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, April 2, 2021
Rogue Valley Weather
Today- Mostly sunny, with a high near 76. Calm wind becoming north northwest around 6 mph in the afternoon.
Saturday- Mostly sunny, with a high near 75. Calm wind becoming north northwest around 6 mph in the afternoon.
Sunday- Mostly sunny, with a high near 67. Calm wind becoming northwest around 5 mph in the afternoon.
Monday- A 30 percent chance of showers, mainly after 11am. Snow level 2800 feet rising to 3600 feet in the afternoon. Partly sunny, with a high near 56.
Tuesday- A slight chance of showers after 11am. Snow level 2700 feet rising to 4700 feet in the afternoon. Mostly sunny, with a high near 63.
Oregon reports 521 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 2 new deaths
There are two new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 2,385. The Oregon Health Authority reported 521 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 165,524.
Additional counties approved for expanding vaccinations
Today, OHA announced that 23 Oregon counties have now submitted attestation letters signaling their intention to immediately offer COVID-19 vaccinations to expanded eligibility groups. The newest counties added are: Baker, Clatsop and Gilliam.
The counties are: Baker, Benton, Coos, Clatsop, Crook, Deschutes, Douglas, Gilliam, Grant, Harney, Jefferson, Josephine, Klamath, Lake, Lane, Lincoln, Malheur, Marion, Morrow, Sherman, Umatilla, Union and Wheeler.
By attesting, these counties can now begin vaccinating all individuals listed in Phase 1B, Group 7, ahead of the previously designated statewide start date of April 5.
Oregon Health Authority will update data source for ‘variant of concern’ dashboard
Since Feb. 3, OHA has been reporting a cumulative count of each variant of concern on its Tableau dashboard. These counts have been based on information reported directly to public health by laboratory partners.
On March 16, CDC reclassified the B.1.427 and B.1.429 variants as “variants of concern”. These variants have been circulating in Oregon since late 2020 and had not been previously reportable. OHA has reviewed historical data in the open-source sequencing data platform GISAID and has identified more than 190 B.1.427 and B.1.429 variants to date in Oregon.
In order to provide a comprehensive picture of variant circulation in Oregon, OHA will begin updating its variant of concern counts using GISAID data. This will allow OHA to rapidly report historical data whenever CDC definitions of variants of concern are updated. The OHA variant of concern dashboard will be updated with GISAID data on April 2, 2021, and will be updated every Wednesday moving forward.
Oregon will continue to ask all laboratory partners to promptly report all variants of concern (B.1.1.7, B.1.351, P.1, B.1.427 and B.1.429) and variants of interest (B.1.525, B.1.526, P.2) to public health in order to inform case investigation and contact tracing.
Vaccination data for counties temporarily unavailable
Vaccination data showing the status of COVID-19 vaccinations at the county level has been temporarily disabled on OHA’s vaccination dashboard. No other data are impacted, and statewide data on race, ethnicity and the age of persons vaccinated are still being updated on the main dashboard showing Oregon’s vaccination trends.
OHA is addressing an issue with its geocoding process, which miscategorized the location of certain vaccinated individuals. The problem has been fixed and solutions are being evaluated to update and correct county designation for impacted individuals.
OHA continually analyzes all its data and performs ongoing data quality checks. At this time, all other data elements are verified.
Vaccination data requests that include county of residence will be delayed at this time. OHA will provide an update on the estimated timeline for release of county-level data in the coming days.
Vaccinations in Oregon
Today, OHA reported that 46,587 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry. Of this total, 29,262 doses were administered on March 31 and 17,325 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry on March 31.
Oregon has now administered a total of 941,850 first and second doses of Pfizer, 867,103 first and second doses of Moderna and 43,075 single doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines.
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).
To date, 1,170,585 doses of Pfizer, 1,098,900 doses of Moderna and 97,300 doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines 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 Questions COVID-19 Vaccination Timeline Amid Concerns Over Johnson and Johnson Vaccine Shipment
After it was announced Wednesday that a manufacturer ruined up to 15 million doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, Oregon’s plan to give every Oregonian 16 and older a COVID-19 vaccine before summer became uncertain, The Oregonian reports.
Two weeks ago, with the expectation that Oregon would be receiving a growing supply of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, Gov. Kate Brown and other officials said they expected the state to partially inoculate every Oregonian by the first week of June.
After the revelations on Wednesday, state officials said the timeline may need to shift.
