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Willamette Valley News, Tuesday, 11/17 – High Winds & Rain, UO Expanding COVID-19 Testing to Lane County Community

The latest news stories and stories of interest in Eugene-Springfield area and around the state of Oregon from the online digital home of the valley,

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Willamette Valley Weather

Today – Rain before 1pm, then showers after 1pm. Temperature rising to near 59 by noon, then falling to around 53 during the remainder of the day. Breezy, with a south southwest wind 14 to 16 mph, with gusts as high as 28 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible. Tonight -Showers likely before 1am, then rain, mainly after 1am. Low around 45. Southeast wind around 8 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.

Wednesday – Rain before 10am, then showers and possibly a thunderstorm after 10am. High near 52. Southwest wind 8 to 13 mph, with gusts as high as 21 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New rainfall amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible. Wednesday Night – Showers likely. Cloudy, with a low around 41. South wind around 8 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.

Thursday –  Showers likely, mainly before 10am. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 50. West southwest wind 6 to 8 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New precipitation amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible. Thursday Night – A 20 percent chance of showers before 10pm. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 36.

Friday – Mostly sunny, with a high near 50. Friday Night -Partly cloudy, with a low around 32.

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COVID-19 has claimed four more lives in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 765.  Oregon Health Authority reported 781 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of yesterday, bringing the state total to 57,646.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (8), Benton (6), Clackamas (71), Columbia (5), Coos (4), Crook (1), Deschutes (35), Douglas (9), Hood River (3), Jackson (59), Jefferson (1), Josephine (9), Klamath (11), Lake (2), Lane (41), Linn (11), Malheur (5), Marion (103), Multnomah (231), Polk (16), Tillamook (2), Umatilla (10), Union (23), Wasco (1), Washington (118) and Yamhill (11).

The state also reported 347 people were hospitalized with the disease, a dramatic jump of almost 40 people since Friday, and the highest number of hospitalizations since the pandemic began. The number of people in intensive care and on ventilators shot up sharply, as well.

While no hospitals in Oregon have reported reaching capacity, healthcare leaders from around the state said the upward trend is troubling and some began canceling elective procedures last week to free up space in anticipation of a new surge of cases. Oregon is now averaging 927 cases a day over the past week. The number of cases reported on Mondays is typically low, with this week’s figure up 8% from last Monday.

UO expanding COVID-19 testing to Lane County community -The University of Oregon COVID-19 Monitoring and Assessment Program is expanding its asymptomatic COVID-19 testing capacity to include UO community members and Lane County residents, with a series of upcoming testing events open to adult residents who are not experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

“Many people infected with COVID-19 have no symptoms or have very mild symptoms. One strategy to identify such persons is surveillance testing via asymptomatic testing events,” said Dr. Patrick Luedtke, Lane County’s senior public health officer. “Our county is quite fortunate that the University of Oregon has leveraged its talent and resources to create a sophisticated, high-volume, federally certified COVID laboratory and has opted to use it for COVID surveillance. Participating in an asymptomatic testing event will help keep individuals, families and our broader community safe.”    

The tests use a self-collected, shallow nasal swab, not the more invasive deep nasal swab used in health care settings. The free testing is offered through the UO’s Monitoring and Assessment Program, a public health program with the goal of expanding local testing capacity and informing public agency responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. The procedures the program is using have been authorized for use by the FDA and are among the gold standards in the field for testing and detecting the virus.

Participants must be 18 years of age or older, wear a mask and present some form of identification. All participants must preregister through the testing program registration portal.

A limited number of dedicated testing appointments are available on a first-come, first-served basis on the following dates:

  • Monday, Nov. 23,  8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m.-6 p.m.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 24  8 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Sign-up closes at 5 p.m. the day before each session or when all testing slots are full, whichever comes first. Additional testing opportunities will be made available in December.

Minimal time is needed for the testing process itself. While there may be some wait time, lines are expected to move quickly and participants should only need 15-30 minutes to complete the process from arrival to departure. More information about sample collection and the testing process is available on the UO coronavirus website.

It’s important to note that people who belive they have been exposed to or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should contact their medical provider for more immediate diagnostic testing and treatment. Symptomatic individuals should not go to a UO testing event.

Testing takes place at the UO campus at Matthew Knight Arena.

Those who test positive for COVID-19 will be notified of the results by a telephone call within four days after the test. Those who consent to receive a negative result via secure email will receive results within four business days. Those who elect to receive a negative result by U.S. Postal Service will get results postmarked within four business days, but the university cannot guarantee a timeline for delivery. People will have the opportunity to indicate which they prefer when they fill out the preregistration form.

