Rogue Valley News, Friday 6/18 – Medford Officials Ask Residents To Voluntarily Reduce Water Usage Due To Chlorine Shortage, Grants Pass Shooting Incident

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

Friday, June 18, 2021

Rogue Valley Weather

Excessive Heat Watch in effect from June 20, 12:00 PM PDT until June 22, 12:00 AM PDT

Today– Sunny, with a high near 92. Light and variable wind becoming north northwest 5 to 10 mph in the afternoon.

Saturday– Sunny, with a high near 94. Light north northeast wind becoming north northwest 5 to 9 mph in the afternoon.
Sunday– Sunny and hot, with a high near 101. North wind 3 to 5 mph.
Monday– Sunny and hot, with a high near 103.
Tuesday– Sunny, with a high near 91.

COVID UPDATES

Oregon reports 300 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 2,745. The Oregon Health Authority reported 300 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 205,988.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (6), Benton (5), Clackamas (22), Clatsop (6), Columbia (8), Coos (2), Crook (2), Curry (7), Deschutes (11), Douglas (15), Harney (5), Hood River (1), Jackson (14), Jefferson (3), Josephine (15), Klamath (5), Lane (26), Lincoln (7), Linn (18), Malheur (5), Marion (27), Morrow (2), Multnomah (35), Polk (10), Umatilla (20), Union (1), Wasco (2), Washington (17) and Yamhill (3).

Oregon Health Authority launches new version of vaccination metrics dashboard

Today, OHA launched a new version of its vaccination metrics dashboard. Changes include race and ethnicity vaccination rates released at the regional level and age groups for 60 years and older reported as 10-year groups. New graphs now include people remaining to reach 65% vaccinated in each population, by age group and county as well as by race and ethnicity and region. You can also view data over time by date of first dose to understand vaccination uptake, or by date of last dose to understand when the vaccination series was completed.

Check out this new version here.

Vaccinations in Oregon

Today, OHA reported that 16,106 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry. Of this total, 8,643 doses were administered on June 16 and 7,463 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry on June 16.

The seven-day running average is now 15,444 doses per day.

Oregon has now administered 2,415,419 first and second doses of Pfizer,1,692,352 first and second doses of Moderna and 160,253 single doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines.

As of today, 2,340,646 people have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 2,077,399 have completed a COVID-19 vaccine series. The number of adult Oregonians needing vaccinations to reach the 70% threshold is 55,697.

A daily countdown can be found on the OHA vaccinations page

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, 2,910,285 doses of Pfizer, 2,205,820 doses of Moderna and 299,000 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.

COVID-19 hospitalizations

The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 151, which is 11 fewer than yesterday. There are 37 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is no change from yesterday.

The total number of COVID-19 positive patient bed-days in the most recent seven days is 1,151, which is a 13.3% decrease from the previous seven days. The peak daily number of beds occupied by COVID-19 positive patients in the most recent seven days is 174.

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.

LOCAL HEADLINES:

Medford Water Officials Ask Residents To Voluntarily Reduce Water Usage Due To Chlorine Shortage

Officials from the Medford Water Commission sent out a request that residents of the area voluntarily reduce their water usage due to a “critical” shortage of the chlorine that is used in water treatment processes.

The shortage is not limited to Medford, but stems from production issues across the country — both from COVID-19 impacts and “unprecedented events” at several major plants, the commission said.

“Our water treatment method uses chlorine, in the form of sodium hypochlorite, in very small amounts to ensure our water is safe to drink,” the Medford Water Commission said in a statement. “Both our primary and secondary water sources are of high quality but require additional treatment to meet drinking water standards set by Oregon Health Authority.”

Officials said that they will be doing what they can to stretch the limited supply of sodium hypochlorite that they have on hand.

“Part of these operational changes will result in an excess of air in the pipelines, causing the water to appear cloudy. This cloudiness will dissipate over time, and is due to air bubbles, not poor water quality,” the Commission said.

The request for voluntary reduction in water usage applies to Medford, Central Point, Eagle Point, Phoenix, Talent, Jacksonville, and White City.

Some recommendations for reducing water usage include eliminating any sources of water waste, such as any known leaks at homes or businesses; reducing vehicle washing or using facilities that recycle water; sweeping paved surfaces instead of washing them; avoid filling pools, hot tubs, ponds, and water features; curtailing sprinkler use where possible; and making sure to turn off water when brushing teeth, shaving, and rinsing dishes.

“These voluntary usage reductions will remain in place until demand levels come down and the chain of supply for sodium hypochlorite has been reestablished. If demand continues to remain at high levels or increases, mandatory restrictions may be imposed,” the Medford Water Commission said.

According to the Oregon Office of Emergency Management, the current chlorine shortage stems from a “major electrical failure” at Westlake Chemical in Longview, Washington. Westlake supplies much of the Pacific Northwest with the chlorine used to disinfect drinking water and treat wastewater.

