Rogue Valley News, Friday, 10/23 – Gov Brown Considers Easing School Learning Restrictions; Admits Could Be Too Strict

Governor Kate Brown is considering whether to ease rules on schools to allow in-person learning.  

The Healthy Schools Reopening Council is reviewing whether the limits for COVID-19 and safety protocols are too strict.  

Currently, rates of COVID-19 are too high for most counties to have in-person learning.  The council says virus levels need to be reduced and schools need to have plans to keep students from spreading the virus.  The governor will use the recommendations in making a final decision about when schools can reopen.

Around the State of Oregon

New York, Seattle and Portland — three cities recently labeled “anarchist jurisdictions” by the U.S. Justice Department — filed a lawsuit Thursday to invalidate the designation and fight off the Trump administration’s efforts to withhold federal dollars.

President Donald Trump issued a memorandum last month that sought to identify localities that permit “anarchy, violence and destruction in American cities” following riots that took place during anti-police and anti-racism protests after George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police. The Justice Department last month identified New York City, Portland, Oregon, and Seattle as three cities that could have federal funding slashed. The lawsuit ridiculed the designation, calling the president’s action “offensive to both the Constitution and common sense” and describing the notion of anarchist jurisdictions “an oxymoronic designation without precedent in American jurisprudence.” 

The Oregon Supreme Court has ruled against a pair of young plaintiffs who sued the state and Governor of Oregon for allegedly failing to address climate change.

The ruling marks a penultimate stage in the lawsuit, which has been ongoing since 2011. Originally filed against then-Governor John Kitzhaber and his administration, the case that eventually became Chernaik v. Brown made its way to the state Supreme Court last year after a long series of arguments, rulings, and appeals. The plaintiffs argued that the “public trust doctrine,” which covers the state’s responsibility to steward and protect certain natural resources, includes the atmosphere — alleging that Oregon’s failure to comprehensively address climate change represents a betrayal of the public trust.

The Oregon Supreme Court’s opinion, issued on Wednesday, rejected the plaintiffs’ argument for an expanded definition of the public trust — affirming the earlier decision by the Court of Appeals and sending the case back to the circuit court for judgment. Though Governor Kate Brown and state officials were defendants in the case — and ultimately successful in arguing against the state’s responsibility for climate change impacts — Brown said in a statement issued on Wednesday that she “agrees” with the plaintiffs and other young climate change activists who argue for action.

SNAP Program Waiver Approved
A waiver approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) allows Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Disaster SNAP recipients in the following 23 counties to purchase hot or prepared foods from authorized SNAP retailers until Nov. 20.

Approved counties: Benton, Clackamas, Columbia Coos, Curry, Deschutes, Douglas, Hood River, Jackson, Josephine, Jefferson, Klamath, Lake, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, Polk, Tillamook, Wasco, Washington, and Yamhill.

Normally, SNAP benefits cannot be used to purchase “hot food products prepared for immediate consumption.” This restriction is being waived following the severe winds and wildfires that led to the displacement of many residents and left them without access to a kitchen to prepare meals. Examples of allowable prepared foods include hot deli foods, fountain drinks, including but not limited to coffee and tea, a slice of hot/prepared pizza, hot soup, salad bars, and sandwiches.

This waiver will last through Nov. 20 and allows SNAP and DSNAP recipients to use their benefits to buy prepared food at any participating retailer that accepts SNAP EBT cards. Restaurant purchases are still prohibited.

For more information about the hot food waiver, visit https://www.oregon.gov/dhs/ASSISTANCE/FOOD-BENEFITS/Pages/DSNAP-Hot-Foods-Waiver.aspx.

(Salem, Ore.) – Mya Miranda, age 16, a foster child who went missing from Boardman, Ore. on Oct. 17, 2020, was found on Oct. 22, 2020. The Oregon Department of Human Services, Child Welfare Division is thankful for the community support to find her.

A small number of children in foster care may be in significant danger when they run away or have gone missing. As DHS works to do everything it can to find these missing children and ensure their safety, media alerts will be issued in some circumstances when it is determined necessary. Sometimes, in these situations, a child may go missing repeatedly, resulting in more than one media alert for the same child.

Report child abuse to the Oregon Child Abuse Hotline by calling 1-855-503-SAFE (7233).  This toll-free number allows you to report abuse of any child or adult to the Oregon Department of Human Services, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year.

Western Oregon University (WOU) has announced several admissions policy changes, effective immediately. There is no application fee for freshman and transfer students until Sept. 1, 2021. Also, high school seniors and transfer students can self-report their cumulative grade point average when completing their admissions application.

