Rogue Valley News, Thursday, 7/16 – Oregon With 282 New Cases

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,

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Rogue Valley Weather

Today   Sunny and hot, with a high near 97.

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.

Today’s Headlines

COVID-19 has claimed four more lives in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 247, the Oregon Health Authority reported late yesterday.

They also reported 282 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of yesterday, bringing the state total to 13,081.

Nine new cases were reported in Jackson County yesterday.

Oregon Heath Authority released its Weekly Report which highlights the data trends for the week from July 6 through July 12. The report noted that the recent COVID-19 resurgence accelerated over the reporting week.

OHA recorded 2,043 new cases of COVID-19 infection, a 7 percent increase from the previous week. In addition, 22 Oregonians were reported to have died, twice the number that died the preceding week. The percentage of tests positive increased to 6.2 percent from 5.0 percent though the daily number of newly reported infections appears to have plateaued for the first time since late May.

Oregon State Police is asking for help from the public after a string of shootings along I-5 between Josephine and Douglas Counties.

OSP says they have investigated five vehicles over the past several weeks, saying they were struck by bullets on I-5 between mileposts 67 and 100 — roughly from Hugo to Canyonville. No injuries have been reported. OSP says if you were traveling in the area and believe your vehicle has been struck with a bullet please call 911, note the time, location and, if possible, continue out of the area.

The Cow Creek Umpqua Indian Foundation awarded three nonprofits in Klamath County a total of $17,500.  The three Klamath County grant recipients are:

Citizens for Safe Schools was awarded $7,500 to provide one-to-one community based mentoring to students identified as at greater risk than their peers.

Douglas Education Services/Take Root Parenting Hub was awarded $5,000 to coordinate parent education and family strengthening activities for families of children in Klamath County and Klamath Lutheran Church Food Pantry was awarded $5,000 to provide food bags on weekends to homeless and needy high school students.

A total of 59 charities in southwestern Oregon from Coos, Deschutes, Douglas, Jackson, Josephine, Klamath, and Lane counties were awarded a total of $329,300 in the most recent round of the Foundation’s semi-annual giving.

Approximately 400 Oregon National Guard (ORNG) Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen will be completing red card training, which began July 11 at the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST), and concludes on July 17. 

The training at DPSST certifies “Red Card” ORNG members for the upcoming wildfire period. Since March, the Oregon National Guard has been assisting the Oregon Health Authority deliver personal protective equipment (PPE) as part of the COVID19 response, while also preparing for the upcoming fire season. 

Oregon Army National Guard Aviation has also completed Bambi Bucket training in June to support potential firefighting incidents. Bambi Buckets are specialized containers suspended on a cable and carried by helicopters to distribute water for airborne firefighting operations.

The Oregon National Guard has HH-60M Black Hawk helicopters and the newer F-Model CH-47 Chinook helicopters to support the Oregon Department of Forestry if needed.  Since 2015 to 2020, a total of 1,767 Oregon Guardsmen will have been trained to assist the state. Many have been activated during this time period following Governor Kate Brown’s emergency declaration orders to include the Canyon Creek Complex in the Malheur National Forest in 2015, the Chetco Bar Fire in 2017 in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness, and the Garner Complex Fire near Grants Pass in 2018.

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 in Oregon.

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.

Around the State of Oregon

Oregon Food Bank today joined U.S. Senator Ron Wyden in a call for Congress to pass urgent relief for families and communities hard-hit by the pandemic and its economic fallout. The following remarks were delivered by Susannah Morgan, CEO of Oregon Food Bank, on behalf of the one-in-five Oregonians facing income loss and food insecurity in the wake of COVID-19.

“This is a critical moment for Oregon and our nation. Confirmed cases of COVID-19 are spiking in Oregon, Washington and around the country. The death toll continues to rise. And one-in-five Oregonians are out of work in the pandemic’s wake.  

“It breaks my heart to report that we’ve seen food insecurity double in Oregon since March. Requests for emergency food assistance have risen dramatically across our 1,400 pantries and meal sites. Many sites have served as many community members in a month as they usually see in an entire year. And there is no end in sight.

