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, May 24, 2021
Rogue Valley Weather
Today– A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly after 3pm. Partly sunny, with a high near 75. Calm wind becoming west around 5 mph in the afternoon.
Tuesday– A 20 percent chance of showers before noon. Partly sunny, with a high near 71. West northwest wind 3 to 5 mph.
Wednesday– Sunny, with a high near 83. Calm wind.
Thursday– A 20 percent chance of showers after noon. Partly sunny, with a high near 78.
Friday– Mostly sunny, with a high near 76.
Oregon reports 334 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 4 new deaths
There are four new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 2,622 the Oregon Health Authority reported 334 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 198,689.
The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Benton (4), Clackamas (26), Columbia (2), Coos (3), Crook (5), Deschutes (43), Douglas (10), Jackson (7), Jefferson (7), Josephine (5), Klamath (7), Lane (28), Linn (21), Marion (51), Morrow (1), Multnomah (67), Polk (4), Tillamook (1), Wasco (1), Washington (35), and Yamhill (6).
Vaccinations in Oregon
Today, OHA reported that 29,464 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry. Of this total, 17,564 doses were administered on May 22 and 11,900 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry on May 22.
As of today,1,726,292 people have completed a COVID-19 vaccine series. There are 2,164,594 who have had at least one dose.
The seven-day running average is now 31,010 doses per day.
Oregon has now administered a total of 3,765,116 million vaccine doses, which includes 2,092,218 first and second doses of Pfizer,1,538,260 first and second doses of Moderna 132,924 single doses of Johnson & Johnson (1,714 doses were administered but vaccine product information was not specified).
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).
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 248, which is 10 fewer than yesterday. There are 71 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is three fewer than yesterday.
The total number of COVID-19 positive patient bed-days in the most recent seven days is 2,071, which is an 12.8% 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 342.
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.
Oregon officials will offer a series of prizes ranging from $10,000 to $1 million for people who have received at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine, Governor Kate Brown announced on Friday.
The “Take Your Shot Oregon” campaign aims to encourage Oregonians age 12 and up to get vaccinated. For younger vaccine recipients, prizes will take the form of college scholarship funds. According to Governor Kate Brown’s office,
there will be one $1 million winner, five winners of a $100,000 Oregon College Savings Plan scholarship between the ages of 12 and 17, and thirty-six $10,000 winners — one selected from each county. The cash prizes will only be offered to adults 18 and up.
Oregonians who have received at least a first dose of the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson vaccines will be automatically entered through the state’s vaccination database, and the drawing will include people registered through June 27. The Oregon Health Authority will choose winners with the help of the Oregon Lottery, officials said.
The drawing is set to take place on June 28, with names announced the following week.
MORE INFORMATION: https://www.oregon.gov/gov/Documents/Take%20Your%20Shot%20Oregon.pdf
FEMA and Jackson County Covid-19 Pop Up Vaccine Clinics
Fema has partnered with Jackson County Public Health, Rogue Food Unites and the Department of Health Services to provide free Covid-19 vaccines across Southern Oregon to under-served communities. The two-dose Pfizer vaccine will be given at every pop-up event for anyone 16 years or older. Parent consent is not needed to receive the vaccine and identification is not required. Both first and second doses will be provided at each pop-up event.
Each clinic will have bilingual speakers and a box of food provided by Rogue Food Unites that will supply up to a week’s worth of food for two people. Rogue Food Unites says that they hope the box of food, which will also include a gift card, will be an incentive for people to get vaccinated and to come back in 28 days to receive their second dose.
“We’re going to be partnering through all the mobile vaccination events. So we have around 32 in the next four weeks…Overall a seven week mission for the mobile vaccination events.” -Adam Danforth, co-director Rogue Food Unites.
Here is a list of all future covid-19 pop up clinics:
- 5/27/2021, Thursday, 8:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. at Rogue Valley Growers Market at Hawthorne Park 501 E Main St, Medford OR 97504
- 5/29/2021, Saturday, 9 a.m.– 3 p.m. at Fiesta Market 1016 N Riverside Ave, Medford, OR 97501
- 5/30/2021, Sunday, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. at La Placita 2080 W Main Street Medford OR 97501
- Every Sunday unil June at La Placita 2080 W Main Street Medford OR 97501
Rural Metro Fire and ODF looking into causes of two separate fires in Josephine County
Rural Metro Fire and the Oregon Department of Forestry Southwest fire investigators are looking into the causes of two separate fires that started in Josephine County.
