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 19, 2021
Rogue Valley Weather
Today- Mostly sunny, with a high near 78. Calm wind becoming north northwest 5 to 7 mph in the afternoon.
Tuesday- Mostly cloudy, then gradually becoming sunny, with a high near 73. North northwest wind 3 to 5 mph.
Wednesday- Sunny, with a high near 76. Calm wind becoming north northwest around 5 mph in the afternoon.
Thursday- Sunny, with a high near 77.
Friday- Mostly sunny, with a high near 78.
Oregon reports 628 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, no new deaths
There are no new COVID-19-related deaths in Oregon, so the state’s death toll remains at 2,460, Oregon Health Authority reported 628 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 175,121.
The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (2), Clackamas (72), Clatsop (4), Columbia (7), Coos (7), Crook (2), Curry (2), Deschutes (47), Douglas (4), Grant (6), Harney (1), Hood River (1), Jackson (20), Jefferson (6), Josephine (9), Klamath (37), Lane (39), Lincoln (4), Linn (16), Malheur (1), Marion (83), Multnomah (142), Polk (11), Tillamook (1), Union (5), Wasco (2), Washington (83) and Yamhill (14).
Vaccinations in Oregon
Today, 32,287 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry. Of this total, 20,973 vaccine doses were administered on April 17 and 11,314 were administered on previous days but entered into the vaccine registry on April 17.
The seven-day running average is now 34,359 doses per day.
Oregon has now administered a total of 1,312,413 first and second doses of Pfizer, 1,121,856 first and second doses of Moderna and 88,405 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, 1,535,625 doses of Pfizer, 1,318,100 doses of Moderna and 215,000 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 Officials Are Considering Keeping Mask and Social Distance Mandates Indefinitely
A top health official is considering indefinitely extending rules requiring masks and social distancing in all businesses in the state.
As states around the country lift COVID-19 restrictions, Oregon is poised to go the opposite direction — and many residents are fuming about it.
The proposal would keep the rules in place until they are “no longer necessary to address the effects of the pandemic in the workplace.”
Michael Wood, administrator of the state’s department of Occupational Safety and Health, said the move is necessary to address a technicality in state law that requires a “permanent” rule to keep current restrictions from expiring. “We are not out of the woods yet,” he said.
But the idea has prompted a flood of angry responses, with everyone from parents to teachers to business owners and employees crying government overreach. Wood’s agency received a record number of public comments, mostly critical, and nearly 60,000 residents signed a petition against the proposal.
Opponents also are upset government officials won’t say how low Oregon’s COVID-19 case numbers must go, or how many people would have to be vaccinated, to get the requirements lifted in a state that’s already had some of the nation’s strictest safety measures.
“When will masks be unnecessary? What scientific studies do these mandates rely on, particularly now that the vaccine is days away from being available to everyone?” said state Sen. Kim Thatcher, a Republican from Keizer, near the state’s capital. “Businesses have had to play ‘mask cop’ for the better part of a year now. They deserve some certainty on when they will no longer be threatened with fines.”
Wood said he is reviewing all the feedback to see if changes are needed before he makes a final decision by May 4, when the current rules lapse.
Oregon, a blue state, has been among those with the country’s most stringent COVID-19 restrictions and now stands in contrast with much of the rest of the nation as vaccines become more widely available.
At least six states — Alabama, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota and Texas — have lifted mask mandates, and some never implemented them. In Texas, businesses reopened at 100% capacity last month.
In January, Virginia became the first in the nation to enact permanent COVID-19 workplace safety and health rules.
“While the end of this pandemic is finally in sight, the virus is still spreading — and now is not the time to let up on preventative measures,” Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam said following the announcement.
Besides mask and distancing requirements, Oregon’s proposal includes more arcane workplace rules regarding air flow, ventilation, employee notification in case of an outbreak, and sanitation protocols.
