The latest news stories in the Rogue Valley and around the state of Oregon from RogueValleyMagazine.com
SUNDAY, MARCH 29, 2020
Rogue Valley Weather
Showers. High near 55. Calm wind becoming southwest around 5 mph in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible. Snow level 4400 feet.
Rain likely with a high near 56. Snow level 3800 feet rising to 4800 feet. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.
A chance of showers, mainly before 11am. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 59.
COVID-19 has claimed 1 more life in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 12.
Oregon Health Authority also reported 69 new cases of COVID-19 over the weekend, bringing the state total to 548 known cases as of Sunday morning.
Jackson County Public Health officials say there are 12 cases of COVID-19 in the Rogue Valley, as of Sunday Morning, March 29th.
Eleven of the cases are in Jackson County, with one in Josephine County. Klamath County has two cases.
“All cases are believed to be community-acquired. Jackson County Public Health is working to identify and isolate/quarantine any individuals who may have been in close contact with the cases.”
“The best way to protect yourself, your family and friends, and your neighbors is to stay home and practice social distancing. Social distancing is the most important and valuable tool we have to slow the spread of COVID-19,” the press release read. “We understand the difficulties of practicing social distancing, this is not something we are used to doing, and we miss being close to family and friends. But we are all in this together, and together we can do this.”
Every person should take these basic steps to protect themselves and those most at risk:
- Practice social distancing, stay home and save a life.
- It is best to not visit and stay over at older family members’ homes or those that have health conditions that put them at risk but do check on them using social distancing.
- Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces like bathrooms, desks, countertops, doorknobs, computer keyboards, faucet handles, toys and cell phones.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Stay home and away from others if you are ill.
Over the past week, the city of Grants Pass has been plagued with criminal mischief incidents involving a firearm. There have been 10 separate incidents, all of which are believed to be related.
The majority of these have targeted businesses and vehicles, but there has also been one incident at a residence. There are no reports of injury, only damage caused.
The Grants Pass Department of Public Safety is asking for your help in locating and identifying the suspect(s) involved. Here is what we know:
- Suspect Description – male adult, tall and slender build
- Suspect Vehicle – dark colored full size pickup, 4-door, with silver step bars
- Suspect is armed with a firearm and has caused damage by shooting at each location
If you have any information regarding these crimes, please call Det. Robert Shaw at the Grants Pass Deparment of Public Safety, 541-450-6260.
From the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office:
Q: Can I get an extension on filing my tax returns?
A: The IRS recently issued an extension for federal tax returns, and the Oregon Department of Revenue followed suit by issuing a similar extension. Federal and state tax returns for most individuals and businesses are now due by July 15. Information about this extension is available at https://www.oregon.gov/dor/Pages/COVID19.aspx.
Jobless claims are soaring in Oregon as the state nears the end of its first week under Governor Kate Brown’s stay-at-home order due to the coronavirus outbreak. Since March 15, the state has received 76,500 initial unemployment claims.
That’s a sharp increase from the 4,900 claims the week of March 8th, before the economic devastation of the new coronavirus took hold. Hospitality and leisure jobs made up about half the 22,800 claims processed in the last week, signifying the impact of the executive order that banned dine-in service at restaurants and bars and banned non-essential travel. Schools are also closed until April 28.
The impact of COVID-19 was also being felt by employers and their workers. Deschutes Brewery, an iconic craft brewery, also said Wednesday that it will lay off 300 employees and close its pubs and tasting rooms. Other uniquely Oregon businesses, such as McMenamin’s and Powell’s Books, have laid off hundreds of workers as well.
Oregon’s jobless rate was at a historic low last month of just 3.3%, but recent warnings have suggested unemployment could rise as high as 20% during the outbreak. Brown said earlier this week that she is ‘gravely concerned’ about Oregon’s ability to deliver basic services over the next six months to a year because of the economic fallout from statewide closures, massive lay-offs by affected businesses and stay-at-home orders aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus.
The state also on Wednesday delayed the personal tax filing deadline until July 15, meaning Oregon will have less money coming in as it scrambles to address the economic crisis.
VA Southern Oregon Rehabilitation Center and Clinics Health Care System is taking extra precautions aimed at limiting COVID-19 exposure risk to Veterans, employees, volunteers, and visitors.
Veterans who are concerned they may have symptoms of COVID-19, flu or cold should call 1-541-826-2111 to speak to their team before coming to VA SORCC facilities or send a secure message through My HealthVet. Their Residential Rehabilitation Treatment Program is continuing to provide treatment and accepting requests for admission that follow a rigorous screening process however they are reducing passes from their RRTP program to reduce community exposure.
If you have any questions, please contact your RRTP admission team at (541) 826-2111 ext. 3210. Starting last Wednesday VASORCC began performing drive-through health screenings.
All Veterans, employees, visitors, volunteers and contractors will be screened before entering VA SORCC facilities. Klamath Falls clinics will be screening at the main entrance.
