The latest news stories and stories of interest in the Rogue Valley and around the state of Oregon from the online digital home of the valley, RogueValleyMagazine.com
Tuesday, April 28, 2020
Rogue Valley Weather
Today Sunny, with a high near 84. Calm wind becoming north northwest 5 to 7 mph in the afternoon.
Wednesday Partly sunny, with a high near 78. Light west northwest wind. Overnight a slight chance of rain before midnight, then a slight chance of showers after midnight. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 53. Chance of precipitation is 20%.
Thursday A 40 percent chance of showers, mainly before noon. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 71.
Friday Mostly sunny, with a high near 73.
Saturday A chance of rain. Partly sunny, with a high near 72.
With some good news, there are no new cases of COVID-19 reported in the five southern Oregon county region of Jackson, Josephine, Curry, Klamath or Lake counties.
Jackson County Public Health officials say the total number of cases stands at 49. Of those 49 confirmed cases, 33 people have already recovered. That leaves 16 active cases in Jackson County. There are still no deaths from the virus in Jackson County.
There are no new cases of Coronavirus in Josephine County as of today. The total number of cases stands at 20. Of those 20 cases, 9 people have already recovered. Only one person has died from the virus in Josephine County.
NEW: Josephine County Public Health officials are asking citizens to be aware of a recent COVID-19 confirmation where the patient was an employee of a local drive-through coffee stand.
While it is unlikely that any customers will contract the disease, officials are encouraging those concerned to take precautionary steps out of an abundance of caution.
Dutch Bros Coffee announced April 25 that one of their employees had tested positive for COVID-19. Josephine County Public Health received notification of this case late on April 24 and have been in contact with the patient and representatives from the company throughout the weekend. Public Health has begun the case investigation process and, using current investigative guidelines by the Oregon Health Authority, has been contacting identified at-risk individuals.
OHA defines at-risk individuals as those who are less than 6 feet apart for more than 60 minutes. COVID-19 may be transmitted up to 48 hours prior to a person developing symptoms. There is little guidance on how food service activities affect disease transmission.
For the reasons listed above, it is highly unlikely that Dutch Bros customers potentially exposed to COVID-19 through the employee would contract the disease. Nevertheless, Josephine County Public Health is recommending that citizens served April 19 or April 22 at the 1698 NE 7th St. Dutch Bros location take the following precautions beyond the current physical distancing guidelines:
· Pay extra attention to hand hygiene and surface decontamination
· Use a fabric mask when in public to help protect those around you
· If any symptoms develop, immediately self-isolate and contact with your primary care provider or urgent care center
Typical symptoms associated with COVID-19 infection include:
· Shortness of breath
· New loss of smell or taste
· Shaking chills
· Muscle pain
· Sore throat
For additional information about COVID-19, please call 211.
Around the state, the Oregon Health Authority announced 43 new cases of the coronavirus, bringing the state’s total cases to 2,354.
One more person died from coronavirus in Oregon yesterday, raising the state’s death toll to 92 as of Monday. Oregon’s 92nd death was a 91-year-old female in Washington County. After testing positive for coronavirus on April 17, she died on April 25. She had underlying medical conditions.
The 43 new cases are in the following counties: Coos (2), Deschutes (2), Linn (5), Malheur (1), Marion (11), Multnomah (12), Washington (9), Yamhill (1). As of Monday, 48,844 people have tested negative for coronavirus in the state.
According to a Roseburg newspaper, Klamath County leads the way statewide with the most tests per thousand people of any Oregon county.
An analysis by The News-Review, comparing the number of COVID-19 tests each county has reported to the Oregon Health Authority with that county’s population, showed that as of Tuesday Douglas County had tested 6.6 people per thousand population. That put it in 24th place, with two-thirds of the counties testing at a higher rate and one-third testing at a lower rate.
The highest rate of testing was in Klamath County, at 20.2 per thousand. Jackson and Wasco counties tied for second place at 16.3 per thousand. The lowest rate was in Baker County with 3.3 per thousand. It’s difficult to discern any pattern in the data.
Some richer and larger counties, as might be expected, were able to test at higher rates. But Lane County ranked below Douglas with 5.9 per thousand. This is attributed to the county’s high rate of testing because the local hospital stepped up to fill the need.
A peaceful protest is underway at the Link River Dam. Last week an Oregon judge ruled that water in upper Klamath Lake should be managed by the states water agency rather than the federal government.
It was announced last week that the Bureau of Reclamation would be conducting a flushing flow down the link river to help reduce the risk of parasitic infection in endangered salmon in the Klamath River.
Although the flushing appears to be diminishing it is still unclear if it is a result of this ruling or if the flow has achieved its goal.
