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, February 4, 2021
Rogue Valley Weather
Today- Patchy freezing fog before 10am. Sunny, with a high near 47. Calm wind.
Friday- Patchy freezing fog before 10am. Mostly sunny, with a high near 49. Calm wind.
Saturday- Areas of fog before 10am. Otherwise, mostly sunny, with a high near 51. Light and variable wind.
Sunday- Partly sunny, with a high near 47.
Monday- Partly sunny, with a high near 45.
Oregon reports 649 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases and 10 new deaths
The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (5), Benton (32), Clackamas (40), Clatsop (5), Columbia (1), Coos (16), Crook (7), Curry (1), Deschutes (20), Douglas (19), Harney (4), Hood River (1), Jackson (41), Jefferson (7), Josephine (22), Klamath (4), Lake (2), Lane (91), Lincoln (8), Linn (21), Malheur (5), Marion (66), Morrow (1), Multnomah (57), Polk (26), Umatilla (31), Union (7), Wallowa (3), Wasco (4), Washington (62) and Yamhill (40).
Weekly COVID-19 cases increase
The Oregon Health Authority’s COVID-19 Weekly Data Report, released today, shows an increase in daily cases, hospitalizations and deaths over the previous week.
OHA reported 4,786 new daily cases during the week of Monday, Jan. 25 through Sunday, Jan. 31, a 16% increase from the previous week.
COVID-19 related hospitalizations also increased from 229 to 251 — an average of 36 hospitalizations per day. That represents a 14% increase from the previous week.
COVID-19 related deaths increased as well, but only slightly, from 74 to 76.
There were 119,390 COVID-19 tests administered for the week of Jan. 24 through Jan. 30, which is slightly more than the previous week. The percentage of positive tests increased to 5.4%.
People age 20 to 49 have accounted for 52% of COVID-19 cases, while people 70 and older have accounted for 77% of deaths associated with the virus.
Starting with this week’s report, OHA will be releasing age-adjusted rate ratios of cases, hospitalizations and deaths by race and ethnicity in the COVID-19 Weekly Report. Age-adjustment is a method to quantify disparities among different racial and ethnic groups.
Disparities among age-adjusted rates are evident when looking at the Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian, Latinx, Black and American Indian/Alaska Native groups.
Today’s COVID-19 Weekly Outbreak Report shows 139 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 17,720 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry. Of this total, 12,173 doses were administered on Feb. 2 and 5,547 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry on Feb. 2.
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 471,966 first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines. To date, 706,575 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.
Vaccines spread thin as Oregon readies for senior groups People 80 and up will become eligible for the vaccine starting February 8
Oregon is days away from starting to vaccinate seniors but many who are eligible likely won’t get their first shot right away due to supply shortages.
People 80 and older will become eligible starting Monday. This group includes about 168,000 Oregonians and would take an estimated three weeks to complete.
But the state expects to receive only about 66,000 first doses of the vaccine next week and tens of thousands of doses still need to be given to healthcare workers and educators, especially in the Portland metro area. The Oregon Health Authority recently pulled vaccine shipments headed to some counties that had already finished with Phase 1A and educators and redirected them to the metro area.
More than 100,000 educators became eligible for their shot on Jan. 25 — roughly half of those doses are ready, according to OHA. A little more than 60,000 doses have been allocated and will be administered by the end of the week. OHA said the current pace is on track to have a critical mass of educators vaccinated by mid-Febuary.
People 65 and up — roughly 750,000 Oregonians — will be eligible to get the shot by the end of February.
The Oregon Health Authority said it is aiming to vaccinate 70% of each group before moving on to the next population of lower ages.
The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 266, which is four more than yesterday. There are 63 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is two more than yesterday.
The total number of patients in hospital beds may fluctuate between report times. The numbers do not reflect admissions per day, nor the length of hospital stay. Staffing limitations are not captured in this data and may further limit bed capacity.
