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.
Wednesday, July 15, 2020
Rogue Valley Weather
Today Sunny and hot, with a high near 99. North northwest wind 5 to 8 mph. Clear overnight with a low around 63.
Thursday Sunny and hot, with a high near 97. Calm wind becoming north northwest 5 to 7 mph in the afternoon.
Friday Sunny, with a high near 93. Calm wind becoming north northwest around 6 mph in the afternoon.
Saturday Sunny, with a high near 94.
Sunday Sunny and hot, with a high near 98.
COVID-19 has claimed seven more lives in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 244, according to this morning’s report from the Oregon Health Authority. The last time Oregon saw seven deaths in a single day was on April 28.
Overnight there were 380 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19, bringing the state total to 12,805.
Jackson County reported 7 new cases. The average age of the seven people that died reported by OHA in the last 24 hours was 82, and all had underlying medical conditions.
Ten new cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Josephine County, bringing the county’s total number of cases to 67. Josephine County Public Health is investigating all cases to identify contacts and exposures and to isolate and monitor all individuals relevant to the cases. Public Health will reach out to anyone suspected of exposure to COVID-19. Of the 67 total cases, 14 are currently presumptive and 53 are confirmed.
Josephine County Emergency Management is distributing a free mask to any resident in need. The masks will be made available in four different locations and times on July 16 across Josephine County.
Emergency Management received many non-medical grade face masks for public distribution from the Oregon Office of Emergency Management. One reusable (but not washable) mask is available for each adult per household.
“This will be helpful for those immediately in need of a mask to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community,” said Sara Rubrecht, Josephine County emergency manager. “However, citizens should also make sure to have access to a few reusable and washable face coverings or face shields for everyday use.”
A percentage of masks were set aside specifically for small businesses (those with fewer than 50 employees); these can be requested directly through the Grants Pass & Josephine County Chamber of Commerce and the Illinois Valley Chamber of Commerce. A flier explaining the use and care of the mask will be included as part of the distribution.
Masks will be distributed July 16 at the following locations:
- In Grants Pass
- Josephine County Fairgrounds (1451 Fairgrounds Road)
- 10 a.m. to noon and 4-6 p.m.
- In the Illinois Valley
- Illinois Valley Family Coalition (535 E. River St., Cave Junction)
- 10 a.m. to noon
- In Williams
- Williams Fire Station (211 E. Fork Road)
- 4-6 p.m.
- In Wolf Creek
- Wolf Creek Community Center (100 Railroad Ave.)
- 10 a.m. to noon
Those receiving masks are asked to observe the following procedures:
- When you reach the front of the line, put your car in park, stay in your car
- Hold up fingers to show number of face masks you need
- Roll down your window to receive your flier and face coverings
- Maintain respectful distancing to keep everything running smoothly
Rite Aid announced on Wednesday that it will add 161 drive-through coronavirus testing locations throughout the country, including multiple sites in Oregon.
The new sites open in July 16, with Rite Aid pharmacists overseeing self-swab nasal tests from the store’s drive-through window. There are 15 Oregon locations, including sites in Phoenix, Klamath Falls, and Roseburg.
According to Rite Aid, all adults of 18 years old or older can get tested at the new locations “even if they are not exhibiting viral symptoms” based on CDC guidance, but anyone interested does have to prove eligibility and pre-register online in order to schedule a time slot.
When the new sites open on Thursday, Rite Aid says that it will have 258 test sites around the country with the capacity to conduct 94,000 tests every week.
A 26-year-old man was killed when struck by a rolling log in Josephine County. Josephine County Sheriff’s Office responded just before 11 a.m. Sunday to a remote area West of Picket Creek, where they found Cody Anderson dead.
Anderson had been hit “by a rolling log which he was cutting with a chainsaw,” officers said. based on information at the scene. No further details were provided. The logging crew, Rural Metro Fire, AMR and the Sheriff’s Office recovered Anderson’s body, which was released to a funeral home.
This week the Medford School District announced plans for returning students to school in the 2020-2021 school year from superintendent Bret Champion about the upcoming school year.
The first week of school has been pushed back a week to September 7th. The district office says the first week will serve as a “soft start” for all its students.
