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
Friday, January 22, 2021
Rogue Valley Weather
Today- A 30 percent chance of showers after 10am. Snow level 2800 feet rising to 3300 feet. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 45. Calm wind.
Saturday- Patchy fog before 10am. Otherwise, mostly cloudy, then gradually becoming sunny, with a high near 44. Calm wind.
Sunday- A chance of snow before 10am, then rain and snow. Snow level rising to 2100 feet in the afternoon. High near 39. Calm wind. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.
Monday- A 20 percent chance of snow showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 39.
Tuesday- A chance of rain and snow between 10am and 4pm, then a chance of rain after 4pm. Partly sunny, with a high near 39.
There are 11 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 1,843 the Oregon Health Authority reported.
The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (4), Benton (24), Clackamas (71), Clatsop (7), Columbia (1), Coos (10), Crook (2), Deschutes (32), Douglas (22), Gilliam (1), Harney (1), Hood River (8), Jackson (42), Jefferson (6), Josephine (21), Klamath (18), Lake (1), Lane (97), Lincoln (11), Linn (23), Malheur (18), Marion (87), Morrow (11), Multnomah (123), Polk (18), Tillamook (1), Umatilla (35), Union (6), Wallowa (1), Wasco (11), Washington (110), Yamhill (26).
here are 11 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 1,843 the Oregon Health Authority reported at 12:01 a.m. today.
Oregon Health Authority reported 849 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of 12:01 a.m. today bringing the state total to 135,973.
Vaccinations in Oregon
Today, OHA reported that 14,951 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry. Of this total, 8,699 vaccine doses were administered on Jan. 20 and 6,252 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry on Jan. 20.
Cumulative daily totals can take several days to finalize because providers have 72 hours to report doses administered and technical challenges have caused many providers to lag in their reporting. OHA has been providing technical support to vaccination sites to improve the timeliness of their data entry into the state’s ALERT Immunization Information System (IIS).
Oregon has now administered a cumulative total of 253,711 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, 479,325 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.
Vaccination Sites Opening In Oregon Rollout Slowed by Limited Supply of Doses
After weeks of pushing for more places to get COVID-19 vaccine shots, one thing has become clear, according to Oregon Health Authority (OHA) Director Patrick Allen. There are now more systems ready to go than there are available shots.
“There are hospital systems working with local public health all across the state to stand up, or having already stood up as is the case with Salem mass vaccination sites,” Allen said. “And the biggest issue we’re having right now is how to supply them with enough vaccine to make them efficient and allow them to be high throughput.”
The Oregon Convention Center vaccination site, a joint effort between OHSU, Legacy, Providence and Kaiser, could easily handle 7,500 people a day, but will give only 2,000 shots a day for now because they don’t have enough doses.
OHSU is making a change with its drive-up vaccination sites. It’s closing two sites currently located at the convention center and Hillsboro Stadium, and will open a new site at the red lot of Portland International Airport.
“Much like what we’re doing at the convention center, we’re building the infrastructure and the capability to operate every day for months,” said Joe Ness, chief operating officer for OHSU. He said it will start small but could grow quickly if there are enough vaccine shots.
Just like the other vaccination efforts, you cannot just show up. You have to get an appointment, and for the moment, be part of group 1a.
The mass vaccination site at the Oregon State Fairgrounds in Salem allows walk-ups but warns you may be turned away if you do not live in Marion County.
“Schedules change daily depending upon vaccine supply and demand. Check daily for updates on dates, hours and who is eligible to receive the vaccine based on OHA guidelines,” wrote Salem Health spokeswoman Lisa Wood. “Pre-scheduling for an appointment window is recommended; however, walk-ins are welcome and scheduled appointments are not guaranteed, based on eligibility and vaccine supply.”
She added the vaccine clinic has given out more than 22,000 doses.
Weekly COVID-19 cases decline, deaths surge
OHA’s COVID-19 Weekly Report was released today and showed a slight decline in daily cases and a sharp decline in positive tests.
