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
Wednesday, February 3, 2021
Rogue Valley Weather
Today- Rain and snow showers before 10am, then a chance of rain showers. Snow level 1600 feet rising to 2600 feet in the afternoon. High near 43. Calm wind becoming west around 5 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. Little or no snow accumulation expected.
Thursday- Patchy freezing fog before 10am. Mostly sunny, with a high near 48. Calm wind.
Friday- Mostly sunny, with a high near 48. Calm wind.
Saturday- Mostly sunny, with a high near 50.
Sunday- Mostly sunny, with a high near 51.
Oregon reports 619 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 23 new deaths bringing the state total to 143,978.
The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (2), Benton (16), Clackamas (59), Clatsop (8), Columbia (2), Coos (10), Crook (3), Curry (2), Deschutes (18), Douglas (15), Harney (3), Hood River (7), Jackson (54), Jefferson (5), Josephine (23), Klamath (18), Lake (3), Lane (32), Lincoln (5), Linn (10), Malheur (5), Marion (42), Morrow (1), Multnomah (135), Polk (21), Sherman (3), Tillamook (2), Umatilla (25), Union (9), Wallowa (3), Wasco (4), Washington (64) and Yamhill (10).
Vaccinations in Oregon
Today, OHA reported that 15,967 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry. Of this total, 10,712 doses were administered on Feb. 1 and 5,255 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry on Feb. 1.
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 454,246 first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines. To date, 696,100 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.
State Now Requires Insurers to Cover COVID-19 Vaccinations
The State of Oregon now requires health benefit plans in Oregon to cover costs of vaccination for COVID-19, following an order by state Public Health Director Rachael Banks.
The Jan. 27 determination cites Oregon Revised Statute 743A.264 (2) and (3) in mandating that private health plans operating in Oregon not charge patients for most costs related to providing the vaccine. That includes the cost of all doses of the vaccine and associated supplies, and expenses for administering the shot, such as those related to staff time.
The Oregon Health Plan and Medicare programs do not charge patients for costs of vaccinations.
“We are in the midst of a devastating pandemic that has affected more than 142,000 people in Oregon and claimed almost 2,000 lives,” Banks said. “There should be no financial barrier to getting the vaccine, whether it’s a copay or administrative fee. Even small costs can be a big burden for people with limited resources, particularly considering the economic challenges people have faced for the last year.”
She said she encourages providers to bill patients’ insurance for any vaccination costs and avoid asking or expecting patients to cover vaccine administration costs.
In her order, Banks points to “[t]wo safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines (that) are currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under Emergency Use Authorization.” Both vaccines — one made by Pfizer-BioNTech, the other by Moderna — “are currently available to eligible individuals in Oregon. More COVID-19 vaccines may become available following clinical trials and approval by the FDA.”
Therefore, the order continues, “having determined there exists a disease outbreak and that vaccination is necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the cost of vaccination for COVID-19 shall be covered by insurance …”
Oregonians who have questions about their insurance coverage are encouraged to contact their Coordinated Care Organization, insurance company or agent. If they still have questions or concerns, consumer advocates are available.
- Oregon Health Plan: Call Oregon Health Authority at 800-273-0557 (toll-free).
- Commercial insurance plans: Call the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation at 888-877-4894 (toll-free).
- Medicare: Call 800-633-4227 (toll-free).
Josephine County Jail Reports 30 Person COVID-19 Outbreak
The Josephine County Sheriff’s Office has announced a 30-person COVID-19 outbreak within its jail that includes both inmates and staff. According to a press release from the department, the outbreak was first discovered on after some inmates reported flu-like symptoms.
“Per procedure, the individuals were separated from the general population and tested for COVID-19,” the press release noted. Six of those tests came back positive on Jan 29.
The Public Health Department was notified immediately, and a plan was formulated to test the entire AIC population and staff with BINAX rapid tests. After the inclusive testing process, the jail was notified of nineteen additional positive results.
On February 2, all AIC’s and staff present were tested again with BINAX rapid tests. This testing process resulted in five additional positive results.
At the recommendation of public health officials, all AIC’s and staff will be tested on February 8, 2021, utilizing a PCR test. Once those test results are known, future testing needs will be determined.
