Rogue Valley News, Friday 4/30 – Grants Pass Downs Getting Ready for Spring Meet, Grants Pass Man Sentenced to Life in Prison

The latest news stories and stories of interest in the Rogue Valley from the digital home of Southern Oregon, from Wynne Broadcasting’s RogueValleyMagazine.com

Friday, April 30, 2021

Rogue Valley Weather

Today- Mostly sunny, with a high near 80. Calm wind becoming northwest 5 to 9 mph in the afternoon.

Saturday- Scattered showers before 11am. Cloudy through mid morning, then gradual clearing, with a high near 73. Calm wind becoming northwest 5 to 9 mph in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 50%.

Sunday- Mostly sunny, with a high near 70. North northwest wind around 6 mph.

Monday- Sunny, with a high near 74.

Tuesday- Sunny, with a high near 75.

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Oregon reports 928 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 2,491. The Oregon Health Authority reported 928 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 183,830.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (4), Benton (8), Clackamas (93), Clatsop (13), Columbia (9), Coos (3), Crook (10), Curry (3), Deschutes (125), Douglas (17), Harney (2), Hood River (5), Jackson (32), Jefferson (15), Josephine (23), Klamath (24), Lake (4), Lane (60), Lincoln (2), Linn (44), Malheur (3), Marion (81),Morrow (2),  Multnomah (177), Polk (14), Tillamook (5), Umatilla (10), Union (5), Wallowa (3), Wasco (6), Washington (109) and Yamhill (17).

Oregon’s 2,491st death is an 88-year-old man from Josephine County who tested positive on April 9 and died on April 27 at Asante Three Rivers Medical Center. He had underlying conditions.

Vaccinations in Oregon

Today, OHA reported that 39,560 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry. Of this total, 26,858 doses were administered on April 28 and 12,702 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry on April 28.

The seven-day running average is now 35,429 doses per day.

Oregon has now administered a total of 1,564,698 first and second doses of Pfizer, 1,274,713 first and second doses of Moderna and 93,723 single doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines. As of today, 1,229,497 people have completed a COVID-19 vaccine series. There are 1,794,112 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, 1,864,395 doses of Pfizer, 1,581,100 doses of Moderna and 228,700 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.

COVID-19 hospitalizations

The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 339, which is 13 more than yesterday. There are 71 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is seven more than yesterday.

The total number of COVID-19 positive patient bed-days in the most recent seven days is 2,174, which is a 30.4% increase from the previous seven days. The peak daily number of beds occupied by COVID-19 positive patients in the most recent seven days is 339.

The total number of patients in hospital beds may fluctuate between report times. The numbers do not reflect admissions per day, nor the length of hospital stay. Staffing limitations are not captured in this data and may further limit bed capacity. More information about hospital capacity can be found here.

Delivering hygiene support to help reduce COVID-19 transmission

LoveOne describes itself as a love-driven nonprofit serving neighbors in Clackamas County. The organization provides laundry services, showers, hygiene items, food and other services to people who need them in Oregon CityMilwaukieMolalla and soon, Sandy. 

It is one of the community-based organizations that Oregon Health Authority partners with to provide COVID-19 education, outreach and wraparound services.  

The urgent need for access to soap and running water became clear very soon after the shutdown in 2020. Public restrooms closed leaving folks without access to running water or soap, says executive director Brandi Johnson. People’s small cuts and insect bites soon became badly infected.

“We immediately realized we needed to set up hand washing stations at laundry events,” says Johnson. Eventually, out of this need, “the shower cart came to be funded and built.” The hygiene support LoveOne offers to more than 200 people a month helps reduce COVID-19 transmission.  

Folks who use the showers get fifteen minutes in a shower stall that is stocked with shampoo, conditioner and body wash, and leave with new socks, underwear and undershirts.

“These events,” says Johnson, “are a great opportunity to build relationships because folks have to be there a while.” Getting to know people’s names, where they camp, their phone numbers and their medical information, she adds, has proven instrumental in referring them to housing. 

LoveOne partners with other community organizations to offer services including HIV and Hepatitis-C testing, food boxes, Oregon Health Plan support and sometimes COVID-19 vaccines. Plans are in the works to pair some shower services in rural areas with community court.  For more information, visit their events page?or Facebook page

Gov. Kate Brown also extended a long-standing state of emergency to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic while hinting that similar orders may not be necessary this summer.