OHA reported 7,860 new daily cases during the week of Monday, Jan. 11 through Sunday, Jan. 17, a 4% decrease from the previous week.
There were 332 persons hospitalized for COVID-19. COVID-19 related deaths surged to 195, the highest weekly toll to date, following a previous pandemic high from the prior week.
There were 129,723 tests for COVID-19 for the week of Jan. 10 through Jan. 16. The percentage of positive tests dropped to 5.9%. People age 20 to 49 have accounted for 54% of COVID-19 cases, while people 70 and older have accounted for 77% of deaths associated with the virus.
Today’s COVID-19 outbreak report shows 208 active COVID-19 outbreaks in senior living communities and congregate living settings, with three or more confirmed cases and one or more COVID-19 related deaths.
Small Plane Crash Near Eagle Point
911 Dispatch received a call from a citizen reporting a small fixed wing aircraft had crashed in a field north of the 900 block of Yankee Creek Rd and east of the 700 block of Meridian Rd, near Eagle Point, Oregon.
The caller reported that the plane was on fire but the fire was not spreading. Two males described as being in their “twenties” had exited the plane on their own and were injured. They were later transported by Mercy Flights ambulance to a hospital. No details on their injuries are known but they are believed to not be life-threatening.
The plane was found on its left side and had been destroyed except for the tail section. Units from Jackson County Fire District 3 responded to the scene. The fire was limited to the aircraft.
The aircraft was believed to be on a local flight. The two men were being treated Thursday for non-life-threatening injuries, according to Jackson County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Mike Moran. Both men are believed to be in their 20s, and one has serious injuries, Moran said. Their names haven’t been released.
The incident was first reported at 11:48 a.m. Thursday as a small Piper Cub-like aircraft appeared to be making an emergency landing in Eagle Point. JCSO deputies have been in contact with the Federal Aviation Administration and will be coordinating the investigation with the FAA.
Ashland May Set Up a New Urban Campground to Create Shelter for Homeless
The City of Ashland may soon open an urban campground of it’s own to house those in need of shelter.
Inspired by the non-profit Rogue Retreat and it’s urban campground located off of Biddle Road, Ashland mayor Julie Akins says city councilors want to work with Rogue Retreat to create shelter for homeless in their area.
“The City of Medford is doing a great job, and we want to do a great job, too,” said Mayor Julie Akins.
“It’s a way of helping folks transition out of the worst of circumstances, which is a tent by the greenway, into something that’s more organized and beneficial to the un-housed and also to the community at large,” said Executive Director for Rogue Retreat, Chad McComas.
Akins says funding is needed, in order to get the ball rolling. “It’s somewhat dependent on a grant that we requested from the county in order to lease the land, get the pallet shelters, pay for the management of that campground,” said Akins.
The mayor says the city should hear back from Jackson County on if they will receive the grant by February. She says if the grant is approved, the city will begin working with Rogue Retreat right away.
“It’s gone so well, they’re thinking ‘We need something on the South end of the valley,” said McComas. McComas says the non-profit is on board with the idea.
“Ashland needs something and if they can get the funding to work with us, we would be glad to partner with them and try to help,” Mayor Akins said. At this time, it’s unknown where the campground will go. McComas says the city is hoping to get funding for at least 10 pallet shelters to start out with, which include heating, air and electricity.
Three people died in a head-on crash Thursday morning on Highway 140, about three miles west of Odessa near Rocky Point.
According to Oregon State Police, KC Lee Brock, 36, slammed into oncoming traffic about 8:08 a.m. when he illegally attempted to pass the truck and trailer in front of him on a sweeping corner. Police said Brock attempted to pass over a double yellow line.
Brock was pronounced dead at the scene. So too were Charles Alvin Lundy, 53 of Klamath Falls and Betty Jane Bishop, 59 , of Medford, who were by struck Brock’s vehicle head-on. Brock’s passenger, Kevin Calen Morris, 28,of Central Point, was taken to the hospital by helicopter with serious injuries. The crash blocked traffic on Highway 140 W for about an hour and a half.