More information about sample collection and the testing process is available on the UO coronavirus website.

Coos County’s COVID-19 case numbers are “obscene,” Coos Health & Wellness officials say.

If current rates continue, the county could see over 200 new cases of COVID-19 just this month — nearly double what the county saw in October, and the county’s highest month of cases since the pandemic began.

The county’s increase means that it’s critical for residents to follow precautions and restrictions, like wearing face masks and cancelling large holiday plans, in order to slow the spread of the virus which threatens to close schools and take up hospital capacity.

“I think that we don’t truly understand the severity of the situation,” said Eric Gleason, CHW’s assistant director. “It’s obscene, the numbers that we’ve had in the last few months, and it’s frustrating that something as simple as putting a mask on has become a divisive topic.”

The weekend was a busy one: Coos County saw 14 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday alone, the county’s highest daily case count since the pandemic began. Sunday saw five new cases, and Monday’s four cases brings the county’s total to 342 since beginning of the pandemic.

70 of those cases came in the past 14 days, a sign that those cases are still considered infectious and active. That’s the most active cases the county has reported.

Douglas County’s weekly data report shows the stark figures it is facing: The county had more cases last week alone (148) than it did in the first 152 days after its first reported case in March.

It’s had 632 cases of the virus since the pandemic began, and 10 people in the county have died with the virus.

Curry County reported two new cases of the virus over the weekend, bringing its total to 83 since the pandemic began. Two people in the county have died with the virus.

On Friday, state officials announced new restrictions on dining, retail and other businesses that will take effect on Wednesday. Restaurants are limited to takeout-only operations, and indoor recreation facilities will close for two weeks under the new restrictions, though schools won’t be impacted.

The restrictions will last longer in more-densely populated counties, since they’re home to many of the state’s case, Governor Kate Brown said Friday. But they’re not only important for larger counties, CHW’s Gleason says — they’re critical for counties like Coos, too.

“It’s not a Multnomah problem that affects the rest of the state,” Gleason said. “Our numbers — and especially ours — are rising significantly. That doesn’t have anything to do with Multnomah. It has to do with the people that live in this community right now, doing the things that they need to do to prevent the spread of COVID, and we just haven’t been able to get over that hump yet.”

The surge in cases and restrictions that follow have come at a difficult time, just a week before Thanksgiving. Gleason says that families need to make difficult decisions to reduce the size of their gatherings, and cancel plans to travel.

He’s had to tell a family member not to come visit from Portland, saying its too dangerous for them to travel outside of the area.

“I absolutely understand the heartbreak of the answer being ‘I can’t see you’ on such a family-centered holiday,” Gleason said. “But as adults, as parents, we are supposed to be making the hard choices.”

Reedsport becomes a COVID-19 hotspot: Reedsport’s public health and school district officials are raising the alarm about gatherings during the holiday season. The city had been largely missed by the pandemic, but that’s been changing.

“We have seen a real spike in cases in Reedsport and the Scottsburg area,” said Dr. Bob Dannenhoffer, the Douglas County public health officer. “It is worriesome to see this many cases in such a short period.”

According to state health officials Thursday, the ZIP code representing Reedsport and Winchester Bay had reported 12 cases of COVID-19 — a rate of about 225 cases per 100,000 residents. That’s the lowest rate among ZIP codes that the state reported (officials only report when ZIP codes with 10 or more cases), but it’s also the first time that the area made the list.

The city’s increase in cases has already caused changes. On Monday, Reedsport School District officials announced that classes would be going online-only, district-wide until the end of the month.

One staff member in the school district has tested positive for the virus, and about 25 students between both schools came in contact with that person, according to Superintendent Jon Zwemke. But the increases in cases citywide was a major factor in the decision to go online, too, Zwemke said.

The 20-day transition is complicated by scheduling, because of the Thanksgiving holiday and the time needed for teachers to switch between online and in-person schedules.

Also of concern: out-of-area travel. Dannenhoffer said many of Douglas County’s cases have been linked to individuals going to higher rates of COVID-19 and bringing the virus back with them.

Around the State of Oregon

Asante Hospitals ready to meet demands in Southern Oregon: As COVID-19 cases continue to surge across the state and hospitals in hotspot states nationally are overwhelmedand local hospitals hope to stay ahead of the curve by increasing staff.

“As the number of people in our community has tested positive for COVID and that number has increased, Asante has had the number of people requiring care in our hospitals has also increased due to the infection,” said Amanda Kotler, Vice President of Nursing at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center. ” As a health system we have three hospitals and have several options, we continue to evaluate our volume and are increasing our staffing levels in different areas of patient care to accommodate the influx of patients.”

