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, April 14, 2021
Rogue Valley Weather
Today- Sunny, with a high near 71. Calm wind becoming north northwest around 6 mph in the afternoon.
Thursday- Sunny, with a high near 74. Calm wind becoming northwest around 5 mph in the afternoon.
Friday- Sunny, with a high near 79. Calm wind.
Saturday- Sunny, with a high near 86.
Sunday- Sunny, with a high near 87.
Oregon reports 567 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 5 new deaths
There are five new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 2,446. The Oregon Health Authority reported 567 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 171,398.
The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (5), Benton (17), Clackamas (51), Clatsop (3), Columbia (6), Coos (12), Crook (7), Curry (7), Deschutes (34), Douglas (10), Grant (5), Harney (3), Hood River (8), Jackson (53), Jefferson (1), Josephine (7), Klamath (24), Lake (3), Lane (39), Lincoln (9), Linn (16), Malheur (5), Marion (35), Multnomah (83), Polk (6), Tillamook (2), Umatilla (11), Union (1), Wasco (3), Washington (95) and Yamhill (6).
Vaccinations in Oregon
Effective today, OHA has asked all of the state’s vaccine providers to immediately pause administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, following an announcement this morning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Today, OHA reported that 29,935 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry. Of this total, 19,831 doses were administered on April 12 and 10,104 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry on April 12.
The seven-day running average is now 38,660 doses per day.
Oregon has now administered a total of 1,194,369 doses of Pfizer, 1,036,596 doses of Moderna and 85,148 doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines. As of today, 916,207 people have completed a COVID-19 vaccine series. There are 1,447,624 who have had at least one dose.
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, 1,460,745 doses of Pfizer, 1,213,000 doses of Moderna and 213,300 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 Health Authority issues pause in Johnson & Johnson vaccine use
Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has asked all of the state’s vaccine providers to immediately pause administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, following an announcement this morning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The recommendation for a pause was made out of an abundance of caution as teams from the CDC and FDA review six reported cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot in individuals after vaccination with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The measures announced today followed reports of six cases of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis in women ages 18-48, with about 6.8 million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine administered nationally to date. Symptoms in these patients began six to 13 days following vaccination. None of the reported cases were in Oregon.
The CDC is convening its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on Wednesday to review data at a public meeting.
This pause in vaccination is recommended until ACIP and FDA reviews are completed.
The blood clotting cases, reported in about one per million administered Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses, were identified in the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS), which tracks vaccine safety monitoring nationally.
People who have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider.
Health care providers statewide have been asked to report adverse events to the VAERS online tracking system. The CDC and FDA statement reminds health care providers that the administration of heparin, normally used to treat blood clots, may be dangerous in the setting of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, and alternative treatments should be given.
As of April 12, 85,148 Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses have been administered in Oregon and 213,300 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine delivered to vaccine sites statewide. The vaccine has been delivered to pharmacies, outpatient clinics, federally qualified health centers, local public health authorities and health systems.
A copy of the joint CDC and FDA announcement can be found here.
Dangerous New Covid-19 Variant Detected In Oregon
Apr 13, 2021,01:57pm EDT|8,458 views
A Dangerous New Covid-19 Variant Detected In Oregon
The SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.7 virus, first detected in the UK in late October 2020, has become the dominant strain in the UK, throughout most of Europe and India, and is now the most frequent virus isolated in the United States. The B.1.1.7 variant is more infectious than the SARS-CoV-2 strains that circulated earlier in the pandemic, is almost twice as deadly, and infects younger people and even children at a higher rate. Many speculate that the current surge of infections throughout Europe, the United States, and possibly India can be attributed, at least in part, to the increased efficiency of transmission of the B.1.1.7 virus.
The hope is that the current generation of Covid-19 vaccines, all of which are based on the spike protein of the original Wuhan strain, will be effective against the B.1.1.7 strain. This hope is based on the observation that antibodies from plasma of those who receive the vaccine recognize and neutralize the B.1.1.7 virus only slightly less well than they do the original Wuhan strain.
Now comes a troubling report of the discovery of a new variant from Oregon. As of yet, there are only two confirmed isolates in Oregon with this sequence, but the number of undetected cases is likely larger. The variant does not yet have an official designation. I will call it B.1.1.7-O as the variant carries all of the mutations of B.1.1.7 plus an additional six mutations of its own, one in the spike protein, three on the replication complex (ORF1ab), one in the structural protein N, and one in the accessory protein ORF8. This variant arises on the west coast as the B.1.427/9 variants have surged through California, making up over 50% of the cases sequenced.
