The latest news stories in the Rogue Valley and around the state of Oregon from RogueValleyMagazine.com.
Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Rogue Valley Weather
Showers. High near 52. Overnight, light showers possible at times. Snow level 3300 feet lowering to 1900 feet. Low around 35.
A 30 percent chance of showers after 11am. Snow level 1500 feet rising to 2300 feet. Partly sunny, with a high near 53. Overnight low of 33.
Mostly sunny, with a high near 58. Calm wind.
Partly sunny, with a high near 56.
Showers likely with a high near 56.
COVID-19 has claimed three more lives in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 16, the Oregon Health Authority reported yesterday. Oregon Health Authority also reported 58 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the state total to 606.
Jackson County Public Health Officials have announced today one new COVID-19 case, bringing the county’s total number of cases to 20.
This morning in Josephine County, they are reporting to Oregon Health Authority a total of 10 tests have been positive.
More samples have been sent to approved labs, but results have not yet been returned. In Oregon a total of 606 cases are confirmed of the COVID-19 virus.
“It is best that everyone be cautious and not assume that one location is safer than another,” says Jackson Baures, Jackson County Public Health Division Manager. “COVID-19 is spreading in our community, and this is why practicing social distancing, that includes staying home and minimizing outings, is so critical right now.”
distancing means you avoid contact with people, other than those who live with
you. Social distancing is one of the best ways to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The best way to stay healthy and prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to stay
You must also limit things you do outside your home to what you must do. Examples of things you must do are shopping for food or picking up medicines. The Governor’s order does not allow gatherings where people cannot keep 6 feet apart.
Jackson County sent hundreds of tests to private labs and the Oregon Health Authority, but results are taking up to ten days.
Medical officials say coronavirus has an infectivity rate of around 2.5. This means someone who has the virus most likely transmitted the virus to 2.5 other people making social distancing even more important.
Officials remind you to please wash your hands often, wipe down surfaces and cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.
Around the state, the new COVID-19 cases reported are in Benton, Clackamas, Deschutes, Douglas, Jackson, Josephine, Lane, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Tillamook, Wasco, Washington, and Yamhill counties.
Oregon’s 14th COVID-19 death is a 91-year-old male in Yamhill County, who tested positive on March 20, and died March 29 at Providence Newberg Medical Center. He had underlying medical conditions.
Oregon’s 15th COVID-19 death is an 80-year-old male in Clackamas County, who tested positive on March 22, and died March 29 at Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center. He had underlying medical conditions.
Oregon’s 16th COVID-19 death is a 91-year-old male in Linn County, who tested positive on March 15, and died March 29 at the Oregon Veterans’ Home in Lebanon. He had underlying medical conditions.
Two years after a U.S. judge ordered the Trump administration to reconsider its refusal to protect sage grouse populations along the California-Nevada line, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has again decided against listing the bi-state grouse as threatened or endangered.
The bi-state grouse is related to but separate from the greater sage grouse, which lives in a dozen Western states and is at the center of a dispute over the government’s efforts to roll back protections adopted under President Barack Obama.
Monday’s decision is the latest in the government’s on-again, off-again federal actions to protect the game bird under the Endangered Species Act dating to 2013. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said its latest review indicates the status of the bi-state grouse’s population has improved, thanks in large part to voluntary protection measures adopted by state agencies, local ranchers and other interested third parties.
Around the state
Fueling your own vehicle
Oregon’s COVID-19 Statewide Joint Information Center and the Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) are providing additional clarification related to the state of Oregon’s announcement from the Office of the State Fire Marshal, which temporarily suspended Oregon’s ban on self-service gas stations.
This temporary suspension does not make self-service mandatory. The intention is to ensure fuel is available to essential personnel who need to travel. The Oregon Fuels Association (OFA) states,
“This change allows gas station attendants to help these customers while avoiding face-to-face, and-to- hand contact and apply social distancing practices. Attendants will sanitize equipment and fuel nozzles and assist customers with refueling as needed.”
ODOE is responsible for maintaining a reliable source of fuel for Oregonians. The gas station workforce has recently reduced by as much as 50 percent due to illness, childcare issues and safety concerns according to the fuel industry. Self-service allows some gas stations to continue operations with fewer staff and ensures Oregonians can refuel their vehicles.
OFA adds, “Unattended self-service will only happen if and when a gas station owner exhausts all staffing options.” Those stations that do not have an attendant on hand are required to post safety signs for social distancing as well as instructions for how to operate a fuel pump.
This temporary suspension is currently in effect through April 11, 2020, and may be extended by the Oregon State Fire Marshal. Amidst the COVID-19, the goal of this change is to make refueling safer for both customers and service station attendants, while keeping stations open.
