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
Monday, April 12, 2021
Rogue Valley Weather
Today- Sunny, with a high near 74. Calm wind becoming north northwest around 6 mph in the afternoon.
Tuesday- Sunny, with a high near 70. Light and variable wind becoming north northwest 5 to 10 mph in the afternoon.
Wednesday- Sunny, with a high near 70. Light and variable wind.
Thursday- Sunny, with a high near 73.
Friday- Sunny, with a high near 77.
Oregon reports 499 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 0 new deaths
There are no new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, the state’s death toll remains at 2,440. The Oregon Health Authority reported 499 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 170,568.
The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (1), Benton (6), Clackamas (72), Clatsop (1), Columbia (9), Coos (6), Crook (3), Deschutes (35), Douglas (6), Grant (7), Jackson (22), Jefferson (8), Josephine (9), Klamath (35), Lane (46), Lincoln (7), Linn (11), Malheur (1), Marion (47), Morrow (1), Multnomah (99), Polk (11), Tillamook (2), Union (1), Wallowa (1), Washington (43) and Yamhill (9).
On Saturday the Oregon Health Authority reported its largest amount of new daily cases of coronavirus since February 5, with 761 new cases of the virus. The last time that Oregon experienced more than 700 cases of the virus was more than two months ago, when health officials reported 846 new and presumptive cases of the virus. Over the last few weeks, Oregon has experienced a rise in new coronavirus cases, as more and more variants of the virus continue to be discovered throughout the country and the state.
Recently the Oregon Health Authority stated that it has identified 168 ‘Breakthrough’ cases of Covid-19, meaning that someone still got infected with the virus after 14 days or more of being fully vaccinated. That’s a very small percentage of the more than 700 thousand Oregonians who are fully vaccinated. But OHA says this should serve as a reminder that even though you can be fully vaccinated, no vaccine is 100 percent effective.
27 cases have been found in Region Two which includes Lane, Douglas, Curry and Coos Counties. Most of these people that caught the virus were a-symptomatic, but three people have died. OHA says that those three deaths represent 2 percent of the vaccine ‘Breakthrough’ cases. Even though new Covid-19 cases are on the rise, deaths from the virus remain relatively low in Oregon as health officials reported no new deaths on Saturday.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, 170,085 Oregonians have been infected with coronavirus while 2,440 deaths have been attributed to the virus in the state of Oregon.
Southern Oregon Has Surpassed 115,000 Covid-19 Vaccinations
On Sunday, southern Oregon counties including Jackson, Josephine, Klamath, Lake and Curry counties eclipsed 115,000 total Covid-19 vaccinations.
In Jackson County, one in four residents have now received at least one shot of a coronavirus vaccine, that’s about 62,293 people. According to data from the Oregon Health Authority, more than half of those 62,000 people, about 39,000, are also fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.
In Josephine County, more than 24,000 people have been vaccinated against coronavirus. Almost 9,000 people have recieved one shot of a Covid-19 vaccine while the other 15,000 people are fully protected against the virus.
Klamath County is up next with the third most vaccinations in southern Oregon with more than 19,000 people vaccinated.
Curry County has vaccinated 7,646 people and finally Lake County has vaccinated a little more than 2,000 people.
For the last several weeks southern Oregon counties combined have been increasing vaccinations by between 10,000 to 15,000 people by the end of each week.
Also according to data from OHA, more women have decided to get a vaccine shot than that of men in all southern Oregon counties. Right now the numbers show that more than 66,000 thousand woman have rolled up their sleeves to get a Covid-19 shot, while only 48,000 men have decided to do the same.
Oregon’s Shipment Of Johnson & Johnson COVID Vaccine Doses Slashed By 88% This Week
Problems in producing Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose coronavirus vaccine will result in an 88% reduction in the amount sent to Oregon this week, similar to the blow dealt to all 49 other states.
Oregon last week received a record 61,400 doses, but this week the federal government will ship only 7,300 doses, according to figures provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The outlook is even worse as April proceeds, with Oregon’s top state public health official expecting just 2,000 doses next week.
Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen told state legislators the shortages of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine could exacerbate struggles in rural Oregon to get all people 16 and older vaccinated. Allen said lagging inoculation rates in some rural counties is due to people who’ve decided against vaccination. But others, he said, are holding out until the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is available.
