Rogue Valley News, Monday 8/16 – Grants Pass Woman Dies 1 Day After COVID Diagnosis Even Though Fully Vaccinated, Asante Covid Testing Now Easier in Southern Oregon

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, August 16, 2021

Rogue Valley Weather 

Air Quality Alert

Today– Widespread haze before 2pm. Sunny, with a high near 94. Calm wind becoming northwest 5 to 8 mph in the afternoon.

Tuesday– Partly sunny, then gradually becoming sunny, with a high near 81. Light west northwest wind becoming northwest 5 to 10 mph in the morning.
Wednesday– Widespread haze. Sunny, with a high near 88. Calm wind becoming north around 5 mph in the afternoon.
Thursday– Sunny, with a high near 91.
Friday– Sunny, with a high near 93.

Airnow.gov Current Air Quality Index Map for Southern Oregon and Northern California 

Grants Pass Woman Dies 1 Day After COVID Diagnosis Even Though Fully Vaccinated

A Grants Pass woman has died of COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated against the disease, county officials have announced. 

The 47-year-old woman, whose identity was not disclosed by authorities, was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Aug. 9. She died the next day while admitted at the Asante Three Rivers Medical Center in Grants Pass. 

Officials for Josephine County Public Health said Saturday that the woman had pre-existing medical conditions prior to her diagnosis. However, they refused to specify what her underlying conditions were.

Across the state of Oregon, 55 people died of COVID-19 in July. At least 10 of those deaths involved people who were fully vaccinated against the virus. 

Dr. Melissa Sutton, medical director for respiratory viral pathogens at Oregon Health Authority, said data from July showed that a higher percentage of vaccinated people died that month compared to previous months. However, she said it is too early to say whether it represents a new trend. 

“The overall numbers still show that people who are unvaccinated remain at far greater risk from COVID-19 illness, especially from the Delta variant that is now being found in most new cases in Oregon,” Sutton said in a news release.

In July alone, 19% of Oregon’s 12,514 COVID-19 cases were breakthrough infections. Among the breakthrough cases, 27% were older than 65.

Across the United States, health officials recorded 2,232 new breakthrough cases last week. At least 445 fully vaccinated people were hospitalized with COVID-19, while six died after contracting the virus. Since the start of the pandemic, 9,969 breakthrough infections and 106 breakthrough deaths have been reported.

As of the week ending on Aug. 7, the highly contagious Delta variant accounted for 97.4% of all new COVID-19 cases sequenced throughout the nation, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Asante Covid Testing Now Easier in Southern Oregon

Asante drive-through locations in Grants Pass and Medford, Oregon, individuals no longer need to have an order from a primary care provider to be tested for the COVID-19 virus. The tests are provided at no cost to those who cannot afford them.

Only patients with positive testing results will be contacted. It is very important to provide a good contact phone number and to leave that phone on for both Asante and Josephine County Public Health to reach the patient.

“We appreciate Asante doing this for the community so that more people have easy access to free testing,” said Dr. Leona O’Keefe, JCPH deputy health officer. “Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should be tested right away.”

Symptoms include difficulty breathing, fever, muscle or body aches, headache, loss of smell or taste, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, fatigue, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.

Those with access to a medical provider should see their provider for testing if possible, as this will help Asante manage the increase in testing and following up with testing results.

Asante drive-through testing site locations and hours are as follows:

Asante COVID-19 Specimen Collection Site — Grants Pass
• 1630 Ringuette St. Grants Pass, OR 97527
• Hours:
o Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
o Saturday-Sunday, 8 a.m. to noon

Asante COVID-19 Specimen Collection Site — Medford
• 1321 Center Drive, Medford, OR 97501
• Hours:
o Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
o Saturday-Sunday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information: https://www.asante.org/covid-19/

Oregon reports 1,785 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 7 new deaths

There are seven new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 2,935, the Oregon Health Authority reported Friday. Oregon Health Authority reported 1,785 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 238,463.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (7), Benton (21), Clackamas (94), Clatsop (42), Columbia (21), Coos (50), Crook (14), Curry (23), Deschutes (159), Douglas (149), Gilliam (2), Harney (1), Hood River (18), Jackson (84), Jefferson (19), Josephine (77), Klamath (21), Lake (1), Lane (280), Lincoln (17), Linn (71), Malheur (15), Marion (116), Morrow (16), Multnomah (134), Polk (27), Sherman (1), Tillamook (17), Umatilla (83), Union (22), Wallowa (6), Wasco (22), Washington (119) and Yamhill (36). 