COVID-19 variant tracking
Starting today, OHA will report on the number of people in Oregon with confirmed variant strains of the virus that causes COVID-19 on Oregon’s COVID-19 Update dashboard. New variant cases will be reported via this dashboard Monday through Friday.
New SARS-CoV-2 variants have been documented in the United States and globally during this pandemic, and information about the characteristics of these variants is rapidly emerging.
Viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur over time. Most variants do not change how the virus behaves and many disappear.
OHA continues to monitor variants that are being identified and will provide updates.
Project Turnkey to Deliver Immediate Shelter and Permanent Housing for 1,000 Oregonians –
Project Turnkey Milestone Announcement (Virtual Press Conference)
When: Thursday, February 4, 2021 | 11:30-12:00 p.m. Pacific Time
Where: Virtual Press Conference via Zoom
Register in advance for this virtual press event:
Southern Oregon Represented by:
Megan Loeb, Program Officer, Oregon Community Foundation, Oregon State Representative Pam Marsh, District 5 – Southern Jackson County, Michelle Arellano, Executive Director, Options for Helping Residents of Ashland (OHRA) joined by Cass Sinclair, Senior Director of Program Services and Diane de Ryss, Board President
Project Turnkey represents a one-time opportunity to address two housing needs with one investment. The State of Oregon approved $65M in general funds to purchase motels in locations throughout state – facilities that can support at-risk Oregonians without housing and those displaced by Labor Day fires, with the ability to quarantine and shelter, especially in the face of impending winter months. In the long term, these facilities can be converted to transitional or permanent supportive housing units. The strategy addresses changing housing needs throughout the COVID pandemic and cold winter months, during recovery and beyond.
Amidst a housing crisis exacerbated by COVID-19 and devastating wildfires, a collaborative public/private partnership leverages a one-time opportunity to address two housing needs with one investment.
“Project Turnkey,” funded with a $65 million allocation from the state of Oregon’s Emergency Board, will support the acquisition of 18-20 motels for about 1,000 units of shelter. The units will serve as shelter that meets social distancing guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic.
OCF will be managing and deploying grants in two waves: $30 million to fire-impacted communities and $35 million to communities throughout the state with expressed need for safely-distanced shelter for people experiencing homelessness. Community-based organizations will apply for funding from OCF to acquire motels or hotels and operate the shelters. Long term, properties will convert to meet future housing needs of the community, addressing the gap in transitional and affordable housing.
AN UNPRECEDENTED NEED FOR HOUSING
Oregon’s housing issues were already at crisis before the pandemic and wildfires hit. Pre-pandemic, tens of thousands of Oregonians were experiencing homelessness — the same communities who are experiencing devastating impacts from the pandemic.
The last few months of cascading crises have exacerbated widespread, acute and disproportionate challenges in communities – particularly for Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) and rural Oregonian communities: food insecurity, job losses, small business failures, children struggling to learn.
Safe and supportive shelter is needed for people displaced by wildfires, by those experiencing homelessness, and for agricultural farmworkers who are vulnerable to COVID-19. Most winter shelters in Oregon operate under a shared sleeping space model that is not possible during the pandemic.
Communities around Oregon are scrambling to identify solutions — from leasing motels to pop-up villages to sanctioned campsites.
New analysis projects a 45% increase in homelessness by December, a catastrophic level that will further exacerbate health and economic woes. Oregon is not prepared to meet this level of demand.
Primary Media Contact :Maureen Kenney, Public Relations Manager, Oregon Community Foundation (OCF)
(503) 227-5969 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Almeda Fire Clean Up Enters 2nd Phase
-Bear Creek Estates Mobile Home is the first park to receive ash debris removal. Eight crews are working on the mobile home estate, in Tier One, debris removal is its main priority.
John Vial, Director of Jackson county Emergency Operations says that it started slow, but progress is moving along rapidly.
