Rogue Valley News, Tuesday 1/19 – Jackson County ‘Phase 1a’ Covid-19 Vaccination Event Sign-Up Underway, Climate Change in Oregon Assessment Report Released

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

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Rogue Valley Weather

Today- Patchy fog before 1pm. Otherwise, cloudy through mid morning, then gradual clearing, with a high near 46. Calm wind.

Wednesday- Areas of freezing fog before 10am. Mostly sunny, with a high near 48. Calm wind.

Thursday- Mostly cloudy, with a high near 48. Calm wind.

Friday- Mostly cloudy, with a high near 44.

Saturday- Mostly sunny, with a high near 46.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Coronavirus-update-1-4.jpg

COVID-19 has claimed three more lives in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 1,803, Oregon Health Authority reported. OHA reported 666 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of 12:01 a.m. today, bringing the state total to 133,851.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Benton (10), Clackamas (57), Columbia (6), Coos (1), Crook (9), Deschutes (51), Douglas (11), Hood River (3), Jackson (40), Jefferson (2), Josephine (9), Lake (1), Lane (81), Lincoln (5), Linn (8), Malheur (4), Marion (79), Morrow (6), Multnomah (140), Polk (9), Umatilla (29), Wasco (10), Washington (87), Yamhill (8).

Vaccinations in Oregon 

Today, OHA is reporting that 11,951 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry. Of this total, 8,409vaccine doses were administered on Jan. 17. 

Oregon has now administered a cumulative total of 216,925 first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines. 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, 335,075 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 and Oregon’s dashboard has been updated today. 

Oregon Expecting $38 Million in Federal Stimulus Vaccine Funds

Oregon is expecting to receive a large chunk of federal stimulus money this week to help pay for its COVID-19 vaccination program.

Congress approved $3 billion for states to use for vaccine activities under the supplemental pandemic stimulus bill that went into law in late December. Oregon’s share of those funds is $38.1 million, although only a portion of that is expected to be distributed this week.

“Particularly now, it is crucial that states and communities have the resources they need to conduct testing, and to distribute and administer safe, high-quality COVID-19 vaccines safely and equitably,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said in a statement by the agency.

The money can be used to promote and track as well as to distribute and administer the vaccines. The latter is where Oregon’s vaccination program has bogged down.

The state has struggled to vaccinate large numbers of people, although by late last week it was able to hit the 12,000 doses-per-day vaccination target put forth by Gov. Kate Brown. Oregon Health Authority Chief Medical Officer Dana Hargunani cited challenges with vaccine distribution as well as navigating scheduling, physical distancing at vaccination sites and the observation period required immediately after the vaccine is administered.

OHA Director Patrick Allen told OPB’s “Think Out Loud” Friday that the federal money would go towards staffing and backfilling positions that have been reassigned to the vaccination effort.

“Much of that money gets shared with local public health and community-based organizations and others to do that work,” he said. “Hospitals have been doing a lot of work on their own dimes that we’ll need to be able to pay for.”

OHA will also use the money on public outreach promoting the vaccine.

As of Friday, OHA reported 15,789 Oregonians have been fully vaccinated (receiving both necessary doses for maximum protection) with another nearly 139,000 people having received the first dose. But plans to expand the pool of Oregonians eligible for vaccination have been stymied by recent revelations that states would not receive an expected increase in vaccine shipments from the national stockpile — because there is no national stockpile. Oregon was expecting 200,000 additional doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Allen said the supply of vaccines from the federal government is now the biggest limiting factor to Oregon’s vaccination push.

The stimulus bill also provides $243 million to Oregon for COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, surveillance and containment efforts.

Jackson County ‘Phase 1a’ Covid-19 Vaccination Event Sign-Up Underway

The final details for a drive-in coronavirus vaccination clinic in Jackson County were published on Monday, allowing eligible members of “Phase 1a” to sign up and get the needed paperwork.

The drive-in event is still planned for January 21, 22, and 23 at the Jackson County Expo, and several dozen National Guard members are expected to be on-hand to help with all aspects of the initiative — from logistics to administering the vaccines.