Rural Metro Firefighters say that at about the same time crews were engaging a structure fire on Tunnel Loop, Friday afternoon , RM and Grants Pass Fire Rescue were dispatched to a travel trailer that was on fire in the 400 block of West Jones Creek Rd.
According to units from GP Fire, crews found that the fire had spread to a nearby outbuilding. The fire had also spread to about 1/100th acre of blackberries.
Fire crews say that the fire was quickly contained and mopped-up, but the cause fire is unknown at this time.
Not even an hour later, Rural Metro Fire and ODF Southwest Oregon District were dispatched to a fire several miles up Spencer Creek Road. Responding crews familiar with the area say they located the fire near a clear-cut unit accessed from the “Cherry Flat” BLM road.
Fire crews that say that the fire was roughly 1/10th acre of aged slash was burning below the road. Firefighters also says that there was an overturned and stripped vehicle near the edge of the fire, but it is not believed to be related.
Fire crews quickly contained the fire a short while later, but mop-up operations were not completed till around one in the morning. ODF is looking into what started the fire.
Two Fatal Accidents In Less Than Two Weeks On The Rogue River Trail
Two different hikers have fallen off the trail in the span of just 11 days and died on the increasingly popular backpacking route that runs 40 miles through the Siskiyou Mountains from just outside Grants Pass to Gold Beach.
The most recent accident took place May 14, when 55-year-old Tamara Iwerks of Ojai, California, died after a fall from the trail near Black Bar Lodge and Horseshoe Bend, the Josephine County Sheriff’s confirmed. Iwerks was on a raft-supported hiking trip with Ashland-based Momentum River Expeditions.
“It’s just really sad,” said Pete Wallstrom, owner of Momentum. “We’re doing whatever we can to support everybody involved. From all accounts, that section of trail was clear and it was just a tragic accident.” No other details about the accident have been released.
Even so, it was the second fatal accident in the same general location on the trail. On May 4, Ernest Bolz, 77, of Wenatchee, Wash., also fell in the same area near Black Bar Lodge. He was airlifted from a cliff above the trail and transported to Merlin Airport where he was pronounced dead, according to the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office.
Kyle Sullivan, Bureau of Land Management spokesman, said recreation staffers went to the sites of the accidents and “didn’t notice any deficiencies in the trail,” he said in an email.
“We typically hear of trail defects from hikers or boaters/guides, but had no reports of landslides or downed logs or other issues that would have required immediate attention,” he said. “Public safety is our top priority. We sent a crew of employees out today to get another set of eyes on the trail to look for any issues or opportunities for improvement.”
The Rogue River Trail has a number of steep cliff edges with significant exposure, although it is not considered a technically difficult route. It’s not believed either accident took place on a particularly treacherous section of the pathway.
“It’s not a perfect trail but there’s no section that’s super sketchy or dangerous, and there’s nothing about that area that really stands out,” said Gabe Howe, executive director of the Siskiyou Mountain Club, which does maintenance on some parts of the trail. “I would say that overall use on that trail has about doubled over the past decade. People are coming here in the spring from all across the Pacific Northwest. And when you have that many people, and some steep spots, unfortunately it can lead to tragedy in some cases.”
Sullivan added that anyone who takes on the backpacking trip should be prepared for a remote, wild experience that includes rattlesnakes, black bears and the steep cliffs.
“We ask visitors to be aware of the risk of natural hazards that occur on the trail,” he said. “The Rogue River Trail is a challenging and remote hike through some of the most rugged terrain in Southern Oregon. There is limited, if any, cell service. Help is often hours away. Please be aware of your footing, your surroundings, and always be cautious and play it safe.”
AROUND the STATE of OREGON
Missing Douglas County Man Found Alive
After 17 nights in the wilderness, 69 year-old Harry Burleigh has been found alive and rescued by Search and Rescue crews who never gave up.
On Sunday, May 23, 2021, Douglas County Search and Rescue conducted another mission in the area of Calf Creek after Burleigh’s fishing gear was found last weekend. Additional SAR resources were called in from Jackson County, Lake County and Siskiyou County (CA) for Sunday’s efforts.