Abby’s Legendary Pizza Purchased by Southern Oregon Company
Abby’s Legendary Pizza has been purchased by Lone Rock Resources, according to a joint press release sent out by both companies Wednesday afternoon.
Lone Rock, an Oregon company, will purchase 100% equity ownership of the 36 pizzerias throughout Oregon and Washington.
“We are very excited with this opportunity to further our commitment to this area and continue Abby’s commitment to its customers,” said Lone Rock Resources CEO Toby Luther. “We fully appreciate the long-term operation, experience, and growth of the Abby’s business. Over the past three years we’ve visited every Abby’s location and have fallen in love with the high-quality employees, loyal customers and family-oriented business model.”
The companies plan to continue Abby’s 57-year-old brand, staffing and locations.
“Their investment will take the company to even greater heights, and provide our one-thousand employees more opportunities to grow within the company,” said Mills Sinclair, one of the principal owners. “We’ve been working with Lone Rock for three years and we all believe this means Abby’s will continue to be headquartered in Roseburg for generations to come.
“This is the beginning of the next chapter of Abby’s,” Sinclair said. “I have no doubt Abby’s will continue to thrive and grow in Roseburg and throughout the Pacific Northwest, just as we have since Abby Broughton and Bob Harrell started the company in 1964.”
Lone Rock Resources is a family-owned company founded in Roseburg in 1950. Originally timber-based, today the company has a variety of investments and employs over 110 in Douglas County.
Abby’s operates 36 restaurants in Oregon and Washington. The restaurant was founded by Roseburg residents Broughton and Harrell. The company will celebrate its 57th anniversary this year.
AROUND the STATE of OREGON
Beware These COVID-Related Scams in 2021
Umpqua Bank stepping up to make sure people are aware in our communities!
Since the onset of the pandemic, criminals have used tactics like identity theft and social engineering to defraud government and healthcare programs and illegally cash in—and the new year has brought some new material for them to keep up their scams.
COVID-19 vaccines. New PPP loans. Expanded government assistance. All are positive developments toward addressing the pandemic’s impact, but they also afford opportunities for criminals to fraudulently exploit.
The Threats Continue
On December 21, federal agencies alerted the public regarding the high potential for fraud during the pandemic, especially now that a vaccine is available. Meanwhile, fraudsters are continuing their global phishing and spoofing campaigns, baiting victims with bogus promises of COVID-19 testing, grants, and prescription cards in exchange for personally identifiable information (PII).
“Given the impact COVID-19 has had on all of our lives, it’s no surprise that fraudsters are using it to target peoples’ money and sensitive information,” says Kathryn Albright, Global Payments & Deposits Executive with Umpqua Bank. “But if you know what kinds of red flags to be aware of right now, it can really help protect your business, and you personally, in the long-run.”
Beware of These Scams
- Recorded phone calls (“Robocalls”) offering the chance to avoid lines and get vaccinated sooner for a set price (e.g., $79.99).
- Advertisements and price gouging for the sale of fake or potentially dangerous (and unapproved, illegitimate) COVID-19 “medicine” or treatments.
- Solicitations, whether in person or via text, email, or phone, asking you to provide account information (financial or medical), click an unfamiliar or unexpected link, or visit an unfamiliar webpage in order to “sign up” for treatment.
- Bogus “contact tracers” who reach out to unsuspecting victims and ask for PII (e.g., Medicare number or financial information) or attempt to collect payment for scheduling a test. Legitimate contact tracers don’t need such information or payment.
Tips to Note
According to the AARP, the key points federal officials want the public to understand when it comes to preventing such scams are:
- Go to a trusted source for vaccine information (e.g., your doctor or local health department).
- Don’t buy a vaccine or treatment off the Internet.
- The vaccine is provided at no cost, although providers may charge a fee for administration (that can be reimbursed).
