Rogue Valley News, Monday 8/30 – Two Fires in One Day Destroys Stewart Market In SW Medford, Josephine County Requests Trucks For Bodies as Covid-19 Deaths Climb, Remains Of Missing Man Found

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 30, 2021

Rogue Valley Weather 

Air Quality Alert

Today– Widespread haze. Sunny, with a high near 85. Calm wind becoming north northwest 5 to 8 mph in the afternoon.

Tuesday– Widespread haze before noon, then widespread haze after 3pm. Patchy smoke between noon and 3pm. Sunny, with a high near 82. Calm wind becoming north northwest 5 to 7 mph in the afternoon.

Wednesday– Patchy smoke. Mostly sunny, with a high near 86. Calm wind becoming north northwest around 5 mph in the afternoon.

Thursday– Sunny, with a high near 87.

Friday– Sunny, with a high near 90.

Two Fires in One Day Destroys Stewart Market In SW Medford

The Stewart Market at the corner of Lozier Lane and Stewart Avenue saw two fires happen Sunday.

The first one was reported at around 6:30 am. Crews from Medford Fire, Fire District 3, and Jacksonville Fire responded and seemed to have put the fire out. There was some damage, but the market was still largely intact.

And then came fire #2. The store is now totally destroyed.

The market was heavily utilized by many people in the neighborhood. This is going to be a big loss to far more people than just the owners.

In fact, the pricing on beer at Stewart Market was a major draw from across Medford. This market was at one time the 4th largest sales point for beer in Jackson County.

Josephine County Requests Trucks For Bodies As Covid-19 Deaths Climb

The death toll from COVID-19 in Oregon is climbing so rapidly that two counties have requested refrigerated trucks to hold the bodies, the state emergency management department said Saturday.

So far, Tillamook County, on Oregon’s northwest coast, and Josephine County, in the southwest, have requested the trucks, said Bobbi Doan, a spokeswoman for the Oregon Office of Emergency Management.

Tillamook County Emergency Director Gordon McCraw wrote in his request to the state that the county’s sole funeral home “is now consistently at or exceeding their capacity” of nine bodies.

The refrigerated truck arrived in the county on Friday, loaned by Klamath County, Doan said in a telephone interview. The Tillamook County Board of Commissioners said Friday the spread of COVID-19 “has reached a critical phase.”

Remains Of Missing Man Found

According to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, officers believe they have found the remains of Kirk Jones who had been missing for over two months. JCSO says that the remains were located in the Sky Lakes Wilderness area and that based on circumstances they believe it to be Jones, missing out of San Antonio, Texas.

An autopsy is pending, and the Medical Examiner’s office is working to establish a positive scientific ID. Cause and manner of death is pending an autopsy. Today Jones’s family was notified that his body may have been found. The family posted on their Facebook page that they had been notified by JCSO. 

Search and rescue teams and deputies from the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office joined in the search for the missing Texas man after his motorcycle was recovered east of Prospect. Jones was last seen on June 3rd.

If you had contact with this missing person in Southern Oregon or have any information, please call Sergeant Shawn Richards at 541-591-1843 or through Dispatch at 541-776-7206.

Oregon reports 3,207 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 20 new deaths

There are 20 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 3,115. The Oregon Health Authority reported 3,207 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 268,401. Today marks the latest record high number of new confirmed and presumptive cases in the state. Previously, the record was 2,971 new confirmed and presumptive cases on Aug. 19, 2021. 

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (9), Benton (33), Clackamas (187), Clatsop (29), Columbia (26), Coos (88), Crook (21), Curry (13), Deschutes (296), Douglas (216), Gilliam (1), Grant (5), Harney (11), Hood River (14), Jackson (313), Jefferson (27), Josephine (186), Klamath (41), Lake (2), Lane (298), Lincoln (58), Linn (149), Malheur (34), Marion (317), Morrow (17), Multnomah (243), Polk (104), Tillamook (52), Umatilla (74), Union (15), Wallowa (8), Wasco (26), Washington (227) and Yamhill (67).

COVID-19 hospitalizations

The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 1,098, which is 13 more than yesterday. There are 308 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is nine more than yesterday.

There are 40 available adult ICU beds out of 663 total (6% availability) and 305 available adult non-ICU beds out of 4,279 (7% availability).

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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.

Note: Please do not visit an emergency department for COVID-19 testing, unless you require emergency care for your symptoms. Emergency departments in Oregon are under significant strain responding to the current surge in COVID-19. You can find a test here.  

