The latest news stories and stories of interest in the Rogue Valley from the digital home of Southern Oregon, from Wynne Broadcasting and RogueValleyMagazine.com
Wednesday, January 6, 2021
Rogue Valley Weather
Today- Rain likely before 1pm, then showers likely, mainly between 1pm and 4pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 49. East northeast wind 5 to 10 mph becoming light and variable in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.
Thursday- Areas of fog before 10am. Otherwise, mostly cloudy, with a high near 45. Light south southeast wind.
Friday- Showers, mainly before 10am. Snow level 3900 feet. High near 47. West southwest wind 5 to 7 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.
Saturday- Patchy freezing fog before 10am. Partly sunny, with a high near 46.
Sunday- Mostly cloudy, with a high near 49.
The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (3), Benton (18), Clackamas (139), Clatsop (3), Columbia (3), Coos (17), Crook (22), Curry (2), Deschutes (69), Douglas (21), Harney (1), Hood River (5), Jackson (69), Jefferson (10), Josephine (26), Klamath (10), Lake (2), Lane (65), Lincoln (6), Linn (42), Malheur (16), Marion (99), Morrow (6), Multnomah (163), Polk (28), Sherman (1), Tillamook (4), Umatilla (75), Union (3), Wallowa (2), Wasco (6), Washington (100) and Yamhill (23).
Vaccinations in Oregon
Today, OHA recorded 3,964 doses of vaccine administered — including 317 second doses — raising the state’s total number of doses administered to 55,239. This figure is based on preliminary reports of 2,818 doses administered yesterday, as well as 1,146 administered on prior days that had not been recorded.
All vaccinations occurred at Oregon hospitals, long-term care facilities, emergency medical service (EMS) agencies, urgent care facilities and Local Public Health Authorities (LPHAs).
To date, 210,975 doses of vaccine have been delivered to sites across Oregon.
Mental and emotional resources for difficult times:
- Mental and emotional health resources are available on OHA’s Safe + Strong website.
- Or call the Safe + Strong Helpline at 800-923-4357 (800-923-HELP). The line offers free, 24-7 emotional support and resource referral to anyone who needs it — not only those experiencing a mental health crisis.
With the holidays now over, Jackson, Klamath and Lake counties are not expecting a post holiday surge. However, the counties are expecting by the end of this week or next week to see if there are any trends or higher than normal case counts. Valeree Lane from Klamath County Public Health and Dr. Jim Shames from Jackson County Public
Health both saw a recent increase of Covid-19 cases from young adults in their 20’s prior to the holiday’s. Dr. Jim Shames also said that he does not expect a rise in cases with schools re-opening next week.
Vaccine Distribution Varies Across Oregon Counties
The governor of Oregon has set a new goal to vaccinate 12,000 people a day after a less-than-ideal start to the state’s vaccine rollout.
Like most states, Oregon is not meeting the lofty goals it set when the vaccines’ first received emergency approval.
The first vaccination group includes roughly 300,000 people: healthcare workers, hospital staff and employees and residents at nursing homes.
Following criticism of Oregon’s rate for COVID-19 vaccinations, Governor Kate Brown issued a statement on Monday directing health officials to ramp up efforts. Oregon trails 40 other states in vaccinations for coronavirus, the Oregonian/OregonLive reported over the weekend. That news has prompted blow-back from other public figures. As of Monday, the Oregon Health Authority reported that just over 51,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine had been administered, including the first handful of second doses. But Oregon has received roughly 190,500 doses in total, and OHA says that those doses have already been distributed to sites across the state. In her statement, Governor Brown underlined that Oregonians must be vaccinated as quickly as possible, but defended the state’s roll-out.
Brown said that she has directed OHA to reach a benchmark of 12,000 vaccinations in the state per day, to be achieved by the end of the next two weeks. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to overwhelm hospitals around the country and globe, data shows that hospitals in Oregon and Washington are not at capacity yet. Data collected from the Oregon Health Authority and by our sister station in Seattle are painting a better picture of how many hospital beds are currently filled in Oregon and Washington. According to the Oregon Health Authority, 536 intensive care unit beds are currently filled in the state, with 19% of them being filled by confirmed coronavirus patients. In total, 477 patients are currently hospitalized for the coronavirus. 102 of those patients are in the ICU, with 54 of them on ventilators. When combined with Washington’s data, roughly one out of every five ICU beds in the Pacific Northwest are occupied by patients that tested positive for the coronavirus.
