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 28, 2021
Rogue Valley Weather
Today- Rain and snow showers, becoming all rain after 11am. Patchy fog between 8am and 11am. Snow level 1700 feet rising to 3100 feet in the afternoon. High near 44. Calm wind becoming north 5 to 7 mph in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 90%. Little or no snow accumulation expected.
Friday- Areas of fog between 8am and 2pm. Patchy freezing fog before 8am. Otherwise, mostly cloudy, with a high near 44. Calm wind.
Saturday- Mostly cloudy, with a high near 48. Southeast wind 6 to 8 mph.
Sunday- Rain likely, mainly after 11am. Snow level 4200 feet rising to 5100 feet in the afternoon. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 50. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.
Monday- Rain. Snow level 4700 feet lowering to 4000 feet in the afternoon . Cloudy, with a high near 46.
Oregon reports 731 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 20 new deaths. Oregon Surpasses 140,000 COVID-19 Cases
The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (4), Benton (8), Clackamas (67), Clatsop (4), Columbia (8), Coos (9), Crook (7), Deschutes (24), Douglas (9), Harney (1), Hood River (5), Jackson (35), Jefferson (7), Josephine (16), Klamath (13), Lake (2), Lane (52), Lincoln (3), Linn (21), Malheur (17), Marion (115), Morrow (5), Multnomah (118), Polk (21), Tillamook (1), Umatilla (30), Union (3), Wasco (2), Washington (106) and Yamhill (18).
Weekly COVID-19 reports
OHA’s COVID-19 Weekly Report, released today, showed sharp declines in daily cases, hospitalizations and deaths over the previous week. OHA reported 4,119 new daily cases during the week of Monday, Jan. 18 through Sunday, Jan. 24, a 48% decrease from the previous week.
There were 229 people hospitalized for COVID-19, a 33% decline from the previous week. COVID-19 deaths also fell dramatically to 74 from last week’s pandemic high of 195.
There were 116,099 tests for COVID-19 for the week of Jan. 17 through Jan. 23. The percentage of positive tests dropped to 5.1%.
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 178 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.
Vaccinations in Oregon
Today, OHA reported that 14,896 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry. Of this total,10,943 doses were administered on Jan. 26 and 3,953 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry on Jan. 26.
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 340,369 first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines. To date, 600,875 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 Health Authority No Longer Reporting Details About Individual Covid-Related Deaths
Eleven months since the first COVID-19 case was reported in Oregon, the state’s health agency says it will no longer share details about individual deaths connected to the virus. The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) announced the change on Wednesday. Prior to Wednesday, OHA had reported basic details about every COVID-19-linked death in the state since the first death was reported on March 14, 2020. Those details included age, which county the person lived in, when they tested positive for the virus, when they died and where they died.
That basic information has given Oregonians insight into who is being most affected by COVID-19. The first day that information wasn’t available was Wednesday, when 20 more deaths were reported.
Instead, OHA is now telling Oregonians to use its public dashboards to review general information and trends about coronavirus-related deaths in the state. OHA director Patrick Allen offered the following explanation in a press release Wednesday.
“Every death from COVID-19 represents a loss, especially for those who knew them best — families, friends and loved ones. That is why we have listed each case. Moving forward, we will share aggregated COVID-19 related deaths on OHA’s public dashboards, which are updated daily. As the death toll from the virus has climbed, validating and reporting each death has had an impact on our daily reporting. We will continue to honor the lives of each person lost to the pandemic, but in a different way. The dashboard will provide additional information on COVID-19 related deaths that have not been accessible in a visual format before — including data on trends, underlying conditions and residence setting. This dashboard offers the public a clearer picture of the collective toll the virus has taken. But it will never detract from the importance of each Oregonian who is no longer with us.”
As of Wednesday, 1,924 Oregonians have died in connection with COVID-19.
Medford’s New Market of Choice Opens
Even with the challenges of a pandemic, Oregon-based supermarket chain Market of Choice is opening its newest location in Medford on Thursday. Market of Choice currently has locations in Ashland, Bend, Corvallis, Eugene, and Portland.
Located in the former, much-overhauled Toys “R” Us building at 1300 Biddle Road, the 31,000 square-foot Market of Choice location will employ roughly 150 people. It will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., with the grand opening scheduled for January 28.