If you have a medical condition that doesn’t require emergency care, contact your provider. An urgent care center may also help you get the care you need and will save emergency departments from added strain.  More information about hospital capacity can be found here.

Vaccinations in Oregon –As of today, 2,610,916 people have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 2,389,358 people have completed a COVID-19 vaccine series.

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. Updated vaccination data are provided on Oregon’s COVID-19 data dashboards and have been updated today.

Monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19 

Getting diagnosed with COVID-19 can be scary. However, in addition to the safe and effective vaccines we have in the U.S., we now have more treatments available that can reduce the severity of COVID-19 in those who have become infected. 

Monoclonal antibody (mAb) treatments have the potential to save lives and relieve the burden currently placed on Oregon’s health care system. The treatment is now available in both subcutaneous (an injection) and intravenous (IV) form. 

One monoclonal antibody treatment is currently available in Oregon through Health and Human Services (HHS) for free and has proven to be effective against the Delta variant. 

People ages 12 and older, who weigh at least 88 lbs. and meet the following requirements may be eligible for mAb treatment: 

  • Have tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • Are experiencing mild or moderate symptoms of COVID-19. 
  • Had first symptoms within the last 10 days. 
  • Are considered high risk for going into the hospital because of age, weight, pregnancy, immunosuppressive disease or treatment for some other chronic disease. See the full list

To learn more about mAb treatment, read the full story on Oregon Vaccine News.

A COVID-19 outbreak at an Oregon assisted living facility that has infected 64 people and killed five began with an unvaccinated worker, public health officials said. The outbreak at Gateway Living in Springfield began July 5.

The facility has 105 employees and 101 residents; only 63% of the staff and 82% of the residents are completely vaccinated. Lane County Public Health spokesman Jason Davis said the outbreak began with an unvaccinated employee who worked while infectious. The outbreak arrived as an immense surge of COVID-19 cases hit
Oregon, driven by the especially contagious delta variant as well as vaccine obstinacy in some quarters.

499 Oregon Kids Test Positive For COVID-19 In A Week

Nearly 500 children in Oregon have tested positive for COVID-19 during the week of Aug. 15, according to officials for the Oregon Health Authority.

The Oregon Nurses Association is calling on all nurses to get vaccinated against COVID-19 before the October 18th deadline or get an exemption for medical or religious reasons.  

The ONA Board of Directors says the Governor has made vaccinations a legal requirement, and unvaccinated nurses will face termination if they don’t comply. They say the science is clear that vaccinations are safe and effective.

An updated projection from OHSU shows nearly 12-hundred people will be hospitalized with COVID-19 by September 6th.  

That’s over a hundred people more than the initial prediction.  Health officials say 45-percent of Oregon’s ICU beds are currently filled with COVID-19 patients.  The statewide indoor mask mandate that started August 13th isn’t
having a significant impact yet.  Oregon’s outdoor mask mandate began Friday.  Health officials say masking and vaccinations will reduce the surge of patients.

Monday update! Smoke early Sunday gave way to active burning on many large incidents yesterday. No lightning was detected.

Devils Knob Complex is 32,399 acres and 25% contained.

Fire potential stays at normal or below normal levels through the work week.

Expect cooler temperatures today, particularly on the west side of the region, as a cold front sweeps through. Breezy
westerly winds will blow through Cascade gaps and across the east side this afternoon with sustained winds above 20 mph and gusts in excess of 30 mph.

Little precipitation is expected as the upper level system crosses the region. Spotty drizzle is possible along the coast and on windward slopes, and showers are possible along the Canadian border today and Tuesday. Seasonably cool temperatures and slightly breezy afternoons should persist through mid-week. Weather models continue to show a lot of variability going into the weekend, but the latest models trend toward another upper-level trough moving through, continuing cool conditions.

The potential for new significant fires is at normal or below normal risk for the region today. Breezy general winds through Cascade gaps and across the east side basins slightly boost significant fire potential and could challenge control efforts on existing incidents, but overall risk remains relatively low. Fire potential stays at normal or below normal levels through the work week.

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

This public lands link is super helpful to check before you head outdoors. The Keep Oregon Green website carries ODF’s public use restrictions. Click the link for up-to-date information:

https://keeporegongreen.org/current-conditions/

Employment Benefits Could Be Denied For Those Fired Over Oregon COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate

The Oregon Employment Department said last week that people who lose their jobs because they bucked a vaccine mandate probably aren’t eligible for unemployment assistance. That’s a much more definitive position than the department took a week ago when it described vaccine mandates as a “rapidly evolving issue” and said it was
awaiting clarity from future court rulings on benefits eligibility.

