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Rogue Valley News, Thursday 1/14 – Jackson County Getting Ready for Mass Vaccination Event With National Guard Support, Medford Research Site Seeks Volunteers For COVID-19 Vaccine Trials

The latest news stories and stories of interest in the Rogue Valley from the digital home of Southern Oregon, from Wynne Broadcasting’s RogueValleyMagazine.com

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Rogue Valley Weather

Today- Areas of fog before 10am. Otherwise, mostly cloudy, then gradually becoming sunny, with a high near 57. Light east wind.

Friday- Mostly cloudy, with a high near 54. Calm wind.

Saturday- Patchy fog before 1pm. Otherwise, partly sunny, with a high near 53. Calm wind.

Sunday- Partly sunny, with a high near 53.

Monday M.L.King Day – Patchy fog before 9am. Otherwise, mostly sunny, with a high near 50.

There are 41 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 1,708, the Oregon Health Authority reported at 12:01 a.m. today.

Oregon Health Authority reported 1,346 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of 12:01 a.m. today, bringing the state total to 129,109.

Vaccinations in Oregon

Today, 14,722 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry. Of this total, 9,071 vaccine doses were administered on Jan. 12 and 5,651 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry on Jan. 12.

Oregon has now administered a cumulative total of 129,782 first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines. All vaccinations were administered by Oregon hospitals, long-term care facilities, emergency medical service (EMS) agencies, urgent care facilities and Local Public Health Authorities (LPHAs).

To date, 321,225 doses of vaccine have been delivered to sites across Oregon.

These data are preliminary and subject to change. OHA’s dashboards provide regularly updated vaccination data.

The new cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (16), Benton (29), Clackamas (105), Clatsop (10), Columbia (13), Coos (9), Crook (19), Deschutes (89), Douglas (25), Gilliam (1), Grant (8), Harney (2), Hood river (6), Jackson (58), Jefferson (23), Josephine (64), Klamath (32), Lake (2), Lane (98), Lincoln (3), Linn (50), Malheur (24), Marion (97), Morrow (9), Multnomah (307), Polk (28), Tillamook (11), Umatilla (52), Union (7), Wasco (13), Washington (110) and Yamhill (26).

“Every death from COVID-19 is a loss for friends and families,” said Dr. Bukhosi Dube, senior health advisor with the Oregon Health Authority’s Public Health Division. “Today’s reported death of a 19-year-old, who had underlying conditions shows, again, that because a person may be younger than the most at-risk groups, they may still suffer life-threatening consequences from the virus.”

While older people are at higher risk of having more severe outcomes, including hospitalizations and death, COVID-19 has led to hospitalizations of persons under the age of 40. State data show that about 5% of patients who have been hospitalized for their illness were between the ages of 10 to 39 years old. In Oregon, this is the fourth COVID-19 related death in individuals younger than 30 since the beginning of the pandemic.

As of Jan. 13, 103 persons between the ages of 10 and 19 have been hospitalized with COVID-19 in Oregon.

Jackson County Getting Ready for Mass Vaccination Event With National Guard Support. Jackson County has been approved for a mass COVID-19 vaccination event later this month, public health officials said on Wednesday.

Jackson County Public Health mentioned in a statement earlier this week that it was working with Asante to organize an event in order to expand local vaccination efforts. On Wednesday, the agency said that they had been approved for the event, with support from the National Guard.

A similar mass vaccination event has been underway since last week at the Oregon State Fairgrounds in Salem, with National Guardsmen arriving this week to help overextended medical staff in their efforts. While this event is the first in the state, it’s likely to soon become the model for ramping up vaccinations in these early stages of COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

Jackson County says that the local event is currently slated to be a drive-through clinic at the Jackson County Expo, held on January 21, 22, and 23.

“We will have more information on the hours of operation and who will be eligible to receive the vaccine in the coming days,” officials said. “Jackson County will follow the Oregon COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution and Sequencing Plan and additional directives from the state. Asante will be developing a tool for those eligible to receive the vaccine at this event to inform us if they plan to attend.”

Since the vaccine arrived in Oregon and inoculations began in mid-December, the state has been in Phase 1a of administering vaccines — prioritizing healthcare workers, certain long-term care facility staff and residents, and first responders. But an announcement from Governor Kate Brown on Tuesday indicated an abrupt change of plans, claiming that vaccinations would be open to seniors, childcare providers, and school staff beginning on January 23.