Medical experts say the vaccine has proven to be the go-to option among people who dislike needles or want to make only one trip to a vaccination clinic, because it only requires one jab rather two like with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Some people who’ve received Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine have posted giddy and celebratory Tweets under the popular hashtag #OneandDone.
Gov. Kate Brown received a Johnson & Johnson dose in early March.
The one-dose vaccine also has been a valuable resource for states eager to immunize hard-to-reach or mobile populations, such as individuals who are homeless, jail inmates, migrant workers or college students.
Overall, the hit to Oregon’s Johnson & Johnson allocation will result in an overall 20% reduction in total vaccines received — from 258,190 last week to 205,830 this week — because shipments of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are staying relatively consistent and Johnson & Johnson allocations have been comparatively small, according to numbers from the state.
Those numbers, however, don’t include doses sent to pharmacies through the federal retail pharmacy program. The number of doses sent to the program weren’t yet available, as of Friday.
Allen said he predicts the Johnson & Johnson production problems will amount to only a slight delay to Oregon’s goal of inoculating 70% of residents 16 and older by the end of May with at least one dose of one of the three available vaccines.
“That may shift a week or two based on what we’re currently beginning to see, but not by months or months or anything like that,” Allen said.
The amount of Johnson & Johnson vaccine shipped to Oregon and other states since the federal government granted emergency use authorization in February has see-sawed from week to week because of production challenges overseas, where all doses of the vaccine are currently manufactured.
Johnson & Johnson has been working to get federal approval to distribute its vaccine produced at a Maryland production plant for use in the United States. However, that became more difficult after a foul-up last month resulted in the plant contaminating 15 million doses and rendering them useless. Officials are unsure if tens of millions more doses also might need to be discarded.
Two weeks ago, the federal government sent nearly 2 million Johnson & Johnson doses to states. Last week, it was nearly 5 million. This week, it’s just 700,000.
Washington is seeing its allocation drop from 109,000 to 12,900. California’s is going from 572,700 to 67,600.
Although Allen said the reduction might delay Oregon’s overall vaccination efforts by a week or two, the timing of Johnson & Johnson’s production difficulties is unfortunate. New COVID-19 cases are up 44% and hospitalizations 46% over the past two weeks, as the state battles a fourth surge that started several weeks ago. Nationwide, new known cases are up 13% and hospitalizations up 7% over the same time period.
FEMA Covid-19 Funeral Financial Assistance Program Begins
Starting today, April 12, FEMA will begin offering financial assistance for COVID-19-related funeral expenses incurred after January 20, 2020.
This has all been made possible because of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
According to FEMA, to be eligible for funeral assistance, you must meet certain conditions to be able to receive financial assistance including:
That the death must have occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia. The death certificate must indicate the death was attributed to COVID-19. The applicant must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien who incurred funeral expenses after January 20, 2020.
However there is no requirement for the deceased person to have been a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien.
FEMA is also recommending that people who wish to apply for funeral financial assistance gather documents relating to their loved one’s death such as a an official death certificate, funeral expense documents and proof of funds received from other sources.
FEMA says that if you do qualify for financial assistance you will receive a check in the mail with the allotted funds, or will receive money by direct deposit. This all depends which option you select.
If you would like to contact FEMA directly, you can call the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Line Number at 844-684-6333 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m to 8 p.m. Central Time.
Baby Bear Euthanized After Being Picked Up East Of Ashland
Oregon wildlife officials confirmed that they had to euthanize a young black bear after an unfortunate saga that saw him removed from his habitat east of Ashland.
According to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, wildlife officers from Oregon State Police were notified on Wednesday of a young black bear seen in the Greensprings area off Highway 66. While officers did respond, they found no sign of the bear. OSP got in contact with the person who reported the sighting, and learned that they had picked up the bear.
“Upon contacting the individual, ODFW explained the department’s policy. Young wildlife found alone are not necessarily be orphaned and should not be removed from the wild or held (it is against the law),” the agency said. “ODFW directed the reporting party to either return the bear back to the location it was found, or allow ODFW to collect the bear.”
At the end of that conversation, ODFW said that its biologists were under the impression that the bear would be returned to where it was found. But later that day, a local wildlife rehabilitator notified the agency that the bear was going to be dropped off at their facility.