The 27-page framework document, “Medford Forward: Back to School Framework,” outlines plans for returning students to schools, starting with the most “vulnerable learners” (English learners and students with disabilities, for example.
Outlined in the plan are some of the health and safety precautions being followed by the school district based on the June guidance from the Oregon Department of Education. Screening is asked to be done at home by family members, including taking the student’s temperature and monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19. If a family member or someone in the student’s home tests positive for COVID-19, according to the framework, “the student should stay home from school for at least 72 hours.”
Staff who “regularly come in close contact with students or the public” will be required to wear face coverings. Face coverings “should be worn by staff and students in 5th-12th grade” and are “essential” when students and teachers cannot maintain physical distancing. Reuseable and disposable masks will be provided by the school district for students and staff who do not have their own. Students will not, however, be punished for refusing to wear a mask.
If any students show symptoms of the coronavirus, they will be sent home as soon as possible and must remain home for at least 72 hours after a fever is gone. Any students who test positive for COVID-19 will not be allowed back at school for a minimum of 14 days.
According to the plan, students from Kindergarten to 6th grade will attend five full days onsite. For students 7th grade-12th grade, a hybrid approach will be used, balancing time on- and off-campus.
At the elementary school level, classrooms will be set up for social distancing, with some classes being spread out between two rooms. If that is the case, a teacher and an educational assistant will work in tandem between the two classrooms.
For the hybrid learning plan for middle and high schoolers, “the goal is to keep students connected with their on-campus teachers as much as possible,” according to the Medford Forward plan. Students will be working on a new, trimester schedule, lowering the number of courses per grading period from seven courses to just five. According to the framework, hybrid learning students will have a “predictable schedule with both in-class and in-person instruction in smaller groups while on campus.”
There will also be a fully virtual option for students in grades 6-12 who choose to do all their courses online. More information on ‘Medford Online’ can be found here.
For students who take the bus to school, bus drivers and students will be required to wear masks when on the bus. However, students will not be punished for refusing to wear a mask. Medford School District said that there will be “fewer students” on buses this school year. Buses will be cleaned between routes.
The school district also plans to find a “short-term home for Central Medford High School,” which in turn allows the district to open an education center at 815 South Oakdale. That will be used for 5th and 6th-grade education. According to the district’s framework, this will allow expanded course offerings for 5th and 6th graders and opens space in elementary schools. The 5th and 6th-grade students from Abraham Lincoln, Kennedy, Roosevelt, and Hoover schools will attend classes at Oakdale.
Around the State of Oregon
Oregon Recovers Nearly one-Third of Covid-19 Job Losses in June Statistics Release
Oregon’s total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 56,600 jobs in June, following a gain of 26,100 jobs in May.
Over the past two months, employers added back nearly one-third of the jobs that were cut in March and April.Over-the-month job gains in June were largest in leisure and hospitality (+31,400 jobs); retail trade (+6,800); health care and social assistance (+6,200); and other services (+5,700). None of the major industries cut a substantial number of jobs in June.Several major industries have regained around half the jobs they lost in March and April.
In June, Oregon’s unemployment rate was very close to the U.S. unemployment rate; the U.S. rate dropped to 11.1 percent in June from 13.3 percent in May.
The Oregon Legislative Emergency Board approved more than $200 million from the Coronavirus Relief Fund for Oregonians and small businesses in need on Tuesday.
The money will be divided up the following ways: $25.6 million in emergency assistance for small businesses facing financial shortfalls. This supports businesses with no more than 25 employees that have not received support under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or other provisions of the federal CARES Act. $50 million to support music, culture, and community venues and organizations that have been closed, canceled or postponed. $62 million to the Oregon Cares Fund for Black Relief and Resiliency to provide economic relief to Black individuals and businesses.
National and state data show that the Black community is one of the communities experiencing a disproportionate share of negative economic and health effects due to COVID-19. $30 million to the COVID-19 Leave Fund for workers who contract or have been exposed to the virus but do not qualify for traditional sick leave. $35 million to fund $500 Emergency Relief Checks to Oregonians who are still waiting for unemployment benefits. The Emergency Board also allocated $3.58 million in general funds for emergency water infrastructure to the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs as the tribe faces an ongoing water crisis.
