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Willamette Valley News, Friday, 10/16 – University of Oregon says Winter Term Will be Largely Online

The University of Oregon said Tuesday that winter term courses will continue to be largely remote and online. The university in Eugene said it will continue to offer some classes in-person, such as science labs and physical education courses, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported. The in-person courses will require face coverings and physical distancing, according to the university.

“We made this decision based on our careful monitoring of COVID-19 indicators and prevalence in Lane County and across Oregon,” read a message from University President Michael Schill and Provost and Senior Vice President Patrick Phillips. “As has been the case throughout the pandemic, the health and safety of the entire UO community remains our top priority.”

The university in October has reported nearly 200 cases of coronavirus in university employees and students living on and off campus. Likewise, Lane County, where UO’s main campus is located, has also reported an increase in cases, some from the university community as well as other spikes such as workplace outbreaks.

Today’s Headlines Around the State of Oregon

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COVID-19 has claimed three more lives in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 611. The Oregon Health Authority reported 374 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of yesterday bringing the state total to 38,525.

The state’s new overnight cases  are in the following counties: Benton (15), Clackamas (21), Clatsop (2), Columbia (3), Coos (1), Crook (2), Deschutes (7), Douglas (5), Jackson (17), Josephine (5), Klamath (1), Lane (33), Lincoln (5), Linn (12), Malheur (14), Marion (34), Morrow (1), Multnomah (110), Polk (12), Tillamook (1), Umatilla (17), Union (2), Wallowa (1), Wasco (1), Washington (46), and Yamhill (6). 

Health officials say the number of COVID-19 cases in Oregon is increasing at its fastest pace since the pandemic began.  The Oregon Health Authority says new cases over the 1st week are up 18-percent.  The number of positive tests is also up slightly to six-point-four-percent.  Health officials want that number under five-percent.  Officials say there were also 147 new hospitalizations over the last week.  That’s the highest weekly figure since mid-July.

NOAA awards Wild Salmon Center for Oregon Coastal Restoration Jobs

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) awarded Wild Salmon Center (WSC) $824,000 to support habitat restoration projects implemented through the Coast Coho Partnership (CCP). The partnership is a WSC-managed team of government agencies and nonprofit partners that works on the coast to recover Oregon’s two Coast Coho populations.

Both Coast Coho populations are listed as ‘threatened’ under the federal Endangered Species Act. The new funding represents the shared commitment of NOAA and Oregon’s congressional delegation to recover Coho, said Mark Trenholm, WSC Coast program director.

“Our congressional champions are key to the recovery effort,” said Trenholm. “These funds will improve conditions for wild salmon and support jobs in communities that need them.”

The NOAA award represents the second tranche of a $2.3 million, three-year cooperative agreement between NOAA and WSC to protect and restore coastal watersheds and recover Oregon Coast Coho. Since 2017, WSC and CCP have leveraged nearly $8 million for Coho restoration work across six coastal watersheds, from the Elk River north to the Nehalem.

This round of funding supports Coast Coho habitat restoration projects in Oregon counties hard-hit by pandemic-related unemployment. Projects being funded include:

● Restoration of the Millicoma Wetlands eight miles upstream of Coos Bay (Coos County)

● In-stream installation of large wood in three critical tributaries to the Siletz River (Lincoln County) and in the Rogue River’s West Evans Creek (Jackson County)

● Streamside restoration along the middle Elk River (Curry County)

● Restoration of cold-water habitats in several Nehalem River tributaries (Clatsop County)

Coho habitat restoration means good jobs now, said Trenholm. NOAA reports that every $1 million the agency invests in watershed restoration creates 15 to 30 jobs. In 2020, CCP coastal investments of $1.2 million have directly funded 168 short-term and 29 long-term jobs.

“Salmon health and the health of our coast go hand in hand,” said Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden. “I’m glad to see federal dollars on the ground for essential habitat restoration efforts. Investing in the recovery of wild salmon is an investment in Oregon’s environment, our coastal and Tribal communities and our economy, which is all the more important as the COVID-19 crisis persists.”

For decades, fishing for Coho has been curtailed for Indigenous, commercial, and sport fishers on the Oregon Coast. This has threatened a traditional way of life for local Tribes and cost coastal communities millions in lost revenues.

“The health of Oregon Coast communities is inextricably linked to the health of our coastal salmon runs,” said Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley. “These funds will help fuel the extraordinary grassroots effort to restore coastal watersheds, which also supports jobs in a region that is being severely impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. I will continue doing everything I can to be a strong federal partner in the effort to recover Coast Coho.”