Brown extended by 60 days her authority to issue restrictions on business operations, among other things. Fifteen counties with high coronavirus case rates will face the strictest of those limits beginning Friday, when in-person dining will be prohibited as part of an effort to slow Oregon’s fourth surge.

“I intend to fully reopen our economy by the end of June, and the day is approaching when my emergency orders can eventually be lifted,” Brown said in a statement. “How quickly we get there is up to each and every one of us doing our part. Over 1.7 million Oregonians have received at least one dose of vaccine, and over 1.2 million are fully vaccinated against this deadly disease.”

Oregon Hospitals Seeing Rise in Younger COVID-19 patients

Oregon Health Authority | LinkedIn

The Oregon Health Authority reported that hospitalizations have increased again this week. The state agency saying that 339 people are battling the virus in the hospital, a rise of 13 from the day before.

OHA reports that 71 COVID-19 patients are in the ICU, which is up seven from the previous day.

The hospital systems across the state and the Oregon Health Authority says these beds are being filled up with younger patients than earlier in the pandemic. They point to seeing fewer elderly Oregonians because a vast majority have been vaccinated against the virus.

OHA says the dominant strain of COVID-19 in the state is B117, which is 50% more contagious.

Doctors say though patients they are treating aren’t as severely impacted by the virus, it is still a serious illness.

“It is a very severe disease,” Dr. Laura Kuipers with Providence Portland said. “I mean the oxygen levels required to keep a patient stable, the hypoxia that has been there has been true across the board, so these patients are still pretty sick.”

Providence Portland says between March 1 and April 25 of this year, 40% of COVID-19 hospitalizations were made of up people under the age of 50. They say compared to the same time last year it is a stark difference when those under 50 made up just 13 percent of patients.

At Providence St. Vincent, that hospital has seen a slight increase in the number of patients under 50. That age group makes up 40% of patients compared to the same time period last year when 34% occupied a hospital bed.

“In the fall we were seeing patients who were older sort of in their 70’s, 80’s now all of those folks are vaccinated,” Dr. Kuipers said. “The folks we are seeing now in the hospital are younger patients, usually anywhere from 40’s, 50’s.”

The silver lining in the numbers is fewer patients are on a ventilator or in the ICU.

“They’re usually able to bounce back a little bit faster,” Dr. Kuipers said, “that being said this is not a normal illness. This is still in the hospital for several days, weeks at times.”

Doctors are urging people to get vaccinated and take precautions serious as they would like to see the cases begin to drop. “We know that the end is out there if we can just get there together,” Dr. Kuipers said.

LOCAL HEADLINES:

Grants Pass Downs Getting Ready for Spring Meet

Grants Pass Downs – Oregon's Premier Horse Racing Track

Coming off a record-shattering fall meeting that established new marks in total wagering and field size, Grants Pass Downs in Grants Pass, Ore., looks to continue its momentum when the 2021 Spring Meeting begins Monday May 10.

The 17-day season features Monday and Tuesday racing at 5:15 p.m. PT. Holiday racing is offered Sunday, July 4, at 1 p.m.

According to track president Randy Evers, an update regarding fans will be released next week. The situation is fluid, but Josephine County is among 15 counties across Oregon moved into the “Extreme Risk” category for COVID-19.

Despite challenges presented by the ongoing pandemic, Grants Pass Downs is thriving. At the 16-day fall meeting, Grants Pass averaged 8.03 starters per race and exceeded $6 million in handle, including a record $868,632 on closing day. It was the track’s most successful commercial meeting yet.

“We were absolutely elated, we couldn’t have been happier with the season,” said racing secretary John Everly. “Grants Pass is doing everything possible to make horse racing successful. It’s so refreshing being around people who want to grow the sport.”

Under CEO Travis Boersma and Evers, Grants Pass Downs has undergone several significant upgrades with its racing surface and facility, including a state-of-the art safety rail and a widened racing surface that now accommodates 10 starters. And beginning this season, a new chute will make it possible for Evers to card six-furlong Thoroughbred races and 440-yard Quarter Horse events.

Everly anticipates all 450 on-track stalls being occupied by opening day, while long-term plan calls for a new off-track training and equestrian center to be built mere minutes away from the Grants Pass facility. Steve Wood, longtime track superintendent at Santa Anita Park, is overseeing development of the training center project.