According to The Oregon Department of Transportation, the debris removal process could take 6 to 18 months, but Vial says there continues to be an increase in crews working in the sites which could speed up the process.
“As of Monday morning, they had 70 of the 210 sites cleared, all 140 remaining sites have been authorized to clear and they’re expecting that we’ll probably be complete next week. So, kinda started off a little slow, but the progress is picking up rapidly now. And hopefully they’ll complete this park next week. They will be able to start mobilizing into Mountain View in Talent, and then it will start branching off into other areas as well,” said Vial.
Property owners are able to get this service for free, right of entry forms are required to be filled out, and this will allow for the property to be cleaned up from ash debris.
Sex Offense Arrest in Grants Pass
On January 29, 2021, officers with the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety (GPDPS) received a report of a sex offense involving the 60-year-old suspect, Jay Reese, and a 17-year-old female victim. The juvenile reported she met Reese at Wal-Mart on January 28, 2021. From there, Reese took the victim to lunch and then to his residence. The juvenile stayed with Reese overnight and, during that time, Reese is alleged to have subjected the victim to sexual contact without her consent.
On February 2, 2021, at 12:45 pm, GPDPS detectives arrested Reese and lodged him at the Josephine County Jail on the listed charges. This case is still under investigation and additional charges may be pending.
Due to the nature of this case, there is concern there may be other victims. Over the past several years, Reese has been associated with various school district sports programs in Oregon and Northern California. If anyone has any information about this or a similar case, please contact Det Heather Yerrick at 541-450-6260, case #21-4447.
AROUND the STATE of OREGON
Federal Judge Orders Oregon to Begin Vaccinating Prisoners
Oregon will begin vaccinating its inmate populations against COVID-19 after a federal judge ruled Tuesday that the state’s prison population should be prioritized.
The ruling bumps up prisoners into phase 1a, group 2 of the vaccine rollout, giving them the same priority access as those living in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Previously, only correctional facility employees were included in this category, according to the Oregon Health Authority.
“Our constitutional rights are not suspended during a crisis,” Stacie Beckerman, a federal magistrate judge, wrote in her Tuesday opinion, The New York Times reported. “On the contrary, during difficult times we must remain the most vigilant to protect the constitutional rights of the powerless. Even when faced with limited resources, the state must fulfill its duty of protecting those in custody.”
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) said she will not fight the order.
“The court’s decision is clear, and the state has decided not to appeal,” Charles Boyle, a spokesman for the governor’s office, told The Hill on Wednesday.
Boyle noted that the majority of inmates fell into phase 1b before the court order.
Select Oregon Pharmacies Will Receive Vaccines Starting Next Week
Select Oregon pharmacies will begin offering COVID-19 vaccines to eligible Oregonians next week under a new distribution program.
The federal government will ship approximately 1 million vaccine doses directly to 6,500 pharmacies across the country as it launches the first phase of the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, White House officials announced Tuesday. Pharmacies can begin vaccinations at no cost as soon as Feb. 11, officials said.
The White House is working with 21 national pharmacy partners and networks of independent pharmacies representing over 40,000 pharmacy locations nationwide, although not all partner pharmacies will receive doses during the program’s first phase.
Oregon’s share of doses will go to Costco, Health Mart Pharmacies and Albertsons Companies, which includes both Albertsons and Safeway stores. Until now, most vaccines have been administered at hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and special vaccination sites such as the Oregon Convention Center.
It’s not clear how many doses Oregon will receive next week or consistently. The Oregon Health Authority did not respond to requests for information Tuesday or Wednesday.
But Jill McGinnis, a spokesman for Albertsons, said that the company anticipates approximately 11,500 doses will be shipped to 115 Albertsons and Safeway pharmacies across Oregon next week, with roughly 100 doses going to each location. She said the number of vaccine doses that the corporation receives could change.
Oregonians currently eligible to receive vaccines under state guidelines will be able to sign up for appointments online through the company once it has the vaccines, McGinnis said.