State of Oregon Employment Department

In Oregon, very few businesses require their employees to receive a COVID-19 shot. But Oregon Gov. Brown has issued a succession of orders mandating vaccines for health care workers, teachers and executive branch employees.

Jobless benefits are typically available to people who lose their jobs because they’ve been laid off or fired, but not to
people who quit without “good cause.” People who are fired may not be eligible, either, if they refused to comply with an employer’s reasonable policies.

Unemployment ‘Waiting Week’ Returns Sept. 5 In Oregon

Federal pandemic-related unemployment insurance programs are ending and so will the Oregon orders that coincided with those federal programs. That means people filing initial unemployment claims September 5th or later will once again have a waiting week before being able to collect unemployment benefits.

During the early waves of the pandemic in 2020, Gov. Brown declared an emergency that waived the waiting week for unemployment filers. She then waived the waiting week until the federal programs ended — and they end September 4.

“We know unemployment benefits are a critical safety net and people rely on these funds to provide for their families and stay in their homes,” said the Oregon Employment Department Acting Director David Gerstenfeld. “With temporary federal benefits ending Sept. 4 and COVID-19 on the rise, this is a stressful time for many throughout the country. We want to make sure people have the information they need when we return to regular unemployment insurance (UI) benefit rules, including the waiting week.”

OED officials believe the return of the waiting week will affect about 11,000 people initially — those filing a claim for the first time or those receiving Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits who were eligible for a regular unemployment claim after their original PEUC claim expired.

Anyone filing for a claim for the first time after September 4 will have to wait a week to get their benefits. During the waiting week new filers still have to look for work and file a weekly claim but won’t be paid unemployment benefits that week.

People already getting regular unemployment checks won’t have a waiting week. But if they file a new claim later, they will have to wait a week.

Outdoor Mask Mandate an Issue at Oregon State Fair

The Oregon State Fair was well received on opening weekend. But walking through the crowd, a visitor could see the state’s outdoor mask mandate was not so popular. On Sunday afternoon, it appeared that roughly half of the crowd was ignoring it.

Signs pointed out a coronavirus vaccine clinic happening inside Cascade Hall. Unlike the mask mandate, vaccinations were going smoothly. Health care workers have been vaccinating 50 to 60 people a day since Friday.

Josh Franke is Chief Project Officer for Salem Health’s vaccine program , which is working with Oregon Health Authority and the state fair to operate the clinic.

Franke said the targeted vaccine mandate is in part driving an uptick in vaccinations. “But also people are seeing in the news that this is not going away, and ultimately the only way for us to get out of this is to get vaccinated,” Franke said.

Franke said all three vaccine brands are available at the clinic, and he is glad to see people getting them.

“The good thing for people to remember is that you’re not fully vaccinated until two weeks after your final dose, so with Johnson & Johnson that’s great because two weeks from today you’re full vaccinated,” Franke said.

Fair organizers try to get people to mask up. Fair staff tell attendees about it coming in, offer masks to those without them, and remind people again, when they can, to mask up.

“But it really takes people doing the right thing if they want this fair to continue,” said Oregon State Fair spokesperson Dave Thompson. “The best version of this classic American state fair is only possible with your help. Please, while you’re at the Oregon State Fair, please wear your mask.”

The Oregon State Fair runs thru September 6th — https://oregonstatefair.org/daily-schedules/

State Proposes Approval for 60-bed Wilsonville Psychiatric Hospital

Oregon Health Authority’s (OHA) Certificate of Need program is proposing to approve NEWCO Oregon Inc.’s certificate of need application for a 60-bed, free-standing psychiatric hospital to be located in Wilsonville.

The proposed approval of NEWCO’s application is contingent upon the company meeting certain conditions.

OHA determined that NEWCO has satisfied the burden of proof needed to justify the creation of a 60-bed inpatient psychiatric facility. The draft recommendation is based on the application and accompanying documents; the agency record, including information submitted by both interested and affected parties; and OHA’s evaluation and analysis.

“Oregon Health Authority supports bringing additional behavioral health resources to support the people of Oregon,” said Steve Allen, OHA behavioral health director. “Those resources should be simple to access, responsive to community and individuals’ needs, and support meaningful outcomes for Oregonians.”