With an increase in vaccine doses no longer expected from the federal government, the upcoming event will not be expanded to include educators and seniors. Eligible members of Phase 1a — including healthcare workers, first responders, and both residents and staff of long-term care facilities — are strongly encouraged to visit the Asante site and have that paperwork prepared ahead of time.

CLICK HERE to visit the Asante vaccination event website (Phase 1a only)

When the event begins, people will drive up to a checkpoint to have their paperwork screened, and they will be asked to verbally verify that they are in Phase 1a. They’ll be vaccinated while still in their vehicles, then ushered to a waiting area for observation over a period of 15 minutes or more to ensure that there are no major allergic reactions.

Attendees will receive a form showing that they’ve received the first dose, along with details on how to receive a second dose in the following weeks.

The Jackson County clinic will be open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on January 21, 22, and 23.

A second, similar event is being planned for Josephine County on January 24 and 25, and sign-up is available on the same Asante page. Officials hope to perform 3,000 vaccinations at this event. Unlike the Jackson County clinic, this one will be open to pre-K through 12th-grade educators and other school staff.

Both the Jackson and Josephine County drive-in events will be supplied with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, which requires ultra-cold storage. Nickerson said Asante’s staff is now well-accustomed the process of vaccine storage and thawing, and will have enough doses prepared for use as needed.

There are roughly 20,000 people in Phase 1a in Jackson County, public health officials said, and more than 7,000 in Josephine County.

Governor Kate Brown announced last week the state’s adjusted timeline for expanding vaccinations beyond Phase 1a. Vaccines will be made available to educators beginning January 25 throughout the state. Seniors will be made eligible beginning February 8, starting with those 80 and older.

Two Oregon Prisons Have Reported that Two Adults-in-Custody Have Died After Testing Positive for Covid-19.

 Across the state, two Oregon prisons have reported that two adults-in-custody(AIC) have died after testing positive for Covid-19.

The first prison to report an in-custody death was Deer Ridge Correctional Institution, where the Oregon Department of Corrections(DOC) says that a man was between the age of 55 and 65 years old.

In the original report, the DOC stated that this man was the twenty-eighth AIC to die in the custody of Deer Ridge, after testing positive for Covid-19. However a few hours later, the DOC said that this was a mistake and that the man that passed away today was actually the prison’s twenty-ninth adult-in-custody to die after testing positive for coronavirus. 

Later in the afternoon, around six at night, Two Rivers Correctional Institution reported that it had lost another AIC after testing positive for coronavirus. This is the prison’s thirtieth AIC to die who tested positive for the virus.

The man was reportedly between 75 and 85 years old. 

As with all in-custody deaths, the Oregon State Police have been notified, and a medical examiner will determine the cause of death.

Homeless and Advocates Set Up Protest Camp In Downtown Ashland

A small group of homeless people and advocates is camping in a little-used parking structure near the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in downtown Ashland.

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The encampment began Monday evening. It’s being organized by the activist group Housing Now. For several months, the group has been sponsoring similar camps in various prominent places around Ashland to bring attention to the lack of shelter space or affordable housing options in town.

Housing Now organizer Chris Kendrick says this camp is meant to put pressure on the city to take quick action.

“We’re recognizing the urgency, the need to have shelter right now because of the COVID-19, and we’re asking the city to adhere to CDC guidelines around homelessness,” he says.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise local governments to leave encampments of homeless people in place rather than increase the risk of spreading the virus by dispersing them.

Kendrick says that, with the danger of community spread of COVID-19, giving homeless campers an authorized place to stay benefits everyone.

“The virus doesn’t care if you’re homeless or live in a home, it’s going to go where it’s going to go and it can affect the entire community,” he says. “So we feel that the city council has a responsibility to the entire community to protect not just homeless people but the entire community from COVID-19.”

Kendrick says the three-level parking structure could accommodate people living in their vehicles on the top level, and tent campers on the covered, lower levels. Adding portable sanitation and cooking facilities, he says, would give homeless people a safe place to be while they ride out the winter

These days, the structure is mostly unused, due to pandemic-related closures of the Shakespeare Festival and other tourism-related businesses in town.

Ashland officials could not be reached for comment due to the holiday. The city council is slated to discuss emergency shelter options at its meeting Tuesday night.