“The facility has been placed on modified programs until containment and treatment can be verified to decrease the further chances of exposure,” the press release noted. “The Sheriff’s Office is continuing to work with Public Health officials to ensure health and safety of all AIC’s and staff.”
Jackson County Getting Ready for 2nd Dose Vaccination Event at The Expo
Jackson County is working with Asante, the Oregon National Guard, and Providence to set up a second mass vaccination event at the Expo — but this one will be specifically geared toward those who attended the last event and need to receive their second dose of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine.
This second event is scheduled to be held at the Expo on February 11, 12, and 13 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. It will be open only to those who received their first doses at the Expo at the end of January.
“This event will NOT be open to individuals in Phase 1B, Groups 2-5, the general population, or anyone who is currently eligible and needs to receive their first COVID-19 vaccine,” officials said. “This event is ONLY open to those who need the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine who were vaccinated at the Jackson County Expo on January 21, 22, or 23.”
Attendees will be required to bring their COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card as proof to receive their second dose at the event. Anyone who does not have the card will need to verify their eligibility in another manner.
“Many of you may already have an appointment at Asante or Providence for your second dose,” Jackson County Public Health said in a statement. “Asante and Providence are redirecting all of these appointments to attend the second dose drive-through vaccination event at the Jackson County Expo. You do not need to call Asante or Providence to cancel your appointment. This has already been done for you.”
Eligible members of the community can visit the Asante vaccination event page to reschedule that appointment for a date and time at the Expo.
Attendees will also need to bring the following documentation:
- Vaccine Administration Record
- Patient Billing Information
- COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card
Under Oregon’s current vaccination plan, school staff and childcare workers became eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on January 25. People 80 and older become eligible the week of February 7, followed by progressively younger groups of seniors each week after. However, these plans may be hampered on the local level by the supply of vaccines.
As of Tuesday, local vaccine providers were not yet scheduling appointments for these next groups of Phase 1b.
Grants Pass Robbery
On February 2, 2021, at about 0901 hours, the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety (GPDPS) received a report of a robbery in the parking lot of Umpqua Bank, located at 117 NE F Street.
It was reported the suspect, a white male pushed the victim and stole money from the victim’s hand. The suspect then fled the scene. No one was injured and no weapons were brandished.
GPDPS police officers and other Department personnel responded to the scene and searched for the suspect. Members of the public called in tips, each of which was responded to by officers. The suspect was not located during the initial search. A bank camera captured the suspect on video.
This case is still under investigation.
Anyone who may have witnessed the incident, can identify the suspect, or has information relative to the investigation is encouraged to contact Officer Kasen Perkins of GPDPS at 541-450-6260. Please do not approach the suspect if you observe him; call GPDPS and report his location.
Missing Child Alert — Missing child is believed to be in danger
The Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS), Child Welfare Division, asks the public to help find Shena Horton, age 14, who went missing with Kristopher Zion Kachel from Roseburg, Ore. on Feb. 1, 2021. ODHS is searching for her to assess her safety.
ODHS asks the public for help in the effort to find her and to contact 911 or local law enforcement if they believe they have information about the location of Shena or Kristopher Zion Kachel.
Name: Shena Horton
Date of birth: Dec. 10, 2006
Weight: 120 pounds
Eye color: Brown
Other identifying information: Shena has a slender build and braces
Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Case #21-523
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children #1412445
Anyone who suspects they have information about the location of Shena or Kristopher Zion Kachel’s location should call 911 or local law enforcement.
A small number of children and young adults may be in significant danger when they run away or have gone missing. As ODHS works to do everything it can to find these missing children and ensure their safety, media alerts will be issued in some circumstances when it is determined necessary. Sometimes, in these situations, a child may go missing repeatedly, resulting in more than one media alert for the same child.
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.
AROUND the STATE of OREGON
Salem Family Die of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning from Propane Heater
Carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected in the deaths of a father and daughter near Salem on Monday according to the Marion County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies responded to a property in the 5700 block of State Street after two people were found not breathing inside a fifth-wheel trailer. The 911 caller reported they went to the location after not hearing from the people since Saturday.