- Ignore any solicitations about the vaccine that are delivered to you via text message, social media, phone call, email, or in person, because health officials are not contacting eligible people using these methods.
- Don’t give money or any type of PII to an unexpected or unfamiliar party contacting you about COVID-19, because fraudsters can use such information to defraud healthcare organizations and commit identity theft.
For additional information regarding the COVID-19 response and updated vaccine distribution details, visit trusted sites like CDC.gov and the FDA vaccine web page periodically—and exercise caution regarding unexpected or unfamiliar communications on the topic.
If You See Something, Say Something
“Fraudsters are adapting fast, and even the smallest amount of fraud can quickly become a scam epidemic,” says Albright. “Try to stay ahead of the fraud game and always keep a healthy skepticism; hyper-vigilance is necessary, even regarding an unexpected opportunity for COVID-19 treatment, as it’s often said, ’If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.’”
Contact your local law enforcement agencies if you think you’ve received fraudulent communication regarding COVID-19 treatment. If you suspect that your Umpqua Bank account has been compromised, contact our Customer Resource Center at (866) 486-7782 as soon as possible for assistance.
Gov. Kate Brown delivered the 2021 State of the State Address on Thursday
The speech comes as the state continues to face unique struggles due to the pandemic, social unrest, and the wildfires that happened the past fall. It was one year ago today that Gov. Brown established an incident management team to prepare for COVID-19 to arrive in Oregon. Brown said she knew the state had to be prepared.
The speech detailed the state’s response to the arrival of COVID-19 in 2020 and what came next, including the release of the Ready Schools, Safe Learners guidance. Brown also touched on the protests that took place over the summer. She said people of color are disproportionately affected by the struggles the state is facing.
When fires swept through the state in September 2020, entire towns were wiped off the map, Brown said. Nine people died, and more than 4,000 homes were lost. The second wave of the pandemic hit last fall, just as the state was reeling from the recent wildfires.
Brown compared Oregon’s efforts to a marathon, saying that we’re not in a race against others, but ourselves and time. While we can see the finish line, the race is far from over, the governor added.
Klamath Falls Newspaper Carrier Sees Papers Stack Up, Finds Elderly Neighbor Stuck In Bathtub For Days
Stephani Bastian couldn’t get in touch with her 81-year-old father, who lived alone in the Elk Apartments on Main Street in Klamath Falls. Although it’s not unusual for him to miss occasional calls from his daughter, who now lives in Roseburg, Bastian said she had a feeling that something was wrong.
Mike Smith delivers the Herald and News to subscribers, including to Bastian’s father, his downstairs neighbor in the Elk Apartments. He, too, felt like something was wrong on Dec. 23 when he delivered the paper to his door, like he does every publication day. Smith noticed the Navy veteran had several papers stacked up, so he went to get help.
After alerting the building maintenance manager, the two men discovered the elderly man had fallen in the bathtub and had been stuck there for several days. He couldn’t reach his phone or his emergency alert necklace, and he had become confused and weakened.
After his rescuers got him out of the tub and into a chair, Smith and the building manager called 911. After a short stint at Sky Lakes Medical Center, he is now recovering from the fall and the rehab at Marquis Plum Ridge.
Bastian received a text the day after Christmas from her father’s best friend, notifying her that her father was in the hospital and that his doctor was trying to reach her. Bastian learned her father, still confused, had given the hospital her old phone number.
She rushed to Klamath Falls the next day. When she learned her dad’s newspaper carrier was the one to alert someone for help for her father, which may have saved his life, Bastian gave Smith a big hug to express her gratitude. They both burst into tears, Smith said.
“Be thankful for your newspaper man because he might be the only one who knows something’s wrong,” she said.
Although Bastian was quick to call Smith a hero, Smith said he feels he doesn’t deserve the accolade. Still, he knows that if that was his loved one, he’d feel the same way Bastian does.
“I’m ecstatic that I chose to break the mold and say we need to check on this guy,” Smith said.
