Willamette Valley News, Thursday 5/5 – Gathering In Springfield To Raise Awareness Of Missing And Murdered Indigenous Women And Girls, Eugene Public Library Closed After Someone Set Restroom Sink on Fire

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, May 5, 2022

Willamette Valley Weather

Gathering In Springfield To Raise Awareness Of Missing And Murdered Indigenous Women And Girls

Native Americans and women’s advocates gathered last night in Springfield’s Heron Park, to honor Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW.)

In the fading glow of a late afternoon sun, a dozen readers or song bearers greeted a crowd of roughly 40 people, in a park where red dresses and other garments hung from the branches of trees.

Throughout the night, tears were shed and hugs exchanged, and a small setting with a blanket and pouches of tobacco was set up in honor of Indigenous victims.

Stacia Henry, a Paiute Indian from the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe located in Nixon, Nevada, gave a healing song before poems were shared, the presenters and audience moving from one tree to another during the roughly 45-minute presentation. The poems were largely about relatives and friends lost to violence or abduction, though others touched on racial disparities in housing or the importance of ceremony.

Co-organizer Marta Clifford is a Grand Ronde tribal member. She worked with students from the University of Oregon and Lane Community College on the ceremony.

“Our voices have power,” Clifford told KLCC. “And we spoke to the people that are missing and murdered, and we know they heard us. So that’s what I want the students to take away, that their voices matter, they made a difference tonight.”

The event hit home for Megan Van Pelt, a U of O junior from the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

“I know too many aunties and too many cousins, I know too many of my friends who’ve gone through sexual assault, and I guess today’s making space for ourselves,” she said, holding back tears. “And we are here for our lost sisters, our lost cousins.”

Clifford spoke to President Biden’s appointment of Deb Haaland as the Secretary of Department of the Interior as a positive development in the MMIW/MMIG/MMIP issue.

“Deb’s always been on the missing and murdered Indigenous cases,” said Clifford. “We’re happy to see some of the initiatives she’s made on that.”

Haaland – an enrolled member of the Laguna Pueblo Tribe and the first Native American to head the U.S. Interior Department – created a Missing and Murdered Unit within the BIA Office of Justice Services in April 2021, with the intent to improve investigations and outcomes.

More recently, the possible overturn of Roe vs. Wade by the U.S. Supreme Court has weighed heavily on women’s rights groups and supporters. This included participants at the MMIW observance.

Samantha Fernandez is a first-year student at the University of Oregon, and is of Klamath descent. She says losing abortion rights and access at the federal level would be harsh on an already suffering group, that’s seen inconsistent health care and disproportionate rates of sexual assault and domestic violence.

“For tribal people everywhere, it’s difficult,” said Fernandez. “And they’re going to have to seek refuge in other states and it’s just going to make them more vulnerable. It’s just going to put them in an even tougher position and being able to protect themselves and speak out for themselves without facing any backlash, or anything like that.”

The Indian Resource Law Center says over half of Native women have experienced sexual violence. And Native Womens Wilderness says Indigenous women are 1.7 times more likely than Anglo-American women to experience violence, twice as likely to be raped than Anglo-American women, and suffer a murder rate three times that of Anglo-American women.

Eugene Public Library Closed After Someone Set Restroom Sink on Fire

A restroom in the Eugene Public Library was set on fire Wednesday afternoon and the library was closed for a short time. The fire was put out and the library reopened after the response from Eugene Springfield Fire.

The fire department was called to the downtown library, 100 W. 10th Ave., a little before 1:20 p.m., and it was cleared at around 1:34 p.m., according to the emergency call log.

The fire happened in a bathroom on the first floor, where a community member had started a small fire in a sink that set off the fire alarms, according to Ben Schorzman, public information officer for the city’s library, recreation and cultural services.

There was no structure damage or injuries, according to a tweet from the fire department at 1:30 p.m.

People were evacuated and firefighters put out the small flame, and Eugene police responded to investigate, Schorzman said. No word if anyone was arrested.

Haven’t received your ballot yet?

Lane County ballots were mailed on Thursday, April 28, 2022 and registered voters should have received their ballots by now. 

Voters who did not receive their ballots in the mail should do one or more of the following:

  • If they have moved to any new address, even the apartment next door, they will need to update their registration. Voters can update online at www.oregonvotes.gov if they have a valid DMV license, identification card or permit number. The same website can be used to update or remove a mailing address. They can also complete a registration card and mail or deliver it to Lane County Elections.

Ballots may not be forwarded by law. If voters are not going to be at a regular residence or mailing address, they need to submit a request for an absentee ballot at the temporary location. If voters are unsure what to do, they should call Lane County Elections at 541-682-4234 to determine what action they must take in order to receive a ballot. 

Assistance is available over the phone at 541-682-4234 (weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and on Election Day from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.) and via email at elections@lanecountyor.gov.

Screen shot of linked dashboard shows an increase trend in cases, test positivity and hospitalizations.  Vaccinations have plateaued. Please visit healthoregon.org/coronavirus for more information.