Of these, the single change in the spike protein, a substitution of the negatively charged amino acid glutamic acid (E) for the positively charged lysine at position 484 (E484K), nicknamed the “EEK!” variant, is of special concern particularly when coupled with the N501Y mutation (asparagine (N) to tyrosine (Y) at amino acid 501). The combination of these two mutations in the receptor-binding domain of the spike protein is the principal cause of vaccine resistance of the Brazilian isolate B.18.104.22.168and the South African variant B.1.351. Together these two mutations are associated with an increased transmission and vaccine resistance. For example, the Astra-Zeneca adenovirus-based vaccine is only 10% effective against the B.1.351 South African variant. The potency of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines is reduced almost tenfold when tested against the B.1.351 and B.22.214.171.124 variants. The B.1.1.7-O variant is likely to be similarly resistant to the current vaccines. The figure below depicts the full range of B.1.1.7-O’s spike mutations.
Susan Monica in the News Again
Susan Monica’s property seemed eerie to others — especially because she allegedly said at one point 17 bodies were buried there.
Monica was born Steven Buchanan in California in 1948. She served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War. Following an honorable discharge, she began living as a woman.
“She got into an engineering career and was very successful,” former Jackson County Sheriff’s Detective Eric Henderson told “Snapped,” airing Sundays at 6/5c on Oxygen.
In 1991, Monica bought a 20-acre farm in rural Wimer, Oregon. She had a herd of pigs, raised chickens, and ran a wrought-iron fence and gate-building business named White Queen Construction.
When Monica first bought her property, it was undeveloped woodlands. She erected a large barn and started work on a house. In 2013, she hired Robert Haney. “He was her handyman, laborer, carpenter. Whatever she asked of him, he did,” former employee Sean Leimanis told “Snapped.”
Robert had found Monica through an ad on Craigslist.
“My dad and Susan Monica had a deal. My dad would get part cash and be able to stay on the property. My dad agreed to build a house from the bottom up,” son Jesse Haney explained to producers.
Jesse said his father enjoyed the peace and quiet of living alone out in the woods. However, things got a little too quiet in December 2013.
“We hadn’t seen or heard from my dad for two months. We just all started to panic,” Jesse told producers.
On Jan. 1, 2014, the Haney kids drove out to check on their dad. They spoke to Monica, who claimed she hadn’t seen him since he quit four months earlier.
“Susan Monica said that my dad just basically left. She wanted us to come retrieve our dad’s stuff,” Jesse told producers.
But when they saw his trailer, the Haneys knew something was wrong.
“His leather jacket was there. His dog was still running around and all his tools were there,” Jesse. said “It made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.”
The Haneys filed a missing persons report with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office. They learned months had passed since anyone had seen Robert and he had lived on cash, all of which made it difficult to track his movements.
Detectives drove out to Monica’s property to ask her about Robert’s disappearance.
The property was cluttered with vehicles, debris and makeshift structures. “I’m thinking to myself as we’re pulling up, ‘Are we in The Twilight Zone here?’” Henderson recalled.
Monica told them Robert had lived and worked on her property for six months but took a bad turn in the fall.
“He received a concerning phone call from a family member that she had been the victim of assault and he was really upset about that,” she had said, Henderson told producers.
Monica claimed Robert then began drinking heavily and acting erratically. She said he eventually told her he was going away for awhile and asked her to take care of his dog.
Authorities were able to track Robert’s Oregon Trail Electronics Benefit Transfer card. They learned it had last been used in December 2013 at a Walmart in Grants Pass, Oregon, about a 25-minute drive from Monica’s property.
“It had been used at a date after Susan Monica said that he had disappeared,” Jackson County Deputy District Attorney Allan Smith told producers.
Detectives then reviewed security camera footage — which showed Monica using Robert’s EBT card.
“That’s when I was like, ‘OK, we got something else going on here,'” Henderson said. “I was really concerned that there was some foul play involved.”
Law enforcement officers executed a search warrant on Monica’s property. Officers were taken aback by the squalor, which included piles of garbage, rotting food, and industrial waste.
“I would describe that property as eerie. There was a very strong order there, a lot of decay,” former Jackson County Sheriff’s Detective Julie Denney told “Snapped.”
Then, investigators spotted something truly disturbing: a human leg in a catchment pond.