It dovetails with separate actions issued by Democratic Gov. Kate Brown, using a state of emergency declaration, requiring masks in public statewide — and even outside when 6 feet (1.83 meters) of distance can’t be maintained — and providing strict, county-by-county thresholds for business closures or reductions in capacity when case numbers rise above certain levels.
More than a third of Oregon’s counties are currently limited to indoor social gatherings of six people, and the maximum occupancy for indoor dining, indoor entertainment and gyms is 25% capacity or 50 people, whichever is less. And many schools are just now reopening after a year of online learning.
The workplace rule is “driven by the pandemic, and it will be repealed,” Wood said. “But, it might not need to go away at exactly the same time the State of Emergency is lifted,” he said, referring to Brown’s executive orders.
Amid pandemic frustration and deprivation, the issue has gained a lot of attention. A petition on change.org opposing the rule gained nearly 60,000 signatures and spread on social media, drawing even more interest to the proposal.
More than 5,000 public comments were sent to the agency, smashing its previous record of 1,100.
“The majority of comments were simply hostile to the entire notion of COVID-19 restrictions,” Wood said. “The vast majority of comments were in the context of, ‘You never needed to do anything.'”
Justin Spaulding, a doctor at the Cataract & Laser Institute of Southern Oregon, is among those who raised concerns about the proposal in public comments.
“I do not understand these new guidelines for business. If we put these into effect we will only continue to blunt the recent drop in business,” he wrote. “We have a large subset of patients that are unwilling (or) hostile with the current guidelines, and making them permanent will only make it worse.” For Thatcher, the GOP state lawmaker, the most concerning part is “OSHA’s lack of clarity” on when the rules will be lifted.
Officials said they have every intent to repeal the rule, and that decision will be made based on a complex mix of factors, including case counts, vaccination rates, case severity and advice from the Oregon Health Authority.
“It will be a complicated assessment when we do it, and I would say it is impossibly complicated to do in advance,” Wood said.
Many People Are Refusing the COVID-19 Vaccine in Oregon
As the novel coronavirus continues to spread across the globe, several variants of the virus have emerged. Some of the newly circulating variants spread more easily and more quickly than their predecessors, therefore adding a new urgency to vaccine distribution.
The Biden Administration’s ambitious plan to vaccinate 300 million Americans by the end of the summer faces multiple challenges — and not all are related to distribution or production. According to a recent survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, 38,560,000 Americans — or 15.5% of the 18 and older population — say they will either probably or definitely not get the vaccination when given the opportunity.
© Provided by 24/7 Wall St.
The majority of Americans who are against personally taking the vaccine cite one of three reasons: concern about possible side effects, wanting to wait to see if it is safe, or thinking others would benefit more than themselves from a vaccination. Others cite different reasons.
Nationwide, 16,820,000 people, 6.8% of the eligible population, do not trust the COVID-19 vaccines, and another 7,550,000, or 3.0%, are anti-vaccines in general. Additionally, 14,430,000 American adults, 5.8% of those eligible, will likely refuse a vaccination because they do not trust the government.
In Oregon, an estimated 444,500 adults, or 13.5% of the eligible population, say they will likely refuse the vaccine. Of all adults in the state, 4.7% will refuse because they do not trust the COVID-19 vaccine specifically, 2.8% because they are against vaccination in general, and 5.4% because they distrust the government.
Perhaps due in part to pockets of resistance, Oregon is struggling to vaccinate its population rapidly. So far, 24.1% of Oregon’s population are fully vaccinated, compared to 24.6% of all Americans.
Meanwhile, the virus continues to spread. In the last week alone, another 3,740 Oregon residents tested positive for the virus. Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been 171,398 confirmed cases of the virus in the state, and a total of 2,446 residents have died as a result.