Smith knew something was wrong when he noticed the two untouched newspapers outside the door. Smith said his neighbor was “regular as clockwork” with his routine, which Smith recognized as a habit from the military. As a veteran with medical conditions himself, Smith said he’s been cognizant of his health, and the health of others, during the pandemic.
Smith also lives above his neighbor and could hear the TV on below him for more than a day, which Smith said was unusual.
Bastian’s father doesn’t know how long he had been in the bathtub before help arrived. He told the Herald and News he remembers reaching a paper cup from the sink and filling it up from the tub to drink from. He said he wasn’t of sound mind for the entire stretch he spent stuck. He said he believes he was hallucinating because he recalls getting up out of the tub and walking around the apartment.
He sustained a bruised hip and shoulder as well as a laceration across his back. He has lived in Klamath Falls since 1979, when Bastian began attending Klamath Union High School and he took classes at Oregon Institute of Technology for a welding certificate. Her father later worked at Oregon Tech for over 18 years, Bastian said.
Bastian’s daughter, Kymberly, now attends Oregon Tech, but hasn’t been in the area because she’s been completing an externship in Tigard.
Bastian reminds people to check on the senior citizens in your life, especially those who live alone.
In one of his last acts before leaving office, outgoing Interior Secretary David Bernhard on Tuesday granted Hammond Ranches Inc. a 10-year grazing permit, curtailing any potential administrative appeals in the face of vehement opposition from environmental advocacy groups.
In February 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management rejected the Hammonds’ renewal application, citing the criminal convictions of father Dwight Hammond Jr. and son Steven Hammond for setting fire to public lands.
Paul Ruprecht, the Nevada-Oregon director of the Western Watersheds Project, said granting the permit just before President Donald Trump leaves office “puts politics before land stewardship.”
The Bureau of Land Management had proposed on New Year’s Eve returning grazing rights to Hammond Ranches for 10 years, citing among other reasons their “extensive historic use” of the allotments and what the federal agency characterized as their “past proper use of rangeland resources.”
A hospital in Central Oregon is reporting a COVID-19 outbreak among workers.
The St.Charles Redmond hospital said late Wednesday that 31 people have tested positive, and the Deschutes County Health Services and the Oregon Health Authority are investigating. It’s unclear how the outbreak occurred.
St. Charles Health System, Inc., is headquartered in Bend. They own and operate St. Charles Bend, Madras, Prineville and Redmand. Simmons, St. Charles’ chief operating officer, said Wednesday evening that 10 of the 31 caregivers had received the first of two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
She said some may have gotten the second dose, but could not confirm that. She said the 31 people infected will be on paid furlough for two weeks, and that they must be symptom-free and test negative for the virus before returning to work.
As of Jan. 20, 31 employees had tested positive and their cases are being investigated in collaboration with local and state public health officials, according to a news release from the Bend, Ore.-based health system. The hospital has about 450 employees.
“We are taking every possible measure to stop the spread of the virus, to protect our patients and our caregivers,” Aaron Adams, CEO of the Redmond hospital, said in the release.
The Redmond hospital is offering COVID-19 testing to all St. Charles Redmond hospital-based workers among other safety measures, according to the release. It is also asking employees to stay home and get tested if they have any COVID-19 symptoms.
The hospital is increasing air exchange to six times per hour; boosting air filtration to more than the CDC recommendation; and asking workers to eat in the cafeteria or outside instead of in break rooms. The hospital is limiting visitors as well.
“We hope our community understands and will help us by following all COVID-19 restrictions, both inside and outside of our facilities,” said Mr. Adams. “The number of positive COVID-19 cases continues to be high throughout the region and we need your help to ensure we have a healthy workforce to care for you and your loved ones.”
The St. Charles Health System outbreak is not the only one in the area in recent months. There was one earlier in January at Providence Portland (Ore.) Medical Center that sickened 49 patients and employees, according to The Lund Report. The news source also reported an outbreak that started in December at Vancouver, Wash.-based PeaceHealth Southwest Washington Medical Center, which has affected about 30 patients and workers.