Because of the tentative dates for Jackson County’s event, it’s unclear whether those new categories will be eligible for vaccinations when it happens. Since January 23 marks the date that increased shipments of the vaccine are set to begin arriving in Oregon, according to Brown’s office, there’s no guarantee that doses will be on-hand in great enough quantities at that time for the newly announced categories.

Jackson County Public Health, Asante, Providence, La Clinica, Rogue Community Health, Valley Immediate Care, Mercy Flights, Children and Adolescent Clinic, and other partners are currently working together on the COVID-19 vaccine distribution in Jackson County. Jackson County says it will provide further information on when the vaccine will be available to individuals age 65 and older and educators and where they can access the vaccine in the coming days.

Medford Research Site Seeks Volunteers For COVID-19 Vaccine Trials

Clinical trials for coronavirus vaccines continue and volunteers are still needed. Velocity Clinical Research in Medford is currently recruiting up to 400 people to take part in coronavirus vaccine studies.

Medford’s Velocity Clinical Research seeks 400 volunteers for adult and adolescent COVID-19 vaccine studies.

Velocity Clinical Research owns 14 clinical trials sites in 10 states across the US. The Medford site is actively enrolling patients in three adult and two adolescent studies.

It’s estimated that 100,000 volunteers are needed across all active studies in the US in order to create a more effective COVID vaccine solution for the entire US population.

Those Oregonians interested in volunteering for a COVID vaccine study can register here.

AROUND the STATE of OREGON

Oregon State Police Investigating Construction Flagger that was Struck and Killed in Clackamas County

Report: Civilians not widely used as flaggers because wages tied to cops'  rates – Boston Herald

On Wednesday, January 13, 2021, at approximately 10:45 A.M., Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a vehicle incident on Hwy 26 near milepost 32.

Preliminary investigation revealed that Portland General Electric (PGE) employees were repairing damaged power lines on the north side of Hwy 26.  A PGE truck, operated by Joshua Rinard (41) of Sandy, was being repositioned when it backed into, Brenda Stader (50) of Portland, who was working as a flagger to assist with traffic control. 

PGE was utilizing flaggers contracted through Northwest Traffic Control. Stader sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased. OSP was assisted by the Sandy Fire Department and ODOT

STATEMENT BY FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE RENN CANNON ON POTENTIAL VIOLENCE IN OREGON 

The FBI’s Portland Field Office, working with the Oregon State Police, the Salem Police Department, the Portland Police Bureau, and all of our other local, state, and federal partners, is preparing for any potential violent activity related to the recent unrest in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere.

Given the unrest at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021, we are maintaining a heightened posture to monitor for any emerging threats to our region. We are focused on identifying, investigating, and disrupting individuals who were involved in the siege of the U.S. Capitol and/or those who may continue to incite violence and engage in criminal activity here locally. 

To that end, the FBI in Oregon is running a command post to gather intelligence and coordinate with our law enforcement partners on potential threats. We also have special agents, bomb technicians, the FBI Evidence Response Team, tactical teams, intelligence teams, and others to support investigations and counter any potential threat of violence to the state capitol, federal buildings, and our shared community.

We need the public’s help to protect our state and the rights of peaceful protesters. We are urging people in Oregon to call us at (503) 224-4181 or go to tips.fbi.gov to submit information regarding any potential violence at any upcoming protest or event. You can also call 1 (800) CALL-FBI. If you know of an immediate emergency, call 911. 

We cannot be successful without the help of the American people as work to fulfill our mission: protect the American people and uphold the U.S. Constitution. 

Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Available Until March 31
(Salem) – Jan. 1 marked the beginning of the 2021 Medicare Advantage open enrollment period for Medicare beneficiaries with an existing Medicare Advantage plan. Beneficiaries who take advantage of this open enrollment period will have coverage that starts the first day of the month after the enrollment action.

Before March 31, beneficiaries who already have a Medicare Advantage plan can:

  • Change to a different Medicare Advantage plan, either with or without drug coverage.
  • Enroll in a stand-alone Part D (prescription drug) plan, which returns the beneficiary to Original Medicare.

“This is a helpful time period for beneficiaries that are not satisfied with the new Medicare Advantage plan they chose for 2021 or for beneficiaries currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, but who missed the annual Dec. 7 deadline to compare and change plans,” said Lisa Emerson, program analyst for the Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance (SHIBA) program.