It was recently announced that Klamath Project farmers would be receiving less than half of their average water during this irrigation season.
Revenue wise, the Oregon Lottery has fallen off a cliff. Video poker is bust until bars and other outlets reopen. Its new sports betting app has little for customers to wager on.
And draw games are so weak that the multi-state Powerball and Mega Millions commissions lowered jackpots to assure ongoing solvency. The agency expects transfers to the state will decline by 20% to 40%, or $250 million to $500 million below forecasted levels, depending on the length of the coronavirus downturn and recovery.
That shortfall, in turn, will shortchange schools, economic development, state parks, veterans’ affairs and the Oregon Health Authority, all of which receive dedicated revenues from the lottery.
The $484 billion federal aid package passed Thursday included no budget relief for individual states like Oregon, despite a plea from the National Governors Association for $500 billion to backfill their coffers.
It’s unclear much will be forthcoming either, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he’s not interested in backfilling states’ underfunded pension plans, and that states should be allowed to pursue bankruptcy.
One of Southern Oregon’s biggest events each Memorial Day won’t happen this year. The annual Grants Pass event known as Boatnik will be canceled this year, organizers announced on Monday.
While most events in Southern Oregon through Spring have already been canceled or postponed, Boatnik organizers held out on announcing a change for weeks. Originally scheduled for May 21 through May 25, the event now won’t go forward until 2021, the Grants Pass Active Club said in a statement.
Organizers said that they have been in constant communication with city and state officials to see if the event could go forward. But with ongoing COVID-19 restrictions, that became impossible.
People who have already purchases a pre-sale ticket to most Boatnik events will be able to hold onto them for use at the 2021 Boatnik or for future refunds. The one exception is for concert tickets, which are still to be determined.
Around the state of Oregon
Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to the report of a single-vehicle crash on Hwy 34 near milepost 11 on Monday.
Preliminary investigation revealed that a silver Honda Accord, operated by Kyle Herbison (26) of Tidewater, was traveling westbound when it crossed the eastbound lanes, left the roadway, and rolled onto its side.
Herbison sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased. Hwy 34 was closed to one lane for approximately 5 hours.
Office of the State Fire Marshal Extends Rules Allowing for Self-Serve Gas to May 9, 2020
The Office of the State Fire Marshal is extending a temporary rule change that allows Oregon gas stations to provide self-service on a voluntary basis, in order to address shortages of workers experienced by gas retailers statewide. The rules change was first announced on March 28 and then extended on April 11 to April 25. Today, State Fire Marshal Jim Walker extended the deadline another two weeks, through May 9.
“We want to thank Oregonians and Oregon businesses for being flexible during these challenging times,” said Walker. “As we continue to monitor this ongoing situation, we feel it is best to extend this option for an additional two weeks.”
The extension of the change will still allow station attendants to help customers while avoiding face-to-face and hand-to-hand contact. It also continues to ensure physical distancing measures are in place. Attendants will continue to sanitize station equipment and fuel nozzles and assist customers with their refueling as needed.
Information about the extended rules change for self-service gasoline can be found on the OSFM website.
After an all-nighter helping his wife get used to night shift hours, Levi Robinette and his son decided they needed an energy drink.
When the two visited the Jackson’s Food Store in Ontario for their dose of caffeine, Robinette got a jolt of energy when he realized he won $100,000 from one of the $10 Scratch-its he had just purchased.
“I walked in to get an energy drink, and I walked out with $100,000!” he said.
Robinette said he was glad he stayed up to support his wife.
“My wife is also my manager at work, so I figured it would be in my best interest to stay up,” Robinette said. “It really was!”
He said he splurged after claiming his prize last week and bought a motorcycle, but otherwise he is saving the money.
“Normally we play Video Lottery, but with that closed, we decided that this would be fun to try,” he said. “I’m glad we did. It was fun.”
Robinette claimed his prize after making an appointment and visiting the Salem headquarters last week.
To protect the health and safety of its employees and the public, the Oregon Lottery has temporarily closed the Salem and Wilsonville Lottery offices. Officials with the Lottery continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely. If players have a winning ticket, they can fill out a claim form on the Oregon Lottery website, https://oregonlottery.org/about/claim-prizes , and then mail in the signed ticket and claim form.
Players who have winning tickets of $50,000 or more, will need to make an appointment to come to the Oregon Lottery office in Salem. Call 503-540-1000 for assistance. As always, players should be certain to sign the back of their tickets. Since 1985, Oregon Lottery players have won more than $38 billion in prizes.