At approximately, 3:00 p.m., a team of searchers from Jackson County SAR located a shelter southwest of the original shelter found last weekend. The search crews called out to Mr. Burleigh who responded back. He was found to be walking and complaining of minor pain, but was in stable condition. A Brim Aviation helicopter was utilized to hoist Burleigh from his location and transport him to a waiting Lifeflight helicopter. Lifeflight later transported him to an out of area hospital for evaluation.
The Brim Aviation helicopter was utilized to extract the remaining Jackson County SAR team from their position. The other search crews were able to self-extricate.
“This was the outcome we all have been looking for in this case. It is because of our determined Search and Rescue Teams and the partnerships we have with other SAR teams from around the state, that Mr. Burleigh has been re-united with his family this evening,” Sgt. Brad O’Dell said. “The Sheriff’s Office wants to thank everyone who was involved in this mission.”
Over the course of the search for Mr. Burleigh, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Team was assisted by the following entities:
- Jackson County SAR
- Josephine County SAR
- Modoc County SAR (CA)
- Del Norte County SAR (CA)
- Siskiyou County SAR (CA)
- Curry County SAR
- Klamath County SAR
- Lake County SAR
- Lane County SAR
- US Coast Guard
- Oregon State SAR Coordinator
- Brim Aviation
- United States Forest Service
- Wolf Creek Job Corp. Hotshots
- Bay Cities Ambulance
Rescue crews would like to remind everyone of the 10 essentials for survival, which include:
- Navigation (map, compass, GPS, personal locator beacon, etc)
- Sunglasses and sunscreen
- First-aid supplies
- Fire (the means to start and sustain a fire)
- Shelter (tent, garbage sack, tarp, etc)
- Extra clothing
- Extra food
- Extra water
Report Finds Little Sign Of Recovery In State’s Manufacturing Sector
It is easy to see that Oregon hotels are reopening, restaurants are serving up meals again and workers are beginning to return to the office as vaccines proliferate and the COVID-19 pandemic begins to fade. The state’s factories, though, may have suffered permanent damage.
Overall, Oregon has recovered 59% of jobs lost during the pandemic, and the state’s jobless rate has receded from 13.2% in April 2020 – the highest point on record — to 6.0% last month. That progress reflects the easing of health restrictions and billions of dollars in federal money that helped prop up the private sector during the pandemic.
The manufacturing sector isn’t showing a similar bounce. Oregon has recouped just a fifth of the factory jobs it lost a year ago, and recent numbers point in the wrong direction.
As Oregon Employment Department economist David Cooke noted earlier this month, the number of hours Oregon manufacturing workers spend on the job had been in decline even ahead of the pandemic. Before anyone ever uttered the words “COVID-19,” economists were warning the state faced a “manufacturing recession” as former President Donald Trump’s trade war disrupted global supply chains and economies slowed in Europe and China.
And while Oregon never shut down private factories with coronavirus health directives, some of the markets those factories serve were severely affected by the pandemic.
Metal components manufacturer Precision Castparts laid off 40% of its workers worldwide last year as demand for airplanes dried up and Boeing shut down production of its troubled 737 MAX. Railcar maker Gunderson cut jobs the month before the pandemic hit, then more in the ensuing months. Steelmaker Evraz cut its Portland workforce by about half.
Even as many other sectors have expanded this spring, Oregon’s manufacturing sector shed 700 more workers in April, according to the latest state data.
Factory workers average about 38 hours a week on the job – an hour fewer than before the pandemic. Economists look to those hourly figures as a key indicator of the manufacturing sector’s health.
A shortage of computer chips has hobbled manufacturing across the country, holding up everything from gadgets to automobiles while factories wait for key components to become available. And factories in Oregon and across the country are facing a tight labor market as businesses rush to reopen and rehire.
Oregon remains among the most manufacturing-dependent states in the nation. And the state’s factory jobs pay relatively well, with average earnings of around $75,000 annually, compared to $59,000 across all industries.
Manufacturing is a notoriously cyclical industry, with big swings amid changing economic conditions. But Oregon factories have been in steady decline for decades, and recent recessions have produced only partial recoveries – and lasting damage.
Oregon To Reinstate Work Search Rules For People On Unemployment
Work search requirements will resume in stages for more than 100,000 Oregon workers who receive unemployment benefits, now that the economic downturn triggered by the coronavirus pandemic is easing.
But unlike more than 20 states — all of them with Republican governors — Oregon has no plans to stop supplemental federal unemployment benefits before their scheduled end on Sept. 4.