“It’s hard for me to say, ‘No,’ it won’t affect the timeline,” David Baden, who oversees vaccine forecasts for the Oregon Health Authority, told The Oregonian. “We’ll see now. It’s frustrating.”
State officials said the current timeline would be conditional on increased supply and inoculations using the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. It would require first doses for 3.5 million Oregonians, when so far fewer than 1.2 million have received them.
In order to stay on schedule, 33,000 first doses need to be administered a day, using the two-shot Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech or the single-shot Johnson and Johnson. However, Oregon has topped 33,000 daily doses only seven times since vaccinations started.
Baden said health officials were hoping to see about 28,500 to 35,700 doses administered a day, the equivalent to 200,000 to 250,000 a week.
Although he noted that with the uncertainty about Johnson and Johnson, first dose vaccinations in the following weeks could be half that.
Oregon is still expected to receive more Johnson and Johnson vaccines next week, but Baden said anything beyond next week is unknown.
While the mistake made at the Baltimore manufacturer doesn’t affect existing doses, it could potentially stall future shipments as quality control measures are reevaluated.
Federal officials have said they still expect to meet President Biden’s commitment to provide enough vaccines to immunize every adult by the end of May.
Baden said he doesn’t expect the issues with Johnson and Johnson to majorly impact the next wave of Oregonian’s who are eligible, but it could take longer to find an appointment.
“Less vaccine means less appointments for people to be vaccinated,” he said.
He noted that despite the setback, he does not currently see a scenario where Oregon would change its overarching vaccine eligibility goal for the general population before May 1.
Fatal Traffic Accident in East Medford
On April 1st, 2021 at about 1359 hours, police and medical personnel were dispatched East McAndrews Road and Bonita Avenue for an injury accident. Two off duty nurses arrived on scene prior to any emergency personnel, and began rendering aid to one of the drivers, who had been ejected and suffered severe injuries.
Medical personnel arrived and continued lifesaving efforts with the patent, who was transported to the hospital, where he later died.
The investigation revealed that a 1955 Chevrolet pick-up was traveling westbound on McAndrews Road when, for reasons unknown, crossed into the eastbound lanes. The pick-up clipped a 2020 Nissan Altima and then struck a 2007 Honda CRV head on. Both the Nissan and the Honda were traveling eastbound. The collision ejected the driver of the pick-up.
The 31 year old male driver of the Nissan was not injured. The 79 year old female driver of the Honda sustained non-life threatening injuries and was transported to the hospital.
The Serious Accident Reconstruction Team (STAR), as well as a member of the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office responded to assume the investigation.
The decedent’s identity is not being released at this time, pending notification of next of kin. — Medford Police Dept.
Ashland Receives Grant to Build Urban Campground for Homeless
The City of Ashland is looking ahead to the establishment of an urban campground for the homeless, similar to one currently operating in Medford, after receiving a $300,000 grant from the state of Oregon.
The City said in a statement that it is looking to partner with Rogue Retreat to develop and run an urban campground on the south end of the Rogue Valley. Rogue Retreat has a number of emergency shelter and transitional housing services in Medford and Grants Pass, and currently runs the Medford urban campground.
Ashland’s proposal would include also include Options for Helping Residents of Ashland for a “multi-pronged approach” — offering sheltering opportunities that are considered non-congregate and COVID-safe for both individuals and families. It would include the purchase of ten pre-fabricated pallet shelters, to be placed in a temporary regulated campground.
“The campground will utilize the coordinated entry and HMIS systems to identify and prioritize residents to be welcomed into the camp, as well as referrals from law enforcement and partner organizations, such as Option for Helping Residents of Ashland,” the City said. “Rogue Retreat will oversee the camp and utilize their existing case management model to connect campers to additional community resources and work toward transitioning them to more permanent housing.”
The City said that they have not yet found a location for the future urban campground, but they’ve been working with Rogue Retreat to vet possible locations, with the hope of locking one down in “the next couple of months.” It is expected to open in June.
Ashland received the grant from Oregon Housing and Community Services, sourced from CARES Act funding set aside for funding non-congregate shelter options that would be safer during the pandemic.
AROUND the STATE of OREGON
Department of Revenue Provides More Details About Tax Deadlines
The Department of Revenue today announced more details about tax filing information and postponements for individual tax filers.
