Rogue Valley News, Friday, 8/7 – Oregon reports 267 new cases from Covid-19

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

Friday, August 7th, 2020

Rogue Valley Weather

This Afternoon: Sunny, with a high near 91. North northwest wind 3 to 6 mph.

Saturday: Sunny, with a high near 93. Calm wind becoming north northwest around 5 mph in the afternoon.

Sunday: Sunny and hot, with a high near 96. Calm wind becoming north northwest around 5 mph in the afternoon.

Monday: Sunny and hot, with a high near 100.

Today’s Headlines

Oregon Health Officials reported 267 new and presumptive cases of coronavirus, bringing the state total to 20,225 since the pandemic began.  Officials also reported one new coronavirus-related death, bringing the state death toll to 339.

Two new cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Josephine County, bringing the county’s total number of cases to 110.   Josephine County Public Health in Grants Pass 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 110 total cases, 18 are currently presumptive and 92 are confirmed

Around the state of Oregon

The Medford School District announced that the first six weeks of the school year will be online due to the high number of COVID-19 cases in Jackson County.   As of July 26, the COVID-19 case rate per 100,000 people was 42.5 with a 5.6% positive rate putting the Medford School District at a “red light.” Prior to this date, the district was in a “yellow light” which would have allowed brick and mortar teaching for children 10 years old and younger.

“We are very, very, very far from green, literally. Yesterday’s numbers in Jackson County alone put us almost over the cases per week and actually the first two days did put us over the green numbers,” Superintendent Bret Champion said.

The school district will assess the situation every three weeks with an update on what the following six weeks will look like.

“We have heard over and over again from our parents and from our staff, that what they need is predictability and stability,” Champion said. “That’s what we’re trying to provide them is some predictability with what the future is going to hold.”

Online schooling will take place through Medford School District (MSD) Connects.MSD will involve at least 50% of in-classroom instruction from teachers inside their classrooms through video chat. The other half of the instruction is applied to learning through outside lesson activities. This is for students who plan to return to schools when state and county cases lower. In a draft example of what the first six weeks will look like, the school board predicts typical teaching will be about three hours per day while the remaining time will be spent connecting with students, prepping for courses, grading and help sessions.  The school district also clarified what the experience for students with an Individualized Education Program will look like.

High School Sports in Oregon Moves to 2021


The OSAA is moving Fall high school sports to the month of March because of the coronavirus pandemic. That is according to a new sports calendar released by the OSAA on Wednesday. 

The OSAA will take a four-season approach to high school athletics in the 2020-21 year. Each season will include two practice weeks and seven competition weeks. OSAA policies regarding out-of-season coaching limitations have been waived during season 1 with the caveat that student participation in these sports cannot be required. All other OSAA rules and policies remain in effect at this time.  

Season 2 (December 28-March 6) will include

  • Basketball
  • Wresting
  • Swimming

Season 3  will include (February 22-May 1, 8 weeks)

  • Football
  • Soccer
  • Volleyball
  • Cross Country

Season 4 (April 19-June 26)

  • Baseball
  • Softball
  • Track and Field
  • Tennis
  • Golf

It is not immediately clear if any true state championships will be offered during the culmination week time span of each sport.

Worthington Fire Update
Investigators have determined that a fast-growing wildfire sparked between Eagle Point and Butte Falls last week was caused by a lightning strike, according to the latest update from fire officials. 
Crews responded to the fire roughly five miles to the northeast of Eagle Point on the afternoon of July 30, later prompting evacuation orders for one nearby road. The approximate location is at the end of Worthington Road, among wooded hills between Eagle Point and Butte Falls. ODF described the area as forest and brush — partly on BLM land and on private property protected by ODF.  Fire managers said on Thursday that the Worthington Fire is now being held at 761 acres, with containment up to 80 percent. 

Yesterday, Governor Kate Brown announced the results of spot checks of Oregon businesses conducted by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) and Oregon OSHA. They found the vast majority of businesses to be in compliance with physical distancing and face covering requirements.

Since July 4:

  • Over 93 percent of more than 3,600 OLCC-licensed establishments were found compliant.
  • Of the more than 3,400 COVID-19-related complaints Oregon OSHA received, only a small number of businesses were found to be in violation of COVID-19 health and safety requirements.

“One month ago, at the beginning of the July 4th weekend, I told Oregonians that we stood at a crossroads: we could either stop the spread of COVID-19, or watch infections and hospitalizations rise across Oregon, leading to the closure of businesses and counties again,” said Governor Brown. “We still have a long road ahead of us. Infections continue to rise. But I’d like to thank Oregonians, business owners, and local officials for stepping up to the plate to help make sure we are all wearing face coverings, keeping our physical distance, and working together to keep our friends, neighbors, loved ones, and fellow Oregonians safe.”