Deputies, along with crews from Marion County Fire District #1, arrived to the scene and both people inside the trailer were pronounced dead.
Following an investigation by the Criminal Investigations Unit, detectives believe the two people died due to carbon monoxide poisoning from a propane heater being used inside the trailer. The sheriff’s office identified the victims as Richard Yaple, 50, and his daughter, Hannah Yaple, 17. A dog and a cat were also found dead inside the trailer, according to the sheriff’s office.
To help prevent accidental deaths due to carbon monoxide poisoning, the sheriff’s office shared to following safety tips:
- Choose a propane heater that’s the right size for your room or space, and carries the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) label.
- Your indoor propane heater should have features such as a low oxygen sensor, high-temperature coated safety guard on the front, overheat protection and automatic shut-off if it tips over.
- Carefully read manufacturer’s instructions before using your propane indoor space heater.
- Make sure your propane indoor space heater is installed on a non-combustible surface away from where people walk and that it is positioned safely away from combustible materials such as furniture, curtains, doors, bedding and towels. If you use a wall-mounted room heater, make sure your wall material is non-combustible.
- Never place anything on top of an indoor propane space heater.
- Install carbon monoxide detectors in your home, or the space where you use your indoor propane space heater.
- Never leave an indoor propane heater unattended. Turn the heater off when you leave the room. And make sure your propane indoor space heater is turned off before you go to bed.
- If your propane indoor heater has a yellow or orange flame instead of a blue one, stop using it immediately because it is not burning properly.
- Use your vacuum cleaner’s hose attachment to carefully vacuum up any dust on the outside of the propane indoor space heater and on the grills.
- Never spray air fresheners, deodorants, aerosol spray cleaners or hair spray near an indoor propane space heater.
- Have your vented propane indoor space heater inspected annually.
- Make sure pathways to all of a space’s exits are clear when you’re using your indoor propane space heater.
Dog Rescued from Ledge of 300-foot Cliff Near Coos Bay
The dramatic rescued played out Friday at Golden & Silver Falls outside Coos Bay. Molly fell from a cliff , but landed on a tiny ledge. There is no cell service in the area, so a hiker left the Molly’s owner at the scene and ran a mile down the hill to drive back into cell range and call for help.
Firefighters and deputies responded to the scene. A firefighter rappelled the face of a 300-foot cliff to reach a black lab trapped on a small ledge 30 feet from the top. The rescuer put the dog in a K9 harness – and everyone back at the top pulled in unison to bring Molly the dog back to her owner as darkness fell.
“After hiking to the location it was determined a member of the Millington Fire Department would need to rappel down the clif, place ‘Molly’ in the K9 harness, and then both would be pulled back up the clif in unison,” the Coos County Sheriff’s K9 team recounted on Facebook, “all while having only minutes until darkness.”
They did it – “with the help of literally everyone on scene.”
State Offers Help for Oregonians with Wildfire-Affected Domestic Wells
Vouchers for free well testing available to eligible property owners, well users
PORTLAND, Ore. — Well users in Oregon whose properties were affected by wildfires can get help paying for water testing so they can stay safe from contaminants in their drinking water.
In October, the Oregon Legislature allocated funds to Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to support domestic well water testing for an estimated 2,000 households that rely on wells for drinking water and were affected by the 2020 wildfires. If demand exceeds supply, people with low income and communities of color will be prioritized.
Well users can find steps needed to access the funds at healthoregon.org/wells. Well owners will find guidance about how to first assess damage, then take actions to protect their wells, and finally test their well water to confirm it is safe to drink.
Curtis Cude, manager of the OHA’s Domestic Well Safety Program, urges well owners to “follow recommendations in the well damage assessment. Make sure you know what work you are authorized to do and when you need to hire a licensed professional.” Actions may include:
- Repair and replace damaged well components.
- Re-pressurize and refill the well.
- Flush water lines.
- Treat the well for microbial contaminants.
- Test (apply for free testing).
OHA will provide testing vouchers to well owners now through May 15, 2021. Well owners can select from a list of approved environmental laboratories in Oregon that will honor the vouchers for testing services. The tests will look for presence of bacteria, nitrates, arsenic, lead and chemicals that are hazardous byproducts of fire.