“It was clear that it was not an animal bone. It appeared to me to be a human leg that had been severed mid-femur, down to the toes,” Denney said.
Detectives brought Monica into the sheriff’s station for questioning. After being confronted with the discovery of a human leg on her property, she told a bizarre and disturbing story.
Monica claimed that one day the previous fall, she found her pigs in a feeding frenzy. When she looked to see what it was, she saw Robert laying there “with his guts all over the place.”
“He was being eaten, what I believed to be, alive,” Monica told detectives during the interview, audio of which was obtained by “Snapped.” She said she couldn’t stop the pigs, so she got her gun and shot him.
“I put him out of his misery,” she says in the audio. “I do that for my animals and this was the first time I did it for a human being and I knew it was wrong but if it were one of my pigs suffering out there, I would have done the same thing.”
Monica left Robert’s body in the pigpen until the hogs had their fill. After a couple of days, she scooped up his remains and put them in garbage bags. A wild animal later got into one of the bags and dragged the foot out to the pond, she claimed.
Monica said she didn’t tell the authorities about the incident because she was afraid they would kill her pigs. When asked what else investigators might find on her property, she broke down and told them they would find worse.
Monica drew a map of her property and in the middle put an “X.”
“She said, ‘Right there. That’s where you’re going to find Steve,’” Henderson told producers.
“Steve” was Stephen Delicino, a handyman who worked on Monica’s property a year before Robert got there.
Monica claimed that in the summer of 2012, two of her guns went missing. She said she found them in Delicino’s belongings and confronted him. They got in some sort of wrestling match, she alleged, and the gun went off, shooting Delicino in the back of the head. Rather than killing him, Delicino stood up and chased Monica toward her barn where she picked up her rifle.
“At one point during the struggle, Stephan was down on his knees, she was above him, and she picked up the rifle and she shot him in the head,” Henderson told producers.
She fed Delicino’s body to the pigs and later buried whatever was left.
Before the interview was over, Henderson asked Monica if there were any other dead bodies on the property. She had a truly chilling response.
“She told me that if she told me about the 17 others that she would spend the rest of her life in jail,” Henderson said.
Monica was arrested on Jan. 14, 2014 and charged with two counts each of murder and first-degree abuse of a corpse as well as one count of identity theft, the Mail Tribune reported at the time. Her pigs were subsequently euthanized.
Over the following weeks, dozens of crime scene investigators searched Monica’s property, digging over 100 holes. They found the remains of Haney, Delicino, and numerous personal belongings, including a large pile of shoes, but no other bodies.
At Monica’s trial in April 2015, her former cellmate Jordan Farris at the Jackson County jail testified that Monica gave a birthday card signed, “The sweetest murderer in Jackson County,” Medford, Oregon, NBC affiliate KOBI reported at the time.
Farris also testified Monica had told her the truth about Robert’s murder.
“Susan told me that Robert and her got into an argument because he was drunk and he was trying to come on to her. She shot him and then pushed him into the pigpen,” Farris told producers.
After deliberating for an hour, a jury found Susan Monica guilty on all counts on April 21, 2015. She was sentenced to a minimum of 50 years in prison, the Oregonian newspaper reported in 2015.
Law enforcement officials still wonder if Monica claimed other victims over the years.
“My take on what she told me about the possibility of 17 other people being there was that it was true,” Henderson told producers. “I believe 100 percent that there are more people out there.”
Volunteers Needed for Bear Creek Greenway Clean-up set for April 17
Volunteers will be working on a coordinated effort to clean up the Bear Creek Greenway from Central Point down to Ashland on April 17 in celebration of Earth Day.
The event is headed by the Bear Creek Stewards — an organization consisting of Jackson County local governments, other local groups, and businesses. Together, they’ve worked to organize teams of volunteers to remove litter and debris along Bear Creek and through the Greenway.
Bear Creek Stewardship Day runs from 9 a.m. through 12 p.m. on Saturday, with check-in starting at 8:30 a.m. There will be eight check-in locations:
- Pine Street/Penninger Road in Central Point
- McAndrews Road in Medford, adjacent to the Greenway
- Hawthorne Park in Medford, adjacent to the Greenway
- Alba Drive, near Barnett Road
- US Cellular Park near Coyote Trails Nature Center, in south Medford
- Blue Heron Park in Phoenix
- Lynn Newbry Park in Talent
- NB Weigh Station/Hwy. 99 in Ashland
At the check-in spots, participants can get trash bags, trash pickers and gloves to use for cleaning up. There will also be information about the event and a supply of coffee, juice, and snacks for volunteers.