AROUND the STATE of OREGON

Climate Change in Oregon Assessment Report Released

Oregon last week released its fifth biennial climate assessment, which illustrates the past, present and future implications of climate change on the state and its people. The outlook is dim.

( https://oregonstate.app.box.com/s/7mynjzhda9vunbzqib6mn1dcpd6q5jka )

“A lot of what we report on here is consistent with what has been understood and expected for a decade or, in some cases, several decades,” said Erica Fleishman, director of the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute, which assembles the report, and a professor at Oregon State University.

Scientific consensus is that burning coal, petroleum and other fossil fuels emits heat-trapping carbon, causing the planet to warm nearly beyond repair.

Temperatures are going up year-round. Precipitation is surging in the winter, and more of it is falling as rain than as snow. Wildfires are getting bigger and happening more often. And all of those things have the effect of deepening and proliferating racial and economic disparities already present in our society.

“It becomes more and more crystal clear that climate change is not just affecting polar bears on some distant iceberg,” said Emily York, who leads Oregon’s Climate and Health Program. “It’s affecting people, and it’s affecting our communities’ and our children’s health.”

Fleishman said that while climate change has very much entered the chat in Oregon, the state has opportunities before it to blunt the onslaught.

“Because Oregon still has it pretty good compared to a lot of parts of the country and the world,” she said.

Here’s a snapshot of climate change and its effects on Oregon, by the numbers:

Wildfires in Oregon will be larger and more frequent.

Last summer’s wildfires were historically devastating. The fires killed several Oregonians and displaced thousands, many long-term if not permanently.

Almost all recent modeling indicates more of Oregon will burn in the coming years. Some projections show a 200% increase in burned area annually by mid-century.

The largest wildfires, which the climate assessment defines as those scorching more than 12,350 acres, will also increase.

“Although there is a projection that the size of fires will increase in Oregon, it’s difficult to say whether that will translate into very costly and very disruptive losses for tens of thousands of Oregonians,” Fleishman said.

Oregon isn’t becoming California, where Santa Ana and Diablo winds regularly create hot, dry and crunchy fire conditions. Major wind events like the one that fanned last year’s firestorm are rare for Oregon.

It’s getting hot in here, especially during summer.

The state’s average annual temperature is projected to increase 5 degrees Fahrenheit by 2050 and more than 6 degrees in summer.

Southwest Oregon is truly feeling the burn. Medford sees about 21 more days a year exceeding 90 degrees than it did in 1940. Portland and Pendleton both have about eight more hot days a year.

Extreme heat is a public health risk that disproportionately affects marginalized communities.

About one in every three single-family homes in Oregon does not have air conditioning. Three in every four multigenerational homes are also without cooling systems.

“We have the data that shows that when we have these extreme heat events, we have a spike in those seeking help in emergency department rooms across Oregon,” York said.

Oregon will likely see more precipitation. Less of it will be snow.

Oregon Snowpack Below Average

Precipitation levels change from year to year, but statewide Oregon will likely see a gradual increase over the coming decades, according to the report.

More than one-third of Oregon experienced at least moderate drought from 2000 to 2020, on average, but more precipitation will not translate to less drought necessarily.

As temperatures climb, precipitation is less likely to fall as snow. For example, about half of wet days in the Cascades have snow, which has been the case since the latter stages of the 20th century. By the middle of this century, less than 25% of wet days in the mountain range will have snow.

Snowpack is also expected to decline in the coming decades — by at least 60% statewide by 2050. While snowpack has been historically very difficult to measure, Oregon’s outlook is becoming clearer with advances in climate science.

Diminishing snowpack could lead to water shortages, drought and increased wildfire risk.

“Those changes in the snowpack are likely to have pretty strong ramifications for a lot of the economic and social structures in the state,” Fleishman said. Add to that list drinking water supplies, irrigation, river and stream health, glacial health, and winter recreation.

Sea levels are rising on the Oregon Coast, but so is the coastline.

Rising sea levels pose a threat to coastal communities across the globe, contributing to flooding, erosion and destruction. As the planet warms, glaciers and ice sheets melt, water in the oceans increases and expands.

We’ve known this for a while, and the latest climate science confirms that sea level rise will continue and at faster rates should humans not kick their greenhouse gas habit.