“Having grown up in Medford, this community holds a special place in my family’s heart,” says Market of Choice CEO and owner Rick Wright. “We’re excited to return to Medford and share the thousands of products grown, raised and made here in Oregon. As an independent, family-owned Oregon grocer for more than 40 years, providing local choices is at the core of our mission.”
Medford’s Market of Choice promises to feature an impressive produce selection, scratch-made baked goods and barista counter, specialty cheeses, a beer and wine shop, growler fill station, whole health and bulk items, a full-service meat and seafood department, a gourmet kitchen and deli, floral department and home and gift items.
More than 5,000 of the store’s products are sourced from Oregon, the company says.
“One of the ways we give back is by supporting, mentoring and providing an avenue for Oregon makers to succeed, especially small start-ups that may otherwise have a hard time breaking through and getting their products on store shelves,” says Dave Viefhaus, Medford store manager.
Market of Choice has 11 stores across Oregon, owned by the Wright family.
“You can find your everyday pantry staples, a favorite locally made wine, natural wellness products, a specialty cheese, a decadent dessert and a chef-prepared dinner, all in one shopping trip. It’s truly a one-of-a-kind shopping experience,” says Viefhaus. “Best of all, we’ve assembled an amazing team, and we work hard to create a family environment and help our people succeed.”
Pedestrian Killed in Crash on Williams Hwy
On January 26, 2021 at about 1910 Hours, the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety (GPDPS) Dispatch received numerous 911 calls of a male subject being struck by a vehicle on Williams Hwy near New Hope Rd. Personnel from the GPDPS Police, Fire/Rescue, AMR and Rural Metro Fire responded to the scene. The male subject was located near the “A” lane of the highway and the scene was secured, which involved the closure of Williams Hwy from W. Harbeck to New Hope for over 4 hours.
Lifesaving measures were attempted, but the male was pronounced deceased at the scene. The driver of the vehicle that struck the male subject remained at the scene and cooperated with the investigation. The deceased male is a 20 year-old from New York whose name will not be released at this time, pending next of kin notification.
GPDPS Traffic Team members and Detectives responded to the scene and continued the investigation. At this time it does not appear there was criminal conduct by the driver of the vehicle. Anyone who may have witnessed this event is asked to please call the GPDPS at (541) 450-6260 and reference case # 2021-3965. Grants Pass Dept. of Public Safety
New Covid-19 Treatment at Ashland Asante Hospital
A new treatment option for COVID-19 positive patients is now available at the Asante Ashland Community Hospital.
It’s called Monoclonal Antibody Therapy. It’s designed for people newly diagnosed with covid-19 and those in a high-risk category. The outpatient procedure is given through infusion. It’s goal is to catch COVID early on and aid in faster recovery.
“To be able to give something that I think is really the right thing and seems to have a really good benefit and can be a light at the end of this dark tunnel is just really really heart warming to me,” Dr. Lee Shapley with Asante Ashland Community Hospital. Just approved by the FDA, Asante says it’s one of four health care providers in Oregon offering it.
Thousands of people lost power on Wednesday morning in Josephine and Jackson counties
Pacific Power confirmed approximately 45,756 customers were impacted by the outage between Grants Pass, Gold Hill, Cave Junction, and the surrounding areas. Pacific Power said that it was sending out crews to investigate and make repairs. By roughly 6am, the company’s outage page showed the outage shrinking down to just over 2,000 customers. Some of those customers may have a longer wait time for service to be restored. Spectrum also sent out a message to customers in the area notifying them of a service outage.
AROUND the STATE of OREGON
The state’s online application systems for medical, food, cash and childcare benefits will be unavailable from 5 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 29 until Monday, Feb. 1, at 7 a.m. This downtime is to support an upgrade to the state’s eligibility determination system, known as ONE, to add more benefit options and expand the system to more Oregonians.
Beginning Monday, Feb. 1, residents across the state will be able to use the upgraded ONE system to apply online for medical, food, cash and childcare benefits with a single application. They also will be able to renew their coverage, monitor communications about their benefits and update their case information online.
The project is a joint effort between the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA). Starting Feb. 1, 2021, all Oregonians will have the option to apply for medical, food, cash and childcare benefits over the phone, online or in person at any local Aging and People with Disabilities, Area Agency on Aging or Self-Sufficiency Programs office that provides those benefits.