In addition to trash pickup, blackberry grubbing and removal events will occur at Blue Heron Park and Lynn Newbry Park, a mulching event will occur at the Pine Street Greenway entrance, and the removal of sediment control waddles will occur at the NB Weigh Station location. All tools for these activities will be provided, but organizers say that volunteers may want to bring their own gloves and hand clippers/loppers if they have them.
The event is sponsored by the group SOLVE, in addition to local sponsors including Extreme Terrain, the Gordon Elwood Foundation, Grants Pass Clinic, Jackson Soil and Water Conservation District, Lithia, Medford Food Co-op, Recology, Rogue Disposal, and Starbucks.
Volunteers must register and sign waivers in advance in order to reduce the amount of contact required. Social distancing guidelines will be observed, and masks will also be required.
AROUND the STATE of OREGON
Oregon Adds 20,100 Jobs in March
Oregon’s unemployment rate edged down to 6.0% in March, from 6.1% in February. For the past three months, Oregon’s unemployment rate has ticked down by a tenth of a point each month. During the past 11 months the pace of recovery in Oregon’s unemployment rate has mirrored the national experience. The U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 6.0% in March, from 6.2% in February.
Nonfarm payroll employment rose 20,100 jobs in March, following a gain of 15,300, as revised, in February. Two-thirds of all the jobs gained in March were in leisure and hospitality (+13,900 jobs). Three other major industries each added more than 1,000 jobs: manufacturing (+2,000 jobs); professional and business services (+1,300); and transportation, warehousing, and utilities (+1,100). Construction and private educational services each added 700 jobs. All other major industries performed close to their normal seasonal patterns.
The 20,100 total nonfarm jobs added in March was Oregon’s largest monthly gain since 38,300 jobs were added in July. March’s gain was the third monthly increase, following a large drop in December that was the result of temporary, heightened restrictions at the time.
In March, Oregon’s nonfarm payroll employment totaled 1,840,600, a drop of 132,400 jobs, or 6.7% from the pre-recession peak in February 2020. Oregon’s employment dropped to a low of 1,687,500 by April 2020. Since then, Oregon has recovered 153,100 jobs, or 54% of the jobs lost between February and April 2020.
Over the past year, the employment gyrations in leisure and hospitality have accounted for a large share of the swings in Oregon’s total employment. This broad industry includes restaurants, bars, coffee shops, hotels, golf courses, and fitness centers. It employed a peak of 216,300 jobs in February 2020 which was 11% of total nonfarm payroll employment. Then, within two months, leisure and hospitality cut over half its jobs. Since then, the industry recovered about half the drop, to employ 165,200 jobs by November. Then, hit by renewed COVID restrictions, the industry retrenched to 136,800 jobs in December. Since then, the industry added 25,900 jobs over the past three months and is close to its recent high point from last November, but is still far below its February 2020 peak.
Next Press Releases
The Oregon Employment Department plans to release the March county and metropolitan area unemployment rates on Tuesday, Apr. 20, and the next statewide unemployment rate and employment survey data for April on Tuesday, May 18.
The Oregon Employment Department and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) work cooperatively to develop and publish monthly Oregon payroll employment and labor force data. The estimates of monthly job gains and losses are based on a survey of businesses. The estimates of unemployment are based on a survey of households and other sources.
The PDF version of the news release can be found at QualityInfo.org/press-release. To obtain the data in other formats such as in Excel, visit QualityInfo.org, then within the top banner, select Economic Data, then choose LAUS or CES. To request the press release as a Word document, contact the person shown at the top of this press release.
To file a claim for unemployment benefits or get more information about unemployment programs, visit unemployment.oregon.gov.
Equal Opportunity program — auxiliary aids and services available upon request to individuals with disabilities. Contact: (503) 947-1794. For people who are deaf or hard of hearing, call 711 Telecommunications Relay Services. —Oregon Employment Department –
Oregon 9-1-1 Operators Honored with Proclamation for Public Safety Telecommunicators Week
In 2020, 9-1-1 telecommunication professionals in Oregon answered approximately 2-million emergency calls for law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services to protect the lives and property of Oregonians.
Since early in 2020, these essential frontline workers have been busier than ever responding to the pandemic, floods, historic wildfires and most recently a devastating winter storm.