Rogue Valley Mall Advises Tenants to Prepare for Possible ‘Civil Unrest’
The Rogue Valley Mall sent a memo to tenants on Tuesday, warning that planned demonstrations in Washington D.C. on Wednesday could have local implications.
Wednesday marks the date that lawmakers will meet at the nation’s Capitol in a joint session to certify the Electoral College results from November’s election. As a result, D.C. is the primary site of a “Stop the Steal” rally, drawing crowds of people who believe that President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the election was not legitimate.
“The ‘Stop the Steal’ protest and march scheduled in Washington D.C. on January 6 could spill over into other communities around the country,” wrote Ana Orlando, general manager at the Rogue Valley Mall. “As a precaution, we recommend tenants consider the following while also conducting your own internal risk assessment and following your internal corporate policies and direction.”
The memo suggests that tenants remind employees to watch for potential threats or suspicious persons, follow instructions from law enforcement in the event of an evacuation or “shelter in place” notice, lock up stores at night, remove valuables from display windows, consider increasing staffing or security, and other measures.
Outward-facing tenants were given additional recommendations to be ready for lockdown if needed, consider a plan for boarding up windows in the event of a specific threat, consider leaving lights on at night so criminal activity is more easily seen by law enforcement, and ensure that security cameras are operating and have sight of critical areas.
“We appreciate your cooperation and diligence, and please be advised that these are only suggestions and it is up to each tenant to determine which safety measures they choose to implement at their sole cost and expense,” Orlando concluded.
City of Medford Offers $250K in Grants to Struggling Small Businesses
The City of Medford is offering another round of grant funding to small businesses impacted by coronavirus — the second wave of grants stemming from cannabis tax revenue.
Small businesses within Medford can apply for one-time funding assistance starting Friday, January 8. This round consists of $250,000 in total funds, approved by the City Council to be pulled from cannabis taxes on December 17.
“Our local businesses continue to face challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said City Councilor Tim D’Alessandro. “This program aims to offer immediate financial assistance to small businesses in Medford to aid in maintaining their business and workforce.”
Businesses directly affected by the latest mandatory COVID-19 changes are eligible: bars, restaurants, wineries, indoor gyms and fitness centers. They must be located within the Medford city limits, and must have no more than 15 non-owner employees as of March 1.
Grants can be used toward rent or mortgage payments, utility payments, and payroll. The City indicated that assistance will be $3,000 per business.
The online application will be available at 10 a.m. on Friday, accessible on the City of Medford’s website.
“As we continue to respond to this evolving situation, the City recognizes the importance of quickly addressing a number of urgent needs and will continue to work closely with our local businesses and service organizations to reduce regulatory barriers and provide access to resources needed during this unprecedented time,” the City said.
AROUND the STATE of OREGON
Oregon Employment Department Begins Paying Out Jobless Benefits
Thousands of out of work Oregonians will be pocketing extended jobless benefits this week that were passed by Congress last month, the Oregon Employment Department (OED) reported on Monday.
The federal government first approved $600 in weekly unemployment benefits in March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic first hit the country’s economy. Those benefits expired in July and were substituted with $300 weekly payouts through federal disaster funds which were extended on December 27 following President Trump’s signature of another federal relief bill.
However, President Trump’s signature came hours too late as the $300 payouts expired on December 26 creating a one week lapse in payments. The OED said last week it was still awaiting federal instructions to rollout payments which were apparently given on Monday.
Roughly 72,000 Oregonians are currently receiving the $300 weekly payments, according to department data. This is not the first time during the pandemic that the department has struggled with payments.
The department’s aging computers have been cited by lawmakers and the media as a primary factor in thousands of late payouts to thousands of jobless Oregonians in 2020. In the past year, the department has faced lawsuits, public outcry, and scathing testimony from struggling Oregon workers.
Gov. Kate Brown included $146 million in her proposed 2021-2023 state budget for updating the department’s IT systems. As the Oregonian reports, the state was given considerable federal money for that exact task more than a decade ago.
Some 126,000 Oregonians remain jobless in the state as of November 2020, according to OED data, or about 6% of the Oregon workforce. The new round of federal $300 weekly benefits will be funded through March 13.