Applications can be found at healthoregon.org/wells
Online Girl Scout Cookie Ordering Now Available | With the Girl Scout Cookie Finder, customers can purchase cookies online from local troops–a safe, contact-free alternative to traditional booth sales
PORTLAND, OR For the first time ever, consumers who don’t know a Girl Scout can now purchase Girl Scout Cookies online from a local troop for direct shipment to their door. Online ordering through the Girl Scout Cookie Finder officially opened February 1, offering a contact-free method that supports local girls while keeping safety and skill-building top of mind. Online ordering will be available through March 14, 2021.
Pandemic conditions in Oregon and Washington mean that customers won’t see the traditional Girl Scout Cookie booths they look forward to this year, but that doesn’t mean they can’t get their hands on the Thin Mints®, Samoas® and Tagalongs® they love. With the Girl Scout Cookie Finder—used in past years to locate a nearby cookie booth—customers can enter their ZIP code to find a local troop to purchase from through the Digital Cookie platform for direct shipment to their homes or donation to local organizations such as Meals on Wheels People. Though social distancing measures may keep families and friends apart, cookie customers can share joy and stay connected this season through a gift-box option that ships directly to others via the Digital Cookie platform.
Despite challenges this year, Girl Scouts throughout the region are showing resilience and creativity as they embrace their entrepreneurial spirits. From distributing thousands of door hangers in their neighborhoods, to virtual cookie booths and community presentations via video conferencing, to vehicle displays and more, girls are thinking outside the cookie box as they stay connected, learn and have fun through the cookie program. 100% of the proceeds from the Girl Scout Cookie Program stay local with the troop and Girl Scouts of Oregon and Southwest Washington to power essential leadership programming and meaningful community impact.
Other Ways to Safely Purchase Girl Scout Cookies This Season
In addition to the Girl Scout Cookie Finder, customers who know a Girl Scout are encouraged to reach out to her to find out how she’s selling cookies in ways that meet local and state safety protocols. And starting February 19, customers can visit www.grubhub.com/food/girl_scouts to order via contact-free delivery from Grubhub in select areas including Portland, Eugene and Medford. Availability may vary based on location.
About the Girl Scout Cookie Program
A little more than a century ago, Girl Scouts began participating in what would evolve into the largest girl-led entrepreneurial program in the world: the Girl Scout Cookie Program. The program helps girls fund life-changing experiences and learning for themselves and their troops all year long, while gaining valuable life skills like goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills and business ethics. To learn more about the history of the Girl Scout Cookie Program, visit girlscouts.org.
About Girl Scouts of Oregon and Southwest Washington
In partnership with more than 6,500 adult members, Girl Scouts of Oregon and Southwest Washington prepares more than 11,500 girls in grades K-12 for a lifetime of leadership, adventure and success. GSOSW’s programs in civic engagement, financial literacy, the outdoors and STEM serve girls in 35 counties in Oregon, and Clark, Klickitat and Skamania counties in Southwest Washington. The Girl Scout mission is to build girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place. For more information, please visit girlscoutsosw.org.
Oregon Bill Would Establish Homeless Guidelines
A bill in the Oregon Legislature would outline how the state’s local leaders should deal with the homeless.
The measure, put forward by House Speaker Tina Kotek, would establish a standard for regulating homeless camping.
Local leaders could adopt policies that are “objectively reasonable.” What that means is up to interpretation. But supporters say cities would be able to restrict some camping but not all.
Federal courts have ruled outright bans are unconstitutional, so the new bill could help cities steer clear of lawsuits.
Temporary Homeless Shelter Opens at State Fairgrounds in Salem
A temporary homeless shelter opened this week at the Oregon State Fairgrounds in Salem.
The Pavilion at the fairgrounds can house 100 people and has been largely unused after the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancelation of events. An undetermined number of people also will be able to use the adjacent parking lot as a safe vehicle camping spot.
The temporary shelter is funded in part by the city of Salem, which allocated $733,000 in November for homeless shelters, and the Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action Agency. The shelter will have five staff members operating the shelter 24/7, and security will be provided.