The department today issued a Director’s Order that provides similar relief to the IRS. The following is a list of what is and what is not affected:
- Tax filing and payment due dates for individuals have been postponed from April 15, 2021 to May 17, 2021.
- Tax returns for which filing deadlines have been postponed include:
- Form OR-40, OR-40-N, and OR-40-P (Oregon Personal Income Tax Returns)
- Form OR-STI (Oregon Statewide Transit Individual Tax Return)
- Form OR-LTD and OR-TM (Transit Self-Employment Tax Returns)
- Taxpayers who haven’t filed their 2020 income tax returns, but expect to file by the May 17, 2021 deadline, only need to file and pay any tax due with their return by May 17. There’s no need for taxpayers to file any additional forms or contact DOR for this postponement.
- Taxpayers have until May 17, 2021 to contribute to an Individual Retirement Account, Health Savings Account, Archer Medical Savings Account, 529 College Savings Plan account, Achieving a Better Life Experience account, and/or a Coverdell education savings account for tax year 2020.
- Taxpayers unable to file their 2020 Oregon income tax return by May 17, 2021 can request an automatic extension to file their federal income tax return by May 17, 2021. Oregon will honor the federal automatic extension to October 15, 2021. However, an extension to file is not an extension to pay.
- Taxpayers who have filed their 2020 Oregon tax returns and owe unpaid taxes should pay the tax due by May 17, 2021. Otherwise, penalty and interest will begin to be charged after May 17, 2021 for any amount remaining unpaid.
- Oregon has not postponed the first-quarter income tax estimated tax payment due date for 2021. Estimated tax payments are still due April 15, 2021.
- The Director’s Order does postpone to May 17, 2021 the expiration to file a claim for credit or refund of Oregon personal tax, if the period would have expired on April 15, 2021 (for example, filing a claim for refund for tax year 2017).
- The due date for the first-quarter 2021 Oregon Quarterly Statewide Transit Tax Withholding return, Form OR-STT, and payments is not postponed and is still due April 30, 2021.
Most e-file software providers have indicated to DOR that they have the necessary software updates in place. Taxpayers who have not yet filed should check with their tax preparer or software provider if they have questions about the updates. More information about e-filing can be found on the agency’s website.
To get tax forms, check the status of your refund, or make tax payments, visit www.oregon.gov/dor or email email@example.com. You also can call 800-356-4222 toll-free from an Oregon prefix (English or Spanish) or 503-378-4988 in Salem and outside Oregon. For TTY (hearing- or speech-impaired), we accept all relay calls. — Oregon Dept. of Revenue
Funding Reform in Foster Care Helps Shift Focus to Prevention
The Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS), Child Welfare Division Family First Prevention Services plan, also referred to Title IV-E, was approved today by the Federal Children’s Bureau and allows the state to provide more supports and services to children and families before foster care becomes necessary. The Oregon five-year plan outlines how the state will support families in crisis, by offering evidence-based programs for mental health, addiction and recovery, resources for pregnant and parenting teens, and residential treatment requirements.
The plan is aligned with the Child Welfare Division Vision for Transformation, which underscores that families in need of support should be served whole and together, when safely possible.
“We believe our communities are more healthy when families are able to safely stay together.,” said Child Welfare Director Rebecca Jones Gaston. “All children deserve to experience safe, stable, healthy lives and grow up in the care of a loving family and community. This plan offers us a fundamental tool in achieving our vision for transformation of Oregon’s child welfare system.”
The Family First Prevention Services Act was co-sponsored by Senator Ron Wyden and Senator Orrin Hatch and signed into law on February 9, 2018. It is the first major federal modernization of child welfare in 30 years. Oregon’s plan creates the basic operational foundation for the state’s prevention of foster care by allowing cost reimbursement for evidence-based services provided outside of foster care. Oregon is currently increasing its ability to offer these services and intends to amend the state plan as culturally-responsive services are approved by the federal government’s clearinghouse on evidence-based practices.?
“We appreciate the Children’s Bureau’s support of the transformation of Oregon’s Child Welfare System to a child well-being system under Director Jones Gaston’s leadership. We are excited and grateful for this opportunity,” remarked ODHS Director Fariborz Pakseresht.
In 2020, two foundational parts of the Family First Act were implemented in Oregon, the implementation of Oregon’s Kinship Navigator program, which connects relative caregivers for children in foster care with supports, and new regulations for Qualified Residential Treatment Programs (QRTPs), which are residential treatment facilities for children in foster care.
