The latest news stories and stories of interest in the Willamette Valley from the digital home of Southern Oregon, from Wynne Broadcasting’s WillametteValleyMagazine.com
Thursday, April 8, 2021
Willamette Valley Weather
Today- A 20 percent chance of showers before 4pm. Snow level 2500 feet rising to 3000 feet in the afternoon. Partly sunny, with a high near 55. Northwest wind around 6 mph.
Friday- Patchy fog before 8am. Widespread frost, mainly before 8am. Otherwise, sunny, with a high near 59. Calm wind becoming west 5 to 7 mph in the afternoon.
Saturday- A 20 percent chance of showers before 11am. Snow level 2600 feet lowering to 2100 feet. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 52. South southwest wind 6 to 8 mph becoming west northwest in the afternoon.
Sunday- Sunny, with a high near 58.
Monday- Sunny, with a high near 65.
Oregon reports 481 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 2,434. The Oregon Health Authority reported 481 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 168,128.
The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (4), Benton (9), Clackamas (55), Clatsop (4), Columbia (13), Coos (5), Crook (1), Deschutes (32), Douglas (11), Harney (1), Hood River (1), Jackson (23), Jefferson (1), Josephine (17), Klamath (11), Lake (2), Lane (40), Lincoln (3), Linn (21), Malheur (3), Marion (29), Morrow (3), Multnomah (92), Polk (11), Sherman (2), Tillamook (4), Umatilla (5), Union (1), Wallowa (3), Wasco (3), Washington (61) and Yamhill (10).
Oregon Health Authority publishes COVID-19 variant dashboard
Starting today, the Oregon Health Authority is publishing a Tableau dashboard showing the cumulative count of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern or variants of interest in Oregon. (For additional information on COVID-19 variants, go here.)
The dashboard will include a map of variant cases broken down by Oregon’s seven Hospital Preparedness Program Regions, along with a time series showing variant cases in Oregon by collection date. The dashboard will be updated weekly on Wednesdays and include data through the previous Saturday.
In order to provide a more comprehensive picture of variant circulation in Oregon, OHA will update its variant counts on the new dashboard using data from the GISAID Initiative — a publicly available scientific database for genetic sequences. This will allow OHA to rapidly report historical data whenever definitions of variants of concern or variants of interest are updated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
On March 16, the CDC reclassified the B.1.427 and B.1.429 variants as variants of concern. These variants have been circulating in Oregon since late 2020 and had not been previously reportable.
Oregon will continue to ask all laboratory partners to promptly report all variants of concern (B.1.1.7, B.1.351, P.1, B.1.427 and B.1.429) and variants of interest (B.1.525, B.1.526 and P.2) to public health authorities in order to inform case investigation and contact tracing.
OHA to report COVID-19 vaccine spoilage, mishaps
Starting this week, Oregon Health Authority began publishing weekly reports with a table representing vaccination shipping mishaps, refrigeration fluctuations, breakage and/or vaccination expiration. Updates to the table, featured below, will occur every Tuesday and be featured in this daily media release. Vaccine providers report this information to OHA through the ALERT Immunization Information System (IIS).
“We believe that our health system partners are managing their vaccine responsibly and doing everything that they can to minimize waste,” said OHA Chief Financial Officer Dave Baden. “At this point, considering the logistical complexity of operating large-scale vaccination programs, the small amount of wasted vaccine in Oregon is expected and not surprising. This amount is a small fraction of the more than 2 million doses that have been safely delivered, managed and injected in the arms of Oregonians.”
Oregon Update Vaccine Waste Disclosure1,2,3
|Vaccine Type||Doses Recalled||Wasted/Spoiled/Expired||Grand Total|
|Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine||42||42|
|Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine||544||544|
|Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine||70||70|
1Updated: 4/6/21 2Data source: ALERT Immunization Information System (IIS) 3Data is preliminary and subject to change
Recalled doses: Examples of recalled doses include doses that have been recalled by the manufacturer or FDA.
Wasted doses: Examples of wasted doses include doses that have been destroyed due to breakage of vials, or improperly discarded doses.
Spoiled doses: Examples of spoiled doses include doses that have been left out too long or doses involved in a refrigeration or freezer failure.
Expired doses: Examples of expired doses include doses that are past their labeled expiration dates.
It is important to remember that vaccine wastage is a normal part of distributing vaccine and occurs infrequently.
Vaccinations in Oregon
Today, OHA reported that 36,104 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry. Of this total, 24,097 doses were administered on April 6 and 12,007 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry on April 6.