Healthcare workers, people living in nursing homes and other congregate care settings, childcare providers and teachers are currently eligible to receive vaccines in Oregon. Elderly Oregonians will begin to become eligible to receive vaccines next week, with those over 80 eligible as of Feb. 8, according to guidance from the Oregon Health Authority.
Albertsons and Safeway posted information on vaccine availability and signups online at www.albertsons.com/COVID-19 and www.safeway.com/COVID-19. Appointment slots are not yet available because the company doesn’t have its vaccine allocation yet.
“Demand is high and appointments are often claimed very quickly, and we ask the public to remain patient,” McGinnis said. “As dose allocations increase, so too will the opportunity to secure an appointment. The company is kindly asking the public to please check the website first for the most up-to-date information, before calling your local store or pharmacy.”
A spokesman for Health Mart Pharmacies said 10 of its roughly 25 pharmacies in Oregon will receive doses next week, but it is not yet clear how many vaccine doses each pharmacy will receive.
Costco declined to comment on their plans. There are 13 Costco stores across Oregon.
The White House said it chose pharmacies to receive the initial doses based on several factors, including their ability to reach populations most at risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
Jeff Zients, the White House’s COVID-19 response coordinator, told reporters Tuesday that the federal government viewed the first few weeks of the retail pharmacy program as a trial run. He said it could be scaled up over time, with doses eventually being shipped to roughly 40,000 pharmacies nationwide.
Lawsuit Settled over Oregon Unemployment Claims
The Oregon Employment Department is settling a class-action lawsuit related to the slow processing of unemployment claims last year. As part of its settlement, the agency is committing to meet certain timeliness standards for processing claims.
It also said the department would work through a list of nearly 9,000 claims in a review process known as adjudication within a month. The employment department said it would also help people who couldn’t apply for benefits last year because of language barriers.
Along Came Trudy Restaurant In Springfield Facing A Large Fine For COVID-19 Violations..
Oregon Occupational Safety and Health issued a fine of $9,215, following many weeks of the business remaining open against statewide rules. Multiple complaints about Along Came Trudy were reportedly made to the agency.
State officials say the fine was issued following an inspection that opened on Dec. 21, finding two violations. By allowing indoor dining, OSHA said the restaurant willfully disregarded the ban on indoor dining in extreme risk areas like Lane County. The second violation regards a failure to make sure customers inside the restaurant wear a face covering.
OSHA said armed people outside the business threatened regulatory agencies and their staff members.
“It is our expectation that employers comply with public health measures that we know are effective at decreasing the risks to workers and reducing the spread of this disease. And we have been able to resolve most concerns about COVID-19 and the workplace constructively and without formal enforcement visits,” said Michael Wood, administrator for Oregon OSHA. “However, as this case demonstrates, we will continue to carry out enforcement actions where appropriate and particularly where employers knowingly disregard standards.”
Employers have 30 days to appeal citations.
Nike announced it is leaving its 280,000-square-foot office space in Sunset Corridor at the Tektronix campus.
According to a report the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has led to a rapid decline in demand for office space not seen in past recessions. Much of their staff is working from home.
Nike — the largest private company based in Oregon — moved out of two offices, an 84,000-square-foot space and a 195,000-square-foot space.
About 15% of Portland-area office space are currently vacant according to real estate agents in the Portland area.
Reports say the vacancies are expected to continue to rise with the current pandemic situation.
Oregon State University announced plans to build a $70 million arts and education complex on Friday by the board of trustees.
The 49,000-square-foot building will be constructed at the corner of Southwest Washington Way and Southwest 15th Street next to the administration building. The university said half of the money came from an anonymous donor and philanthropic gifts. The other half came from state bonds.
The building will have classrooms, study spaces, offices, a 500-seat orchestra hall, and a 200-seat black box theater. Larry Rodgers, the dean for the College of Liberal Arts, said this is the first time students at Oregon State will have a designated building for the arts.