“I can’t wait to get back to Grants Pass Downs for the spring season,” Beem said.  “Coming off such a successful fall season, I can’t wait to get things going again.  Grants Pass Downs is a really fun place to call races because we have had good field size and the half mile track makes for lots of fast-paced action to keep me on my toes.” For More Information: https://www.gpdowns.com/

Grants Pass Man Sentenced to Life in Prison

A Grants Pass area man has been sentenced to life in prison for killing his father-in-law and extensively injuring his wife at the time and stepdaughter.

David Hodges, 58, was sentenced Tuesday in Jackson County Circuit Court after pleading guilty to second-degree murder.

Hodges fatally shot and stabbed 64-year-old Richard Rudolph on Sept. 20, 2019, according to Senior Deputy Prosecutor Alyssa Claseman.

Hodges also pleaded guilty to two attempted murder charges for hurting his then-wife and 16-year-old stepdaughter. Claseman said both will be dealing with physical and emotional scars for the rest of their lives.

Expect Delays Friday on Ashland Street, east of Interstate 5

Drivers should expect delays today (Friday) on Oregon 66 — Ashland Street — just east of the Interstate 5, Exit 14 interchange.

https://www.tripcheck.com

Knife River Materials will be repaving the westbound lanes from near the intersection of East Main Street west to near Sutton Place, a distance of about 1,500 feet.

Ashland Street will be under flagger control from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to complete the project. The $50,000 improvements will remove the ruts and other poor pavement on that section of Ashland Street. 

Traffic that frequently uses Ashland Street east of I-5 should consider alternate routes. — ODOT: SW Oregon

Targeted Pedestrian Safety Enforcement Operation in Medford

On Friday, May 7th, 2021 from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM, the Medford Police Department will be conducting a “Targeted Pedestrian Safety Enforcement Operation” on Jackson Street at N Keene Way Dr. The operation will focus on drivers failing to yield the right of way to pedestrians in the crosswalk.

These operations are to raise pedestrian safety awareness through enforcement of pedestrian right of way laws with the use of a decoy pedestrian operation at targeted locations.  Violators may be cited for failure to stop and remain stopped for a pedestrian in a marked crosswalk or passing a stopped vehicle at a marked or unmarked crosswalk.  The intersection of E Jackson Street and N Keen Way Dr. has marked and unmarked crosswalks.  Both violations carry a presumptive fine of $265.00.  Drivers should be reminded there is a crosswalk at every intersection, regardless if it is marked or unmarked. This location is within a designated school zone where speeds are posted 20 MPH. Fine amounts double for traffic violations that occur within a school zone. 

Drivers are reminded of the Oregon laws that require a driver must stop and remain stopped if a pedestrian is walking in your lane of traffic or the lane adjacent, remembering this applies on single and multi-lane roadways.  Oregon law also prohibits passing a stopped vehicle at a marked or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection if the vehicle is stopped to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway. — Medford Police Dept.

AROUND the STATE of OREGON

Second Round of Landlord Compensation Fund Opens to Applications on April 29

Oregon Housing and Community Services will distribute at least $70 million in assistance covering rent owed?by eligible tenants? 

Round two of the Landlord Compensation Fund program opened April 29,?2021 and includes $70 million in assistance covering rent owed by eligible tenants that was accrued from April 1, 2020 through May 2021. All applications received by May 17 at 5pm will be reviewed and scored; funds are not first-come, first-served. The Oregon Legislature allocated a total of $150 million to the Landlord Compensation Fund (LCF).  

“Oregon’s Landlord Compensation Fund Program is designed to provide relief to residential landlords who have been unable to collect rent due to tenant hardships,” says Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) Director Margaret Salazar. “We’re grateful to assist landlords in keeping Oregon’s financially stressed tenants in their homes after a remarkably challenging year.” 

OHCS has also made improvements to the LCF Application Portal that will make it easier for landlords and property managers to submit required documentation. Even with these improvements, there still may be occasional glitches due to the expected high volumes of applicants. “We are working as quickly as possible to get assistance where it is most needed in the easiest way possible,” said Julie Cody, OHCS Director of Affordable Rental Housing. “If applicants experience technical difficultly, we ask they be patient and work with our customer service staff to address any issues that may arise.” 