Oregon has now administered a total of 1,057,696 doses of Pfizer, 952,957 doses of Moderna and 55,505 doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines. As of today, 802,090 people have completed a COVID-19 vaccine series. There are 1,313,016 people who have had at least one dose.
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, 1,340,235 doses of Pfizer, 1,198,000 doses of Moderna and 170,400 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.
Weekly COVID-19 cases increase; deaths and hospitalizations rise
The Oregon Health Authority’s COVID-19 Weekly Report, released today, shows increased daily cases and increases in hospitalizations and deaths from the previous week.
OHA reported 2,964 new daily cases of COVID-19 during the week of Monday, March 29 through Sunday, April 4. That represents a 21% increase from the previous week.
New COVID-19 related hospitalizations rose to 150, up from 137 last week.
Reported COVID-19 related deaths rose to 19, up from 10 last week.
There were 93,357 tests for COVID-19 for the week of March 28 through April 4 — an 1.4% increase from last week. The percentage of positive tests rose from 3.7% to 4.5%.
People 70 years of age and older have accounted for 40% of COVID-19 related hospitalizations and 77% of COVID-19 related deaths.
Today’s COVID-19 Weekly Outbreak Report shows 21 active COVID-19 outbreaks in senior living communities and congregate living settings, with three or more confirmed cases and one or more COVID-19 related deaths.
Cottage Grove’s Street Side Eating Options Being Constructed Thanks To Part Of A $30,000 Grant From Travel Oregon
One of three planned “streateries” for Cottage Grove’s Main Street has been constructed in front of Jack Sprats.
The structure is part of a $30,000 grant from Travel Oregon which was awarded for the “direct investment and technical assistance for the development, enhancement and stewardship of key visitor experiences that are COVID-19 appropriate” as well as a project that will “aid in economic recovery and enhance local livability and provide access to a diversity of explorers.”
Citizens, business owners and city staff worked during multiple council meetings since early 2020 to develop the streatery program, and the state was looking for shovel-ready projects.
Fortunately, the city had three dining decks, or streateries, approved by council and ready to be assembled in downtown Cottage Grove this spring.
Each streatery will be owned by the city, though each restaurant is permitted by city council to operate their respective streatery during respective business hours. During the hours that each restaurant is closed, the streateries will be considered tiny public parks, or “parklets.”
Each streatery is intended to be placed within only one parking space each. Furniture owned by each restaurant may be removed for their own security reasons, however, the public is encouraged to use the streateries.
Designers primarily emphasized safety as the primary goal in the structural design of each streatery.
The commercial-quality railing is designed per Oregon Structural Specialty Code to withstand up to 200 pounds of horizontal pressure. And, since each streatery is a distinct dining area, the ADA prescribes one wheelchair accessible table must be placed immediately adjacent to each dining deck.
To address passing vehicular traffic, one concrete barrier will be placed on the end of each streatery, facing on-coming traffic.
In the fall of 2021, staff will be asking citizens and business owners for feedback on the Streatery Pilot Study. The city council will be studying successes as well as how the program can be improved.
In the meantime, citizens are encouraged to provide their input at any time. Call Civil Engineer Ryan Sisson 541-767-4153 with questions or comments.
Junction City Man Sentenced To 204 Years In Prison for Sex Abuse Charges
A Junction City man was sentenced to 204 years in prison on 22 charges, including 21 felony sex crimes, in Linn County Circuit Court Tuesday.
Michael Ray Long, 37, was sentenced by Judge Rachel Kittson-MaQatish after he was found guilty of 10 counts of first-degree sexual abuse, five counts of second-degree encouraging child sexual abuse, three counts of first-degree unlawful sexual penetration, three counts of first-degree sodomy and one count of strangulation in February. Kittson-MaQatish also presided over the trial.
The jury found Long guilty on the charges after approximately an hour of deliberation.
Elijah Brown, one of Long’s court-appointed attorneys, declined to comment on the sentence when reached Tuesday evening. Long’s other court-appointed attorney, Kent Hickam, and Linn County prosecutor Julia Baker could not be reached for comment.
Investigators began looking into Long, who was living in Tangent at the time, after they were notified he had inappropriate interactions with a middle school-aged girl on Facebook. That investigation uncovered a second victim, a girl of elementary school age.
At the time of Long’s arrest, Baker said the conduct occurred over a period of 18 months.
According to the Linn County Sheriff’s Office, investigators believe there may be more victims. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Tracy White at 541-917-6652.
AROUND the STATE of OREGON
Youth Conservation Corps Program at Lava Beds National Monument Cancelled
Due to health and safety concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the Youth Conservation Corps program at Lava Beds National Monument has been canceled for the summer of 2021.