“Western Oregon University recognizes that students are facing challenges with regard to their college search process,” said WOU Admissions Director Rob Findtner. “Families across Oregon and beyond are dealing with financial hardship and uncertainty. The elimination of the application fee removes a financial barrier and encourages students to apply for admission.”

Admitted students will be required to provide final official transcripts prior to enrolling at WOU. Students who wish to receive consideration for WOU scholarships must provide official transcripts by February 1 as the WOU scholarship application is due March 1.

“WOU also recognizes the pandemic has impacted our K-12 and higher education partners on many fronts, including the processing of official transcript requests,” Findtner said. “The opportunity for students to self-report their cumulative grade point average will alleviate the concerns associated with providing WOU an official transcripts at the time of application. The policy change also expedites the processing and response time for the Admissions office.”

Freshman admission will be based upon a student’s self-reported cumulative grade point average and their high school courses. WOU does not require the submission of ACT or SAT scores for freshmen. Transfer students are asked to provide their cumulative grade point average for each college or university attended when completing their application. Transfer admission will be based upon a student’s academic performance and the successful completion of college-level mathematics and writing courses.

WOU’s Admissions office is hosting several online events. The events listing is available here: https://network.wou.edu/portal/campus_visit

About Western Oregon University Western Oregon University, founded in 1856 and located in Monmouth, is the state’s oldest public university. 

In another somewhat wild timetable fantasy, Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley is sponsoring a bill that would end the sale of gas-powered vehicles in the U.S. by 2035.  Several states including Oregon and California have their own goals.  This would put the U.S. on a path to increase production of electric and hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles.  By 2025, half of vehicles would have to be electric.  Then, every year that’s increased by five-percent until 100-percent is reached by 2035.

OHA sees 70% increase in Oregon opioid deaths during April, May

TheOregon Health Authority saw an alarming spike in opioid overdose deaths in Oregon this past spring compared to last year, and public health experts believe use of illicit fentanyl and methamphetamine is driving the increase.

Analysts in the Injury and Violence Prevention Section at the OHA Public Health Division found that Oregon saw a nearly 70% increase in the number of overdose deaths during April and May 2020 compared to the same time in 2019. There also was a nearly 8% increase in the number of overdose deaths during the first quarter of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.

The preliminary data come from the State Unintentional Drug Overdose Reporting System (SUDORS), which includes combined and abstracted data from medical examiners and death certificates.

Additionally, the analysis found, between April and May 2020 there was a 28% increase in overdose deaths, and a more than 15% increase in overdose deaths between March and April. And opioid-involved deaths accounted for almost 73% of total overdose deaths in May 2020.

Of opioid-involved deaths, the data show, fentanyl and heroin continue to be the drugs most frequently involved, and fentanyl-involved deaths accounted for almost 40% of total overdose deaths in May 2020.

The analysis also uncovered a continuing alarming trend in methamphetamine use: Methamphetamine/amphetamine-involved deaths accounted for more than 40% of all overdose deaths in May 2020.

What’s unclear is what effect the COVID-19 pandemic may have had on opioid misuse in Oregon.

“Until more data become available, it is premature to say how much of the spike in overdose deaths is attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Tom Jeanne, M.D., MPH, deputy state health officer and deputy state epidemiologist at the Public Health Division. “However, the realization that we will be dealing with COVID-19 for some time, and other stressors related to jobs, school and social isolation, may increase feelings of anxiety and depression, and that can lead to a harmful level of alcohol or other drug use.”

OHA continues to monitor and post finalized opioid data on its Prescribing and Drug Overdose Data Dashboard at https://www.oregon.gov/oha/ph/preventionwellness/substanceuse/opioids/pages/data.aspx.

The next regular public meeting of the Oregon Cannabis Commission will be Nov. 2, 2020, 1-4pm.

On the agenda is a review and vote to finalize recommendation letter; legislative strategy; Cannabis Equity bill; OLCC update – legislative concept; Oregon Medical Marijuana Program procedure change on inspections; vote on amending bylaws; final remarks and next steps; voting on chair and co-chair for 2021; public comment.

Where: By conference at 669-254-5252, meeting ID 161-464-4853.

The Oregon Cannabis Commission was established in the 2017 legislative session through HB 2198. The commission consists of the state health officer or designee and eight members appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the senate. The commission is tasked with determining a possible framework for future governance of the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program, steps to address research on cannabis in areas of public health policy and public safety policy, agronomic and horticultural best practices, and medical and pharmacopoeia best practices. The commission also advises the Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission regarding statutes governing medical and retail cannabis. Visit www.Healthoregon.org/cannabiscommission for more information.

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