All survey data used in this story was published by the Census on April 7, 2021. All data related to COVID-19 infections, fatalities, and vaccinations is current as of April 15, 2021.
|STATE||SHARE ADULT POP. OF WHO WILL LIKELY REFUSE VACCINATION||POP. CURRENTLY FULLY VACCINATED||TOTAL COVID-19 INFECTIONS TO DATE||TOTAL COVID-19 DEATHS TO DATE|
Jackson County Reports Fifth Week in A Row of Increased Covid-19 Cases
On Sunday, Jackson County Public Health reported 20 new cases of coronavirus, taking last week’s total to around 280 cases. This means for the fifth week in a row, Jackson County has experienced a rise in new Covid-19 cases.
According to reports taken by Jackson County Public Health, Jackson County has seen a steady rise in new Covid-19 cases dating all the way back to the week of March 14.
In that time, going from March 14 till last week, Jackson County has reported 168, 195, 229, 267 and now 280 cases.
To find the last time that Jackson County experienced five weeks in a row of cases increasing, you’d have to go all the way back to October. During that streak, cases had increased every week over a six-week time frame and hit all-time Covid records for the county.
Jackson County is also 77 cases away from reaching 10,000 total cases since the start of the pandemic. But even with new Covid-19 cases rising, vaccinations in Jackson County are increasing.
According to data collected by the Oregon Health Authority, Jackson County health officials have vaccinated almost 70,000 Oregonians throughout the county. That’s more than one in every four residents have recieved at least one shot of a Covid-19 vaccine.
Jackson County is also making progress when it comes to getting people fully vaccinated. OHA says that of the 68,435 people in Jackson County that have been vaccinated, 43,389 of those people are fully vaccinated.
Bear Creek Greenway Cleanup
The Bear Creek Stewardship Day hosted a clean up event along the Bear Creek Greenway in celebration of Earth Day this past weekend.
The Bear Creek Stewards and other local groups and businesses, organized volunteers to participate in Bear Creek Stewardship Day to help remove litter and debris along Bear Creek and the Bear Creek Greenway from Central Point to Ashland.
The event had eight check-in locations from Central Point to Ashland. The check-in locations had information about the clean-up efforts and provided coffee, juice, and snacks for the volunteers. Some of the clean up efforts were mulching the land, removing dead plants to replace them with new native plants and blackberry grubbing.
Bear Creek Stewardship holds clean up events twice a year along the Bear Creek Greenway. To sign up for their next event or to stay informed on how you can keep the Greenway clean, click here.
Fatal Auto / Pedestrian Traffic Accident
On Saturday, April 17th, 2021 at about 8:26 p.m., first responders responded to a pedestrian struck by a vehicle on Crater Lake Hwy, near Vilas Road. The pedestrian was determined to be deceased.
The investigation indicates the driver was westbound (towards Medford) on Crater Lake Hwy in his Dodge Caravan when the pedestrian ran out in front of him.
The driver was determined to not be impaired and there is no evidence of a crime. The deceased has been identified as Andrea Hensley, 40 years old. Next of kin have been notified. Case 21-5672 Medford Police Dept.
Fatal House Fire
On April 17th, 2021, at about 12:11 a.m., emergency personnel responded to a house fire in the 1600 block of Valley View Drive. Upon containing the fire, a deceased female was found inside. The initial investigation did not yield anything suspicious and the exact cause of the fire remains under investigation. The autopsy is pending. The decedent has been identified as Jolynn Dehle, 62 years old. Next of kin have been notifified. Case 21-5685. Medford Police Dept.
AROUND the STATE of OREGON
Remembering at Mitchell Monument
It has been a year since the 75th anniversary of the tragedy at Mitchell Monument, but the Bly Community Action Team, Standing Stone Church of the Christian and Missionary Alliance and the Fremont-Winema National Forest have continued to work on a remembrance.
There was an event when Weyerhaeuser dedicated the monument in 1950, and again at the 50th anniversary on May 5, 1995.
The event originally scheduled for May 5, 2020 at Mitchell Monument for the 75th anniversary was postponed and ultimately canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, the event planning committee still feels it’s important to have something to mark the anniversary.