“The failed piece of equipment is in the process of being repaired at an off-site location due to the nature of the damage. Westlake is evaluating its options to bring the Longview plant back online and is actively working to help supply chlorine through the market, other Westlake plants or other means necessary to help alleviate the current supply shortage,” OEM said.

Grants Pass Department of Public Safety Asking for Public to Call in Info Regarding Shooting Incident

Media Releases | Grants Pass, OR - Official Website

On June 11, 2021, at approximately 11:00pm, officers from the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety responded to the 200 block of Grandview Avenue for a report of multiple shots fired. Officers quickly checked the area for any victims and the suspect(s).  Officers confirmed there were no injuries.  

GPDPS Detectives responded to the scene to conduct further investigation.  This investigation is in its early stages with detectives continuing to follow up all leads.  Further information will be relayed as it becomes available. 

We are asking for the public to continue to call and report any suspicious activity. 

Anyone who may have been in the SE area of Grants Pass or with any additional  information is encouraged to call Detective Shali Marshall at 541-450-6260.  Additionally, the Department of Public Safety would like to assure citizens the recent shooting incidents have the highest priority for our personnel.

AROUND the STATE of OREGON

Oregon Experiencing An Increase In Traffic Fatalities

Oregon is experiencing an increase in traffic fatalities compared to the same time last year, with a 32% increase, according to preliminary data.  As of June 14, 229 traffic deaths were reported statewide compared with 173 over the same period in 2020.

As traffic volumes return to normal and summer travelers start heading out, it may be time to brush up on basic rules of the road – all aimed at getting us where we’re going safely.

Traffic volumes across the state are approaching 2019 levels after falling sharply in the beginning months of the pandemic. And summer is traditionally a busy travel season.

Everyone should:

  • Plan ahead to avoid the frustration of unplanned delays and construction projects.
  • Know and follow traffic laws.
  • Be aware of surroundings.
  • Pay attention to weather and road conditions and drive accordingly.
  • Put cell phones on do not disturb (i.e., don’t use it while driving).
  • Focus on the important task at hand: walking, rolling, biking or driving.

Please Drive Safe!!

One of Portland’s Entire Officer Units Resigns

A team of 50 police officers who serve on a specialized crowd-control unit in Oregon and respond to Portland’s ongoing, often violent protests have resigned en masse after a team member was indicted on criminal charges.

During a Wednesday night meeting, officers, detectives and sergeants on the Rapid Response Team voted to resign from the team because of a perceived lack of support from City Hall and from the district attorney over the past year, according to the mayor’s office and officers.

The move by officers to disband their own team came a day after Officer Cody Budworth was indicted and accused of fourth-degree assault stemming from a baton strike against a protester last summer.

“I don’t think it is just an indictment that caused this to happen, I think it is a very long complicated history of things that have gone on over the last 14 months,” Acting Portland Police Chief Chris Davis said.

Davis said that while the officers on the unit have “left their voluntary positions and no longer comprise a team,” they will continue with their regular assignments.

The Rapid Response Team is an “all-hazard incident” unit that responds to natural or man-made disasters, large-scale searches and, most recently, public order policing or riots. Members of the team are trained in advanced skills related to crowd management, crowd psychology and behavior, team formations and movements, the use of enhanced personal protective equipment, use of force, and de-escalation and arrests.

Last summer, when Portland became the epicenter of Black Lives Matter protests following the murder of George Floyd, the team was on the front lines.

Many demonstrations devolved into clashes with officers late at night, and at times ended with vandalism, property damage and fires. The crowd-control team was the unit often directed to disperse groups after police declared unlawful assemblies or riots.

“Our entire organization has been put through something none of us have ever seen through our careers — and at a level and intensity that I don’t think any other city in the United States has experienced,” Davis said.

In late October, the president of the police union, the Portland Police Association, sent the mayor and police chief a letter, urging both to “stand up and publicly support Police Bureau members who voluntarily serve on the Rapid Response Team.”

“Our RRT members do not volunteer to have Molotov cocktails, fireworks, explosives, rocks, bottles, urine, feces and other dangerous objects thrown at them,” wrote Daryl Turner, then-president of the union. He noted that the team members volunteer for the work without any specialty pay.

On Thursday, Davis acknowledged that members of the team have been exposed and subjected to “unbelievable things” in the past 14 months, including ongoing protests, increased violence and the pandemic.

“I understand that those are very complex issues, but I also understand their perspective,” Davis said about the team’s decision. “If you put a human being through what they went through, that takes a toll.”

While protests have significantly decreased in the city, there are still small protests by self-described anarchists in contained areas of Portland.

Davis said in the event there’s a declared riot in the coming days, there will still be a police response from other officers within the bureau “with as close to adequate resources as we can get.”

Portland Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, who has led efforts to defund the police and proposed disbanding the team last fall, said that the “resignations are yet another example of a rogue paramilitary organization that is unaccountable to the elected officials and residents of Portland.”

“Earlier this week, for the first time in Portland’s history, an officer from PPB’s Rapid Response Team was charged with a misdemeanor for assaulting a photojournalist during a protest last summer,” Hardesty said. “Ironically, we now see some PPB officers engaging in the act they showed so much disdain for last summer by staging their own protest.”