The Family First workgroups have been intentional about including diverse voices since the passage of the act in 2018. The Implementation Team and workgroups, tasked with providing input and feedback on a variety of focal points (e.g., continuous quality improvement, policy and practice, and service array), reflect and include young people formerly in care, families touched by the system, providers, juvenile court, resource (foster) parents, Tribal Nations, and community members, along with cross-agency collaboration with ODHS and Oregon Health Authority staff.
“In order to serve Oregonians in a holistic way, we want all voices and perspectives at the table where we are making programmatic and policy decisions. This makes our plan responsive and an honest reflection of our community needs and wants as we build a stronger system,” expressed Director Jones Gaston.
This is a crucial first step toward Oregon’s goal of transforming to a prevention-oriented system. The initial phase of implementation that this plan describes includes modifications to the current system of service delivery and inclusion of new evidence-based prevention services as part of standard practice. Future steps toward transformation including structural changes to the service delivery system and additional improvement toward a comprehensive prevention service array. As Oregon begins its journey of transformation, the implementation of Family First will be an integral landmark on the road to ending racial disproportionality, utilizing values-based practice and intentional engagement, strengthening communities, serving children and families together in their homes, and utilizing data to improve best practice.
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. — Oregon Department of Human Services
DHS Asks for Help Locating 2 Missing Albany Teens Who Are Believed To Be In Danger
The Oregon Department of Human Services is asking for the public’s help locating two missing teenage boys who are believed to be in danger.
Corban Cory, 14, and Jaxon Palm, 13, who are both in foster care, went missing from the Albany area on Tuesday.
DHS says Cory is suspected to be traveling to Grants Pass, while Palm may be traveling the areas of Toledo and Newport. DHS also says they may be traveling together.
Cory is 5 feet 8 inches tall, 160 pounds, with dark green/hazel eyes, and dark blonde, short hair. He has a bald spot on his head, and often wears beanies and hats.
Palm is 5 feet 5 inches tall, 155 pounds, with bright blue eyes, and red hair. He has freckles on his face and arms.
Anyone with information about Cory or Palm’s whereabouts is asked to call 911 or local law enforcement.
“A small number of children in foster care 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,” according to Oregon DHS.
Oregon DMV Officials Are Urging Anyone Looking To Travel By Air Later This Year To Apply For An Oregon Real ID.
The federally mandated travel document requirement was supposed to go into effect last October, but was delayed a year due to the pandemic.
We’ve got the details on how to get yours, as well as other options that will allow you to get on a plane this fall without hassle.
A year ago, Oregon DMV officials were scrambling to get a new computer system up to handle the influx of applicants for the Oregon Real ID.
Then the pandemic hit, and the October 2020 deadline was extended to Oct. 1, 2021.
“We did successfully implement our new computer system in July of 2020,” said DMV spokesman, David House. “And that new computer included the Real ID option in Oregon.”
House said a regular driver’s license will not get you on a plane through an airport TSA checkpoint after the fall deadline.
But there are other options.
A regular passport book or passport card will work just as well as the Oregon Real ID.
House recommends anyone who needs to have their regular driver’s license renewed before Oct. 1, apply for the Real ID instead.
“Go to Oregon. gov/real ID and find out what you’ll need to bring and then set an appointment at DMV,” he said. “And when you renew, make it a Real ID and use that to fly domestically.”
If your driver’s license is still good for another three or four years, House said look at the passport book and/or the passport card option to fulfill the Real ID requirement.
Be aware that a passport card is only good for domestic flights, not international travel.
House himself used that latter option because his license is good for another six years.
“I felt, well, I’d be better off renewing my passport and then also getting the passport card option with that,” he said. “And I carry that in my wallet — that’s really handy because it’s good for domestic flights and crossing the border into Canada or Mexico.”
Other options other than the Real ID include a military ID card, or a family military ID card, as well as other numerous federal ID options listed on this website.
Forty percent of Oregonians already have passports.
“But for the others, the biggest concern is for people who rarely travel and don’t plan to travel and then one day they get invited to a wedding across the country or, unfortunately, a funeral across the country,” House said.
To get the Oregon Real ID, you’ll need to present proof of citizenship, two proofs of your address in Oregon and you must apply in person, not online.
“We need to take a new photo — that’s part of the requirement — and we need an image that we keep for 10 years; again, that’s part of the federal requirement to qualify for REAL ID,” he said.