A stone monument tucked in a remote pine forest in Klamath County marks the site of a tragic incident that caused the only American casualties of World War II on continental U.S. soil.
It honors a mostly forgotten moment in history.
But it’s personal for everyone in the small community of Bly, an old lumber town that is home to a U.S. Forest Service station and fewer than 1,000 people.
They all know the story. And many knew the people who were killed 75 years ago.
On May 5, 1945, Rev. Archie Mitchell, his pregnant wife, Elsie, and five Sunday school students went for a picnic about 10 miles northeast of Bly. As Mitchell parked the car, his wife and the children headed to find a picnic spot.
A moment later, Mitchell heard a loud explosion.
“It’s really important to everyone around here because it was Bly residents that were killed,” said Leda Hunter, a lifelong Bly resident and chair of the Bly Community Action Team. “It just had a huge impact on people and still does.”
Hunter, a retired U.S. Forest Service engineer, joined others in the community to organize a ceremony at the Mitchell Monument to mark the 75th anniversary of the tragedy. It was originally planned for Tuesday, on the anniversary, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A tentative date for the ceremony is Sept. 19.
The 50th anniversary in 1995 drew more than 500 people to the monument, Hunter said. She was expecting another large crowd this year.
According to historic records, Elsie Mitchell and the children got out of the car and started walking toward Leonard Creek when they spotted a large balloon on the ground.
One of the children tugged at it, which triggered a bomb attached to the balloon. Archie Mitchell, 27 at the time, ran to the gruesome scene.
“As I got out of my car to bring the lunch, the others were not far away and called to me they had found something that looked like a balloon,” Archie Mitchell said in a June 1, 1945, Bend Bulletin article. “I had heard of Japanese balloons so I shouted a warning not to touch it. But just then there was a big explosion. I ran up there and they were all dead.”
About two years later, Archie Mitchell married Betty Patzke, the older sister of Joan and Dick, who were killed in the blast. Mitchell and his wife became missionaries in Vietnam.
The couple was working at a Vietnam facility that treated leprosy patients on May 30, 1962, when Viet Cong soldiers arrived and took Mitchell and two other Americans, according to military records.
Mitchell was never heard from again. The U.S. government declared him dead in 1969.
Ilana Sol, a Portland-based filmmaker whose 2008 documentary, “On Paper Wings,” documented the visit to Bly by the Japanese women, said the balloon bomb incident is not widely known around the world.
“Personally, I often find myself staring at blank or confused faces when I say that I made a film about the balloon bombs,” Sol said. “Most people still don’t know about them, or the incident in Bly.”
Japan launched more than 9,000 hydrogen balloon bombs between November 1944 and March 1945, according to historical records. The goal was to set fires in the Western U.S. forests to divert resources from the war.
Each balloon was 70 feet tall and carried three bombs. They floated for nearly three days at high altitude across the Pacific Ocean before reaching the U.S.
About 300 to 400 balloon bombs were found in America, including more than 40 across Oregon and two as far as Michigan and Kansas, Sol said.
When the balloon bombs began landing across the United States, the military enacted a censorship policy to prevent the media from reporting on them. The military didn’t want Japan to know its weapons had reached the U.S., Sol said.
Sol said some of the balloons are still out there. In 2014, forestry workers in British Columbia found a balloon bomb and safely destroyed it.
“It is important for people to know that there are likely still some undiscovered balloon bombs in remote or mountainous areas, and they may still pose a danger,” Sol said.
Michelle Durant, an archaeologist for the Fremont-Winema National Forest who oversees the Mitchell Monument, said the Japanese women who made the balloon bombs have visited Bly a few times over the years and they stay in contact with the community.
The women planted six cherry trees around the monument in 1995 during the 50th anniversary as a way to offer their condolences, Durant said.
Two of the cherry trees are still standing. Having them next to the monument is a powerful sight, Durant said.
“Even though it was a horrific thing at the time, something good has come out of it,” she said. “These two cultures have come together and found peace and forgiveness.”