After consideration of ways to mitigate the health risks that COVID-19 presents to staff and community members, the Parks Service announced Tuesday that it “could not effectively manage and implement a summer YCC conservation work crew in a manner that did not unreasonably endanger participants and the public. Furthermore, the park does not have its usual complement of staff that would oversee this program due to seasonal staff housing limits related to COVID-19 safety issues, and staffing shortfalls.”
The YCC program at Lava Beds has operated for decades and the plan is for it to return in 2022. When available, the program provides summer employment for Tulelake and Klamath Basin youth. Crews typically work to improve trails and complete other tasks.
Oregon House Judiciary Committee Unanimously Approved Almost a Dozen Bills on Police Reform
Republicans and Democrats on the Oregon House Judiciary Committee unanimously approved almost a dozen bills on police reform, a rare show of bipartisan unity in an otherwise bitterly divided Legislature.
The bills approved Tuesday evening involve regulating use of tear gas, requiring a publicly accessible database that names officers disciplined for misconduct, and limiting arbitrators’ decisions on officers’ misconduct cases.
Gov. Kate Brown congratulated the committee for pushing forward so many reforms in the wake of the death of George Floyd last May in Minneapolis. Black Lives Matter demonstrations were held in cities across Oregon after Floyd died in police custody. In Portland, large protests went on for more than 100 straight days.
Senate Recall Effort
Oregon state Senate Minority Leader Fred Girod faces a recall effort because he was among GOP lawmakers who allowed the chamber to reach a quorum last month while it debated whether to ban firearms in state buildings. Girod and five fellow Republicans were on hand March 25, ensuring the chamber had the minimum 20 members present required to take up business.
Republicans in the state Senate have previously skipped floor sessions en masse to thwart legislation favored by majority Democrats. The gun bill passed over GOP objections. On Monday, a Molalla resident named LaVaedra Newton filed a prospective petition to bounce Girod from the Senate seat he’s held since 2008. Newton and others say Girod abdicated his duty by not blocking the gun bill.
To successfully force a recall election, Newton will need to collect at least 8,922 valid signatures from voters in Girod’s district by July 6. In recent years, recall petitions against two state legislators — former Democratic state Rep. Tiffiny Mitchell of Astoria and Republican state Sen. Chuck Thomsen of Hood River — have come up short. So have five petitions to recall Gov. Kate Brown.
Portland Reaches Deal On Proposals Intended To Stem Spike In Gun Violence
The mayor of Portland, Oregon, and city commissioners have reached a deal on proposals intended to stem a spike in gun violence over the past year. The compromise, expected to be would re-establish a proactive team of uniformed police officers tasked with preventing shootings. The team would operate with greater civilian oversight than its disbanded predecessor.
The move represents an about-face after city leaders in June voted to cut nearly $16 million from the police budget, reductions that included the elimination of the gun violence unit. The cuts came amid racial justice protests following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Under the deal, the council would also provide millions of dollars to community organizations for anti-violence work and authorize the hiring of two dozen unarmed park rangers, as a trio of commissioners proposed last week, according to the proposals.
Oregon Senate Passes Bill That Would Require High School Students Take A Semester Of Civics Education Prior To Graduation.
The Oregon Senate passed a bill on Wednesday that would require high school students take a semester of civics education prior to graduation. Senate Bill 513 was carried by Republican lawmakers, but it passed the chamber with widespread bipartisan support in a 25-3 vote.
The Oregon Department of Education already has standards in place for civics and government studies, but the bill ensures that students receive dedicated class time over a semester-long course. Students will need to complete at least a one-half credit in civics to receive a high school diploma, though that requirement does not apply until 2026.
Republicans said that the bill has broad support from educators, Oregon business leaders, government officials, and other citizens. The bill now goes onto the Oregon House of Representatives for consideration. The House version of the bill is introduced by Democratic Rep. Paul Evans.
State Officials Investigating Cause of Fire at Home Where Three Recent Murders Happened in Bend
The cause of a fire in a home that was the scene of multiple murders in Bend is under investigation by the State Fire Marshall and Oregon State Police.
Bend Fire & Rescue responded to the blaze just before 11 Tuesday night that gutted the home on Granite Drive.
Brothers-in-law Jeffrey Taylor and Benjamin Taylor – both in their 60’s – were found dead in the home last month, and in January 43 year old Daphne Banks was beaten so badly in the home she later died after being taken off of life support.
35 year old Randall Kilby of Bend has been charged with all three of the murders. He and his mother had been living in the home with the Taylors when the murders took place.