A group pushing to have eastern and southern Oregon join the state of Idaho has filed a federal lawsuit to lower the number of signatures needed to appear on the ballot in Oregon counties.
Chief petitioners for Move Oregon’s Border for a Greater Idaho said that they filed the complaint in U.S. District Court on June 30, immediately filing a motion for a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction. The group said that it filed the lawsuit “in light of the COVID-19 situation” to reduce the number of signatures needed in rural Oregon counties.
A hearing is scheduled for July 20 before Judge Michael McShane in Eugene. According to the group, Judge McShane granted relief in a “similar case” for a statewide ballot initiative, People Not Politicians, which would create a bipartisan redistricting commission in Oregon in an effort to prevent gerrymandering.
The Portland Police Department took to Twitter early Tuesday to declare a riot amid protests outside the city’s police union headquarters and urged protesters to leave the area or be subjected to tear gas or other munitions.
The protest involved more than 200 people who faced off with over two dozen police officers in riot gear in front of the one-story building. The paper reported that police formed a line and the crowd chanted, “George Floyd” and “quit your job.” Police posted an image of a police officer who appeared to be doused with white paint and showed a ball bearing and glass bottles that were allegedly tossed at cops. The paper reported that despite calls from police to leave, many protesters remained.
On Monday, July 13, 2020 at approximately 3:40 P.M., Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a single vehicle crash on Interstate 5 near milepost 39.
Preliminary investigation revealed a 2002 Ford F250, operated by Harry Sprangel (79) of Medford, pulling a Arctic Fox travel trailer was northbound when it left the roadway and overturned. The vehicle caught fire with the two occupants still inside. An OSP Trooper and witnesses extinguished the fire and extricated Harry Sprangel from the vehicle. He was transported to the hospital for injuries.
The passenger, Jilleen Sprangel (82) of Medford, sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased. OSP was assisted by Jackson County Fire District 3 and ODOT.
A lawsuit filed last week on behalf of 13 jobless Oregonians seeks a series of reforms at the Oregon Employment Department to address months of unpaid benefits and assist claimants who don’t speak English.
Separately, the union representing the department’s claims processors said Monday the state will now allow at least 20 workers to do their jobs from home – a step the employment department had resisted for months. The pilot program follows a coronavirus outbreak last week that infected five workers at the department’s Gresham office, prompting its closure.
And state lawmakers are scheduled to vote Tuesday on a proposal to set aside $35 million in federal relief funds to make $500 payments to Oregonians who have not received unemployment benefits during pandemic. Some have been waiting for months.
The developments are the latest efforts to address a succession of failures at the employment department that have left tens of thousands of out-of-work Oregonians waiting for months for their benefits.
Today the Oregon Health Leadership Council and Oregon Health Authority released Better Health for Oregonians: Opportunities to Reduce Low-Value Care, a new report that seeks to lower the cost of health care by partnering with the medical community to identify low-value services.
The report defines low value care as medical treatments, tests and procedures that have been shown by the medical community, through evidence and research, to provide little benefit in specific clinical scenarios. Examples include opioids prescribed for lower back pain in the first four weeks, or imaging for uncomplicated headaches. It uses the Milliman MedInsight Health Waste Calculator, a software tool designed to analyze insurance claims data to identify and quantify low value health care services.
The report examined 47 measures over a three-year period (2016, 2017, 2018) for all lines of business (commercial, Medicaid and Medicare). Each measure evaluates a common treatment, test or procedure that is regularly used within the medical community. Findings showed widespread delivery of low value services across all measured populations.
Oregonians now have the choice to get a Real ID the next time they renew their driver license or ID card.
On July 6, the Oregon DMV began issuing Real ID-compliant licenses and ID cards to Oregonians who meet the federal requirements and bring the required documentation to their DMV appointment. Although a standard license or ID card is still available, some are choosing to get a Real ID-compliant card so that they are prepared for changes to TSA travel requirements next year.
In October 2021, the Transportation Security Administration will begin requiring identification that complies with federal Real ID standards to pass through airport security when boarding a domestic flight. The new ID requirements also apply to identification you use when entering a secure federal site, such as a military base.