A commemorative program was designed and is being printed for distribution. The segments originally planned for the event were recorded, compiled and will be available as a DVD. — https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/fremont-winema/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD730783
Oregon State University Appoints Interim President
Oregon State University’s Board of Trustees has confirmed the university’s new interim president.
Becky Johnson, confirmed Friday, is currently the vice president of OSU Cascades — the university’s Bend campus, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported. She will resign from that position to step into her role leading the entire university.
Board Chair Rani Borkar said Friday the choice to put Dr. Johnson forward was informed by extensive community engagement.
Investigators Stumped Over Mysterious Oregon Cattle Mutilations
Detectives with the Crook County Sheriff’s Office, longtime ranchers and a Prineville veterinarian who reviewed evidence from an ongoing case say they’re stumped by the “unnatural” deaths.
The udders appeared to have been removed with precision — straight, even cuts, as if made by a sharp object. The reproductive systems had been cut out cleanly as well, and without disturbing other organs.
There was no indication of predator activity and perhaps strangest of all, scavenging animals appeared to have hardly touched these six cow carcasses found in a seven-day span this year on ranchland in rural Crook County.
But the mutilated cattle might be more ordinary than they seem, according to Brian Dunning, a Bend-based podcaster committed to deflating wild claims. “This reads like a very typical case,” he said.
Crook County Sheriff John Gautney said his office has no leads but cautioned there’s “no reason to panic.”
“We’ve had cases like this over the years,” Gautney said. “They seem to come in groups and then go away. We are not speculating on how these are happening, as we try to keep an open mind and look at all possibilities.”
Mutilated cattle have been reported in the American West since at least the 1960s. There have been multiple recent cases of bull mutilations in Harney, Wheeler and Umatilla counties in Eastern Oregon. But now, beef cattle have turned up dead in the remote ranchlands outside Prineville bearing signs common to the cattle mutilation phenomenon.
The current string of cases began Feb. 27, when Crook County Sheriff’s Office deputy Scott Durr was dispatched to suspicious circumstances at the 96 Ranch on SE Van Lake Road. Owner Rickey Shannon said one of his herd had been discovered dead two days earlier with an odd cut down its spine.
Shannon, who lives on the ranch with his two sons, reported no predators or birds had touched the cow. There were no tracks, and no blood surrounding it. The cow’s left cheek, tongue and three of its teats had been cut away cleanly. But the eyes, usually the first body part to be scavenged after death, were untouched. There were no bullet holes and a scan of the cow by a metal detector turned up none.
The cow was about 200 yards from the road, near the edge of a field and some juniper trees. There were no vehicle tracks near the dead animal, no footprints of any kind.
The mystery deepened a few days later. On March 4, Casey Thomas, manager of the GI Ranch on Lister Road in Paulina, reported that one of his herd of around 5,000 appeared to have suffered a strange death.
Crook County detective Javier Sanchez arrived to find a deceased Black Angus cow lying on its side. Hair had been removed near the stomach. All four udders were cut off and its left cheek, tongue and sex organs removed. Between the front legs an uneven patch of hair was missing and in the middle was a prick mark, Sanchez wrote in his report.
The next day, Crook County’s Sgt. Timothy Durheim was dispatched to a report of a wolf kill at the McCormack Ranch on SE Bear Creek Road. But it was apparent no wolf took down this cow.
Durheim noted several straight incisions on the animal. One udder had been removed and a circular cut was made around the anus and the reproductive organs removed without puncturing the gut. The left cheek, left eye and tongue had been removed.
“Again, I noted straight, clean incisions where the cheek had been,” Durheim wrote in his case report.
Durheim examined the carcass and found a puncture wound between the neck and shoulder. He found no bite marks.
“There were no apparent animal or human tracks immediately surrounding the carcass, and only minimal blood in the area,” Durheim wrote. “I know from personal experience that if an animal is killed or scavenged by predators, there is typically a large bloody messy area surrounding the carcass.”
