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
Monday, June 28, 2021
Rogue Valley Weather – Excessive Heat Warning until July 1, 11:00 PM PDT
Today– Widespread haze after 2pm. Sunny and hot, with a high near 107. Calm wind becoming northwest 5 to 9 mph in the afternoon.
Tuesday– Sunny and hot, with a high near 104. Calm wind becoming northwest 5 to 9 mph in the afternoon.
Wednesday– Sunny and hot, with a high near 103. Calm wind becoming northwest around 5 mph in the afternoon.
Thursday– Sunny and hot, with a high near 102.
Friday– Sunny and hot, with a high near 102.
Oregon reports 138 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 0 new deaths
There are no new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, leaving the state’s death toll at 2,763. The Oregon Health Authority reported 138 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 208,136.
The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Clackamas (18), Clatsop (2), Columbia (3), Coos (2), Curry (5), Deschutes (8), Douglas (4), Jackson (5), Jefferson (1), Josephine (5), Lane (13), Linn (10), Marion (11), Morrow (1), Multnomah (17), Polk (4), Tillamook (2), Union (1), Wallowa (1), Washington (22), Yamhill (3).
Vaccinations in Oregon
Today, OHA reported that 5,476 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry. Of this total, 2,713 doses were administered on June 26 and 2,763 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry on June 26.
The seven-day running average is now 7,755 doses per day.
Oregon has now administered 2,471,569 first and second doses of Pfizer, 1,730,289 first and second doses of Moderna and 166,629 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, 2,946,825 doses of Pfizer, 2,226,140 doses of Moderna and 299,100 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 143, which is two less than yesterday. There are 38 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is three more than yesterday.
The total number of COVID-19 positive patient bed-days in the most recent seven days is 1,046, which is a 5.1% 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 162.
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.
Governor Brown Lifts COVID-19 Safety Restrictions in Oregon
Governor Kate Brown announced that the emergency COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted. Governor Brown signed an executive order to lift Oregon’s lift the framework for COVID-19 restrictions as of June 30th or when the population hits 70% vaccinated, whichever comes first.
It appears that with the upcoming 4th of July holiday, the Governor and the health authorities have eased the restrictions so that people may enjoy the July 4th celebrations.
Governor Brown was joined by Patrick Allen, Director of the OHA, Dr. Dean Sidelinger, State Epidemiologist, and Colt Gill, Director of the Oregon Dept. of Education.
The vaccinated population is at 69.1%. The Oregonian/Oregon Live estimated that the public would hit 70% vaccinated by July 7th.
In Governor Brown’s speech, she talked about “bringing back Oregon” and the challenges to the state, including economic recovery, dealing with wildfire preparedness, and addressing systemic racism.
Governor Brown mentioned House Bill 2166 regarding equity in the education system; Senate Bill 289 which ‘prohibits person convicted of bias crime committed while on state waters or publicly owned outdoor recreation land from entering area’; and Senate Bill 762 on wildfire response and preparedness.
It has been over 15 months since COVID-19 was detected in Oregon. Brown attributes the vaccine efforts which helped reach this point today where the State of Oregon can lift the safety protocols.
Governor Brown spelled out the restrictions which safety protocols will be lifted:
1. No statewide mask mandates in most settings
2. No required physical distancing
3. No mandated capacity limits
Brown also expressed that Oregon will once again be open for business. However, communities and the economy will not recover overnight. This will be an effort for everyone to be flexible and work within the constraints of our new world.
Help Find Fauna Frey Rally in Grants Pass Tuesday
Rally in Grants Pass TUESDAY June 29th Noon to 3 at: 500 NW 6th St Grants Pass, OR 97526 To Bring About Awareness
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/events/255890676334506 https://www.facebook.com/groups/341658526970132
MMIW (MISSING MURDERED INDIGENOUS WOMEN) ARE HOSTING THIS EVENT FOR #FINDFAUNAFREY ALONG WITH ALL THE OTHER LOVED ONES MISSING.