This does not affect existing areas of the state already authorized for self-service refueling under Oregon law.
Andrew Phelps, Director of the Oregon Office of Emergency Management (OEM), gave his first status update from the Joint Information Center yesterday, about the state’s response to COVID-19.
Following the directive of Governor Kate Brown, OEM has activated Oregon’s Unified Command structure, the state’s incident command emergency response organizational structure, similar to the response structure that would be activated during a major Cascadia earthquake. Director Phelps will hold regular press conferences to update the media and the public.
While all emergencies begin and end at the local level, the spread of COVID-19 has outpaced the personnel, capacity, and resources of local communities in Oregon.
“In these unusual and dire circumstances,” said Director Phelps, “The ECC is charged with coordinating collective efforts at a statewide level to stem the outbreak of COVID-19 throughout Oregon, working as one team, with one voice, to serve every single Oregonian.”
“COVID-19 affects everyone in Oregon – all 36 counties, all nine tribes,” said Director Phelps. “As we continue to fight the spread of this virus, I want to thank everyone for what they are doing to help flatten the curve, especially our first responders and front line workers. And I’d like to remind Oregonians that the best way they can help is to stay home to save lives.”
Stay informed about COVID-19:
Oregon response: The Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Office of Emergency Management lead the state response.
Oregonians who have difficulty finding work during the COVID-19 pandemic do not have to worry about losing their food benefits, due to changes included in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
Normally, benefits are only available for three months for people who are not working but are considered able to work. The act temporarily suspends Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) time limits for a subset of the SNAP population who are required to seek work as a condition of receiving benefits. The changes begin April 1, 2020 and ends the month after the Secretary of Health and Human Services declares the COVID-19 state of emergency is lifted.
“SNAP benefits play a critical role in helping Oregonians get by during difficult circumstances,” said Dan Haun, director of Self-Sufficiency Programs at the Oregon Department of Human Services. “This change ensures that food benefits remain available for the increasingly number of Oregonians losing jobs during this pandemic.”
“As business and schools close because of this public health crisis, Oregonians are losing work and wages. SNAP is there to help put food on the table,” said Annie Kirschner, executive director of Hunger-Free Oregon. “By waiving SNAP time limits, more Oregonians can now focus on staying healthy, instead of the threat of hunger.”
DHS announced last week that Oregonians statewide now can use their SNAP benefits online to buy groceries at Amazon or Wal-Mart, which support the physical distancing required by Governor Brown’s Stay Home Save Lives Executive Order. In addition, DHS is not requiring interviews for those who report having no household income. Oregonians can apply for SNAP without visiting a DHS office. You can apply online at OHP.Oregon.gov.
“Whether you’re experiencing job loss for the first time, or you’ve been struggling to make ends meet for a while, we want you to know about all the options open to you,” said Susannah Morgan, Oregon Food Bank CEO. “SNAP food assistance is our region’s most effective defense against hunger — especially in times of crisis. It’s an important resource that can feed families and help prevent hunger from becoming yet another symptom of COV-19.”
What is SNAP?
SNAP is a federally funded program that offers nutrition assistance to low-income individuals and families. SNAP is the largest program in the domestic hunger safety net. In Oregon, individuals and families apply for SNAP benefits at Department of Human Services (DHS) and Area Agency on Aging (AAA) offices across the state.
Who is an Able-Bodied Adult Without Dependent (ABAWD)?
An ABAWD is an individual:
- Age 18 but not yet 50; and
- Does not have children under age 18 in their SNAP filing group.
What are SNAP time limits?
An ABAWD is limited to three months of SNAP benefits in a three-year period, unless the individual:
- Is participating in work activities
- Meets an allowable exemption, or
- Lives in a waived area.
What does the suspension mean for SNAP customers?
While time limits are suspended, SNAP benefits will not be reduced or closed due to not meeting time limit work requirements.
As part of National Social Work Month in March, the Oregon Department of Human Services, Child Welfare Program named Dave Owens of Eugene, the 2019 Tom Moan Memorial Award. The annual award recognizes and promotes leadership and outstanding achievement by caseworkers in the field of child welfare.
“National Social Work month is a time to recognize that social work is more than social workers. Those who work to positively impact communities, families, youth, and children should be celebrated for their contributions to social change and development,” said Child Welfare Director Rebecca Jones Gaston.
The awardee is chosen through nominations from community organizations, Child Welfare employees, and organizational partners and will attend the National Association of Social Work Conference in Washington DC. All expenses for the travel are raised by DHS staff and the Tom Moan award committee. Moan was a career child welfare caseworker and administrator in Oregon.
Blue Zones Project offers “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.