From May 29 through Nov. 15 last year, during the height of the social justice protests in Portland, the city’s police used force more than 6,000 times, according to a U.S. Department of Justice report.

Budworth marked the first Rapid Response Team officer to face criminal prosecution stemming from force used during a protest. The police union has called the prosecution politically driven, and said Budworth’s baton “push” to a woman’s head was accidental.

Also this week, authorities said a Portland Police Bureau detective is under review by the Oregon Department of Justice for possible criminal charges related to use of force at last year’s racial justice protests.

“I have confidence that the (Portland Police) Bureau will continue their mission to maintain public safety,” Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt said Thursday. “In the meantime, my office will continue to focus on the fair and just prosecution of criminal matters.”

Blood Bank Supply Low

 Bloodworks Northwest says the supply of Type O blood has dropped to its lowest level since the pandemic began. Bloodworks said the supply has fallen 50% in the past few months.

Overall, the supply of all blood types is down 45% The blood bank suspects lingering confusion over donor eligibility after receiving the COVID-19 vaccination, warmer weather leading to “now shows” and increased usage are to blame.

Effort To Remove Four Hydroelectric Dams On The Klamath River Cleared Another Regulatory Hurdle

The effort to remove four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River cleared another regulatory hurdle Thursday after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission allowed the dams’ original owner to exit its license to operate the facilities.

Specifically, FERC accepted a joint application to transfer the dams’ license from PacifiCorp to the Klamath River Renewal Corporation and the states of Oregon and California. Following the successful surrender of the license (which is its own separate FERC process), KRRC, a nonprofit, will direct contractors to remove the dams and restore the river within the reservoir footprints.

The Klamath dam removal effort hit a permitting roadblock last July, when FERC partially denied and partially accepted the license transfer application. Their decision required PacifiCorp to remain on the dam license during the removal, which the utility said went against a core tenet of the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement.

State And Federal Eviction Moratorium Set To Expire At The End Of June

With the state and federal eviction moratorium set to expire at the end of June, Oregonblawmakers are hastily working on an amendment to keep financially struggling tenantsbbhoused and avoid mass evictions next month.

The proposed “Safe Harbor” amendment on Senate Bill 278 would “pause” rental evictions for 60 days for tenants if they provide proof that they’ve applied for rental assistance. The state currently has $200 million, in federal aid, in the state’s rental assistance fund to help both tenants and landlords.

Another round of funding is expected to be available this fall. So far, officials from the Oregon Housing and Community Services said more than 16,600 households have started or completed the application to get rental assistance.

People in Oregon Receiving Unemployment Benefits Face Deadline

People in Oregon who are receiving unemployment benefits face a deadline this Saturday.  They need to be signed up for the iMatch Skills job search program.  

OED Unemployment | iMatchSkills Registration and Job Seeker Profile…

The Oregon Employment Department is bringing back requirements that were relaxed during the pandemic.  That includes proving that they’re looking for work.  By September 5th, all of the requirements that were in place before the pandemic will be in place again. 

Oregon Man Pleads Guilty To Swindling Millions In Pandemic Loans

A Lebanon, Oregon man has pleaded guilty to multiple charges after he took advantage of COVID-19 relief programs from the Small Business Administration and pocketed millions of dollars for personal use.

Andrew Lloyd, 51, pleaded guilty to bank fraud, money laundering, and aggravated identity theft, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Oregon.

Coronavirus Response | Department of Justice

Authorities say he applied for both Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) at several financial institutions, starting in April 2020. These programs were created by the federal CARES Act to provide emergency financial relief to Americans amid the coronavirus pandemic. He used numerous business names as well as information from relatives and business associates without their consent, according to the US Attorney’s Office.

Of the nine PPP loans Lloyd applied for, six were accepted, totaling a payout of more than $3.4 million. He also received an additional EIDL for $160,000. Authorities say Lloyd used the money to buy real estate and invested in securities, including putting nearly $2 million in an E-Trade account and buying more than 15,000 shares of Tesla, Inc.

Authorities seized Lloyd’s brokerage account in January of this year. In March, agents also seized another account that held more than $660,000 in securities and cash. “The securities and cash seized from Lloyd’s accounts are presently valued at more than $11 million,” according to the US Attorney’s Office.

On January 5, Lloyd was charged with wire fraud, bank fraud, and money laundering. Later, on June 6, he was charged with superseding criminal information with bank fraud, money laundering, and aggravated identity theft.

After pleading guilty, part of his agreement includes paying more than $3.6 million in restitution to the US Treasury Department. He also forfeited the $11+ million in cash and securities, as well as the 23 properties he acquired with loan funds.

Lloyd will be sentenced on September 9.

Authorities noted that an accomplice of Lloyd’s, identified as Russell Schort of Myrtle Creek, was charged alongside Lloyd for similar conduct. He is expected to plead guilty on July 1.

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