reth, at 541-398-0137.

SALEM — The Oregon Employment Department, in partnership with Google, on July 17 launched a new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) online form that will make it easier for Oregonians to apply.

The form also allows the more than 100,000 mostly self-employed Oregonians who have applied for PUA to get their weekly benefit payments faster.

The three major improvements are:

Automation to speed up weekly benefit processing.

The automation improves submission success.

Ensuring all required information is complete prior to submission.

People should resubmit their weekly claims through the new form if they have not already been paid for those weeks, though they do not have to. Doing so will speed up how quickly they get their benefits, and will let claims specialists focus on claims for people who have not yet received their benefits.

In addition to the new application, the Department launched a new informational website July 10, unemployment.oregon.gov, which will also be available in 15 languages in the coming weeks. The application and the website are part of the Department’s efforts to significantly improve the overall customer service experience and improve the speed at which claims can be processed.

PUA applications, also known as initial claims, will still need to be reviewed by a claims specialist; that will now be easier to do. Claims require review to ensure applicants are eligible under the federal CARES Act and to determine a person’s weekly benefit amount. Weekly PUA claims filed through the new online form will auto-process, sending a person either the $205 per week minimum benefit, or a higher weekly benefit amount--up to a maximum of $648 per week.

To get more than $205 per week, a person must have earned more than $16,480 in the 2019 tax year. They have to provide proof of income for their most recently completed tax year (2019 for most people).

SALEM — Face coverings, or masks, are now required statewide for all adults and starting Friday, July 24, for all children 5 and up, in all indoor public spaces and outdoors when physical distancing isn’t possible.

To help Oregonians understand the July 24 requirement that face masks are now a must for everyone age 5 and older, the Oregon Health Authority has created a website resource that aims to be a clearinghouse of the latest information about face coverings and masks, from requirements to FAQs to tips about how to effectively wear them.

Emerging evidence shows that wearing a mask can help protect everyone from spreading and catching COVID-19. COVID-19 is spread by respiratory droplets when people cough, sneeze, talk, laugh or sing. Face coverings help contain those droplets. The virus can be spread by people who do not have symptoms and likely don’t know they are infected.

Properly worn, a face covering should cover a person’s nose and mouth and fit snugly against the sides of the face. Many types of face coverings can be used, including handmade cloth face coverings, scarves, bandanas, and more. They should be washed frequently after using.

To learn more about face coverings and face masks visit healthoregon.org/masks.

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Bill Bradshaw is a reporter for the Wallowa County Chieftain. Have a business tip? Contact him at 541-398-5503 or bbradshaw@wallowa.com.

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