ODFW said that the agency learned the next day that the bear was not dropped off, and instead might be going to an out-of-state facility. In a statement, that facility identified itself as Lions Tigers & Bears in San Diego, California.
At that juncture, OSP and ODFW visited the would-be rescuer’s home to collect the bear. According to the agency, it was a yearling bear being held in a dog carrier, and it appeared to be both habituated — tame and with no fear of people — and in poor health.
“It’s not clear how the animal came to be so habituated but being held for a day may have contributed. It’s also possible the animal was being fed by people at another location before being picked up,” ODFW said.
The agency said that it can often place bear cubs in proper facilities, but they are generally under a year old. With older wild bears, it is not considered humane to place them in captivity. Habituated bears are also not good candidates for any of these facilities, ODFW said.
Ultimately, after consulting with the state’s wildlife veterinarian, ODFW decided to euthanize the bear — a decision that upset the California facility, which said that it had been arranging to go pick up the animal.
If you are ever concerned about an animal in distress, it’s best to call ODFW, a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, or OSP if it’s an emergency or after hours. Spring is a particularly busy time for calls like this, with people picking up bear cubs, deer fawn, elk calf, young rabbits, fledgling birds learning to fly, or other young animals.
“No one should assume any young animal is orphaned just because it’s alone — nor should they ever pick it up,” said ODFW spokesperson Michelle Dennehy. “It’s natural for mother animals to leave their young alone for extended periods of time while they go off to feed. The mother will return when it’s safe to do so (when people and pets aren’t around).”
Grange Co-Op Celebrates Arbor Day with Free Tree Sapling Giveaway on April 13th
Grange Co-op is celebrating Arbor Day by giving away 1,500 tree saplings at its locations in southern Oregon and California, the company announced Wednesday.
The event starts on Tuesday, April 13, beginning at 11 a.m. and lasting until all of the saplings are given away, limit of one tree per household. Giveaways will happen at every retail store — in Ashland, Medford, Central Point, White City, Grants Pass, Klamath Falls and Yuba City.
This year, the event will include seedlings for Red Maple, Japanese Maple, Eastern Redbud, Maidenhair tree, Heartleaf Hornbeam and Korean Dogwood trees.
“We recognize how difficult 2020 was, however one thing that many people discovered was the love of gardening and landscaping,” says Jason Wall, Marketing Manager at Grange Co-op. “By continuing with our annual tradition of Arbor Day, we can collectively help the environment along with creating an opportunity for customers to plant a tree they can enjoy for decades at their home.”
——- In celebration of Arbor Day, we’re giving away over 1,500 trees to our customers this April 13th! Varieties on hand will be an assortment of Japanese maple, red maple, eastern redbud, Korean dogwood, maidenhair tree and heartleaf hornbeam. We will begin offering tree seedlings to customers at 11:00AM. Traditionally, these free trees do not last long and they are only available while supplies last, so don’t wait! Each of our stores will have free trees available in the nursery where customers can stand in line following social distancing guidelines. Here is a preliminary description of each of the trees available for free that day: https://www.grangecoop.com/event/arbor_day_tree_giveaway/ *Event will be held following COVID-19 guidelines. Limit one per household. While supplies last.
Fatal Fire on Kings Hwy in Medford
On April 10th, 2021 at about 6:15 pm, Medford Fire and Medford Police personnel responded to a report of a fire in the 2100 block of Kings Highway.
Upon arrival, responders found a small, older RV on the property fully engulfed. Once the fire was contained, a body was discovered inside.
Police and fire personnel are working to determine the cause of the fire. The initial investigation does not indicate signs of foul play.
The decedent’s identity is not being released pending confirmation. — Medford Police Dept.
AROUND the STATE of OREGON
Oregon Expands Addiction Treatment Services for Oregon Health Plan Members
The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is pleased to announce expanded care for addiction services. On April 8, 2021, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approved Oregon’s application for a five-year Medicaid 1115 Demonstration Waiver, which will increase access to treatment services for people with substance use disorders (SUD) who are covered by the Oregon Health Plan.
Prior to the approval of the SUD waiver, any Institutions for Mental Disease (IMD) could not bill services to Medicaid. IMDs are settings of more than 16 beds that are primarily engaged in providing diagnosis, treatment, or care of persons with mental diseases, including medical attention, nursing care, and related services. The waiver now allows federal funds to match state funds for substance use treatment for Medicaid members in an IMD.