The Oregon Lottery reminds players to always sign the back of their Lottery tickets, regardless of the game. In the event of winning a jackpot, they should consult with a trusted financial planner or similar professional to develop a plan for their winnings. Prize winners of more than $50,000 are advised to contact the Lottery office and schedule an appointment to claim their prize.
Since the Oregon Lottery began selling tickets on April 25, 1985, it has earned more than $12 billion for economic development, public education, Outdoor School, state parks, Veterans services and watershed enhancements. For more information on the Oregon Lottery visit www.oregonlottery.org
Among the heroes of these unprecedented times are Oregon’s farmers and ranchers.
These hard-working families have continued to grow their crops, care for their animals, and provide food for society, along with other vital agricultural products.
Now more than ever, Oregonians are searching for locally grown vegetables, fruit, meat, eggs, cheese, nuts, honey, and other products like flowering baskets, vegetable starts, and bedding plants.
Oregon’s Bounty, at OregonFB.org/oregonsbounty, is a searchable directory of nearly 300 family farms and ranches that sell food, foliage, and other ag products directly to the public.
“Oregon’s Bounty includes farm stands and CSAs from across the entire state, and the directory includes contact information,” said Anne Marie Moss, Oregon Farm Bureau communications director.
“It’s important to check with a farm online or by email or phone before visiting to see if their opening date has changed. Farms and ranches that are selling to the public will be taking every precaution to make sure their products, their customers, their employees, their families, and themselves remain as healthy and safe as possible. Some farm stands may have specific instructions for customers, such as online ordering or pickup options,” said Moss.
Spring favorites that are in season now include asparagus, rhubarb, salad greens, artichokes, radishes, mushrooms, flowering baskets, bedding plants, vegetable starts — with Oregon-grown strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries not far behind.
Oregon’s Bounty allows visitors to do keyword searches for specific ag products — such as blueberries, cucumbers, honey, or eggs — and/or search for farms and ranches within a specific region of the state.
“While so much of society has come to a stand-still, Farm Bureau members are #StillFarming and #StillRanching, and for that, we are all very grateful,” said Moss. “A lot has changed but the love Oregonians have for locally sourced food has not. We encourage everyone to support their local farms and ranches and to continue enjoying Oregon’s incredible agricultural bounty.”
May is Wildfire Awareness Month. Keep Oregon Green, in partnership with federal, state and local fire agencies and organizations, knows May is a great time to encourage the public to create defensible space around homes this spring and prevent the start of careless, unwanted wildfires.
At stake: Lives, property, forests
When it comes to preventing wildfires, there’s a lot at stake – lives, personal property, and the many benefits provided by Oregon’s forests and rangelands. During the 2019 season, 250,000 acres in the Northwest were consumed by wildfire, with almost 80,000 acres burned in Oregon.
People were responsible for starting 1,192 fires that burned around 22,000 acres. ODF’s gross large-fire costs were $32.8 million, and many neighborhoods were forced to evacuate. Each year, over 70 percent of Oregon’s wildfires are started by people. Many are a result of escaped debris burning and campfires left unattended.
Before heading outdoors, contact the agency or landowner who manages the lands at your destination for an update on current fire restrictions or bans. Any visitor to Oregon’s natural areas should review these restrictions before building campfires, burning debris, or using equipment that could ignite dry vegetation.
Oregon, Our Oregon
This year, KEEP OREGON GREEN is launching a new wildfire prevention campaign and releasing four new public service announcements to help raise awareness.
The announcements feature movie, television and voice actor Sam Elliott, who is the official voice of Smokey Bear.
Each announcement will encourage residents and tourists to practice basic wildfire safety while enjoying the outdoors. Elliott has a home in Oregon and has experienced fire first-hand near his other home in California, so he well understands the fire risk that threatens our state every year.
Pride in Oregon is the driving force behind Keep Oregon Green’s campaign and new website. Stunning campaign photos of Oregon’s iconic landscapes will encourage everyone to protect our state’s scenic recreation areas. Using the hashtag, #OregonOurOregon, Keep Oregon Green wants you to share photos of your favorite natural areas and thoughts for keeping Oregon free of wildfire.
The new campaign artwork, PSAs, and additional wildfire safety tips can be found at keeporegongreen.org and its various social media platforms.
Coming soon: More Wildfire Awareness Month tips
During May, a new wildfire prevention topic will be shared each week to help homeowners and recreationists learn how to prevent their outdoor activities from sparking the next wildfire. For more information, visit the websites for Keep Oregon Green at www.keeporegongreen.org, and the Oregon Department of Forestry at www.oregon.gov/odf.
Follow Oregon wildfire news and prevention updates on social media:
Twitter @keeporegongreen, @ORDeptForestry and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/keeporegongreen; https://www.facebook.com/oregondepartmentofforestry?fref=ts