“Our highest priority — always and right now especially — must be to care for one another. On behalf of the entire Oregon Food Bank Network, I call on Congress to take immediate action to address the greatest hunger crisis of my lifetime. Now is the time for bold leadership to ensure all Oregonians can put food on the table — to pass a comprehensive relief package that will ensure our communities can emerge stronger on the other side of this pandemic. 

“First, we must extend Unemployment Insurance. This should be a no-brainer. Until the pandemic is conquered and our economy recovers, families will need this critical help to put food on the table. Equally important is to protect and strengthen SNAP — formerly known as ‘food stamps’. Our neighbors are facing double jeopardy – no income from jobs AND rising food prices. This means that current SNAP benefits simply aren’t enough to get families through the month. Congress can fix this by increasing SNAP food benefits by 15% and extending the emergency measures that are set to expire soon. 

“We also need to extend the Pandemic EBT program, which provides funds for food for families whose kids would have received free or reduced priced meals at school. As a mom of two school-aged kids myself, I can tell you from personal experience that if kids don’t eat, they can’t learn — and disruptions in school patterns are already making education really challenging. 

“It is vital that Congress stop excluding Oregonians from these and other safety net initiatives. Many of our neighbors have been excluded from prior aid packages — immigrants and refugees, many of whom are essential to our food system, have been cut out. In the middle of a pandemic, everyone should be able to access food or healthcare assistance without fear. Including all taxpayers and halting the ‘Public Charge’ rule are important first steps, and elected leaders can go even further by establishing an Emergency Assistance Fund to ensure states can provide support for those who can’t otherwise access our safety net.   

“Oregonians need this help, and we need it now. This is particularly true for our neighbors long stalked by poverty and now disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 — our neighbors who are Black, Latinx, Indigenous and other people of color. I know that my friend, Senator Ron Wyden, understands this — he has long been a champion of policies that fight hunger and its root causes. But we need the rest of Congress to stand with Senator Wyden. Hunger’s reach is widening and deepening with each passing day. Our communities cannot wait another day for relief.

“Thank you, Senator Wyden, for being here today. And thank to our other guests, Karlee Hudgens, and Lloyd Jones, who will share about the realities of this pandemic for Oregon’s families. Karlee and Lloyd, we are immensely grateful you have joined us today to speak truth to power.

In light of the recent opinion and order from U.S. District Judge Michael McShane, Secretary of State Bev Clarno has announced she will continue to accept signatures from Chief Petitioners for Initiative Petition 57.

IP 57 is seeking to place an initiative on the November 2020 ballot that would amend the Oregon Constitution to create an independent redistricting commission. Per the court order, IP 57 will have a reduced signature threshold and an extension until August 17. The Secretary of State Elections Division will review and certify signatures for IP 57 through its normal process. Secretary Clarno is not requesting an appeal to the ruling at this time. This ruling applies only to IP 57 and does not extend to other signature petition efforts without a separate court order.

Portland liberal mayor Ted Wheeler is calling on the Department of Homeland Security to remove federal officers from Portland’s streets, even if they are trying to protect federal property.  

Wheeler says he spoke with the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, who reportedly asked the mayor how his agents could help quell ongoing violence during demonstration activity in Portland as nightly protests, many with violence have gone on for more than 40 nights.

Wheeler says he told the acting secretary that Portland doesn’t need or want the federal officers’ help and that the best thing they can do is stay inside their building or leave Portland altogether.  Wheeler added that his “biggest immediate concern is the violence federal officers brought” to Portland’s streets in recent days and the “life-threatening tactics” they use.  

The comments come just days after a protester was shot in the head by a federal police projectile.  Donovan LaBella remains hospitalized with serious injuries. That same night, a federal officer was hit in the head with a hammer by a protester.

On Wednesday, July 15, 2020, Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to the report of a two vehicle crash on Interstate 84 eastbound near milepost 76, approximately six miles west of The Dalles. 

