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
Tuesday, April 27, 2021
Rogue Valley Weather
Today- Sunny, with a high near 73. Calm wind becoming north around 5 mph in the afternoon.
Wednesday- Sunny, with a high near 83. Light north wind.
Thursday- Partly sunny, with a high near 86. Light and variable wind.
Friday- Partly sunny, with a high near 79.
Saturday- Mostly sunny, with a high near 73.
Oregon reports 630 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 1 new death
There is one new COVID-19 related death in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 2,486. The Oregon Health Authority reported 630 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 181,321.
The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (2), Benton (2), Clackamas (94), Clatsop (4), Columbia (7), Coos (5), Crook (3), Deschutes (43), Douglas (4), Grant (4), Hood River (1), Jackson (55), Jefferson (2), Josephine (8), Lane (40), Lincoln (2), Linn (16), Marion (81), Multnomah (164), Polk (10), Tillamook (5), Union (1), Wasco (3), Washington (66) and Yamhill (8).
Vaccinations in Oregon
Today, OHA reported that 27,077 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry. Of this total, 18,911 doses were administered on April 25 and 8,166 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry on April 25.
The 7-day running average is now 34,754 doses per day.
Oregon has now administered a total of 1,498,437 first and second doses of Pfizer, 1,234,442 first and second doses of Moderna and 92,142 single doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines. As of today, 1,175,540 people have completed a COVID-19 vaccine series. There are 1,738,540 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, 1,731,015 doses of Pfizer, 1,454,400 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.
The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 319, which is 28 more than yesterday. There are 77 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is 11 more than yesterday.
On April 6, the Governor’s Office announced counties will not move into the Extreme Risk category unless both of
the following criteria are met statewide: The peak daily number of beds occupied by COVID-19-positive patients from the previous seven days (including the current day) is more than 300, and the percentage increase in total number of COVID-19-positive patient bed-days is 15.0% or greater when comparing the most recent seven-day period with the previous seven-day period. Both metrics are exceeded in today’s report…setting the stage for further closures.
OHA announces new tableau features
Oregon Health Authority has launched two new features on its public Tableau site. These new features will display and update the data used to calculate the weekly County Risk Metrics.
The first feature will display confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 case counts by the day the case was reported to public health. It will allow users to select a county and see confirmed and presumptive daily COVID-19 case counts for the current and previous four weeks. The new feature will be available on the Oregon COVID-19 Testing and Outcomes by County Dashboard.
The second feature will display data on the number of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19-positive patients. On April 6, the Governor’s Office announced counties will not move into the Extreme Risk category unless both of the following criteria are met statewide:
- The peak daily number of beds occupied by COVID-19-positive patients from the previous seven days (including the current day) is more than 300, and
- The percentage increase in total number of COVID-19-positive patient bed-days is 15.0% or greater when comparing the most recent seven-day period with the previous seven-day period.
OHA has developed a new feature to track whether this metric is met that will be updated Monday through Friday and on weekends the data will be included in the Daily Media Release.
Previously, this data was updated weekly on Monday’s and used full Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report weeks. The dashboard will compare the current seven days total COVID-19-positive-patient-bed-days to the previous seven-day period. The dashboard also displays the daily peak in the current seven-day period. It will be available on the HOSCAP dashboard.
OHA announces changes to COVID-19 quarantine guidelines
With the new surge of daily cases and the sharp rise in COVID-19 related hospitalizations, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is recommending that unvaccinated persons who have been exposed to a person with COVID-19 should quarantine for 14 days.
Previously, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and OHA had advised that a 10-day quarantine or a seven-day quarantine with a negative COVID-19 test were acceptable alternatives.
However, a 14-day quarantine is the safest option to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to others. Revised guidance for this new recommendation is being finalized.
People who have been exposed to a person with COVID-19 are not required to quarantine if they have been fully vaccinated. A person is considered fully vaccinated if it has been two weeks or longer since they received the final dose of their respective vaccine series and they do not have symptoms of COVID-19.
Amid this newest wave of COVID-19, OHA continues to recommend protective measures such as keeping physical distance, wearing face coverings, restricting gatherings and frequently washing hands. OHA recommends that all eligible Oregonians make a plan to get vaccinated.
