Rogue Valley News, Monday, 5/11 – Oregon’s Phase One Reopening to Begin Friday, May 15th

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,

Monday, May 11, 2020

Rogue Valley Weather

Today    A slight chance of afternoon showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 70. Overnight a 60% chance of showers, low around 50.

Tuesday  Showers much of the day with a high near 64.  More showers overnight, low of 46.    Chance of precipitation is 60%.

Wednesday    Showers. High near 63.

Thursday    Showers likely, with thunderstorms also possible after 11am. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 65. Chance of precipitation is 60%.

Friday   Partly sunny, with a high near 74.

Saturday   A chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 74.

Today’s Headlines

The Oregon Health Authority is reporting 60 new confirmed cases and eight new presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of this morning, bringing the state total to 3,228.

The new confirmed and presumptive cases reported today are in the following counties: Benton (3), Clackamas (10), Clatsop (1), Deschutes (1), Hood River (1), Marion (14), Multnomah (22), Polk (2), Umatilla (1), Washington (11), Yamhill (2).

 None of these new cases are in Southern Oregon. The streak of no new cases continues in our region. Also on a positive note, the state’s death toll has not changed from Saturday to Sunday, it remains at 127. 

The reopening of many businesses in Southern Oregon counties should begin this week in the Phone One plan proposed by Gov. Brown.

Plans to Gov. Brown have been submitted and are waiting for approval for Jackson, Josephine, Klamath, Curry and Lake counties.

The governor’s office and the Oregon Health Authority will review the plans and we will track the progress for each county as the week goes along. Phase One is to begin this Friday, May 15th.

The Jackson County Emergency Food and Shelter Program Board is now accepting applications from non-profit or public agencies who work with people in need of emergency food and/or shelter assistance.

These funds were awarded to Jackson County by the Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency under the Emergency Food and Shelter National Board Program (EFSP). Due to COVID-19, there are two funding streams available this year – $93,056 for EFSP Phase 37 and an additional $132,671 in special Phase CARES funding for a total of $225,727 – with all funding to be used to supplement local food and shelter programs.

The Jackson County EFSP Board has designated unhoused individuals who have been particularly impacted by COVID-19 as a priority population to be served with this funding. However, any agency providing emergency food or shelter to low-income community members is eligible to apply.   Federal EFSP funds are to be used for direct food and shelter assistance only and not for staff or infrastructure expenses. Grants can support food services such as congregate meals or groceries, and/or lodging in a mass shelter or in a hotel/motel or other off-site structures.

The application deadline is 5 p.m., Friday, May 22, 2020.

ACCESS, Jackson County’s Community Action Agency, serves as the fund administrator on behalf of the EFSP Board of Directors. For further information or to obtain an application, contact Jackie Agee, ACCESS Grant Administrator, at 541-482-3223 or

Results of a new survey of Oregon health care providers strongly suggest that immunizations in the state may have dropped dramatically due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Oregon Health Authority released the survey results this week. They show that changes to immunization practices many clinics put in place in response to the pandemic, as well as concerns among parents of young children, may have caused a “sharp reduction” in routine immunization of children and adults over the last two months.

The survey results are similar to those the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported today in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. CDC researchers observed a “notable decrease in orders” for non-influenza childhood vaccines and measles vaccines since the March 13 declaration of a national emergency due to COVID-19.

The results of the OHA survey can be found: on the OHA immunization website at

The vaccines are funded by the federal Vaccines for Children (VFC) program, which provides vaccines at no cost to children who might not otherwise be vaccinated because of inability to pay. CDC buys vaccines at a discount and distributes them to grantees including OHA and some local health departments, which in turn distribute them at no charge to private physicians’ offices and public health clinics registered as VFC providers.

Officials with the Oregon Immunization Program, based at OHA, surveyed clinics that participate in VFC on April 18 and 29 after learning of concerns about clinic experience and operation changes due to the pandemic. The survey results found that among clinics that routinely provide immunizations to infants and children:

  • 95% reported changing their immunization practices.
  • 65% reduced or limited well-child visits, with 5% cancelling all well-child visits.
  • 50% reported cancelling or rescheduling immunizations that were due for older children and adolescents.
  • 81% reported difficulty maintaining staffing.

In addition, 58% of VFC clinics indicated they had a plan for contacting families of children with missed immunizations and catching them up, while 36% reported that they were still thinking about it. In open-ended responses, clinics frequently expressed a need for assistance in getting children to return for missed immunizations.