Tenants must provide their landlord with a Declaration of Financial Hardship for Eviction Protection . When tenants provide this form to their landlord, they are protected from eviction through June 30th, 2021, and the landlord may use the form to request payment for rental debt owed from April 1, 2020 through May 2021. 

Participating landlords can receive funding for an amount equal to 80% of the rental debt owed by qualified residents from April 2020?through the month the application round they are applying in opened. Landlords agree to forgive the remaining 20% of the tenant’s debt as part of the grant agreement and as a condition of receiving payment. If there are more applications than funds available, OHCS has developed a scoring criteria that weighs portfolio size and percentage of uncollected rent with preference being attached to smaller portfolios and those properties with higher uncollected rental debt. 

“I was delighted for this opportunity to have full forgiveness for my tenant, a restaurant worker and student,” said Glen Ford, a Landlord Compensation Fund round one applicant. “To also recover 80% of my losses is a bonus I did not expect would ever happen. [I am] so thankful.”  

Background on the Landlord Compensation Program 

During the Third Special Session of 2020, the Oregon Legislature enacted an eviction moratorium and established the Landlord Compensation Fund (HB 4401). The Legislature allocated $200 million in rent assistance to support tenants and landlords, which includes $150 million for the Landlord Compensation Fund. This program was designed to provide relief to landlords who have tenants living in their homes who have been unable to pay rent at any point since April 2020 due to a financial hardship. The program will also eliminate the rent owed for those tenants experiencing a hardship. 

Applications for the first round of funding closed last month. Over $40 million was awarded to landlords in the first round, and award notices were sent to landlord this week and last. Public Housing Authorities will verify ownership, make payments to landlords, and notify tenants that their rent has been forgiven. These resources will help approximately 12,000 tenant households and more than 1,900 landlords. As the map below shows, resources were allocated across the state.  — Oregon Housing and Community Services

Murdock Trust Announces Grants to Oregon Nonprofits

Today, the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust released its Winter 2021 Grants Report.

The report details:

  • 78 grants totaling more than $14.5 million to nonprofits serving the Pacific Northwest
  • 29 grants totaling more than $6.5 million to nonprofit organizations serving communities in Oregon
  • A full list of grantees by state can be found here
  • Since opening in 1975, the Murdock Trust has awarded nearly 7,500 grants to nonprofits serving the Pacific Northwest totaling $1.13 billion.

For more information on Murdock Trust grantmaking, enrichment programming and convening work, please visit our website or reach out directly with questions. — M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust

Curry County begins transfer of public health programs to OHA May 2

OHA to continue some services after county resolutions on April 28

Oregon Health Authority is preparing to provide some public health services in Curry County after the county’s Board of Commissioners yesterday approved an amended resolution to transfer its local public health authority to the state agency. Both parties also agreed to mutually terminate the county’s agreements with OHA.

The termination of the county’s agreements with OHA is effective May 2, 2021. A date for transferring public health authority to OHA has yet to be determined.

“I’m very happy that Curry County is entering a new era in public health for our citizens,” said Commissioner Court Boice. “We have been working closely with OHA to ensure a smooth transition and look forward to a strong future partnership.”

By law —ORS 431.382—the county is authorized to pass a resolution to transfer authority to OHA. Legally, the transfer is not required to occur for 180 days. However, due to staffing limitations within Curry County, the county and OHA agreed to terminate their agreements related to public health services beginning May 2 to allow OHA to assume responsibility for continuing services it is statutorily obligated to provide to protect the public’s health, including:

  • Monitoring communicable diseases and controlling outbreaks, including the COVID-19 pandemic response.
  • Ensuring access to safe drinking water.
  • Ensuring access to WIC services.
  • Licensing and inspecting food, pool and lodging facilities.

Over the next several weeks, Curry County and OHA will work to ensure a smooth transition for remaining program responsibilities and will communicate with county residents about when and where to receive services.

“We recognize the Curry County Board of Commissioners has the legal ability to transfer local public health authority to OHA. We will work closely with the board and its staff during the shift from local to state provision of public health services,” said Rachael Banks, M.P.A., director of the OHA Public Health Division.

“We will thoroughly examine and address any potential gaps in public health services that have been provided in the county,” she said.

In response to the county’s decision, the Public Health Division has convened staff representatives from across the division to plan for and communicate about the transition, including sharing information with local partners, clients and the general public.