Man Accused Of Pepper-Spraying Police At Oregon Capitol
A Portland man is accused of pepper-spraying six Salem and state police officers while breaking into the Oregon State Capitol during a protest against COVID-19 restrictions.
Chandler Pappas, 27, sprayed a line of officers in the face on Dec. 21, Marion County Deputy District Attorney Drew Anderson said Tuesday. Anderson said Pappas was armed with an AR-15 and the incident was caught on cameras worn by officers, the Statesman Journal reported.
Pappas allegedly posted on Twitter afterward saying he was not sorry for what he did, Anderson said. Pappas is being held in the Marion County jail on $250,000 bail. It wasn’t immediately known if Pappas has a lawyer.
Pappas was one of several men taken into custody that day for alleged violent behavior during a protest decrying COVID-related closures during a special legislative session. Pappas faces six counts of assaulting a police officer, as well as a burglary and riot charge.
Legionnaires Outbreak: 1 Dead and Residents Evacuated From Oregon Apartment Complex
One person has died after an outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease at an apartment complex in Multnomah County, Oregon. At least four others have been hospitalized while the rest of the residents have been asked to evacuate the building.
In a statement issued Tuesday, Multnomah County health officials said several cases of Legionnaires’ disease were reported at Rosemont Court in North Portland. On Monday, a team found that the building’s water supply system was the source of the problem. As soon as the issue was detected, officials notified more than 100 residents and offered them to be relocated to motels. By Monday night, 20 residents were relocated, while the others also expressed willingness to move temporarily.
Since Legionella outbreaks in Multnomah County were “rare,” County Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines called it a “unique and concerning situation.”
The health department was working to clean the building’s plumbing system to remove Legionella bacteria. Dr. Vines said they are also checking the water sources in other properties as well for possible contamination.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Legionella bacteria can be found in freshwater but it becomes problematic and can cause adverse health reactions when it gets into human-made water systems.
When people inhale the small water droplets that contain Legionella, they may run the risk of developing Legionnaire’s disease, which is a serious type of pneumonia, or Pontiac Fever, which is a milder infection compared to Legionnaires’ disease.
Legionnaires’ disease is not known to spread from one person to another. Common signs include flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills and muscle aches. Severe cases of Legionnaires’ may be marked by cough and chest pain, the Multnomah County statement explained.
Seniors more vulnerable
Although many people who get exposed to Legionella do not get sick, people older than 50 years are at an increased risk of getting sick, the CDC explained. The apartment complex where the outbreak is reported has many elderly residents. Rosemont Court’s website describes the housing complex as a “gracious affordable living for seniors.” Four residents who were hospitalized, for instance, reportedly developed pneumonia.
The University Of Oregon Has Implemented Strategies To Prevent The Spread Of COVID-19
According to the statement, published on UO website, these strategies include requiring faculty, staff and students to wear a face covering, watch their distance, stay home if they have symptoms and wash their hands often.
The University of Oregon says that face coverings are required at all times, except for indoors when alone in an enclosed room. Masks are required when in outdoor public spaces on campus regardless of whether six feet of distance can be maintained between people. Face shields can be worn in addition to a mask, but not in place of a mask.
People who work there and the students are required to perform a symptom self-check prior to coming to campus. They should not come to campus if COVID-19 symptoms are present or they feel sick. Similarly, they should leave campus right away if symptoms develop or they begin to feel sick.
We all know that many people are asymptomatic carriers of the virus. So, if you are asymptomatic, you can prevent further spread of the virus to your family, friends and others in the community by identifying the virus, isolating and cooperating with contact tracers.
The University of Oregon follows guidance from the Oregon Health Authority, Lane County Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when setting workplace safety precautions and implementing UO safety regulations. These regulations will be amended if regulatory conditions change or guidance from health authorities evolves.
A bookkeeper from LaGrande who diverted more than $1.1 million from medical and dental practices where she worked to support a lavish lifestyle was sentenced Tuesday to four years in federal prison.
The “rather shocking” betrayal by Anndrea D. Jacobs continued for at least five years including after her arrest while she was on pretrial supervision, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Bounds said. Jacobs, 49, speaking by phone from Multnomah County’s Inverness Jail, told the judge she got “caught up in living a double life, things just spiraled out of control.” Jacobs pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return for 2011, aggravated identity theft in the furthering of wire fraud and impersonating an IRS employee.