“There’s certainly been a lot of fear about COVID-19, and these survey results show us that this fear dramatically affected our ability to get children vaccinated,” said Paul Cieslak, M.D., medical director for immunizations and communicable diseases at OHA. “It tells us we have a lot of work to do to get Oregon children back on schedule for getting protected from vaccine-preventable diseases.”

Stay informed about COVID-19:

Oregon response: The Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Office of Emergency Management lead the state response.

Jackson County Sheriff Discusses Inmate Releases

Information from Sheriff Nate Sickler regarding inmate releases:

There have been many questions and comments regarding the individuals we released from jail on April 29th, who were lodged on drug charges the day prior. I will try to explain how and why this happened.

On April 28th, the Oregon State Police stopped a vehicle in Jackson County and during their investigation the suspects were found with nearly 20 pounds of Methamphetamine. Two suspects were lodged on three charges each. On the 29th, the individuals were able to appear in court for their first arraignment. ICE placed on a civil detainer on both individuals on the 29th.

By law, we are unable to honor these detainers and this has been the case for the last five years. ICE knows and understands this but they have to file them knowing they cannot be honored. We are allowed and do hold individuals if ICE has a criminal warrant or is charging individuals for crimes.  In this case ICE was not pursing criminal charges when they placed the detainer.

The reason these individuals were released so quickly is due to the size of our facility. Pre-Covid we are forced to release thousands of people a year. We are now forced to further reduce our capacity in efforts to keep Covid out of our jail. This has caused significant issues with deciding who is kept and who stays in custody.

The reality is when you have some of the criminal issues we deal with in Jackson County it comes down to there are no good choices to who gets released from jail. We are not happy to have to force release anyone from custody but we have too many offenders and not enough bed space. This has been exacerbated by Covid – 19.

We strive to do our best at the Sheriff’s Office and we always want to make the best decision to keep our community safe. Sometimes these decisions are difficult due to our resources. Additional bed space would certainly alleviate having to make these specific type of decisions and prevent individuals who present a threat to our community from being forced released from custody.

Please review the attached I- List (list of those in custody currently) and their charges. I think this will help some understand the predicament we are in. 

-from Sheriff  Nate Sickler

Office of State Fire Marshal extends self-serve gas rules change

The Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) is extending its temporary rules change allowing Oregon gas retailers to provide self-service on a voluntary basis, in order to address worker shortages at stations statewide.   Today State Fire Marshal Jim Walker extended the deadline from May 9 to May 23.

“We want to thank Oregonians and Oregon businesses for adjusting how they fuel up their vehicles and serve customers with this extension of rules suspension, which allows for self-service at Oregon gas stations,” said Walker.

Station operators will continue to have flexibility to manage their operations and ensure refueling is safe for customers and service station attendants, while keeping stations open as COVID-19 impacts fueling stations’ workforce.    This extension of the self-service rules change does not impact areas of the state that are already authorized for self-service refueling under state law. Information about the extended rules change for self-service gasoline can be found on the OSFM website

Oregon OSHA will delay until June 1 enforcement of a temporary rule to increase protections against the spread of coronavirus in employer-provided housing and in labor-intensive farm operations.

The decision is in response to requests from employers for more time to comply with the rule’s requirements. Those requirements – most of which were originally slated to take effect May 11 – strengthen requirements in three areas: field sanitation, labor housing, and transportation.

Meanwhile, the delay will also allow more time for Oregon OSHA to fully complete educational efforts to help employers understand and meet the rule’s requirements.

The rule, which will remain in effect until no later than Oct. 24, 2020, encompasses multiple provisions.

In field sanitation, for example, it requires employers to appoint one or more social distancing officers to ensure at least six feet of separation during work activities, breaks, and meal periods. The same applies for housing operations to ensure at least six feet of distance between unrelated people.

In transportation, for example, the rule requires at least three feet of social distancing during travel in employer-provided vehicles, as well as facial coverings worn by passengers and by the driver in employer-provided vehicles.

Seeking to increase job safety awareness and to help protect workers against the COVID-19 pandemic, a joint task force has published free resources for the construction industry. The resources provided by the COVID-19 Joint Construction Safety Task Force include a safety checklist, best practices, and photographs.

They are available online:

Best practices:

Safety photographs:

From April 15 through May 7, groups of five to seven task force members, assisted by an Oregon OSHA consultant, visited nine job sites in Portland, Hillsboro, Lake Oswego, Salem, Eugene, Oregon City, and sites in Eastern and Central Oregon to assess job safety practices addressing COVID-19 and to make recommendations for improvements.