Oregon ends 2020 with the lowest number of children in foster care in 15 years
Despite the challenges of the global COVID-19 pandemic and historic wildfires, the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS), Child Welfare Division was able to reduce the use of foster care to a historic low, return all children placed at out-of-state residential treatment facilities to Oregon and decrease the use of temporary lodging.
On Jan. 1, 2021 there were 6,144 children in foster care, the lowest number of children in care in 15 years.
“We all know that infants, children, adolescents and young adults do best growing up in a family that can provide love, support, lifelong learning, shared values and important memories,” said Child Welfare Director Rebecca Jones Gaston. “That is why we are committed to doing everything we can to provide the necessary supports to help families safely stay together and decrease the use of unnecessary foster care.”
Key Child Welfare Division data and accomplishments for 2020:
- Decreased the number of children in foster care by 11% compared to 2019.
- Eliminated the usage of out-of-state residential treatment facilities since July.
- Decreased the use of temporary lodging by 66% percent in the last twelve months. (Temporary lodging is the temporary placement of a child in a hotel room because there is not an appropriate placement immediately available. )
- Decreased the average wait times at the Oregon Child Abuse Hotline (ORCAH) by 46 percent from 8.07 minutes in 2019 to 4.33 minutes in 2020.
- Family reunifications in 2020: 1,934
- Adoptions finalized in 2020: 811
- Guardianships finalized in 2020: 355
Oregon Child Welfare Division Vision for Transformation
In 2020, the division began a series of discussions with its workforce, community partners, and Oregon Tribal Nations about what the division can and should do to support and preserve families and ensure that children in Oregon grow up in safe and loving homes.
What grew from these collaborative discussions was the Child Welfare Division Vision for Transformation. The Child Welfare Division Vision for Transformation brings a racial equity and anti-racism lens to every aspect of the work of the division and emphasizes that it will work to prevent maltreatment and the need for foster care, support families, and keep children in their homes whenever possible.
Support and training for foster providers is available statewide
As of Dec. 31, 2020, there were 1,344 foster providers enrolled in KEEP Fostering, a program for Oregon that went statewide in 2020. Available virtually, KEEP Fostering is an evidence-based support and skill enhancement program for foster and kinship parents. It offers culturally specific support for foster providers caring for Tribal children, LGBTQIA+ children, as well as support in Spanish and American Sign Language.
Family First Prevention Services Act in Oregon
Oregon’s Family First Prevention Services prevention plan was submitted to the United States Children’s Bureau for review on Nov. 6, 2020. Learn more about Oregon’s prevention plan here. The prevention plan is the first step toward Oregon’s goal of transforming the child welfare system to one that is prevention-oriented by providing supports and services to family before foster care is necessary.
Fatality Review and Prevention Efforts
The Fatality Prevention and Review Program was created in February 2020 to increase the independence and transparency of child safety and fatality reviews through the Critical Incident Review Team (CIRT) process. In 2020, 88 child fatalities were reported to the division and 34 of those cases met the criteria for a CIRT.
The CIRT conducts reviews into child fatalities when the victim, their siblings or other children living in the household have had previous interactions with the Child Welfare Division within 12 months of the fatality. The CIRT is focused on identifying whether any systemic issues contributed to the fatality and if so, how they can be addressed and corrected to prevent future fatalities. Key safety and prevention initiatives implemented in 2020 included training related to suicide prevention, safe sleep for babies, and how to respond to chronic neglect for child welfare staff. Also, in 2020, the division joined the National Partnership for Child Safety, a collaborative group of leaders and critical incident review teams from 26 jurisdictions across the country with a mission to improve child safety and prevent child maltreatment fatalities.
How to support children and families in Oregon
Support children and families in Oregon by becoming a resource (foster) parent for children in foster care.
The MyNeighbOR program helps meet the essential needs of children, families, and young adults impacted by foster care. Learn how to provide support.
About the ODHS Child Welfare Division
The Oregon Department of Human Services, Child Welfare Division is committed to transforming itself to better support the individual needs of families and to best serve Oregon’s children and young people. Read the Child Welfare Division Vision for Transformation to learn more.