Oregon Health Authority is updating its mask guidance for non-contact sports
The Oregon Health Authority is updating its mask guidance for non-contact sports, just days after a high school runner collapsed on a track in Bend, Oregon. The new guidance will allow non-contact sports athletes to remove masks during competition.
Maggie Williams runs for Summit High School. On Wednesday, Williams set a goal to break the school record in the 800-meter race. She ran the first lap in 61 seconds. Her head coach, Dave Turnbull, ran to the 200-meter mark to give her guidance on the last half lap. Williams had collapsed.
COVID Variant Detected in Wastewater
Ongoing statewide wastewater testing and genome sequencing through the collaboration of Oregon State University’s TRACE-COVID-19 project and the Oregon Health Authority suggests the South African variant of the COVID-19 virus is present in Albany and Corvallis.
The South African variant of COVID-19, B.1.351, has a mutation that allows the virus to more effectively latch onto a person’s cells, so someone who is exposed to this variant is more likely to become infected. The Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention estimate it spreads roughly 50% faster than the original COVID-19 virus, just like the United Kingdom variant, B.1.1.7. With the South African, U.K. and California variants spreading in the state, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are rising in Oregon and public health officials are urging caution.
The South African variant is of particular concern. According to the CDC, several studies suggest this variant may have increased resistance against those vaccines, and the AstraZeneca vaccine used in other countries did not provide protection from the South African variant.
Fifteen counties in Oregon will be moving back up to the extreme risk level on Friday.
Gov. Kate Brown made the announcement on Tuesday.
The change comes as hospitalizations are surging in many parts of the state, meaning several counties qualify for the highest COVID-19 risk level.
“If we don’t act now, doctors, nurses, hospitals, and other health care providers in Oregon will be stretched to their limits treating severe cases of COVID-19,” said Brown. “Today’s announcement will save lives and help stop COVID-19 hospitalizations from spiking even higher. With new COVID-19 variants widespread in so many of our communities, it will take all of us working together to bring this back under control.”
On Friday, the counties moving to extreme risk are Baker, Clackamas, Columbia, Crook, Deschutes, Grant, Jackson, Josephine, Klamath, Lane, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, Polk and Wasco. Nine counties will be in high risk, four at moderate risk and eight at lower risk. For the full list, click here.
Grange Co-op Building Larger Retail Location in White City to Serve Upper Rogue Residents
Grange Co-op has purchased a 7.8-acre lot in White City, Oregon continuing its path of growth and support of the Upper Rogue. The new location will feature a larger, updated retail store and include the company’s new Business Office, making it the Co-op’s second-largest retail location.
“Our new retail space and Business Office will allow us to continue to fulfill our purpose of helping our communities, employees and customers achieve more together,” states CEO Neil Itzen. “We opened our original White City location in 2008, previously Norton Lumber, and thanks to the support of our customers we quickly outgrew our store. The new location will allow us to better serve the Upper Rogue while continuing to maintain our high standard of service and knowledge.”
Grange Co-op has teamed up with Outlier Construction as its general contractor, with help from C & C Constructors as well as other local companies to build the larger updated space. The new location, at 7700 Crater Lake Highway in White City, will increase retail space from 9,500 sq ft to over 22,000 sq ft, as well as increasing the nursery from 2,800 sq ft to over 12,500 sq ft. The new drive-through warehouse will allow for purchases to be made directly from a customer’s vehicle.
As well as a new retail location, Grange Co-op will also be including a larger, updated Business Office, replacing its current location in Medford. “Our new office will include a large employee training facility, purchasing and administrative offices,” states CEO Neil Itzen. “The capability to bring our employees in for product and knowledge-based training in a larger group setting will help continue our pursuit to be the go-to place for knowledge and service. We are committed to maintain our ‘people first’ company culture. Having our retail store and business office together will enable us to support our employees and customers even more,” states Itzen.
“Grange Co-op would like to thank our Agricultural Members, loyal customers, employees, and Board Members for their continued support and dedication for over 87 years. Because of them, we can continue to grow and support our communities,” states Itzen. The store and office are set to open in mid-2022.
Controlled Burn Gets Out Of Control Near Cave Junction
According to the Illinois Valley Fire District, a legal control burn up near the 5000 block of Dick George Road became out of control yesterday morning.