“The pandemic-related federal programs have created a lifeline for people whose livelihoods were affected by COVID-19,” said David Gerstenfeld, acting director of the Oregon Employment Department, in a weekly conference call with reporters.
“We do not want those who need those benefits to lose access to them before the programs end. While we are watching current economic conditions, we do not have any plans to end the federal benefit plans early.”
The supplemental federal benefit amounts to $300 per week. It is in addition to regular benefits drawn from the state unemployment trust fund, which comes from employer contributions, and special federal benefit programs created during the pandemic.
Some states will start opting out of the federal benefits as soon as June 12.
At the onset of the pandemic, when they received an avalanche of claims, Oregon and other states did suspend legal requirements for people to search for work, be available for work and register with state workforce agencies as conditions for receiving benefits.
The pandemic emergency declared by Gov. Kate Brown almost 15 months ago, renewed every 60 days, is scheduled to expire June 28. Although Republican minorities want the Oregon Legislature to repeal her orders now — Democratic majorities have declined so far to take any steps to do so — Brown has said “I fully intend to reopen our economy” by the next deadline.
As her benchmark for dropping most pandemic restrictions, Brown has set 70% of Oregon’s population age 16 and older getting at least one vaccination. She says she thinks that goal is achievable by June.
Oregon’s statewide vaccination rate against COVID-19 for eligible people was 62.7% as of Thursday, May 20. But the rate varies from a low of 32.5% in Lake County to a high of 67.6% in Benton County. Multnomah and Washington counties have met or exceeded 65%; Clackamas County trails at 58.5%.
Gerstenfeld said in advance of any potential action, people receiving unemployment benefits will be notified about registering with the agency’s iMatchSkills system for jobs and meeting either face to face or virtually with staff from WorkSource Oregon. The latter is a partnership of public and private agencies serving individuals and businesses.
“These requirements are starting back up again, and people will need to meet those requirements by designated dates to be eligible to continue receiving benefits,” he said.
“This will be a new experience for some people currently receiving unemployment benefits. We want to make sure everyone receiving benefits understands what the requirements are and knows what to do to continue receiving benefits. As the pandemic begins to fade and the economy changes, we are still focused on how we can help fuel economic recovery and help Oregonians overcome challenges related to employment.”
Gerstenfeld has said supplemental federal benefits are not a factor in deterring people from returning to work.
Among factors that the agency will consider in reemployment, he said, are a lack of child care available for workers, lingering fear of COVID infection via jobs that require close contact with the public, and inadequate skills required for people to take new jobs.
Gerstenfeld did not specify what will happen with self-employed and gig workers who receive federal benefits known as Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. Many were not covered by unemployment benefits until Congress approved the new program as part of the CARES Act in March 2020.
Although Oregon has regained about 60% of the jobs lost since the low point of the pandemic in April 2020 — and the state’s latest economic forecast projects far more in tax collections and a $1.4 billion rebate to taxpayers next year — state economist Mark McMullen also says Oregon will return to prepandemic employment levels by the fourth quarter of 2022.
According to the most recent report by the Employment Department, permanent job losses now account for the largest group of unemployed workers. The number of workers without jobs for at least one year, the long-term unemployed, is at its highest point in nine years.
Oregon job growth in April was around 2,200, down from the average of 14,000 over the preceding three months. The unemployment rate jumped from a modern low of 3.5% in March 2020 to a record high of 13.2% (adjusted) in April 2020, but has since declined to 6%, where it has hovered for a few months.
“But we are seeing record job openings just one year after the huge job losses in spring 2020,” Gerstenfeld said. “We are back to being in a tight labor market much faster than we were coming out of the Great Recession.”
Oregon Board of Forestry hosts a special virtual public meeting on May 27
The Oregon Board of Forestry will hold a special meeting on May 27, 2021 to deliberate on the appointment of an acting state forester. The meeting will be held virtually and will be live streamed on the Oregon Department of Forestry’s YouTube channel. The agenda for this meeting is available at https://www.oregon.gov/ODF/Board/Pages/BOFMeetings.aspx.
There will not be an opportunity for public comment during the meeting; however written testimony can be emailed to oardofForestry@oregon.gov” target=”_blank”>BoardofForestry@oregon.gov before or after the meeting.
Accommodations for people with disabilities, and special materials, services, or assistance can be arranged by calling ODF’s Public Affairs Office at least 48 hours in advance of the meeting at 503-945-7200. Oregon Dept. of Forestry.