June 29th will be one year, 365 days……….8760 hours……….525600 minutes……….since our beloved friend went missing.
Not only has Fauna gone missing there are numerous women in Oregon and around the county that have gone missing in the last couple of years.
It is time we bring awareness to our state. We want to continue to keep Fauna’s story alive! We would love to have your support at our peaceful rally. Hope to see you there!
Oregon Has Third-Highest Rate Of Open Missing Person Cases In USA
Disturbing Number of Missing Women in Oregon in Past 2 Years — There are 256 Women who are still reported missing in Oregon Since June 25th of 2019
Of course, not only women are missing, as there are so many children and men missing too. And really missing people is a crisis that gets shoved aside as not enough resources and is a horrible thing to even think about.
However, there is a disturbing number of women and in particular, a pattern emerging: There are 48 women over the age of 30 on the missing person list just in the last 2 years. There is a pattern and this needs to be looked into by our state and local law enforcement as well as the FBI > https://www.oregon.gov/osp/missing/pages/missingpersons.aspx
There are many Facebook pages that have been created to help address this issue as many who go missing sometimes just get lost in the shuffle and we need to make sure they aren’t forgotten. Here are just a few:
Bring them home, Southern Oregon: https://www.facebook.com/groups/473676649926838/
Help Find Fauna Frey #FindFaunaFrey https://www.facebook.com/groups/341658526970132
Oregon’s Missing Persons https://www.facebook.com/OregonsMissingPersonsBlog/
Have You Seen Me? The Willamette Valley’s Missing People https://www.facebook.com/Have-You-Seen-Me-The-Willamette-Valleys-Missing-People-2041387636188933/
The website Oregon Missing Report highlights those who are missing and not forgotten and is a critical resource
This is an ongoing story and help from the public needed. If you’d like to help or stay informed please feel free to send us an email at: email@example.com
Record Breaking Heat and Power Outages
The Pacific Northwest sweltered over the weekend and braced for even hotter weather through this next week, as a historic heat wave hit Washington and Oregon, with temperatures in many areas expected to top out up to 30 degrees above normal.
The extreme and potentially dangerous heat was broke all-time records in cities and towns from eastern Washington state to Portland to Southern Oregon as concerns mounted about wildfire risk in a region that’s already experiencing a crippling and extended drought.
The Rogue Valley is forecast to see max Temps at or above 100 degrees for 9 days in a row (starting yesterday). There have been only 3 times in our history (since 1911) where this has happened.
More than 30,000 people are without power in the city of Medford and Phoenix Sunday evening as temperatures remained at 100-degrees.
Pacific Power they said, “We are aware of the outages surrounding Medford and Talent, OR affecting approximately 30,062 customers. We are currently investigating the cause. We are working to restore service as soon as possible.”
Power outage occurred late Sunday evening after 9 p.m. in areas of south and east Medford, Phoenix and portions of Ashland when 16,000 were nearly reported without power, but that quickly increased to over 30,000 before 10 p.m. Sunday.
Oregon dropped its COVID-19 capacity limits at swimming pools and movie theaters to help people stay cool during a record-breaking heat wave.
The heat is also worrisome for the region because warm air sucks moisture out of the soil and vegetation more efficiently than cooler air and that makes everything more prone to fire.
Oregon in particular was devastated by an unusually intense wildfire season last fall that torched about 1 million acres, burned more than 4,000 homes and killed nine people. Several fires are already burning around the Pacific
Northwest and much of the region is already extreme or exceptional drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Fatal Crash on Hwy 234 in Jackson County
On Saturday, June 26, 2021, at approximately 6:11 A.M., Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a two vehicle crash on Hwy 234 near Tresham Lane.
Preliminary investigation revealed a Chevrolet pickup, operated by John Larson (37) of Medford, was westbound when it crossed into the eastbound lane and collided with a Ford pickup operated by Ariel Sanchez-Hernandez (22) Gold Hill.