The Construction Contractors Board (CCB), the state agency that licenses contractors in Oregon, has a message for homeowners making urgent repairs during the COVID-19 crisis: protect your investment – check your contractor’s license.

Many consumers may be waiting to move forward with home improvement projects at this time. However, not all home repair projects can wait. Matters like roof leaks, water heater failure and plumbing or electrical failure usually require quick repair. For these problems, many homeowners turn to contractors for assistance.

The CCB offers consumer protections to homeowners who hire licensed contractors.

Track record you can check. CCB provides up to 10 years of history on any license through the online search feature. Checking the CCB license number, you’ll be able to tell which contractors have a history of complaints.

To verify licenses:

  • Visit  
  • Enter the license number or name in the box, then hit the “search” button.
  • Select the “choose” button beside the proper license.
  • Verify that the license is “active,” that the contractor carries the endorsement for residential work, and that the name and other information on the license matches the contractor you are considering.
  • Call 503-378-4621 for help searching or understanding the results.

Contractors and consumers can report unlicensed contractors and other illegal activity on the CCB’s website or by calling 503-934-2246.

It’s another year of disappointing news to those depending on water this year. The Klamath Project had already been anticipating an extreme shortfall in available water in 2020 but is now facing a possible water shutoff by or before July.

The water allocation of 140,000 acre feet for the Project announced in April will likely drop to a total 80,000 acre feet for the year, with an unofficial estimate of 55,000 acre feet left for the remainder of the irrigation season and potentially reaching the end of the water supply by or before July, according to Gene Souza, manager for the Klamath Irrigation District and Brad Kirby, manager and president of the Tulelake Irrigation District.

For comparison, 350,000 acre feet is a full allocation for the Project. The unofficial allocation estimates are based on the May 1 Natural Resources Conservation Service forecast, which indicates the Klamath Project is more than six inches below normal precipitation projections. Officials emphasized the magnitude of the reduction in available water, saying that many farms that have been around for generations may not survive and that this news is more devastating than the water shortage and crisis in 2001.

Following a federal decision to restrict the use of KN95-style respirators for medical use in the United States, Oregon health and safety officials advise medical professionals to stop using KN95 respirators, in accordance with the Food and Drug Administration guidance.  

Under an Emergency Use Authorization, the FDA previously allowed the use of KN95s for U.S. health care workers in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. On Thursday, the FDA revoked that authorization for more than 65 of the 80 authorized manufacturers, citing poor quality. The Oregon Health Authority and Oregon’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration want to inform Oregonians this guidance applies only to the use of KN95 respirators.

The FDA announcement does not impact other personal protective equipment, including N95 masks, which are safe to use. The previously certified KN95 respirators are in circulation in Oregon. Oregon Health Authority on Friday notified health and dental providers around the state who received KN95 respirators from the state stockpile and warned them that these are not for use as respirators.

State officials also contacted counties, Tribes, and other recipient partners about the new restriction.

Oregon OSHA will delay until June 1 enforcement of a temporary rule to increase protections against the spread of coronavirus in employer-provided housing and in labor-intensive farm operations.

The decision is in response to requests from employers for more time to comply with the rule’s requirements. Those requirements – most of which were originally slated to take effect May 11 – strengthen requirements in three areas: field sanitation, labor housing, and transportation. Meanwhile, the delay will also allow more time for Oregon OSHA to fully complete educational efforts to help employers understand and meet the rule’s requirements.

The rule, which will remain in effect until no later than Oct. 24, 2020, encompasses multiple provisions.

Just prior to the nicest weather Oregonians have enjoyed so far in 2020 over the weekend, due to health and safety hazards caused by sanitation issues, all dispersed camping is temporarily closed on Oregon state forests managed by the Oregon Department of Forestry starting Monday, May 11.

Dispersed camping areas typically do not have restrooms or garbage disposal, and campers are expected to pack out everything they bring in and properly dispose of human waste. These actions are integral to keeping campers and the forests safe and healthy, particularly as the agency currently does not have adequate capacity to manage sanitation issues at dispersed sites. Problems with trash and human waste accumulation in these areas have become insurmountable and hazardous for the public and ODF employees.

The closure applies to dispersed camping on the Tillamook, Clatsop, Santiam, Sun Pass and Gilchrist state forests as well as all other lands managed by the Oregon Department of Forestry. ODF expects the closure to last several weeks while additional resources are brought on to clean the areas and make them safe for public use again. There is no date set for re-opening dispersed camping.

The agency had previously closed ODF-managed campgrounds and day use areas. Forest roads and trails remain open.

The latest State of Oregon Covid-19 News & Preparedness Information Here.

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