Beneficiaries can make only one change during this enrollment period and cannot change from one stand-alone Part D prescription drug plan to another stand-alone Part D prescription drug plan.

Other enrollment opportunities if someone missed the Dec. 7 deadline:

  • Oregonians have one five-star plan through Kaiser Permanente that will accept enrollments at any time throughout the year.
  • Anyone affected by COVID-19 or Oregon’s wildfires may still have time to enroll in a plan under a four-month special enrollment period, which begins the date affected. There are other guidelines to qualify.
  • Anyone affected by nonrenewing plans (e.g., Moda Med-Advantage) still has time to choose a plan.

Oregon’s SHIBA program is available to help beneficiaries understand their options. To find free, local Medicare counseling help, go to dcbspage.org/SHIBALOCAL or call 800-722-4134 (toll-free) to speak to a state-certified Medicare counselor.

SHIBA counselors can help Oregonians navigate the Medicare.gov Plan Finder tool to enter prescriptions and compare the cost and benefits of individual drug plans, provide enrollment guidance, and answer any other questions related to Medicare benefits. All of these services are available remotely statewide to ensure the safety of both clients and counselors.

Oregon’s Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance (SHIBA) program is part of the Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS), Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. Visit dcbs.oregon.gov. Follow DCBS on Twitter: twitter.com/OregonDCBS. Receive consumer help and information on insurance, mortgages, investments, workplace safety, and more.

Oregon businesses that missed the opportunity to apply for the coronavirus worker safety fund will have a second chance today after the fund reopened with an additional $15 million.

The fund, established by SAIF, was closed five business days after its launch on March 31 after more than 1,300 businesses applied and used the initial $10 million available. The applications represented small and large businesses from a wide range of industries across the state. The fund is designed to support employee safety, reduce injuries, and decrease exposures by helping businesses impacted by the coronavirus. More than 53,000 SAIF policyholders across the state are eligible for funds.

Some of the most common requests that SAIF is supporting include personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning supplies. In addition, resources to redesign or modify workspaces to encourage social distancing; mental health and wellness initiatives; and coronavirus and job reassignment safety training are eligible. Ineligible expenses
include telecommuting and regular staffing expenses, including labor costs for employees reassigned to new positions. SAIF recommends policyholders submit applications as soon as possible, given how quickly the initial funding was exhausted. We don’t anticipate additional funding. Policyholders who previously applied do not need to apply again; applications are still being processed from the first round of funding.

Oregon will put $8 million toward the Oregon Food Bank in an effort to address rapidly rising
food insecurity.
The state will be payout weekly toward the Oregon Food Bank as needed over the next eight weeks, according to the Governor’s office.

Oregon expects to receive a 75 percent reimbursement from FEMA due to the federal emergency declaration. The Oregon Food Bank includes a network of 21 regional food banks and more than 1,400 food assistance sites around
the state.

Since March, the system has seen a “dramatic increase” in demand, Brown’s office said. Meanwhile, the usual donations from food producers and grocers have fallen due to the increased strain on supply chains. Those donations generally account for the majority of OregonFood Bank’s in-kind intake. Governor Brown’s office said that the SNAP program is still the state’s “first line of defense” against hunger, touting recent efforts to expand SNAP eligibility and benefits.

Self-service at gas stations in Oregon has been extended through April 25.

The initial order from the state fire marshal was set to expire April 11. It was issued March 28 due to the COVID-19
pandemic. Self-service if a voluntary option at the pump. The fire marshal stated it allows customers to avoid face-to-face and hand-to-hand contact while applying physical distancing measures. It also allows gas stations to continue operating with less staff. Attendants continue to sanitize equipment and fuel nozzles, while helping customers with their refueling as needed.

Unattended self-service is permitted when a gas station owner exhausts all staffing options. Stations that do not have an attendant on duty are required to post safety signs for physical distancing and instructions showing customers how to operate a fuel pump correctly. This extension of the self-service rules change does not affect areas of the state that are already authorized for self-service refueling under Oregon law.

BLM Proposes Increased Fees at 18 Campgrounds and Recreation Sites in Northwest Oregon

The Bureau of Land Management is proposing new and increased fees at 18 current and future recreation sites in northwest Oregon, and they’re looking for public feedback, the agency said last week. 