The Oregon coast boasts some of the most intact salmon ecosystems left in the lower 48, according to modeling by WSC and other organizations. As critical habitats are restored, Trenholm said, coastal watersheds become more resilient to climate change, enhancing the viability of wild runs into the future. While Coho-focused, CCP’s projects can also directly benefit Chinook and chum salmon, as well as cutthroat and steelhead trout.

“I’m proud to be a long-time supporter of robust funding for the NOAA Office of Habitat Conservation, funding that helps in the restoration of Oregon’s ecologically-diverse coastal watersheds,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio. “Habitat restoration is vital to increasing Coho and other species’ survival. Not only is this good for fish and the environment, funding stays in the community. The restoration efforts funded by these grants will create dozens of jobs in rural Oregon and strengthen our local economy. I’m proud to have helped the Wild Salmon Center secure this important funding.”

According to a University or Oregon study, 80 percent of every dollar invested in restoration projects stays in-county, and 90 percent stays in-state. But the ultimate payoff, Trenholm said, lies in the future: restoring the lifeblood of coastal communities by helping them fish again.

“Salmon are an integral part of the culture and ecosystem of the Pacific NW, and we must do all we can to help them survive and thrive,” said Rep. Suzanne Bonamici. “Habitat restoration projects like the work being supported by Wild Salmon Center will protect and restore watersheds to confront the climate crisis and help our salmon populations become more resilient. I’m grateful for the leadership of the Wild Salmon Center, and I will continue advocating for funding to support salmon recovery and restore coastal watersheds.”

The Klamath County Sheriff’s Office has received multiple reports from people receiving phone calls indicating their child has been kidnapped and demanding a ransom.

The reporting parties noted that they heard background screaming and other noise that they believed was recorded. The incidents appeared to be originating from a foreign number possibly from Mexico beginning with country code +52.  Virtual kidnapping is an extortion scam where a caller pretends to have kidnapped a child or relative and demands payment.

The scammers will often make it appear they know significant details about their loved ones. They threaten extreme violence against the victim and imply that they have hacked your cell phone. The Klamath County Sheriff’s Office encourages you to share this information with friends and family members.

After more than 210,000 meals served, the American Red Cross turns over the feeding mission for Oregon wildfire survivors to state agencies and local community vendors.

Since September 7 the American Red Cross has worked with a number of partners, including faith-based and community-based organizations, to provide meals to as many as 2,200 people per day who resided Red Cross sheltering options. As of Friday, October 16, the Red Cross will turn over the feeding mission for the approximate 2,000 wildfire survivors who are still sheltered in local hotels, and staying in RVs and other vehicles at outside venues such as county fairgrounds.

The Oregon Department of Human Services, in conjunction with other state agencies, has identified vendors in the fire-affected communities who have already been working with the Red Cross for meal preparation and service. These vendors have been selected to continue food service and will help to ensure that nutritionally balanced and culturally specific meals will continue to be delivered along the same schedule as was established under the Red Cross.

“It’s important to everyone involved in this transition that it is as seamless as possible,” said Ed Flick, director of emergency management, at Oregon Department of Human Services. “The Red Cross and partners have done a phenomenal job and we are committed to continuing to provide these critical resources until shelter clients move to other housing options.”

“Red Crossers have been working with Oregon wildfire survivors for more than a month,” said Dale Kunce of the American Red Cross. “Providing a warm place to stay, meals, and access to information and other resources is what we do. For many, the meals and snacks we serve are not just nourishment. They give people a small sense of normalcy, a bite to eat and a moment to take a breather.”

Oregon DMV officials acknowledged this week they still don’t how many people are stuck in limbo waiting for paperwork to be addressed or other services at the state office. Phone systems continue to be overloaded.

Appointments are booked solid at least two months out. New dates are opened up in two-week increments.  Availability depends on where you live. The DMV, long pilloried as the stereotype of a plodding government agency, has faced a full plate: The pandemic, wildfire-related office closures, the long-tortured rollout of Real IDs and a 2021 law taking effect that will expand driver’s license access to potentially more than 100,000 residents. DMV offices across the state shut their doors completely for 10 weeks due to the pandemic.