Bootleg Fire 100% Contained

Oregon’s third-largest wildfire in the state’s modern history, the Bootleg Fire, is now 100% contained. The fire which started a little more than six weeks ago, put firefighters through the ringer through most of it’s life.

The lightning fire took off in Klamath County after embers attached to extremely dry fuels in the area, that had not been burned in more than 30 years. From there, the fire exploded onto the scene forcing thousands of people to flee from their homes and presenting a challenge for fire crews as the intense fire activity forced firefighters to pull back several times.

In total the Bootleg Fire destroyed 413,717 acres, or 646 square miles, and destroyed more than 150 homes and more than 200 outbuildings.

New Wildfires

Two new wildfires started by lightning late over the weekend grew rapidly Friday on the edge of Klamath and Lake counties, not too far from the site of the Bootleg Fire, which until recently was the nation’s largest blaze.

Patton Meadow Fire_08132021_8PM

The Fox Fire Complex includes The Patton Meadow fire about 14 miles west of Lakeview, exploded to 11 square miles in less than 24 hours in a landscape sucked dry by extreme drought. An RV park was evacuated overnight. Another nearby fire was smaller but also growing and was just over one square mile Friday afternoon.

Gov. Kate Brown declared an emergency to help get firefighting crews and resources to the Patton Meadow Fire, which is also threatening communication infrastructure, authorities said. Tamara Schmidt, a U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman with the fire incident command team, said fire growth was extremely rapid due to the weather
conditions. More INFO: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7798/

Oregon National Guard Deploys Guardsmen to Wildfires

Twenty Airmen with the Oregon Air National Guard’s 142nd Wing have departed Portland en route to support wildland fire fighting efforts across the state of Oregon.

This effort from the Oregon Military Department is a part of Operation Plan (OPLAN) Smokey, an effort by the state whose focus is to fight wildland fires with a combined force of guardsmen, firefighters, and emergency operators.

Oregon Air National Guard Master Sgt. Bernard Untalan, 142nd Wing OPLAN Smokey Coordinator, says these deployments have a profound effect on the Airmen.

“OPLAN Smokey is a tremendous and meaningful opportunity for our citizen-airmen to assist our state during its most dire hour. The impact of their work protects lives, structures, and thousands of acres of beautiful Oregon land.”

These Airmen are part of 115 Oregon National Guardsmen from both the Army and Air National Guard that were requested by the Oregon Department of Forestry on August 11 to support efforts at the Rough Patch and Bootleg Fires. Oregon Army National Guard UH-60 and HH-60 Blackhawk helicopters are also currently deployed with crews helping to extinguish fires. So far this year, Oregon National Guard helicopters have dropped more than 225,000 gallons of water on wildfires throughout the state.

Other Guardsmen are providing supporting efforts in the Joint Operations Center, and two 116th Air Control Squadron Airmen are providing air control support at a helipad in Roseburg.

Normally OPLAN Smokey tours can last up to two weeks before the guardsmen are redeployed back to their home stations or replaced by other guardsmen to continue the mission.

More fire fighting training photos can be found at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/oregonmildep/albums/72157719445937079 —- Oregon Military Department 

Here are links to be able to see updated info on the larger fires in Oregon:

Oregon OSHA coordinating distribution of particulate respirators in light of wildfire smoke and emergency requirements  

Oregon OSHA is working with several partners to distribute hundreds of thousands of particulate respirators to employers to help protect their workers in light of their new obligations under an emergency wildfire smoke rule.

Oregon OSHA logo

The division is working with the Oregon Homebuilders Association, the Associated General Contractors Oregon-Columbia Chapter, and Hoffman Construction to create distribution sites for employers to obtain free KN-95 and N-95 particulate respirators. At the same time, Oregon OSHA is coordinating with the Oregon Department of Agriculture on the distribution of such respirators to agricultural employers.

The work remains under way. Future updates will be available online. The following is a current list of contact information for partners who are helping distribute respirators at certain locations:

Meanwhile, Oregon State University Extension offices continue to support Oregon’s farmers and ranchers by offering free particulate respirators around the state. Find a local office at: https://extension.oregonstate.edu/find-us 

While the state’s supplies last, the particulate respirators are intended to be distributed to employers when wildfire smoke events trigger Oregon OSHA’s emergency temporary rule. The maximum number of respirators allowed to be received is four per employee.

Oregon OSHA’s rule applies to employers whose employees are – or will be – exposed to wildfire smoke where the ambient air concentration for the fine particulate matter (also known as PM2.5) is at or above an Air Quality Index (AQI) 101, which is unhealthy for sensitive groups. 