Report child abuse to the Oregon Child Abuse Hotline by calling 1-855-503-SAFE (7233). This toll-free number allows you to report abuse of any child or adult to the Oregon Department of Human Services, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year. Oregon Department of Human Services
Oregon Discloses Virus Outbreak at Columbia Memorial Hospital in Astoria
Columbia Memorial Hospital is tied to 27 coronavirus cases, the state disclosed, among the largest workplace outbreaks in Clatsop County during the pandemic.
The virus cases, disclosed by the Oregon Health Authority in a weekly report on Wednesday, date back to Nov. 27. The most recent cases were reported on Jan. 14.
The health authority discloses outbreaks at businesses with 30 or more workers once five virus cases are reported.
Nancee Long, a spokeswoman for Columbia Memorial, said the hospital is not experiencing an outbreak.
“This number (27) is a cumulative number of caregivers who have become ill due to COVID over almost two months,” Long said in an email. “CMH continues to diligently screen our caregivers and visitors every day, quarantine those who are sick, and wearing the appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment) to reduce the opportunity for illness.
“CMH continues to be very serious about protecting both our community and caregivers always.”
No other information about the virus cases was immediately available. The Astoria hospital is the region’s leading health care provider and one of the largest employers in the county.
The health authority’s weekly report also detailed three recent virus cases at Astoria Middle School as two students and one staffer.
The Astoria School District disclosed the three virus cases during a school board meeting last week. Superintendent Craig Hoppes had declined to say at the time whether the positive cases were staff or students.
Bill Would Make Oregon Landowner Hunting Tag Program Permanent
After 38 years, Oregon wildlife regulators want to make permanent a program that provides hunting tags to landowners who provide habitat for elk, deer and antelope.
The landowner preference program was first implemented in 1982 and has since been modified and extended several times, but the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife now believes it’s time to eliminate its 2022 sunset date.
The agency has asked lawmakers to permanently implement the landowner preference program by passing House Bill 2068, which is supported by organizations representing farmers, ranchers, hunters and timber interests.
“We have a lot of members who rely on landowner preference program. It has been an excellent program for our folks. Farmers and ranchers provide extensive amounts of fish and wildlife habitat across the state,” said Mary Anne Cooper, vice president of public policy for the Oregon Farm Bureau.
The number of controlled hunt tags that the public can draw for big game is limited each year, which highlighted the lack of tags specific to parcels of private property, said Doug Cottam, ODFW’s wildlife division administrator.
“That creates the possibility that landowners who are providing habitat for those animals may not be able to hunt on their own property,” Cottam said. “That’s the reason the landowner preference program was developed in the first place.”
Landowners who don’t hunt can transfer some or all of their preference tags to others, depending on the sex and species of big game, he said.
In the early years of the program, negotiations over how it would work necessitated sunset dates to update the rules, Cottam said. Though ODFW now thinks the program should be made permanent, it can still be revisited during future legislative sessions.
“The program seems to be set up now and working very well,” said Al Elkins, lobbyist for the Oregon Hunters Association.
Tags provide compensation for timberland owners, who sustain about $4 million in replanting costs a year from big game eating seedlings, said Kyle Williams, forest protection director for the Oregon Forest & Industries Council.
A large population of elk in Wallowa County resides primarily on private property and causes substantial damage to cropland and haystacks, said Tom Birkmaier, a rancher in the area testifying for the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association.
The landowner preference program provides ranchers with flexibility, he said.
“It can be used to add revenue for some farms and ranchers,” Birkmaier said. “I trade fence work and other ranch work for these tags.”
Mayor of Ontario, Oregon, decides to sue Ontario, Oregon
Riley Hill, a developer and the mayor of Ontario, has sued the city he leads in an effort to overturn a nuisance finding that resulted in a $500 penalty. The lawsuit filed in Malheur County Circuit Court on Jan. 11 reads a bit like a political soap opera, with the mayor dealing with the city manager and police chief over his private holdings and then facing judgment by a city hearings officer who once ran against him. The suit comes a year after an Ontario city code enforcement officer reported debris and weeds on an Ontario lot owned by Hill’s company, Eldorado Investments Inc., the company now suing the city. The company asks in its suit that the city’s decision to impose a fine be overturned and that the company get back its legal costs and other expenses. The court complaint suggests action against Hill was politically motivated, pushed by two former Ontario city councilors.