In keeping with Governor Kate Brown’s “Stay Home, Save Lives” executive order, Oregonians across the state who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits can now purchase groceries online from Walmart and Amazon, helping to keep SNAP recipients and their families safe from COVID-19 by opening new avenues for social distancing.
Oregon has been exploring ways to increase access to food including a pilot project to provide Oregonians the opportunities to purchase groceries online with SNAP benefits. In March 2020, the Department of Human Services (DHS) provided access to online purchasing in Portland and Grants Pass at Walmart and Amazon. Due to the COVID-19 crisis, both retailers moved up their expansion dates for online food shopping to help those who are unable or who have difficulty getting to the store another option to purchase food.
If your work hours are reduced or you lose your job, you may become eligible for SNAP if you meet eligibility requirements. You can apply for SNAP benefits without visiting an office. Apply online at OHP.Oregon.Gov.
Joint release from the Oregon Parks & Recreation Dept. and Oregon Dept. of Transportation
Recreation areas closed for travelers and locals alike
Salem, Ore – Many of the state’s top federal, state, and local recreation areas are closed to all use following Governor Kate Brown’s Executive Order on Monday, March 23 that prohibits all non-essential travel. Oregon has reached a critical moment in the COVID-19 health emergency when limiting contact between people will save lives and flatten the infection curve.
All state parks, parts of national forests, and some city recreation areas shuttered their doors over the past week to reduce crowds and discourage travel. The closures also affect local use, and land management authorities acknowledge this will be frustrating. With parks and other public lands closed, safety-related services like restrooms are closed and trash collection is suspended, increasing the risk of injury when a person visits in violation of the closure.
Local health care professionals are focused on using resources to prepare for COVID-19 care and cannot afford to spend limited time and resources on people injured during recreational activities. All use, whether originating locally or not, is prohibited in a closed park.
The closures do not yet affect the ocean beaches, though all state and many federal and local access points are closed. If problems arise with people traveling unnecessarily or congregating there, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department will reconsider that decision.
Some travel is necessary, and state highway rest areas are open for travel-related needs. Some parks also serve as rest areas, and while nearly all are available for rest area-type functions, they are closed to recreation. Some rest areas may have reduced service or may be difficult to access. Parks that attract too many people seeking recreation rather than rest area services will be closed to all service. A map of state highway rest areas is available at TripCheck.com.
People are encouraged to exercise as close to home as possible, including backyards and neighborhoods where social distancing is easier to maintain.
Stay home, save lives.
BLM temporarily close recreation facilities in Oregon
Despite facility closures, millions of acres of BLM-managed public lands across Oregon remain open to enjoy, as long as you do so responsibly.
The health and safety of our visitors and staff remains the number one priority of the Bureau of Land Management. In accordance with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state of Oregon public health officials, the BLM will temporarily close many of its developed recreation facilities to help limit the spread of COVID-19.
This closure includes all campgrounds, and some day use sites, and restrooms. Trash pickup and sanitation services on most of these recreation facilities will also be temporarily suspended.
Despite the closure of these facilities, multiple opportunities remain for the public to enjoy the outdoors as long as visitors heed orders, guidance, and advice of local and state officials and the Centers for Disease Control. BLM-managed trails and open spaces remain open across Oregon.
“Local, state or federal, we’re all in this together. The BLM is doing what we can as part of the whole of America response to the coronavirus,” said Jose Linares, acting State Director BLM OR/WA. “Although we have vast open spaces we continue to want people to use, we can’t stress enough that everyone listen to local officials and practice safe social distancing.”
Visitors may continue to enjoy their BLM managed trails and open spaces in Oregon while following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Local and State public health authorities. Social distancing recommendations are extremely important to reducing the transmission of COVID-19 and may require that visitors avoid public lands during high-use times, such as weekends. Please limit any group activities to members of your household, and keep your total party to 10 or fewer participants. At all times, maintain a distance of six feet or more from other people.
The BLM encourages responsible, local recreation to avoid putting strain on other communities. To ensure public lands and waters remain intact for future generations, visitors are encouraged to utilize Leave No Trace practices, such as picking up all trash and human waste, while services at recreational facilities are suspended. Please bring your own sanitary products, including toilet paper and hand sanitizer, and pack out all trash.
Providing for recreation opportunities during this time is just one of the many activities BLM Oregon/Washington staff continues to perform each and every day remain because they are vitally important to the nation and our neighbors. Our work continues to support the nation’s energy and food security. We provide for sustainable timber harvests and provide protection from wildland fire. We are stewards of amazing landscapes and provide for enjoyment of all types of outdoor recreation.
If you’d like to do business with the BLM, please do so by email or phone whenever possible. If you need to come into one of our offices, please contact us first so we can arrange an appointment to help you during normal business hours. Contact information is available on our website at www.blm.gov/oregon-washington.