Sensitive groups include people with lung and heart problems; children younger than 18 and adults older than 65; pregnant women; and people with diabetes.

Oregon OSHA encourages a careful reading of the temporary wildfire smoke rule, which took effect Aug. 9 and remains in effect for 180 days. The division offers free and confidential consultations, and technical advice – involving no citations, no penalties, and no fault – to help employers understand the requirements.

Moreover, Oregon OSHA provides free online training to help employers meet certain training requirements found in the temporary wildfire smoke rule. The training is available in English and Spanish. Topics covered include the importance, limitations, and benefits of using a particulate respirator, and how to properly wear one. 

For the 2021 season, KN-95 particulate respirators previously approved under federal emergency use authorization can be substituted for respirators approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) for exposures below AQI 499. For exposures of AQI 500 and above, NIOSH-approved respirators (what are commonly known as N-95s) must be used. 

There are counterfeit KN-95 respirators on the market, so it is important to choose one from the list of models that Oregon OSHA considers acceptable for substitution during the 2021 season. To review the list, visit Filtering respirators acceptable for use in Oregon under temporary rule protecting workers against wildfire smoke

Workers have a right to a safe and healthy workplace. That includes the right to raise concerns free from retaliation and to file a complaint with Oregon OSHA. 

Consultation, technical advice, educational and other resources

Oregon OSHA offers free resources – involving no citations, no penalties, and no fault – to help employers comply with workplace health and safety requirements. They include:

Consultation services – Provides free and confidential help with safety and health programs, including how to control and eliminate hazards, and hands-on training

Technical staff – Helps employers understand requirements and how to apply them to their worksites

Also, the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, which includes Oregon OSHA, maintains the Multicultural Communications Program that provides outreach to communities with limited English proficiency. That outreach encompasses information about on-the-job safety and health. The program includes a toll-free phone number for Spanish speakers: 800-843-8086.

Other resources include:

Oregon OSHA, a division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, enforces the state’s workplace safety and health rules and works to improve workplace safety and health for all Oregon workers. For more information, visit osha.oregon.gov — Oregon Dept. of Consumer & Business Services

ODOT Concerned with Rise in Deadly Crashes Around the State

Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) Public Information Representation Lou Torres said the state agency is increasingly concerned about the traffic crashes and deaths.

“We are alarmed about the overall increase in severe crashes statewide,” Torres said. “Even with fewer people driving in 2020, we saw a significant increase in severe and fatal crashes and that trend has continued in 2021. As of July 28, Oregon traffic deaths were 22% higher than in 2020.”

Fatal Crash on Hwy 95 – Malheur County

On Friday, August 13, 2021 at approximately 11:45 A.M. (MST), Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a two vehicle collision on Hwy 95 near milepost 60.

Preliminary investigation revealed an International semi-truck pulling a loaded cargo trailer, operated by Eric Murwanashyaka (22) of Abilene, TX., was southbound when it crossed into the northbound lane and collided with a Honda Odyssey van operated by Rebecca Haselmann (50) of Santa Clara, CA. 

Haselmann and passenger, Emma Nutter (18) of Santa Clara, CA., sustained fatal injuries and were pronounced deceased.

Murwanashyaka was transported to an Idaho hospital with injuries. OSP was assisted by Jordan Valley EMS and ODOT — Oregon State Police 

Fatal Crash on Interstate 5 – Linn County

On Sunday, August 15, 2021 at approximately 10:40 A.M., Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel were responding to a wrong way driver when it became a two vehicle crash on Interstate 5 near milepost 212.

Preliminary investigation revealed a Volkswagen Jetta, operated by Shiloh Edsitty (29) of Albany, was southbound in the northbound lanes and collided with a Freightliner semi-truck operated by Phillip Paylor (55) of Grants Pass. 

Edsitty sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased. Paylor was not injured. OSP was assisted by Halsey Shedd Fire Department and ODOT. Oregon State Police

Fatal Crash on Hwy 101

Two people died in a multiple vehicle crash that shut down all lanes of busy Oregon Coast Highway 101 just south of Lincoln City for several hours Friday, Aug. 13.

Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a two vehicle crash on Hwy 101 near milepost 121. Preliminary investigation revealed a Dodge Durango, operated by James Versteeg (46) of Gleneden Beach, was northbound when it crossed into the southbound lane and collided with a Chevrolet Silverado, operated by Lewis Ford (41) of Lincoln City.

That deadly incident follows a series of traffic crashes along Highway 6 just a few weeks ago near Tillamook that left three people dead and sent several others to area hospitals.

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