On Friday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced a “TWO WEEK FREEZE” due to the recent surge in cases and pointed out the dangerous impact the third wave could have on the state’s hospitals.

According to the Oregon Health Authorities website, as of Monday, the region which includes data from both Jackson and Josephine County has 9 of its 57 intensive care unit (ICU) beds available and 61 of its 447 non-ICU beds available. However Kolter said so far Asante hospitals have been able to manage the influx.

As of Monday, there were 83 COVID-19 positive patients in ICU beds across the state, 14 of those patients were in the Rogue Valley.

Kotler explained that Asante is able to handle the increase of patients thanks to its ability to utilize various locations and resources across the valley. Kotler noted that Rogue Regional is also in the process of increasing its ICU capacity. “The new medical pavilion is under construction and that will include more ICU and critical care beds, nearly doubling what we have today, which is exciting for our future and us being here for the community,” Kotler said.

Yasmine McGinnis

On Sunday morning, the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety (GPDPS) received a call from Three Rivers Medical Center about an assault incident.

A 19 year-old female victim, who is a Grants Pass resident, was treated for a serious head injury in the emergency room.

Zahira Azamar

It was said the assault took place in the 900 block of NE D Street, Grants Pass, Josephine County, Oregon. GPDPS Patrol Officers responded to TRMC to begin an investigation. The victim was in stable condition and subsequently transported to a Eugene area hospital for further treatment. 

Morgan Riley

A GPDPS Detective responded to assist. During the course of the investigation, 23-year-old Grants Pass residents Yasmine McGinnisZahira Azamar and Morgan Riley were identified as the suspects.

GPDPS Patrol Officers located McGinnis and Azamar and placed them in custody. After interviews were completed, McGinnis and Azamar were lodged at the Josephine County Adult Jail on the charge of Assault in the Second Degree. Riley later turned herself in and was also arrested and lodged for Assault in the Second Degree. 

The GPDPS is asking anyone who witnessed the incident or has further information to please contact Detective Archie Lidey at (541) 450-6342. 

The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Medford District has closed the gate on Bear Camp Road, located near Galice, OR. The gate, which is closed annually for public safety ahead of winter weather, will remain closed until spring snow conditions allow for safe passage for public travel.  

Bear Camp Road, which is managed by both the BLM and the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest (RRSNF), is a remote, mountainous route that connects the Rogue Valley to coastal areas. It is not plowed during the winter, and weather conditions can often change quickly, making road conditions hazardous.  

The BLM and the RRSNF remind the public that it is crucial to Know Before You Go this time of year.  

  • Carry extra food, water, and warm clothing to provide for longer travel times. 
  • In addition to paper maps, go digital and download all of your public lands maps on Avenza, and know where you are at all times! Cell service is NOT necessary! 
  • District Maps and Motor Vehicle Use Maps 
  • Know Before You Go: Be aware of predicted weather and road conditions of major highways that provide access to your public lands! Be prepared for sudden changes in weather and road conditions. Know the predicted weather for your route and your destination, and how it can possibly affect your travel plans. 
  • Always let someone know your expected travel route. 
  • Be prepared: Bring additional warm clothing, water, and extra food to account for unexpectedly longer travel times. Carry chains, a flashlight, and proper attire to install the chains, should the need arise. 

Supporters of President Donald Trump gathered in Oregon for a rally to protest what they perceived as flawed or fraudulent results of the Nov. 3 election.

The event in Salem Saturday was billed by organizers as a “Defeat the Steal” rally and coincided with similar demonstrations across the U.S. A crowd of 100 to 200 people gathered at the state Capitol, where many demonstrators said they do not believe the election results naming Joe Biden as the nation’s president-elect.

Attendees said they came to express their love for Trump and to exercise their First Amendment guarantee of free speech. Many said they want a legal fight over the results. Biden defeated Trump by topping the 270 electoral vote threshold needed to clinch the presidency.

As of Sunday, Biden had 77.5 million votes, the most ever by a winning candidate, to Trump’s 72.3 million votes.

Meanwhile, Voters in Oregon made their pick for president while holding negative views about the country’s direction, according to an expansive AP survey of the American electorate.

The race between President Donald Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden concluded Tuesday as the nation remains in the throes of a global public health crisis and mired in the economic downturn it brought on.

AP VoteCast found that 34% of Oregon voters said the U.S. is on the right track and 65% of voters said it is headed in the wrong direction. In the race for president, Biden had an advantage over Trump among both voters under 45 and older voters. Biden led among college-educated voters while Trump and Biden were about tied among voters without a college degree. Both voters in cities and suburban voters were more likely to prefer Biden over Trump while voters in small towns and rural areas were more likely to back Trump.