Oregon Governor Kate Brown has issued a state proclamation to acknowledge these devoted professionals across the state who take emergency calls and/or dispatch appropriate police, fire and medical services to emergency locations. Each second week of April, this year April 11-17, public safety organizations in the U.S. and Canada recognize the crucial role of telecommunicators.
“When an emergency occurs, 9-1-1 operators are the unsung heroes who serve as the first point of contact in situations where seconds can save lives,” State 9-1-1 Program Section Manager Frank Kuchta said. “This week provides a chance to show these very important people some well-deserved gratitude.”
9-1-1 operators are a vital element of emergency services systems. The critical functions performed by professional telecommunicators also supports local, tribal, state and federal government agencies in the fields of emergency management, highway safety, search and rescue, and more.
“When we look at the professionalism and selfless service that our 9-1-1 operators exude, it is easy to see why this week worth celebrating,” said Kuchta.
The 9-1-1 program in Oregon was established by the 1981 Oregon Legislature, and is managed by the Oregon Office of Emergency Management.
You can get this document in other languages, large print, braille or a format you prefer. Contact David Cardona, OEM Language Access Coordinator, at 971-719-1183 or email email@example.com. We accept all relay calls, or you can dial 711. — Oregon Office of Emergency Management
Eugene Winery Will Require Workers Get Vaccinated For COVID-19
King Estate Winery in Oregon has notified its workers that they must show proof they’ve received the COVID-19 vaccine by May 20.
While most Oregon employers have the legal right to insist their employees be vaccinated, very few appear to be planning to do so. King Estate Winery is among the first that will.
King Estate Winery is on more than a thousand acres outside Eugene.
Chief Operating Officer Brent Stone said it’s like a small city, with about 70 employees and workers working close together on bottling lines. He said concerns about workplace safety and preventing a virus outbreak are behind the vaccine requirement.
“It’s coming from a really good place, in our minds,” Stone said. “It’s really intended to be supportive and not punitive by any means.”
Stone said King Estate has offered on-site vaccination clinics and an additional vacation day as incentive, with paid sick time for vaccine recovery. During the pandemic, weekly food boxes have been available to workers and the winery boosted its minimum wage to $15 an hour.
University of Oregon Law School Associate Professor Liz Tippet said employers can require their workers to get the vaccine, with some exemptions. But she expects most won’t go that far. It’s also in people’s interest to get the vaccine, especially those who interact a lot with others in the workplace, she added.
Several Oregon State Parks Open Thursday With Limited Reservations
Limited reservations for several Oregon state parks open Thursday.
Limited group camping and day-use area reservations will be available for stays starting May 1.
Group size limits will be temporarily reduced to 25 visitors for each open area, which is compliant with state and federal health guidelines.
“Summer is quickly approaching and we want to give visitors plenty of time to plan their group events,” said Jason Resch, communications manager for the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. “Although we can’t open all group areas in all parks and the lower group limits isn’t what we are used to, we ask for your patience as we move forward.”
Hiker and biker camping areas are also opening statewide, which are first-come, first-served.
Reservation availability will roll out between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. on Thursday. To book a reservation and view the full list of parks and facilities opening up, visit the Oregon State Parks website.
Skeletal Remains Found Near Molalla Identified As East Bay Man Who Was Reported Missing In 1979
Skeletal remains that were located by a timber crew near Molalla earlier this year have been identified, according to the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office.
On Jan. 8, a Weyerhauser crew was planting trees in a steep ravine off a private logging road when they found the remains, including a partial human skull.
Scraps of clothing were also found in the area. Additional items recovered at the site included a white low-top style canvas athletic shoe – size 9.5, and a dark-gray metal ring with a squared red stone.
Following an investigation, the sheriff’s office said the remains were identified as Kenneth Lee Bell, born 1957, formerly of Contra Costa County, California.
The sheriff’s office said Bell was identified from personal effects found with the body. DNA confirmation is currently underway.
According to the sheriff’s office, Bell’s mother, who is now deceased, reported him missing in 1979, when he was 22 years old. He appears to have disappeared while traveling from the Bay Area to Washington to visit family.
Bell worked in the timber industry in the late 70s, and frequented the Portland area in that time period, according to the sheriff’s office.
The investigation is ongoing.
Anyone who knew Bell in the late 70s is being asked to contact detectives through the sheriff’s office tip line at 503-723-4949 or online at clackamas.us/sheriff/tip. Please reference case number 21-000584.