House said if you haven’t been to a DMV office in a while, prepare to wear a mask, socially distance and probably wait a bit longer.
Appointments to get the Real ID can be made online.
“People have had — they’ve got cabin fever,” House said. “They want to travel, they want to take that vacation they put off, and we’re all looking forward to the end of the pandemic.”
In addition to domestic travel, the Real ID can also be used to enter secure federal facilities.
Children under 18 do not need to have a Real ID or other documents for domestic flights, but are required to have a passport for international flights.
Another Gun Regulation Bill Is Headed For Legislative Debate And Vote
House Bill 2510, approved Tuesday by the House Health Care Committee, would require the storage of firearms with trigger or cable locks, in a locked container or in a gun room.
An offense is a Class C violation, which carries a maximum fine of $500, unless someone under age 18 obtains access, in which case it is a Class A violation with a maximum fine of $2,000. No jail time is imposed for violations.
The committee vote was 6-4. All Democrats voted for it, and all Republicans against it.
On March 25, the Oregon Senate voted 16-7 to approve a bill making state buildings — including the Capitol — off-limits to firearms carried by concealed-handgun licensees. Senate Bill 554, which went to the House, leaves it up to local governments to decide that question for their own buildings.
Oregon is among the states with no laws regulating gun storage, according to the pro-regulation Giffords Law Center. Laws in California and Washington apply to some aspects of storage.
When the House Health Care Committee heard the gun storage bill March 11, almost 400 pieces of testimony were submitted for and against House Bill 2510. Some people submitted more than one.
“We cannot gun-proof children,” Dr. Benjamin Hoffman, pediatrician at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital at Oregon Health & Science University, testified. “We must child-proof guns.”
Between 1999 and 2019, he said, Oregon averaged 3.5 deaths by firearms per 100,000 people, compared with the national average of 2.3 per 100,000. For youths under 19 during the period, he said Oregon averaged 6.3 deaths per 100,000, compared with the national average of 5 per 100,000.
“Gun violence is one of the leading causes of death for people my age,” Hope Williams, a volunteer with Students Demand Action in Oregon, said in a statement after the vote. “We want to feel safe at home and in our communities and that starts with securely storing firearms to prevent gun violence.”
Students Demand Action, together with Moms Demand Action, constitute Everytown for Gun Safety.
“Even in a pandemic, our communities are continuing to endure gun violence everyday,” Elizabeth Klein, a gun violence survivor and volunteer for the Oregon chapter of Moms Demand Action, said. “And, unintentional shootings and gun suicides have continued to rise over the past year. Secure storage is an effective and easy way to help prevent these tragedies.
But Oregon’s gun-rights advocates staunchly opposed the bill.
“This bill will subject hundreds of thousands of law-abiding citizens with potential criminal and civil liability overnight for actions that are perfectly legal today,” Paul Donheffner, legislative committee chairman for the Oregon Hunters Association, said in testimony to the committee.
Kevin Starrett is director of the Oregon Firearms Federation, which bills itself as a no-compromise group on gun rights. It even disparaged Republican lawmakers working on regulation of firearms sales at gun shows in 1999, a year after the group’s founding. The bill did not pass, but voters approved a related initiative measure in 2000 by a 62% majority.
Starrett had harsher words for lawmakers during his committee testimony.
“Gun owners in Oregon have been remarkably well-behaved,” he said. “But if you keep rewarding criminals and punishing the law-abiding, don’t expect them to stay that way.”
All Watercraft Entering Oregon are Still Required to be Inspected
While the state of Oregon is currently not recommending out-of-state residents visit the state for recreation due to the Governor’s Stay Home Save Lives order all watercraft entering Oregon are still required to be inspected at an aquatic invasive species station when the stations are open.
This includes commercial watercraft, which, will account for most of the inspections while the stay-at-home order remains in effect.
Located throughout Oregon, stations are open if large orange “Boat Inspection Ahead” signs are posted on highways followed by “Inspection Required for All Watercraft.”
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife inspection stations in Ashland and Ontario are open year-round. Seasonal stations open May 12th in Brookings, Klamath Falls, Lakeview and Umatilla. Inspections for aquatic invasive species typically take five to 10 minutes.
ODFW staff working at the stations are taking necessary precautions to protect themselves and others against the spread of COVID-19 by wearing proper protective equipment and maintaining physical distance from others.