Fifty-eight of the state’s 60 offices reopened with a new appointment-only method, a system that was instantly overloaded, scrapped and redesigned after some 18,000 callers jammed up the system in the first hour on June 1. The original plan had customers call for appointments, which the state ultimately flipped on its head, calling customers instead.

FLU SHOTS
The Oregon Health Authority is urging everyone 6 months and older to get an annual flu shot, especially as COVID-19 cases increase in Oregon, and the pandemic persists.

“Flu vaccines are safe and effective, and with ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks, it is more important than ever to get a flu shot to keep the people around you healthy,” said Paul Cieslak, M.D., public health physician at the Oregon Health Authority. 

While it is unclear how the pandemic will affect the flu season, OHA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are preparing for COVID-19 and seasonal flu to spread at the same time. A “twindemic” of two potentially fatal viruses circulating at the same time could burden the state’s health care system and result in many illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths, Cieslak said. Getting a flu vaccine is something easy people can do to protect themselves and their loved ones and help reduce the spread of flu this fall and winter.

The flu vaccine may take up to two weeks to become effective, so getting it earlier in the season – like now is ideal. That’s why OHA is promoting a “Don’t Wait to Vaccinate” campaign with social media cards and other messaging starting today. Flu vaccine is available from health care providers, local health departments and many pharmacies. The vaccine is free or low cost with most health insurance plans. To find a flu vaccine clinic, visit http://www.flu.oregon.gov/ and use OHA’s flu vaccine locator tool.

Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent the flu. Additional ways Oregonians can help prevent the spread of flu include:

  • Staying home from work or school when you are sick and limit contact with others.
  • Covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Washing hands frequently with soap and water. Use an alcohol-based hand rub if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects that may have flu germs on them.
  • Avoiding getting coughed and sneezed on.

FATAL CRASH ON HWY 101 – CURRY COUNTY

On Tuesday, October 13, 2020, Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a vehicle crash on Hwy 101 near milepost 358.

Preliminary investigation revealed a Toyota Camry, operated by Benjamin Demaris (64) of Crescent City, was southbound when he struck a pedestrian, Michael Christian (32) of Crescent City, as he walked across the highway. 

Christian sustained life threatening injuries and was transported to Sutter Coast Hospital for treatment and then to Rogue Valley Hospital.  Christian was pronounced deceased at the hospital.   OSP was assisted by Curry County Sheriff’s Office, Harbor Fire Department and Cal Ore Ambulance.

Here’s one you may not believe, but it’s true:, but Portland, home to “antifa radicals” and the “radical left,” has just been ranked the ninth best place to live in the whole country by U.S. News and World Report.

It’s a big win for a city that is supposedly “under siege.” According to the ranking, “Portland’s population toes the line between an innocent playfulness and a shameless wild side.” However, U.S. News and World Report made no mention of the chaos and rampant homelessness usually favored by national news outlets, and instead focused on donuts and the World Naked Bike Ride. Even though Portland is still in the top 10, the city moved down since the 2018 ranking, when it was ranked sixth.

Oregonians are looking for ways to protect their household budgets during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Health care needs are not always something people can predict, but unexpected costs for care can cripple a budget. However, a window shopping tool allows Oregonians to see how much they can save on private health insurance coverage through the Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace.

Oregonians can get quality coverage and financial savings through the Marketplace. The window shopping tool is now available at OregonHealthCare.gov/WindowShop for consumers to preview plan options and receive estimates to lower costs for 2021 to prepare for open entollment.

Open enrollment runs from Nov. 1 through Dec. 15 and is the only time of year many people can buy private health insurance. In 2020, more than 70 percent of Oregonians who purchased individual health insurance qualified for financial help, lowering the average premium to just $142 per month.

Visiting OregonHealthCare.gov/WindowShop can help you answer these questions:

  • What coverage do I qualify for?
  • How much financial help can I get?
  • What would my health plan cover?
  • What are my next steps?

“Health insurance through the Marketplace is quality coverage that protects Oregonians from current and future health issues,” said Chiqui Flowers, Marketplace administrator. “The updated tool can help Oregonians find the true cost of coverage available to them.”

For 2021, Oregonians will have more options than they had in the past few years. Regence and BridgeSpan join Providence in providing statewide coverage, and all Oregonians will be able to choose from at least 15 health insurance plans.