Fires and Wildfires Cleanup offered by State of Oregon

The second phase of clean-up after Oregon’s devastating September fires will be offered at no cost to property owners, the Oregon Office of Emergency Management announced on Monday. While hazardous household waste clean-up is already wrapping up in areas ravaged by the Almeda and South Obenchain fires, Monday’s announcement marks the first indication that state officials have a no-cost plan to clean the ash and debris left behind.

No government agency — whether state, federal or contractor — will seek payment from any insurance policy unless it is “specifically designated for debris removal or left over after the home or business is completely rebuilt.”

The no-cost cleanup is available to home and business owners in Clackamas, Douglas, Jackson, Klamath, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, and Marion counties.

Home and business owners that opt into this government-led wildfire cleanup program will pay no upfront costs for any cleanup work. Additionally, no government agency – state, federal or contractor – will seek payment from any insurance policy unless it is specifically designated for debris removal or left over after the home or business is completely rebuilt.

“Our mission is to safely clear the ash and debris as quickly as possible, and leave Oregonians with a clean site so they can rebuild,” said Kris Strickler, director of the Oregon Department of Transportation. “This will take time, strong partnerships and a lot of hard work, but we’re already well on our way. I encourage every Oregonian who lost a home or business in the wildfires to sign a Right of Entry form with their county, if they haven’t already, to help keep this important work moving forward.”

Property owners need to sign a Right of Entry form to allow cleanup crews onto their property. Cleanup crews will remove ash and structural debris, hazard trees, concrete foundations, and burned vehicles. To submit your Right of Entry form and for more information, visit or call the wildfire debris cleanup hotline: 503-934-1700.

Wildfire cleanup is a two-step process. Step 1 is removal of household hazardous waste, which is dangerous to people, communities and the environment. This work is nearly completed in all fire-impacted counties. Progress on Step 1 efforts can be viewed on EPA’s 2020 Oregon Fires Recovery website.

Step 2 is removal of ash and debris. The state is currently hiring contractors to carry out this work, scheduled to begin in December 2020. The task force is working closely with local governments to determine cleanup priorities for each area. Given factors such as weather impacts, property access limitations and the large area to be covered, Step 2 is estimated to take approximately 6 to 18 months to complete statewide. As the state task force gets contractors on board, more clarity on timing will be provided.

The 2020 September wildfires were the largest and most expensive disaster in Oregon’s history. Nine Oregonians lost their lives, more than 1 million acres burned and over 5,000 homes and businesses were destroyed. The state has transitioned from immediate fire response to statewide recovery.

FEMA will reimburse the state for a portion of eligible costs. The State of Oregon will fund the remaining costs, regardless of FEMA reimbursement. Initial estimates put the debris cleanup tally at over $600 million, including $326 million for ash and debris removal and $295 million to remove damaged trees. This estimate is preliminary and is likely to change.

Wildfire cleanup webpage:

Wildfire debris cleanup hotline: 503-934-1700

Oregon’s Debris Management Task Force, which includes the Oregon Office of Emergency Management, Oregon Department of Transportation, and Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, is coordinating federal, state, and local government agencies to clean up debris from the 2020 Oregon wildfires.


On Monday, November 16, 2020 at approximately 7:50 P.M., Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a single vehicle crash on Hwy 395D near milepost 73.

Preliminary investigation revealed a Dodge Ram, operated by Jerry Henderson (78) of Lakeview, was southbound when it left the roadway and rolled.

Henderson sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased.

On Monday, November 16, 2020 at approximately 5:50 P.M., Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a two vehicle collision on Hwy 22E near milepost 24.

Preliminary investigation revealed a Chrysler Town & Country van, operated by William Miller (66) of Scio, was westbound when it went into the eastbound lane and collided with a Dodge pickup operated by Richard Kruger (71) of Salem.

Miller sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased.

Kruger was transported to the hospital with injuries.

Hwy 22E was closed for approximately 4.5 hours.

Oregon authorities are seeking help in tracking down the people behind “a frenzy” of poaching cases, including one in which a black bear was found decapitated in October. 

The bear’s body was found on Oct. 15 on the Roseburg Forest Products property west of Eugene and outside of Veneta, according to Oregon State Police. The majority of the bear’s body was left to waste, according to the report. Police said multiple deer and elk have also been reported as poached this season. The carcasses of three deer were found on Oct. 15 alone, police said.

State Department of Fish and Wildlife administrator Doug Cottam said in a statement that there are available and inexpensive opportunities to legally harvest a deer or bear to eat in Oregon.

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