Larson and Sanchez-Hernandez were transported to Rogue Regency Medical Center.
Passenger in the Chevrolet pickup, Monte Yates (56) Shady Cove, sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased.
Hwy 234 was closed with a detour in place for approximately 5 hours. OSP was assisted by Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, ODOT, Jackson County Fire, and Mercy Flights. Oregon State Police
AROUND the STATE of OREGON
Oregon Allows Self-Service Gas Until Tuesday Night Due To Heat Wave
With the excessive heat warning engulfing most of Oregon, the Office of the State Fire Marshal on Sunday temporarily suspended regulations that prohibit customers from pumping their own fuel at gasoline service stations in Oregon.
The suspension will be in place for two days, until Tuesday evening. Gov. Kate Brown’s Office approved the suspension of the regulations.
The suspension doesn’t impact rural areas of the state or time frames that are already authorized for self-service refueling under Oregon law, according to a news release form the Office of the State Fire Marshal.
At the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic, Oregon also temporarily suspended its rules on customers pumping their own fuel at service stations for approximately two months.
2021 Minimum Wage Increase Begins July 1
It’s the sixth of seven increases the Legislature mandated in 2016, which have steadily raised the state’s hourly minimum from $9.25. Oregon will have one of the highest minimum wages in the nation when the new rates kick in July 1, but the rate varies considerably depending on where you work.
Oregon’s minimum wage increases on July 1, 2021, but the raises won’t be the same across the state. The minimum wage increases to $14.00 per hour inside the Portland urban growth boundary, $12.00 per hour in nonurban counties, and $12.75 in other areas of the state.
Oregon’s three minimum wages will be among the top state-level minimum wages in the nation. The highest minimum wage will be in the District of Columbia ($15.00), followed by Washington ($13.69), Massachusetts ($13.50), and California ($13.00). The federal minimum wage will remain at $7.25 per hour.
Oregon’s minimum wage levels were set by Senate Bill 1532 in 2016. The minimum wage increases on July 1 each year through 2022. There are three tiers of step increases based on geography.
Beginning in 2023, minimum wage in all tiers will be adjusted for inflation. This means the minimum wage will maintain purchasing power after the last step increase in 2022.
Oregon lawmakers took an innovative approach, mandating different minimums for different regions of the state, so the $14 hourly minimum applies only to the three counties in the Portland metro area.
Employers in rural Oregon counties, however, may pay as little as $12 an hour, while some coastal and smaller urban counties will have a $12.75 minimum. The difference is meant to account for lower costs of living outside the metro area.
The nation’s highest statewide or districtwide minimum wage is in Washington, D.C., at $15 an hour. Washington state’s hourly minimum is $13.69, Massachusetts’ is $13.50 and California’s is $13. Many cities or counties have higher minimum wages than their states.
When Oregon’s higher minimums kick in July 1, the wage floor in the Portland area will have climbed by more than 50% since 2016. That works out to nearly $10,000 more annually for a full-time worker earning the Portland area’s higher minimum wage.
The minimums rise again in July 2022, topping out at $14.75 in the Portland area. Subsequent increases will be tied to inflation.
The federal minimum wage, meanwhile, has been stagnant at $7.25 an hour since 2009. There is a general agreement in Congress that the national minimum should rise, but Republicans and Democrats have been unable to agree on how much and how quickly.
That reflects a perennial debate among economists over how much higher minimum wages inhibit job growth, the fear being that employers will hire fewer workers if they must pay them more. There’s no debate, though, that it’s easier to raise wages when the economy is strong.
Oregon’s succession of minimum wage increases coincided with a long stretch of economic growth, when the state’s jobless rate was at historic lows – dependably below 4% in the months before pandemic recession hit.
And even as the minimum wage rose, the number of Oregon workers earning the minimum steadily declined from 7.3% in 2018 to 6.6% in 2019 and just 6.1% last year. (Some 123,000 workers statewide earned the minimum in 2020, according to the Oregon Employment Department.)