“Coastal communities along the Oregon Coast should expect that issues associated with various coastal hazards of erosion and flooding will get worse,” said Peter Ruggiero, a professor of coastal geomorphology at Oregon State and co-author of the climate assessment’s coastal hazards chapter.

Projected sea level rise varies along the Oregon Coast. The climate assessment pulled three coastal cities for comparison. If we significantly cut emissions, sea levels are projected to rise 0.1 feet in Astoria by 2050, 0.4 feet in Charleston and 0.6 feet in Newport.

On the other end of the spectrum, if emissions continue at current levels or even increase, sea level rise could reach 2.4, 2.7 and 2.9 feet for Astoria, Charleston and Newport, respectively.

While sea levels are rising along the Oregon Coast, so too is the coastline itself due to tectonic shifts and other factors. A large portion of the coastline, too, is undeveloped. In that regard, Oregon is generally better positioned to handle sea level rise than, say, southern Florida, where water could inundate low-lying communities.

However, rising, warming oceans still pose a threat to Oregon’s rocky coast, especially combined with changes to the wave climate and storm patterns. Not to mention the Big One, a calamitous magnitude-9.0 earthquake predicted to hit off the Northwest coast in the coming decades.

“If we are thinking about ways of managing for sea level rise, we might also be doing ourselves a favor in terms of managing for reducing the potential negative impact of the Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake and tsunami,” Ruggiero said.

 Final Environmental Assessment Decision for Large Diameter Trees in Eastern Oregon

(Release from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) The USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Region has released a final environmental assessment and decision that amends forest plans on six national forests in eastern Oregon, revising a provision that prohibits harvesting trees larger than 21 inches in diameter. 

The decision replaces the existing 21-inch standard with management policy focused on protecting old and large trees and increasing forest resistance to disturbance. The new policy reflects scientific and experiential learning over the past 25 years, innovative management approaches that collaborative groups have explored for decades, and 24 prior project-level amendments that addressed this issue and informed the analysis. 

The proposal also implements an adaptive management and monitoring program to track landscape outcomes and share information across forests and with interested people and organizations. 

“This decision will help us to better manage forests for wildfires and other disturbances, and to protect old trees that are hard to replace once lost,” said Pacific Northwest Regional Forester Glenn Casamassa. “We look forward to continuing to work with everyone who has engaged with us on this issue through the monitoring program we will implement.” 

Many forests in eastern Oregon are uncharacteristically dense. Tree species that are less resistant to wildfire and other disturbances are increasing relative to historical conditions. This contributes to higher tree mortality risks from insects, fire, drought, and other disturbances. Meant to be an interim measure, the Eastside Screens were created in 1995 to protect riparian areas, encourage a healthy mix of young and old trees, and maintain wildlife habitat and connectivity. Now 25 years later, the 21-inch standard is being reassessed in light of current forest conditions, the latest science, project-level amendments, and public feedback.

Forests affected by the project include the Deschutes, Fremont-Winema, Malheur, Ochoco, Umatilla, and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests. The decision does not authorize any work on the ground; individual projects to authorize work will still be subject to established planning processes and opportunities for public engagement.

More information, including the final environmental assessment and decision notice, can be found on the Eastside Screens Plan Amendment homepage: http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/r6/eastsidescreens.

Missing Woman Found Dead on Oregon Coast

A Waldport, Oregon woman reported missing after she took her dogs for a walk was later found dead in the surf at the mouth of the Alsea River.

Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office reported that Toni Goessman was reported missing by her husband about 5:17 p.m. Friday when one of the two dogs she had been walking returned to their home alone.

Her husband said Goessman frequently walked the dogs on the beach. He drove out to look for her but wasn’t able to search on foot.

Searcher found Goessman’s body at about 10:32 p.m. in the surf. Her other dog has not been found.

Error in the Oregon State Parks Reservations System

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department offered an apology on Thursday, Jan. 15, after its highly anticipated spring and summer campground reservations opened six hours early, leaving many prospective campers in the lurch.

Oregon Free Camping: 49 Free Campsites in Oregon - Campendium | Free camping,  Campground reviews, Klamath lake

The parks department announced last week that its reservation window would expand to six months starting Wednesday, Jan. 14, allowing campers to plan for spring break and summer vacation. The department also announced that reservations would become available at 6 a.m. instead of midnight, as had been the practice for years.