Even with the wetter conditions outside yesterday, and the fire being monitored, IVFD and ODF firefighters were called to the scene to help put out of the fire before the flames could escape the area.
IVFD and ODF want to remind people to please be careful when starting a control burn because even when you do it right, it can still become out of control.
AROUND the STATE of OREGON
Protecting #OregonOurOregon is at heart of public campaign kicking off Wildfire Awareness Month
SALEM, Ore. – May is Wildfire Awareness Month. Keep Oregon Green, in partnership with federal, state and local fire agencies and organizations, is promoting May as a great time to encourage the public to create defensible space around homes and prevent careless, unwanted wildfires this summer.
At stake: Lives, property, forests
Last Labor Day, Oregon faced a rare and exceptionally strong east wind event during a prolonged dry period and heat wave. The wind drove explosive growth on wildfires that were already burning and sparked new ones. One Oregonian in 10 was under some level of evacuation notice, 9 people died, and 4,000 homes and 1,000 other structures were destroyed. Five fires reached megafire size, burning over 100,000 acres each. Altogether, a million acres burned statewide in a little over a week – twice the average area burned in an entire year.
Over 70% of Oregon’s wildfires are started by people, placing the power of prevention squarely in our hands. Public lands were saw large crowds last summer, and land managers expect high numbers again this year. Before heading outdoors, contact the agency or landowner who manages the lands at your destination for an update on current fire restrictions or bans. Residents staying close to home must also check fire restrictions before building backyard campfires or using equipment that could ignite dry vegetation, such as lawn mowers or weed trimmers.
Oregon, Our Oregon
Keep Oregon Green’s annual wildfire prevention campaign encourages residents and tourists to practice basic wildfire safety while enjoying the outdoors. Stunning campaign photos of Oregon’s iconic landscapes will encourage everyone to protect our state’s scenic recreation areas. Using the hashtag, #OregonOurOregon, Keep Oregon Green is asking the public to share photos of their favorite natural areas and thoughts for keeping Oregon free of wildfire. Campaign artwork, PSAs, and additional wildfire safety tips can be found at keeporegongreen.org and its various social media platforms.
Coming soon: Wildfire Awareness Month tips
During May, a new wildfire prevention topic will be introduced each week to help homeowners and recreationists learn how to prevent their outdoor activities from sparking the next wildfire. For more wildfire preparedness and prevention information, visit the websites for Keep Oregon Green at https://keeporegongreen.org/, the Oregon Department of Forestry’s restrictions map https://www.oregon.gov/odf/fire/Pages/fireprevention.aspx, OSU’s new Fire Program at https://extension.oregonstate.edu/fire-program and OSU’s Oregon Wildfire Risk Explorer tool: https://oregonexplorer.info/topics/wildfire-risk?ptopic=62 —- Oregon Dept. of Forestry
7 People Shot During Vigil for Murder Victim In Gresham
A group of mourners gathered at a vigil for a murder victim in Gresham was met with gunfire Monday night at the same intersection where the man was killed a day earlier, authorities said.
The drive-by shooting left seven people injured in the Portland suburb of Gresham around 11:30 p.m., roughly 24 hours after Sunday night’s killing, according to police. The victims in the latest shooting were taken to area hospitals and were expected to survive, police said.
No arrests have been made in either shooting.
Monday’s attack happened when a shooter inside a dark SUV drove past the vigil and opened fire on the crowd, police told local media. At least one member of the vigil fired back, but it was not clear if anyone in the car was struck.
The victim in Sunday’s fatal shooting has been identified as 22-year-old Alejandro Barajas. A possible motive remains under investigation, but police said the two shootings appear to stem from an ongoing dispute between two groups. The Gresham Police Department asked anyone with information about the killing or drive-by shooting to contact the agency. — https://greshamoregon.gov/Police-Services-and-Resources/
Oregon’s Growth Gives It An Additional US House Seat
Steady population growth, driven by newcomers from other states, is giving Oregon greater national political clout. U.S. Census Bureau figures released Monday show the state’s population expanded over the past decade enough to give it an additional congressional district for the first time in 40 years.
Expanding its U.S. House seats from five to six won’t necessarily be a win for Democrats, who control the state politically and hold all but one of the current seats. Democrats agreed to give up their advantage in redrawing political boundaries in a deal to stop Republicans from blocking legislation.