On March 6, Casey Thomas called police back to report finding another dead cow bearing the same strange injuries. This one was more badly decomposed than the first but its left cheek was also removed and a 2-inch patch had been cut into the hair on its neck.
Detectives took photos of the dead cows to Prineville veterinarian Dr. Taylor Karlin for her perspective. She agreed the deaths appeared unnatural and her opinion was included in a search warrant request filed in the case to scan for cell phone activity near where the cows were found.
Charges in any of the cases could include trespassing and aggravated animal abuse. With the cattle valued at $1,250 to $1,400 each, criminal mischief might also be charged.
As a vet with an interest in large animals, Karlin has performed many post-mortem examinations on deceased livestock. When, and if, another mutilated cow turns up in Crook County, Karlin has agreed to perform an appropriate necropsy so she can personally examine a fresh specimen if another turns up.
“I wish I had an answer,” she said. “We’re kind of at a loss.”
One possible explanation is these were, in fact, natural deaths
Podcast host Dunning’s long-running show Skeptoid devoted an episode to debunking cattle mutilation in 2015. Dunning, who read the 28-page search warrant request, called the recent Crook County case typical of numerous accounts often attributed to aliens or satanic rituals.
“This is almost certainly the same kind of bird predation we’ve seen in so many similar cases,” he wrote to The Bulletin. “In my opinion, there is nothing here that suggests anything but normal and expected bird predation had occurred, and … no justification for a search warrant to seek out an apocryphal human responsible for the wounds.”
Dunning said he’s learned there’s actually a short window of time between when the animal dies and when its body is scavenged when it’s obvious what killed the animal.
“Most particularly birds, and also some insects, will always go first for the exposed soft tissue: eyes, tongue, lips and mouth area, genitals. The animal is dead with zero blood pressure so there is never significant bleeding from post mortem wounds. The body is in the process of drying and decaying, so skin pulls tight from around the excised area, giving the impression of a perfect surgical cut.”
Karlin is awaiting the results of liver and blood samples she’s sent away for lab testing. Police have sent hair samples to the state crime lab on the chance they don’t belong to the bovine.
Last year, the FBI in Oregon started receiving questions about cattle mutilations in Central and Eastern Oregon, according to Beth Anne Steele, spokesperson for the FBI Portland office. But despite sporadic media inquiries, the office does not have a current role in the cattle mutilation investigations, Steele wrote to The Bulletin.
Pedestrian Struck and Killed on Hwy 101 in Tillamook County
A pedestrian was struck and killed on Highway 101 in Tillamook County on Saturday, according to Oregon State Patrol.
Troopers responded to a report of a pedestrian struck near milepost Z49 at approximately 11:51 p.m.
According to an initial investigation, Quinten Hoptowit, 23, of Warm Springs, was lying in the roadway when he was struck by a vehicle driving northbound. The vehicle was described as a dark color crew cab pick-up with a short box, open bed and a broken side tail light.
The driver left the scene. Hoptowit was pronounced dead at the scene.
Anyone with information regarding this incident or the described vehicle is asked to call Oregon State Police Northern Command Center at 1-800-442-0776 or *OSP and leave information for Trooper Jace Huseby case # SP21-100770.
Air Travel Higher than Expected Over Spring Break
The Portland International Airport is reporting a higher-than-expected travel turnout over spring break. The airport saw 545-thousand passengers, which is 22-percent higher than forecast.
That’s over four times more passengers than during last year’s spring break. Airport officials are expecting a total of more than 800-thousand passengers for the month of April.
Oregon Youth Suicide Rising
Rates of youth suicide have been rising since 2011, but this week state legislators are taking action, passing legislation they say will change that. Mental health is an even bigger concern during the pandemic, and this bill aims to help teens in crisis.
That bill passed with almost unanimous support and will now move on to the state senate. Over a year of life in quarantine is taking a toll, especially on Oregon’s youth.