That could suggest that employers were raising wages to attract workers during the strong economy, not only because the state was mandating higher pay.
Of course, the pandemic changed everything. Many low-wage workers lost their jobs last year when bars, restaurants and other hospitality sectors cut back or shut down. That meant fewer workers in those industries, and fewer workers earning the minimum.
And now, with employers facing a labor shortage, there is evidence that wages are rising for a new reason — employers racing to reopen after the pandemic are paying more so they can staff up quickly and capitalize on the economic rebound.
Rowena Fire causes Level 3 evacuation orders, I-84 shut down near The Dalles
The Rowena wildfire has caused Level 3 “GO” evacuations to be issued in The Dalles, and smoke from the fire has shut down westbound lanes of I-84 between mileposts 76 and 80.
The Wasco County Sheriff’s Office said the Level 3 “GO” evacuations are for 5220 Hwy 30 West to 6090 Hwy 30 West, as well as Rowena River Road and Mayer State Park.
A Level 2 “GET SET” evacuation notice has been placed on 5220 Hwy 30 West to Simmonelli Road/Hwy 30 West Intersection.
Due to heavy smoke, the Oregon Department of Transportation has shut down both westbound lanes of I-84 between mileposts 76 and 80 and US Hwy 30, also referred to as the Historic Columbia River Highway, between mileposts 65.5 and 72.
Containment on the Cutoff Fire in Klamath County has reached 96% and the remaining Level 1 (GET READY) evacuation has been lifted for all areas near the fire effective on Sunday .
ODF Incident Management Team 1 handed back responsibility for the Cutoff Fire to local ODF, BLM, and Forest Service units Sunday at 8:00 a.m. The local agencies will ensure the fire is monitored and patrolled over the coming heat wave and throughout the summer. The forecast calls for record breaking heat. ODF and its partner agencies encourage everyone to be fire safe and stay hydrated.
Meanwhile about 65 miles to the south According to the latest update from the U.S. Forest Service, the Lava Fire which is burning about 3.5 miles northeast of Weed off of Highway 97 in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest has grown to roughly 220 acres.
All Evacuation Warnings that have been issued to the following areas because of the Lava Fire, including: State Route 97, north of Weed, CA: Angel Valley Road, Carrick Addition and Solus Drive are still in place according to the Siskiyou Co. Sheriff’s Office.
A lightning strike caused the initial start of the fire Friday morning, but was only around two to three acres in size Saturday morning according to the Forest Service. Approximately 25% of the fire is lined according to the latest update from the U.S.
Oregon Bill Gives Tax Breaks
Oregon lawmakers appear to be just hours away from finishing a legislative session noteworthy in large part for the staggering amounts of money they approved for affordable and shelter housing, wildfire response and rebuilding, mental health and addictions treatment and infrastructure projects.
Vulnerable Oregonians and well-worn public facilities aren’t the only winners this session, though. Businesses of all
sizes and from all sectors, regardless of their profitability during the pandemic, stand to benefit from a new state tax break that could collectively save them $450 million to $600 million and trim the state’s revenue by a similar amount, according to a state estimate.
The tax cut is available to businesses and self-employed individuals who received forgivable loans through the Paycheck Protection Program, a $780 billion federal effort to help businesses keep employees on the payroll amid pandemic uncertainty.
Lumber Prices Coming Down and Local Mills Hiring
Looking to meet shifting demands for lumber and a seemingly insatiable demand for housing, many local mills and wood products manufacturers are hiring.
The pandemic’s soaring lumber prices are starting to come down, as mills ramp up production across the country to help to meet rising demands for wood. But with the nation in a housing
shortage, the demand for new houses — which need windows and doors like the ones JELD-WEN makes — are in big demand.
Managers at wood products facilities are among the many industries challenged with finding and retaining quality employees.
Collins Products, a wood products manufacturer with locations in Klamath Falls and Lakeview, has been running one of its facilities 24/7 even before the pandemic.