But it didn’t work out that way. Many people who dutifully woke up at 6 a.m. on Jan. 15 to book sites at competitive campgrounds or for coveted holiday weekends were suddenly left empty-handed, beat out by campers who had grabbed the sites early.

State parks spokesman Chris Havel said the reservations system vendor, Aspira (which operates as ReserveAmerica), simply did not apply the new 6 a.m. start time to Oregon campgrounds, as requested. That meant campsites opened at midnight, as usual, he said.

“We have made it clear that this error must be fixed immediately,” Havel said. “We sincerely apologize for the mistake to the people who waited until 6 a.m. to make their reservations just like we asked them to.”

The 6 a.m. start time is now working, and will be in effect for anyone making reservations on Jan. 15 and beyond, Havel said.

Among the disgruntled campers on Jan. 14 was Patty Langdon, a Southwest Portland resident who was part of a group of friends trying to book RV sites at Prineville Reservoir for July. She woke up at 5:30 a.m. on Jan. 14, only to find the campsites were already being snatched up.

Langdon and her friends are not strangers to competitive campsite reservations. Every year, they coordinate their plans to book a group of sites together, and most years they find success. The only wrinkle this time around was the announced time change from midnight to 6 a.m.

“We’re pretty experienced at this, so it was pretty disappointing,” Langdon said. “I just had to take the sites I could take for whatever days I get.”

She might have been lucky to get anything. Some people trying to book sites at more popular campgrounds — let alone coveted cabins and yurts — were left empty-handed, and will have to try again for dates later in the summer.

In fact, those who never heard about the 6 a.m. change may have been the ones who benefited from the error, logging on at midnight to find less competition than usual.

It’s been another twist for state park reservations, which have been out of whack for nearly a year since all campgrounds closed in March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

When campgrounds reopened at the end of May 2020, reservations were only taken for two weeks in advance, though the parks department later expanded that to 30 days. Prior to the pandemic, campers were allowed to book campsites, yurts and cabins up to nine months in advance at all Oregon state parks.

A new proposal would allow state park campgrounds more flexibility in their reservation windows, and if approved it would allow reservations up to 18 months in advance, marking yet another change to the way people book campsites in Oregon.

Langdon said she’s just happy she got something at all this year. Her group of friends might not get to camp at their preferred spots, or all at the same time, but at least they’ll get to visit Prineville Reservoir one way or another.

“I think we did OK,” Langdon said. “I’m frustrated, but I bet there’s a lot of people who don’t even know the reservation window opened up.”

Oregon State University Engineering Receives $4.9M to Continue Natural Hazards Engineering Research

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The National Science Foundation has awarded the Oregon State University College of Engineering nearly $5 million for natural hazards engineering research at OSU’s O.H. Hinsdale Wave Research Laboratory.

“We are pleased to receive this significant award from the NSF,” said Scott Ashford, Kearney Dean of the Oregon State College of Engineering. “This support of our world-class testing facility will enable new discoveries that will protect our critical infrastructure from natural hazards — and ultimately help communities recover more quickly from these extreme events.”

The $4.9 million, five-year grant is a renewal of a similar award for $3.8 million received by the College of Engineering in 2015 and part of a national program – the Natural Hazards Engineering Research Infrastructure – that gives scientists access to multiple types of research facilities. It also provides for educational and outreach activities.

The Hinsdale lab features a large wave flume and a directional wave basin, which both simulate waves from hurricanes and tsunamis and allow for a wide range of testing of waves’ impact on built and natural environments.

“We’re really excited to have received the renewal award and are looking forward to hosting more projects from researchers across the country and here at OSU,” said Dan Cox, Oregon State civil engineering professor and the award’s principal investigator. “With this award, we get to continue having an impact on graduate, undergrad and K-12 education. We’re proud to be at the center of the coastal engineering universe.”

Cox notes that “engineering with nature” has become a battle cry for how engineers work to develop solutions to problems stemming from sea level rise and the other coastal effects of climate change.