The waiver, which is effective April 8, 2021, through March 31, 2026, will allow Oregon to:
- Expand the continuum of care for people with substance use disorders.
- Improve access to care for substance use disorders, including outreach, initiation, treatment and recovery.
- Reduce use of emergency departments and inpatient hospital settings for treatment.
- Reduce readmissions to the same or higher level of care when the readmission is preventable or medically inappropriate.
- Increase rates of identification, initiation, and engagement in treatment for substance use disorders.
- Include housing support services in the treatment care plan.
“The new federal funding, in addition to the investment provided in the Governor’s Budget for 2021-23, will allow Oregon to accomplish our vision to prevent and identify substance use disorder and support people in sustaining long-term recovery,” said Oregon Health Authority Behavioral Program Director Steve Allen.
While the additional covered services will help more Oregonians, the state’s application to support people with ongoing, post-treatment, and peer recovery services with Medicaid funding was not approved. Oregon will continue to find other ways to fund this crucial component of effective treatment.
Oregon Health Authority Medicaid Director Lori Coyner said, “We are excited and hopeful about the opportunities to improve access for Oregon Health Plan members to important substance use treatment services.”
OHA will begin working with Coordinated Care Organizations to implement activities immediately, with the goal of implementing all new activities by January 2023.
To learn more:
More information about Oregon’s SUD 1115 Waiver, including special terms and conditions for the full waiver, can be found at: https://www.oregon.gov/oha/HSD/Medicaid-Policy/Pages/SUD-Waiver.aspx
For additional information or inquiries, please contact Substance Use Systems Coordinator and SUD 1115 Waiver Manager Joanna Johnson at email@example.com.
2021 Oregon Cultural Trust ‘CONVERSATIONS WITH FUNDERS and PARTNERS’ Goes Virtual April 26
Salem, Ore. – Grant makers offering more than $5 million in funding for FY2022 will gather online for the Cultural Trust’s 2021 “Conversations with Funders and Partners” event from 4 to 6 p.m. on Monday, April 26. The free virtual event will enable grant seekers to learn about funding programs available and will include breakout rooms where they can discuss their projects and programming with specific funders. NOTE: Capacity is limited, so early registration is encouraged.
Participating with the Cultural Trust will be representatives from three of its Statewide Partners – the Oregon Arts Commission, Oregon Heritage and Oregon Humanities – as well as counterparts from the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation and Travel Oregon.
Organizations encouraged to attend “Conversations with Funders and Partners” include community development organizations, libraries, arts organizations, museums, cultural centers, parks and trails groups, historical societies, arts alliances, literary groups and heritage organizations. All cultural nonprofit organizations are welcome.
“There are more than 1,500 cultural nonprofits serving Oregonians,” said Aili Schreiner, Cultural Trust manager. “We want to make sure they know about the significant funding and programming resources that are here to support them.”
Oregon Cultural Trust Cultural Development Program
Among the funding opportunities discussed at the online Conversations event will be the Cultural Trust’s FY2022 Cultural Development Program (funds to be awarded summer of 2021).
The Cultural Development Program recognizes and supports significant projects through four program funded categories: Access; Preservation; Creativity; and Capacity.
In 2020 the Cultural Trust awarded more than $2.7 million in statewide grants. Cultural Development Program grants represent one third of the annual funding the Cultural Trust provides to Oregon’s cultural nonprofits. Other funding includes grants to the Trust’s five statewide partners – to support their mission goals and respective funding programs – and to 45 county and tribal cultural coalitions that fund local initiatives, projects and programs.
FY2022 Cultural Development Program grants are for projects and activities that will occur between Sept. 1, 2021, and Aug. 31, 2022.
Grant guidelines are now posted for a Friday, May 7, application deadline.