(SALEM, ORE.)—Today the Oregon Employment Department announced that its unemployment website (unemployment.oregon.gov) is now available in 15 languages other than English. The agency’s previous COVID-19 site was also available in 16 languages; however this new site, which provides timely information about new unemployment programs, instructions for how to apply for benefits, and answers to frequently asked questions, is easier to navigate and is more accessible for those using a mobile device. Making the newer website available in 16 different languages is part of the agency’s ongoing work towards increasing language access and removing barriers to accessing important information about unemployment benefits online.

“The Oregon Employment Department is an equal opportunity agency. We value equity and inclusivity and we’re committed to ensuring that our Limited English Proficient customers have meaningful access to all of our agency’s programs, services, and benefits. We don’t want anyone to miss out on the unemployment benefits they’re eligible for because they weren’t able to access the information they needed from our website. With this significant expansion of services, we’re leveling the playing field so everyone has equal access to information and help.”

Unemployment.oregon.gov is available in the following languages:

  • English
  • Spanish
  • Vietnamese
  • Russian
  • Simplified Chinese
  • Romanian
  • Khmer
  • Korean
  • Arabic
  • Farsi
  • Laotian
  • Somali
  • Hmong
  • Mien
  • Marshallese
  • Chuukese

Troopers with California Highway Patrol arrested a truck driver from Oregon on Wednesday night after his big rig overturned on I-5 south of Grenada.

CHP said that 52-year-old Rodney Cavan of Sheridan, Oregon was driving a 2019 Freightliner tractor-trailer southbound on I-5 shortly after 9 p.m. “while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage” when the crash occurred. The truck and trailer blocked both lanes of I-5 southbound. Cavan, apparently unhurt, then left the scene — heading east, CHP said. Officers later tracked him down and took him into custody. Cavan was arrested for driving under the influence, and police are investigating for other potential charges.

Harvests of many kinds are well underway in the many rural communities Pacific Power serves, from apples and pears to peas and pumpkins. The busy fall harvest season is the most highly productive yet most dangerous time of the year for farmers, ranchers and their work crews, according to the National Agricultural Safety Database.

“As the Northwest’s largest rural power supplier, we know that fall harvest is a critical time of year. This is when the year’s investment pays off, but only if you take the time to stay safe, which is why we are focused on this season as much as you are,” said Joe Cissna, director of safety for Pacific Power. “Electricity helps with the harvest, but if you take it for granted and try to cut corners, tragedy could result.”

Customers and the public can get important safety materials, including Pacific Power’s “Electrical Safety on Your Farm or Ranch” brochure, or “Alerta! Fuera de Casa” brochure in Spanish, and “Look Up and Live” irrigation safety stickers in both English and Spanish – or schedule a free safety presentation – by calling Pacific Power toll free at 1-800-375-7085 or by visiting pacificpower.net/safety.

There are three main areas in which to concentrate safety efforts:

Power Line Safety

  • Be aware of overhead power lines. Lower augers, harvesters or other equipment to transport level to ensure adequate clearance when near power lines. Know the height of cultivators or planters in the fold-up position; the equipment may be taller than during field use.
  • If a tractor or vehiclecomes in contact with a power line, remain seated until help arrives. If there is danger of fire, jump as far away from the tractor as possible and keep your feet together when landing. Do not allow any part of your body to touch the equipment and the ground at the same time. Many injuries have occurred when equipment operators attempted to get back on or touch equipment after dismounting.
  • Never attempt to raise or move a power line.
  • Watch for guy wires, which are attached to and support utility poles and the ground. Striking a guy wire can damage your equipment and weaken a pole or even bring live power lines down, creating an extremely hazardous situation.
  • Do not erect fence wire along the same route as an overhead line and do not string fence wire where it may come into contact with an overhead line.

Electrical Safety

  • Make sure all outlets are three-hole, grounded outlets with faceplates.
  • Install a lock-out switch that can turn off all electricity to one area, for fast action in an emergency.
  • If there are any doubts about the state of electrical circuits, wiring or equipment on a farm, have a licensed electrician inspect them.
  • Properly ground the entire electrical system and protect ground wires and rods from damage.

If a line has fallen on the ground or on some other object or piece of equipment, always assume it’s hot, live or energized. Stay clear, keep others away and call 911 and Pacific Power toll free at 1-888-221-7070.

Another great source for safety information is the National Agricultural Safety Database. Visit nasdonline.org to find out more.

“By being extra careful and refreshing everyone on safety, especially with an expanded workforce on hand, we can all work together and enjoy a safe and bountiful harvest,” said Cissna.

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