“We also have a lot of legacy infrastructure along the coast that needs to be considered in solving these problems,” said Cox, joined on the grant by co-principal investigators Pedro Lomonaco, the director of the Hinsdale lab, and Chris Higgins, OSU civil engineering professor. “This award allows researchers to work at developing new green and ‘green-gray’ hybrid infrastructure systems that meld traditional approaches with green approaches and can be used for climate change adaptation.”

Lomonaco added that the grant will enable the lab to acquire new, cutting-edge sensing technologies to assess stress, strain, load and sediment transport resulting from various wave conditions.

“That includes a fully submersible force balance plate that can measure directional loads exerted from waves and tsunamis on coastal structures,” he said.

Cox said OSU research has already made an impact on new codes and standards to improve the performance of buildings threatened by extreme coastal conditions.

“The funding renewal will help us take our game to an even higher level,” he said.

About the OSU College of Engineering: The 10th largest engineering program based on undergraduate enrollment, the college received nearly $60 million in sponsored research awards in the 2019-20 fiscal year and is global leader in health-related engineering, artificial intelligence, robotics, advanced manufacturing, clean water and energy, materials science, computing and resilient infrastructure. The college ranks second nationally among land grant universities and third among the nation’s 94 public R1 universities for percentage of tenured or tenure-track faculty who are women.

The Oregon Department of Fish And Wildlife is Accepting Nominations for a Seat on The Pacific Fishery Management Council.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is accepting nominations for a seat on the Pacific Fishery Management Council. The deadline to request nomination materials is Feb. 19 and the three-year term begins Aug. 11.

The council manages fisheries for approximately 119 species of salmon, groundfish, coastal pelagic species (sardines, anchovies and mackerel) and highly migratory species (tunas, sharks and swordfish) off the coasts of Oregon, Washington and California. It includes 14 voting members representing tribal and state fish and wildlife agencies, and private citizens knowledgeable about sport fishing, commercial fishing and/or marine conservation.

The ideal candidate would be knowledgeable about fishery resource conservation and management in marine waters off the West Coast. Specific knowledge of and experience in management issues and fisheries is important, as is a strong conservation ethic. The successful candidate also must work collectively with other council members, often making difficult decisions, to fulfill the standards set forth by the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Members make a substantial time commitment to fully participate in council business and related activities.

The Oregon obligatory seat is currently held by Christa Svensson, who is eligible for re-appointment. ODFW will send all nominations to the governor, who will then forward the names of at least three candidates to the National Marine Fisheries Service (in the U.S. Department of Commerce) for consideration. Successful appointees must pass an extensive FBI background check.

Anyone interested in being considered, or wishing to nominate someone, must contact Jessica Watson at 541-351-1196 or jessica.l.watson@state.or.us no later than Feb. 19, with completed application packets submitted no later than Feb. 26.

The Pacific Fishery Management Council is one of eight regional fishery management councils established by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act to manage fisheries from three to 200 miles offshore of the United States coastline. The Pacific Council is responsible for fisheries off the coasts of California, Oregon and Washington.

Strong Demand Drives Up Oregon’s Wholesale Cannabis Prices In 2020

Increased consumer demand for cannabis in Oregon helped push wholesale prices in the state out of a three-year slump caused by overproduction.

Chart showing median wholesale prices in Oregon

For the first time since 2017, the median price per pound of recreational marijuana sold by cultivators to retailers topped $1,500 in December, according to data provided by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

Prices also rebounded for cannabis sold to wholesale businesses. The rising prices are just another sign of Oregon’s booming marijuana market. Recreational marijuana sales in the state grew 38% in 2020, ending the year at a record $1 billion.

The state experienced year-over-year growth in every month of 2020, indicating that the coronavirus pandemic and resulting recession didn’t negatively affect overall demand. In fact, the pandemic might have helped sales as consumers turned to cannabis for stress relief.

Average monthly recreational sales last year reached $83.4 million versus $60.5 million in 2019. The adult-use market peaked in July with a record $94.3 million in sales, a 43% increase for the same month in 2019.

While Oregon’s medical marijuana market doesn’t come close in size to its recreational side, MMJ sales grew a whopping 58% in 2020, to a record $109 million. For comparison, the medical market grew only 8.4% from 2018 to 2019.

With the combined markets bringing in $1.11 billion in sales in 2020, it’s hard to say whether this demand will continue once the pandemic begins to recede and the economy rebounds.

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