Preliminary investigation revealed that a Ducati motorcycle, operated by Nelson Martin (42) of Hood River, was passing in the fast lane when it lost control and slid under the trailer of a Mack semi truck operated by Angela Lynn Biery (50)  of Pendleton.Martin sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased. 

The Emergency Board of the Oregon Legislature approved a $50 million relief package for Oregon culture Tuesday that includes $25,984,872 to Business Oregon for statewide distribution to cultural organizations by the Oregon Cultural Trust.

The funding was made available through the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund to address the devastating impact the COVID-19 health crisis is having on Oregon’s arts and cultural community.

“We are extremely grateful to lawmakers for recognizing that preserving our culture is essential as we navigate through this unprecedented crisis,” said Chuck Sams, chair of the Cultural Trust Board. “Our collective culture is the glue that binds us together as Oregonians, especially during challenging times. Arts and culture cross all boundaries and inspire us to celebrate our diversity and resilience as a people.”  

The Cultural Trust is working with the Oregon Arts Commission to develop statewide, equitable funding distribution to be administered through the Cultural Trust’s County and Tribal Coalitions, said Brian Rogers, executive director of the Cultural Trust and the Arts Commission. The statewide distribution plan is expected to be reviewed by the Cultural Trust Board of Directors at its July 23 meeting. Coronavirus Relief Funds are mandated to be distributed by Sept. 15, 2020.

The remainder of the relief funding package for culture was allocated directly to several statewide cultural organizations and to for-profit and nonprofit performing venues.

Since the crisis began, nonprofit cultural organizations across the state have canceled thousands of performances, events and activities – including key fundraising events – and most have closed their doors to the public. The loss of projected earned income, lifeblood for most cultural organizations, has resulted in significant layoffs and furloughs. Many organizations are at risk of bankruptcy and permanent closure.

A recent survey of 330 Oregon cultural nonprofits by the Cultural Trust revealed that participants projected a collective loss of $40 million and average losses of $121,281 by June 30. The majority of respondents (54 percent) have annual revenues of less than $250,000 and operate outside of the Portland Metro area.

Hydroplane Races

If nature calls while on the water, it helps to plan “a-head.” Given current conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, some recreational boating facilities may have reduced levels of services available.

If access to shore-side restrooms is limited and your boat does not have an installed head, have a back-up plan for you and your family. Be prepared and bring with you include a portable toilet or bucket with a fitted lid, gloves, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and a garbage bag to pack out trash. All outdoor recreation providers are requesting the public to “pack in, pack out.” Many outdoor supply stores carry the supplies you need.

Portable toilet dump stations are available to use after your trip. Many are installed near a holding tank pumpout station on the guest or fuel dock of many local facilities. For disposal, turn the dump station on, lift the lid, and pour contents into the basin. A hose with non-potable water is available to help with rinsing the portable toilet or bucket. Look to the visual instructions posted on the side of the dump station if needed.

To prevent clogs and keep the system working, do not add any garbage including personal wet wipes, paper towels, food packaging, and fish waste. Garbage needs to be placed into a trash bin. Our facility partners work hard to keep human waste equipment available and open. To learn more, visit the Oregon State Marine Board’s YouTube channel. There you’ll find a playlist to videos about use, service and maintenance of pumpouts, dump stations and floating restrooms.

While planning your trip, check out the Marine Board’s pumpout and dump station page with helpful links and a map showing the locations for all of the boat holding tank pumpout systems, portable toilet dump stations, and floating restrooms across the state. Another tool is an app called “Pumpout NAV” which highlights the location closest to you. The app is free and available for Apple and Android mobile devices.

Boaters can access a majority of the 80 waste disposal locations in Oregon for FREE. Dump stations at some river access sites may charge a small fee. Through a partnership with the United States Fish and Wildlife Sport Fish Restoration Fund and the Oregon State Marine Board, Clean Vessel Act (CVA) grant funding is available to marinas and boating facilities to help with the installation and maintenance of equipment, and to provide education about location and use.

Enjoy your time out on the water while staying healthy and safe. Thank you for helping to keep human waste out of waterways.

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