NEWCO must meet the following conditions before it receives — and before it can renew — its hospital license under ORS 441.025:

  1. OHA requires, as a condition of licensure under ORS 441.025, that NEWCO meet and maintain all requirements under OAR 309-033-0520(3) as a Class 1 facility hospital.
  2. OHA requires, as a condition of ongoing licensure, that NEWCO dedicate 45% of its bed capacity to serve persons with a court determination of mental illness under ORS 426.130; a person on an emergency hold and in custody pursuant to ORS 426.232, 426.233; or a person in prehearing detention or diversion pursuant to ORS 426.237. NEWCO must demonstrate compliance with this requirement by supplying a quarterly report of discharges broken down by those meeting these criteria.
  3. NEWCO must notify OHA’s Behavioral Health Program within 12 hours if it is refusing care to a patient meeting criteria in Condition 2, is uninsured, or is on Medicaid. This information will be sent to a dedicated email address provided to NEWCO by OHA.
  4. Expansion of bed capacity and ongoing licensure as a hospital under ORS 441.025 shall be conditioned on compliance with the above conditions in addition to any civil penalties assessed by the division for non-compliance with the conditions pursuant to its authority under OAR 333-565-0010.
  5. The conditions above will be evaluated annually and may be modified to ensure that the system needs are adequately addressed.

The Certificate of Need program, administered through the Health Care Regulation and Quality Improvement Section at OHA Public Health Division, is a standardized, regulatory program instituted in 1971. It arose out of the Oregon Legislature’s desire to achieve reasonable access to quality health care at a reasonable cost. ORS 442 charges the program with reviewing proposals for new hospitals and nursing facilities to ensure health services are adequately distributed in the state without unnecessary duplication of services or excessive cost to patients.

For more information on the Certificate of Need program, visit www.healthoregon.org/cn.

Portland Woman Charged with Murder after Running over Husband in Grocery Store Parking Lot

The Portland Police Bureau said a woman intentionally ran over and killed her husband Friday night in a grocery store parking lot in North Portland.

Tera Harris, 49, was arrested and booked at the Multnomah County Jail on charges that include second-degree murder and unlawful use of a weapon, both with domestic violence enhancements.

Responding officers found a man under a vehicle in the Fred Meyer parking lot off North Lombard Street and Ida Avenue. Authorities later identified the man as Thurston Harris, the husband of Tera Harris. Portland Fire and Rescue reported to the scene where they removed Thurston Harris from beneath the car. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The state medical examiner conducted an autopsy and determined that Thurston Harris, 48, died from blunt force trauma to the torso and ruled his death a homicide. Consequently, Tera Harris has been charged with second-degree domestic violence murder, and domestic violence unlawful use of a weapon.

Record Low Number of Steelhead

Record low numbers of steelhead are returning to the Columbia River this year, prompting conservationists and anglers alike to call for a halt to recreational fishing for the sea-run fish.

As of this week, just 29,000 steelhead passed the Bonneville Dam since July 1 — the fewest ever recorded, less than half the average of the past five years.

A coalition of conservation and fishing groups sent a letter to the Oregon, Washington and Idaho agencies that manage fish and wildlife requesting an immediate closure of recreational steelhead fisheries on the
Columbia River, the Lower Snake River and their tributaries.

Steelhead on the Columbia and Snake rivers are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. After
hatching in freshwater rivers and streams, the steelhead — sea-run rainbow trout — migrate to the ocean and return to freshwater to spawn.

Their population has been devastated by habitat destruction, including construction of hydroelectric dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers, as well as overfishing and climate change. High water temperatures on the Columbia and Snake rivers have also been detrimental as much of the Northwest has faced excessive heat and relentless drought.

Commissioners and staff with the Oregon and Washington departments of fish and wildlife met virtually Friday to discuss options for limiting damage. Most fisheries on the Columbia require fishermen to release any steelhead they catch this fall.

Must Read

Rogue Valley News, Wednesday 3/8 – Task Force Raids Illegal Grow Near Gold Hill, Mt. Ashland Ski Park Having Record-Breaking Year

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Rogue Valley News, Wednesday 6/9 – Galice Resort Destroyed by Fire, Authorities Seek To Identify Remains Of Man Found On The Greenway After Almeda Fire

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Rogue Valley News, Thursday, 7/16 – Oregon With 282 New Cases

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