The once-a-decade head count shows where the U.S. population grew during the past 10 years and where it shrank. Fast-growing Texas got enough people to merit two new House seats. Florida and North Carolina picked up one each. In contrast, Michigan, New York and Ohio each lost a seat. So did California — losing a seat for the first time
The pandemic recession was the steepest, deepest economic collapse in Oregon history.
But not for everyone. More than one in 10 Oregon jobs paying below $35,000 a year disappeared in the early weeks of the pandemic, according to a new report by Josh Lehner, with the state’s Office of Economic Analysis.
Oregon’s jobless rate soared to an all-time high of 13.2%. During the same period, though, Oregon actually added jobs paying more than $64,000 a year. The data underscores the notoriously inequitable nature of the pandemic recession. Frontline workers in restaurants, bars, hotels, gyms, boutiques and many other fields were thrown out of work when the state ordered them shut down to contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
Those who could do their jobs from home, though, were often insulated from those effects and went right on working. Business, finance and legal work expanded by nearly 5% — scientific jobs were up more than 10%.
As Lehner notes in his analysis, that’s very different from the recession that followed the dot-com bust at the turn of the century, or the Great Recession. Middle-wage jobs suffered the most in those two downturns, especially in 2007.
While those who lost their jobs last year were frequently the ones who could least afford to go without an income, federal relief payments blunted the impact for many. The federal government continues to pay a $300 weekly unemployment bonus and has extended jobless payments for a year or more, far beyond the usual limit.
Oregon has paid more than $8.6 billion in jobless benefits, most of it federal money, during the pandemic.
And there’s cause for optimism that the nature of the 2020 job losses may accelerate the recovery in 2021. With vaccinations reaching a growing share of the population, and establishments of all kinds reopening, the jobs that vanished early in the pandemic may be among the fastest to return.
May is Work Zone Safety Month in Oregon
This week is focused on reminding motorists of the importance to slow down and move over for emergency and highway workers. This also coincides with the start of construction season in most states including #Oregon.
Many roadway projects take advantage of the nicer weather to upgrade, upkeep, and upscale the Oregon driving experience Oregon State Police implores you to use extra caution in and around work zones.
Work zone crashes are often more severe than other types of crashes. Most work zone crashes are caused by drivers not paying attention. Speeding or driving too fast for conditions is the second leading cause of work zone crashes.
Distracted driving causes the majority of work zone crashes, followed by speeding and driving too fast for conditions. Oregon State Police, encourages drivers to always drive safe, obey speed limits, and to be especially attentive when you see highway workers and work zones. If you choose not to drive safe in highway work zones, OSP will be there watching to ensure our highway workers get home safely.
What can you do?
- Pay attention when you see orange signs, barrels, cones and barricades.
- Obey flaggers and flagging devices.
- Try to put yourself “in the zone” before you even get to the work zone. (Be mentally prepared and alert.)
- Drive like you work there.
- Obey all speed signs and remember to drive for conditions.
- Call 511 or visit www.TripCheck.com to check routes, work zones, road and weather conditions before you head out.
- Move over to give workers more room when possible. Work zone lanes are often narrow.
- Expect work zones in rural areas and remember that many projects are done at night.
- Remember fines in work zones double whether workers are present or not.
The Oregon Employment Department is changing its online “Contact Us” form to make it easier for those on unemployment to get the answers they need.
The department says its new form will allow it to better track questions and help users get the answers they want online. The form goes live Wednesday and will be available in English and Spanish. https://www.oregon.gov/employ/Pages/Contact-Us.aspx
UO Files Federal Lawsuit Against Former Campus Police Officer
The University of Oregon has filed a federal lawsuit against a former campus police
officer, accusing him of lying in police reports and withholding key evidence in an
alleged malicious prosecution of a Latino bicyclist he stopped at gunpoint.
The university fired officer Troy Phillips in 2019 for dishonesty. Phillips couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
The university agreed last week to pay $115,000 to the family of the bicyclist, Eliborio Rodrigues Jr., who later died in an unrelated encounter with Eugene police.
The payment settled a notice to sue the university. Phillips failed to disclose to a Eugene municipal prosecutor who asked that his Oct. 27, 2018, stop of Rodrigues was videotaped and audio recorded through his police car’s mobile camera, the lawsuit says.