The plan would increase the cost at campsites and group facilities while creating new fees at a number of sites that don’t currently charge fees, the agency said. The plan also puts fees in place for campgrounds and cabins expected to open in the future. 

The public can comment on the plan by calling (503) 315-5935 or emailing: BLM_OR_NO_REC_publiccomments@blm.gov.  

“These fee changes are being proposed because maintenance needs at these sites are not being fully met due to increased operating costs,” BLM said in a news release. “It has been more than ten years since fees at these recreation sites were changed and most fees have not been updated in over two decades.”

BLM said the news fees would go toward improved services and creating new amenities at current sites. 

The plan also creates an annual pass that would cost $30 per year and is designed to make it easier for frequent visitors while creating a cost savings, they said. The pass could also be obtained by doing 12 hours or more of volunteer service in the Northwest Oregon District each year. 

In general, the fees would increase to $5 for day-use at sites such as Yellowbottom, Clay Creek and Sandy Ridge recreation sites, which do not currently require day-use fees.

Rain Still Creates Slide Threats and Other Concerns Around Oregon

Heavy winds and rain have produced a variety of road hazards including standing water, flooding, downed trees and powerlines. But another major threat in the days ahead will come from rain-soaked hillsides that threaten to slide onto Oregon roads.

Even as rains let up, saturated, unstable soils remain, aggravating the potential for slides. On Wednesday we started assessments, including aerial observations, to study the extent and nature of the threat.

The slides have been taking place in areas of the state accustomed to slides in heavy rain, including the Columbia River Gorge, rivers along the Coast Range and in the Cascades.

Visit TripCheck.com for the latest road conditions and closures.

The slide threat will be greatest on roads with steep hillsides. Here are some tips for drivers:

  • Be especially alert. Bridges may be washed out, culverts overtopped and boulders may be dislodged.
  • Don’t drive through high water. You may not know if it’s dangerously deep.
  • Watch for sunken and cracked roads and leaning utility poles, trees or fences.
  • Listen for unusual sounds that might indicate moving debris, such as trees cracking or boulders knocking together. A trickle flow may precede a much larger event and slides can develop quickly.
  • If near a river or creek, be alert for sudden changes in water levels or if the water changes from clear to muddy. Such changes indicate activity upstream and you should be prepared to move quickly.
  • Be especially alert in areas burned by the September 2020 wildfire, where the threat of slides is increased.
  • Get away from a slide. More may be coming.

Remember, slides vary widely in size and can move at slow or very high speed depending on slope angle, water content, and type of earth and debris flow.

Hermiston Man Wins $100,000 Powerball Prize
Jan. 13, 2021 – Salem, Ore. – Laurie Longhorn, manager of the Short Stop #1 in Hermiston thinks she will see even more customers come in tonight after her store sold a $100,000 winning Powerball ticket last week. 

“The higher the jackpot gets, the more people come in,” Longhorn said. “With this news we might see even more people.” 

Powerball logo

Bradley Plate of Hermiston purchased his winning ticket at the Short Stop #1 in Hermiston. Plate’s Powerball ticket for the Saturday, Jan. 9 Powerball drawing matched four of the white ball numbers, leaving one white ball number and the power ball number unmatched. By matching those four numbers, and wisely adding the Power Play multiplier option, Plate’s $50,000 prize was doubled to $100,000, thanks to the Power Play multiplier of 2 that was drawn for that drawing. The jackpot was $470 million for the Jan. 9 drawing.  

The Powerball jackpot, currently at $550 million for the Wednesday, Jan. 13 drawing, is the ninth largest jackpot in the game’s history. According to Longhorn, that type of jackpot, and Thursday night’s $750 million Mega Millions jackpot are bringing some joy to retailers facing difficult times this year. 

Longhorn said her store sold a larger Keno jackpot a few years ago, but to her knowledge, this is the largest prize they have sold. 

“This really is awesome news, it would be amazing if we sold the jackpot ticket tonight,” Longhorn said. “We have lots more people coming in and getting tickets. Customers always tell us if they win the big one they will come back and give some to us.” 

Since the Oregon Lottery began selling tickets on April 25, 1985, it has earned more than $12 billion for economic development, public education, Outdoor School, state parks, Veteran Services and watershed enhancements. For more information on the Oregon Lottery visit www.oregonlottery.org 

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