Created in 2001 by the Oregon Legislature, the Oregon Cultural Trust is a testimony to how much Oregonians value culture. No other state provides a 100 percent tax credit to inspire cultural giving. As uniquely Oregonian as public beaches and the bottle bill, the Oregon Cultural Trust was established 18 years ago by the Oregon Legislature as an ongoing funding engine for arts and culture across the state. Oregonians fund the Cultural Trust. We, in turn, fund the artists, potters, rappers, acrobats and dreamers who make Oregon, Oregon. In 2017 Oregonians gave $4.9 million to the Cultural Trust, our all-time record. Sixty percent of that went straight back to the field. The remaining 40 percent helped grow our permanent fund. Our three grant programs fund our five Statewide Partners, 45 County and Tribal Coalitions and qualified cultural nonprofits through competitive Cultural Development Grants. — Oregon Cultural Trust
Oregon House Votes To Waive Construction Taxes For Wildfire Victims
More than five dozen school districts in Oregon impose taxes on the construction of new houses. This can add thousands to the cost of building a home. Supporters of House Bill 2607 said it adds insult to injury to charge these taxes to people who are rebuilding only because they lost their house in a natural disaster.
Rep. Jami Cate, R-Lebanon, represents a Willamette Valley district where hundreds of homes were destroyed by wildfires last fall. “Without taking steps like this to reduce the cost of building, too many families would simply be priced out of once again going home,” she said.
Cate also noted that the price of lumber is rising, further adding to the cost of rebuilding.
Rep. David Gomberg, D-Otis, said some school districts are voluntarily granting exemptions. But he said it’s not clear whether those exemptions are even legal.
“Legislative counsel has informed me that the tax must be applied uniformly and that means applied the same to everybody, regardless of the circumstances,” he said. “And that leaves school districts that have made these waivers vulnerable, and it’s left homeowners facing the possibility of facing additional expenses.”
Gomberg, who co-sponsored the bill, represents the Lincoln City area, where hundreds of homes were leveled by the Echo Mountain Complex Fire last September.
The measure would apply to houses destroyed during any declared state of emergency, not just wildfires. It would be effectively retroactice to January 1, 2020.
It passed the House 49-0 and now heads to the Oregon Senate.
Legislature Will Have Until Sept. 27 to Complete The Redistricting Process
The Oregon Supreme Court on Friday ruled that the Legislature will have until Sept. 27 to complete the redistricting process, giving lawmakers more time to draw political boundaries following a delay in crucial census data. The unanimous decision by the justices will give legislative leaders nearly three extra months to do their work.
Redistricting, the process where lawmakers redraw legislative and congressional districts, occurs every 10 years following the census. Districts must be equal in population to each other. Although there’s a set number of state legislative districts, due to Oregon’s population growth in the last decade it is likely that the state will receive an
additional seat in the United States House of Representatives.
This means that the number of congressional districts would increase from five to six. Earlier this year the U.S. Census Bureau announced that data may not be delivered until Sept. 30. Under the Oregon Constitution and state laws, the deadline to redraw districts is July 1. This prompted Oregon’s Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, and House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland to file a petition with the state Supreme Court, asking for a redistricting extension until the end of the year.
Possible SpaceX Rocket Debris Found on the Oregon Coast Near Waldport
A charred object believed to be space debris washed up in Alsea Bay near Waldport, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office said.
An object believed to be debris from a SpaceX rocket that recently reentered Earth’s atmosphere in a fiery blaze washed up on the Oregon Coast on Friday, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office said.
Around 3:15 p.m., the sheriff’s office was notified of a charred object that washed up in Alsea Bay near Waldport. A fisherman removed the object from the body of water, and it was briefly stored near a local business, deputies said.
Authorities responded to check it out, and Central Oregon Coast Fire and Rescue determined the object did not contain hazardous materials that would pose an immediate threat.
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and SpaceX were both contacted.
“SpaceX was not able to determine if the object was a component of one of their spacecrafts,” the sheriff’s office said in a news release, “however it did appear consistent with a composite overwrapped pressure vessel.”
The sheriff’s office said SpaceX engineers used notes from deputies and numerous photos of the object to determine that it could be transported safely.
Deputies said it was moved to a “secure location” so that more could be learned about its origin.
On March 25, people across the Pacific Northwest watched in astonishment as a series of burning objects streaked across the night sky. Astronomers said it was caused by a Falcon 9 rocket, launched by SpaceX three weeks earlier, reentering the atmosphere. Jonathan McDowell at the Center for Astrophysics said the rocket had “failed to make a deorbit burn.”
On April 2, a sheriff’s office in central Washington said a composite-overwrapped pressure vessel from the same rocket was found on someone’s property.