Information on the affected BLM Oregon-Washington facilities will be posted on https://www.blm.gov/oregon-washington/covid-access-restrictions. Please check with individual field and district offices and visitor centers for specific details on operations in your area.
- Burns District: 541-573-4400
- Coos Bay District: 541-756-0100
- Lakeview District: 541-947-2177
- Medford District: 541-618-2200
- Northwest Oregon District: 503-375-5646
- Prineville District: 541-416-6700
- Roseburg District: 541-440-4930
- Vale District: 541-473-3144
In response to current public health concerns, many access sites have already been closed or will be closed soon on the Deschutes and John Day Rivers. To ensure the safety of boaters, the Marine Board will be temporarily closing stretches of these waters to all boating beginning on Saturday, March 28, 2020.
These restrictions are scheduled to be in place through April 30 and will protect boaters from entering a river system where the availability of access and take-out points is uncertain.
All boating activities on the Deschutes River will be restricted from the Pelton Dam (River Mile 97) to its confluence with the Columbia River near Biggs Junction. The temporary closure on the John Day River extends from the mouth of the North Fork John Day River (River Mile 184) in Kimberly, downstream to Tumwater Falls, approximately 10 miles from the Columbia River. In both rivers, both motorized and non-motorized boats will be restricted.
The Marine Board will continue to work with its partners to safeguard boaters during these challenging times. We are also committed to ensuring consistency between boating regulations and other local restrictions necessitated to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Umpqua Bank, a subsidiary of Umpqua Holdings Corporation has announced a package of relief and support to help ease the financial burden of COVID-19’s impact on customers, associates, and communities.
“As the economic impact from the coronavirus continues to grow, we want all those we serve to know that Umpqua is here to help,” said Cort O’Haver, Umpqua Bank president & CEO. “In addition to taking action to provide immediate financial relief for customers, we’re expanding investments in our associates—particularly those on the frontlines of service—and our nonprofit partners working so hard to help our customers and communities get through this difficult time.”
For consumer customers experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19, Umpqua is deferring loan payments upon request and waiving all fees associated with deferred payments on existing loans and lines of credit for up to 90 days. The bank is also waiving ATM fees for all customers.
Small Business Relief
Umpqua small business customers impacted by COVID-19 can defer loan payments for up to 90 days and have the related deferral fees waived on deferred loans and lines of credit. The bank is also an active participant in numerous Small Business Administration programs, which offer additional avenues of assistance for small businesses.
For all associates, Umpqua has established a pandemic pay bank, providing additional paid time-off for COVID-19-related exposure or sickness, caring for an impacted loved one, as well as for childcare. The company has also implemented a Retail Frontline Pay program to recognize the dedication of associates who are continuing to deliver in-store customer service during this time.
Umpqua has pledged $1 million in support through a combination of donations to nonprofits focused on alleviating the financial hardships of families and small businesses impacted by COVID-19 and capital investments in organizations that provide micro loans and capital to small businesses. In addition, Umpqua is providing a 3:1 match of all associate donations to community partners and activating its innovative Virtual Volunteer program, which allows the company’s associates to continue serving nonprofit organizations and practice safe social distancing.
According to O’Haver, “This combination of support provides immediate relief. But we recognize that the impacts of this crisis will be with us for some time, and we’ll continue to monitor the financial impact on the ground in the coming weeks and months. Above all, we want our associates, customers, and communities to know that we are with them and for them as we all face this challenge together.”
More information is available at https://www.umpquabank.com.
About Umpqua Bank
Umpqua Bank, headquartered in Roseburg, Ore., is a subsidiary of Umpqua Holdings Corporation, and has locations across Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California and Nevada.
Blue Zones Project – Tips for Working From Home
In the spirit of supporting our organizations across the state as many offices navigate a transition to remote work and virtual meetings, Blue Zones Project of Oregon wants to provide you a few helpful tips for working from home:
- Set up a designated work area and working schedule.
It can be hard to ‘turn off’ from a day at work when your living and working space are the same. Be sure to designate a space for work equipment and time on the clock to ensure you still maintain a work-life balance. Be sure to turn off work notifications when you’re done working for the day.
- Wake up and get ready for the day as usual.
Be sure to wake up with enough time to continue your morning routine and get in the right headspace for work. Sleeping in and not giving yourself enough transition time can make your morning feel rushed and stressful. Don’t forget to include a healthy breakfast!
- Continue to take regular breaks.
Taking time for a short walk, standing up for a few minutes and having a scheduled lunch break are important to your routine and can ensure that you’re downshifting just enough to refocus and complete your work in a timely manner. Microbreaks, such as resting the eyes for 60 seconds, are made easy by this free Chrome extension, Break Timer.
- Communicate to people in your household when you are working and request quiet time.
It can be easy to be distracted by family members at home, chores that need to be done and other everyday things. Be sure to communicate with your family when you need quiet time for working and conference calls to decrease stress.