To learn more about the health and safety of Oregon businesses during COVID-19:Read the regular inspection updates on the OLCC website

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf defended the department’s response to unrest in Portland, Oregon, saying that violence in the city directed at federal property and personnel eventually required him to deploy supplemental law enforcement officers.

Testifying Thursday before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Wolf sought to draw a distinction between the peaceful protests in Portland and the violence directed at the federal courthouse and police officers. Wolf blamed local and state officials for providing “little to no” support for DHS officers protecting the federal courthouse. DHS and Department of Justice officers were “abandoned” due to the dangerous policies by local officials, Wolf said. The acting secretary testified that DHS personnel remain in Portland as a precaution.

It’s been nearly a week since federal officers withdrew from guarding Portland’s federal courthouse during nightly protests, but a large fence they installed is still there and city officials say it remains illegal.

The city of Portland continues to impose a $500 fine every 15 minutes for the fence, which was erected in the public right-of-way without a permit around the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse, according to the Oregonian  OregonLive. As of noon Wednesday, the fine hit $584,000. Department of Homeland Security officials did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Last week, Eudaly announced that her transportation bureau would impose the highest possible fine on the federal government for erecting the fence without a permit in the bike lane in front of the courthouse.

A former U.S. Senator from Oregon and current head of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), Gordon H. Smith, was hospitalized on Tuesday night after suffering from a stroke. The NAB said in a brief statement that Smith is “responding well to treatment, is stable and alert, and is resting comfortably.” Smith served as a U.S. Senator from Oregon for two terms, beginning in 1997 and ending in early 2009 after falling to Jeff Merkley.

He was the last Republican to represent Oregon in the Senate. He has been the president and CEO of NAB since September of 2009.

As a part of ongoing efforts to improve pedestrian safety in the City of Medford, the Medford Police Department has conducted a 7-hour pedestrian safety enforcement operation that focused on motorists who failed to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians.

Pedestrian safety is a key issue in our community, and the Medford Police Department is committed to upholding pedestrian safety laws to protect our citizens.

Most recently, on Wednesday, August 5th, 2020, a pedestrian enforcement and education program was conducted in the City of Medford at the intersection of West 4th Street and North Bartlett St., which specifically focused on drivers and pedestrians who were violating right-of-way laws. This particular location was chosen in part due to a large amount of community complaints about close-calls between motorists and pedestrians at this intersection.

 As a result of this program, 44 total citations were issued. These citations included 17 citations for failing to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk. Other violations included unauthorized cell phone use, failing to use a seat belt, driving uninsured and driving without a license. Numerous citizens were warned and educated without being issued a citation. The Medford Police Department strongly encourages members of the community to follow basic safety practices:

  • Drivers should be on the lookout for and stop for pedestrians.
  • Drivers should stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk and stay stopped until the pedestrian is two traffic lanes away or has reached the sidewalk.
  • Pedestrians should use the crosswalk when crossing the street and obey pedestrian signals.
  • Pedestrians should look both ways for traffic before crossing and ensure cars are yielding before crossing. Remember that having the right-of-way does not prevent you from being seriously injured by a driver who is not paying attention. Traffic safety is everyone’s personal responsibility.

The Medford Police Department is committed to doing our part to keep the community safe. We urge every member of the community to help by keeping themselves safe and following basic rules of the road. For further information, please contact Sergeant Geoff Kirkpatrick with the Medford Police Department, Community Engagement Division at 541-774-2226.

The Bureau of Reclamation has proposed raising the Shasta Dam in California and is seeking public input on the Shasta Lake Water Resources Investigation Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).  

By raising the 600-foot-tall dam by 3% or an additional 18.5 feet, the proposed project would increase water storage capacity in the Shasta Lake reservoir by 634,000 acre-feet or more than 200 billion gallons- enough water to support two million people a year. The project is currently in the preconstruction and design phase (environmental, cultural, design data collection) following Congressional approval of $20 million in Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act funding in March 2018. Shasta Lake is the largest reservoir in the CVP and comprises 41 percent of the CVP’s total 9 million acre-feet of storage.

A Grants Pass woman is behind bars Thursday facing multiple charges including aggravated theft and forgery. 

In May 2018, the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety received a report of a possible elder abuse. After the victim had passed away, family members discovered that Sydney Marie Wilder, an acquaintance of the victim, had unlawfully obtained funds from the victim’s bank account. It has taken a couple of years for the investigation.  At the conclusion, it was determined Wilder had financially exploited the victim’s age, vulnerabilities and poor health. During the victim’s last few years of life, Wilder is suspected to have stolen over $120,000 from the victim.

Once the investigation was completed, the case was sent to the Josephine County District Attorney’s Office for review and filing of charges. One August 5th, 2020, the case was presented to the Grand Jury. Sydney Wilder was indicted on the above charges and on August 6th, Wilder was arrested and lodged at the Josephine County Jail on charges of Aggravated Theft in the First Degree (five counts), Theft in the First Degree, Forgery in the First Degree (six counts).

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