“I’m most looking forward to walking into the building, not when there’s about to be a performance, but in the middle of the day when we have students studying there,” Rodgers said. “We might have other OSU students working on a set for a play, we might have yellow school buses outside with a group of sixth graders who arrived on the OSU campus to spend the day interacting with one of our terrific music faculty members.”
The building’s construction is set to begin this summer with a plan to have it completed by the 2022-2023 academic year.
Update: Missing Roseburg Teen Located, Non-Custodial Mother Arrested
ROSEBURG, Ore. – Douglas County Sheriff’s Office deputies have located 14 year-old Shena Horton.
Deputies were able to locate Horton at approximately 11:40 PM on Tuesday, February 2, 2021, at a residence in the Green District in the company of her biological non-custodial mother.
Detectives interviewed Horton and determined she had been with her biological non-custodial mother since she left her residence.
Deputies arrested Gloria Shannon Kicinski for Custodial Interference in the Second Degree. Kicinski was transported to the Douglas County Jail where she was lodged.
The Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the public for their assistance in locating Horton.
2 Wolves Killed in Suspected Poaching near Oregon Border
The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is looking for information after two wolves were reportedly poached near the Oregon border, according to a news release.
The agency said Wednesday that it received reports of two dead wolves northwest of Cambridge on Jan. 30. Conservation Officer Mark Sands found the wolves just off Idaho 71 within the boundaries of the Cecil D. Andrus Wildlife Management Area. Cambridge is about 20 miles east of the Oregon border and 30 miles northeast of Weiser.
One wolf’s body was “heavily scavenged,” but the other’s, which had fallen down a hillside into Brownlee Creek, was intact. The intact wolf had been wearing a radio collar and was shot with a small-caliber rifle, Fish and Game said.
While wolf hunting is legal in Idaho and the season is currently open, hunters are required to present the skull and hide of any wolves they hunt or trap to Fish and Game to be recorded.
The incident is the latest in a series of poaching cases in Idaho in recent months, including two other predator poaching cases in which poachers illegally killed protected grizzly bears in eastern Idaho. Also on Wednesday, Fish and Game announced it had connected two Boise State University students to a waterfowl poaching incident reported last week in Garden City.
Anyone with information on the wolf poaching can contact Citizens Against Poaching at 1-800-632-5999 or online at idfg.idaho.gov/poacher. People can also call the Fish and Game Nampa office at 208-465-8465.
Fatal Crash on Hwy 6 in Washington County
On Wednesday, February 3, 2021 at approximately 8:30 A.M., Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a two vehicle collision on Hwy 6 near milepost 37.
Preliminary investigation revealed a Ford F150, operated by Jerry Jefferies (73) of Tillamook, was westbound when it lost control on icy roads, crossed into the eastbound lane, and collided with a Peterbuilt log truck operated by Jacob Douglas (61) of Tillamook.
Jefferies sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased. Douglas was not injured.
OSP was assisted by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Banks Fire Department, TVF&R, and ODOT
Fatal Crash on Hwy 99E – Marion County
On Wednesday, February 3, 2021 at approximately 8:09 P.M., Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a two vehicle crash on Hwy 99E near Boones Ferry Rd.
Preliminary Investigation revealed a Ford Fusion, operated by Jordan Chandler (26) of Salem, was southbound when it drove into the northbound lane and collided with a Cherriots mini bus operated by Rachel Bunting (51) of Salem.
Bunting was transported to the Salem Hospital where she was pronounced deceased.
There were three passengers on the bus all transported to the Salem Hospital:
- Phillip Splawn (34) of Woodburn
- Chelsea Arredondo (30) of Woodburn
- German Gomez Paz (45) of Woodburn.
Chandler sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased.
Passenger in the Ford, Brooke Fisher (21) of Salem, was transported to Emmanuel Hospital in Portland.
OSP was assisted by Woodburn Fire Department, EMS, and ODOT.