Oregon to receive $803,500 in American Rescue Plan Act funding from the National Endowment for the Arts

OAC Logo Color (.png) | Oregon Arts Commission

The National Endowment for the Arts is recommending an award of $803,500 to the Oregon Arts Commission in the NEA’s first distribution of funds from the American Rescue Plan (ARP). This emergency rescue funding is designed to support the arts sector as it recovers from the devastating impact of COVID-19. It is part of the $135 million allocated to the Arts Endowment which represents a significant commitment to the arts and a recognition of the value of the arts and culture sector to the nation’s economy and recovery.

“The release of these American Rescue Plan funds marks an important step in the economic recovery of the creative sector,” said NEA Acting Chair Ann Eilers. “The knowledge of the Oregon Arts Commission about the arts and culture landscape in Oregon makes it an ideal steward of federal dollars. The Arts Endowment is grateful for the continued leadership of the Oregon Arts Commission as the arts sector rebuilds in a way that works better for all arts organizations.”

“Arts and culture bring our communities together, sustain our economy, spark our imagination and bring us comfort – especially during difficult times,” said Oregon Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “I’ve been advocating for robust funding that will help our arts and culture organizations survive the economic devastation of the coronavirus pandemic, and I’m grateful that Oregon will be receiving this emergency funding from the American Rescue Plan.”

“We are excited and extremely grateful to receive these American Rescue Plan funds to help Oregon’s arts organizations recover from the pandemic and plan for reopening,” said Brian Rogers, executive director of the Arts Commission. “Over the next several weeks, Arts Commission staff and Commissioners will review federal guidance to develop a statewide distribution plan for the funds.”

Update on the National Endowment for the Arts’ Direct ARP Grants to Organizations

The remaining 60 percent of the ARP money will be awarded by the Arts Endowment directly to non-profit organizations to help support jobs in the arts sector, keep the doors open to arts organizations nationwide, and assist the field in its response to and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Guidelines and application materials for a second phase of American Rescue Plan funding from the Arts Endowment are expected to be available in June, pending review.

The Oregon Arts Commission provides leadership, funding and arts programs through its grants, special initiatives and services. Nine commissioners, appointed by the Governor, determine arts needs and establish policies for public support of the arts. The Arts Commission became part of Business Oregon (formerly Oregon Economic and Community Development Department) in 1993, in recognition of the expanding role the arts play in the broader social, economic and educational arenas of Oregon communities. In 2003, the Oregon legislature moved the operations of the Oregon Cultural Trust to the Arts Commission, streamlining operations and making use of the Commission’s expertise in grantmaking, arts and cultural information and community cultural development. 

The Arts Commission is supported with general funds appropriated by the Oregon legislature and with federal funds from the National Endowment for the Arts as well as funds from the Oregon Cultural Trust. More information about the Oregon Arts Commission is available online at:  www.oregonartscommission.org.

Psilocybin Mushroom Therapy to Begin in Oregon

Oregon voted to legalize Psilocybin mushrooms in November of last year. Right now, Oregon is in a two-year development period in which a state advisory board is ironing out the rules and regulations for psilocybin therapy.

They were legalized not in the same way marijuana was. They were legalized not for recreational, but for therapeutic use.

You’ll only be able to use them with a licensed professional. You can’t buy them at a store, take them home to use or grow them yourself.

Right now, Oregon is in a two-year development period in which a state advisory board is ironing out the rules and regulations for psilocybin therapy.

The therapy can be used to treat conditions like anxiety and depression without the use of prescription medications.

In November, Oregon created the first-ever psilocybin therapy program in the country. Now, over the next two years, its rules and regulations will be developed by a governor-appointed advisory board.

The board’s mission? To develop an effective and equitable system for people to get the therapy safely.

“Their primary focus at the moment is compiling and analyzing the volumes of research of psilocybin therapy from top medical institutions to give their decision-making process a foundation on science and moving forward over the next two years,” said Sam Chapman, executive director of Healing Advocacy Fund.

The advisory board is in the research phase now. From here on out, it will be meeting about once a month. Subcommittees will meet more often. 

January 2023 is the deadline for the program to be up and running, so board members have got awhile to iron out the rules as more research about magic mushrooms emerges.

“A lot of the research that’s coming from prestigious medical institutions from across the country and round the world is really showing that psilocybin therapy shows real promise for those suffering from different things such as depression and anxiety,” said Chapman.

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