Data are provisional and change frequently. For more information, including COVID-19 data by county, visit our dashboard: http://ow.ly/JE9H50IZyCk

OHA releases biweekly COVID-19 reports

The COVID-19 Biweekly Data Report, released today, shows an increase in cases and disease-related hospitalizations since the previous biweekly period. It shows a decrease in COVID-19-related deaths.

Oregon Health Authority (OHA) reported 12,234 new cases of COVID-19 from April 18 to May 1, more than double the previous biweekly total of 5,980.  

There were 218 new COVID-19-related hospitalizations during the biweekly period, up from 202 reported during the preceding two-week period.

“We are seeing cases and hospitalizations starting to increase and that was expected,” said Dr. Paul Cieslak, medical director for communicable diseases and immunizations at OHA. “COVID-19 continues to be transmitted at high levels in Oregon. If you’re in large groups, sooner or later you’ll be exposed.”

There were 50 COVID-19-related deaths, much fewer than the 241 reported during the prior two weeks.

“If you’re vaccinated and boosted, you’re well protected against having a severe case. Get yourself vaccinated to protect yourself and your family with as much immunity as you can,” said Cieslak.

There were 173,792 tests for COVID-19 administered during the weeks of April 17 to April 30, with a test positivity rate of 7.7%.

Today’s COVID-19 Biweekly Outbreak Report shows 58 total active outbreaks in care facilities, senior living communities and congregate care living settings with three or more confirmed COVID-19 cases or one or more COVID-19-related deaths.

OHA updates 2020 COVID-19 Year-In-Review Data Report

Today, OHA is releasing an update to its 2020 COVID-19 Year-In-Review Data Report.

The updated report includes additional information on hospitalizations and deaths since its initial publication in Dec. 2021.

The report serves as a summary of trends and key statistics from the first calendar year of the COVID-19 pandemic response in Oregon. By breaking down COVID-19 data for 2020 by race, ethnicity, sex, age and geography, the report helps Oregon’s public health system respond to health inequities in Oregon.

Public health officials remind residents that testing for COVID-19 remains important

JOSEPHINE COUNTY, Ore. — Public health officials are reminding residents that testing for COVID-19 infection remains an important and recommend action to help prevent the spread of the respiratory disease.

Josephine County Public Health encourages testing for those who have been or suspect they may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Vaccinated individuals should test five days after their exposure to a possible case; those who are not yet vaccinated should be tested as soon as they learn of their exposure and again five days after their exposure. 

Those who test positive for COVID-19 need to isolate themselves to protect others. Those who test negative but are symptomatic should continue to wear a face mask, wash their hands frequently and stay away from others until their symptoms improve or they are outside the exposure window of concern.

“Those who are at high risk should be tested as soon as they realize they are unwell, because the treatments work best when given early,” said Dr. Barbra Villona, JCPH deputy health officer. “Those who are at high risk or who are not yet vaccinated should be tested as soon as possible, as treatments are available.”

Those at high risk include residents who are unvaccinated; who have compromised immune systems; have underlying health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease and lung disease; are 65 and older; and who live with others at high risk of severe disease.    

While self-testing kits are now widely available, laboratory testing is still available to residents in Josephine County. While no longer available on-demand at Josephine County Public Health and many partners, several other options remain. See co.josephine.or.us/COVID19 for an up-to-date list of testing options and more information.

Self-test kits provided by JCPH can be obtained at no cost at both the Grants Pass and Cave Junction offices of the Siskiyou Community Health Center.

Positive results can be reported to Oregon.gov/positivecovidtest or (866) 917-8881. Reporting assists state epidemiologists and can help individuals connect with treatments and other services.

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Oregon Hospitals Backlogged With Non-COVID Patients

Staffing shortages, an influx of patients who delayed care during the pandemic, and patients awaiting discharge are all keeping beds full at Oregon hospitals

Many Oregon hospitals and patients are juggling the challenge of overcapacity, but this time not from COVID-19.

Many hospital systems face ongoing staffing shortages and an influx of patients who have delayed other care during the pandemic. Hundreds of patients statewide are in hospitals waiting to be discharged to lower levels of care, such as nursing homes, which also face severe staff shortages.

All of this means hospital beds remain occupied and unavailable for many incoming patients.

“Many days we’re at capacity,” said Dr. Renee Edwards, chief medical officer for Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). She and several other hospital executives urged the public to seek lower levels of care consistently, before medical needs become critical.

“We’d rather you get the preventive care you need and the ongoing care you need to keep things from getting worse,” Edwards said.

“Preventive care is still really really important… Our patients are sicker,” agreed Dr. Melinda Muller, associate chief medical officer for Legacy Health. “There are things that we’re dealing with that if we had dealt with a little farther up stream, we might have prevented them from coming in.”

Study Says Health Care Spending Accounts For One-Quarter Of Household Expenditures In Oregon

Health care costs account for nearly one-quarter of household spending in Oregon, according to a new report from the Oregon Health Authority.

The report, published this week, said that at 23% of expenses, health care is the single biggest household expenditure for Oregonians, followed by housing, utilities and fuel. 

Insurance premiums and deductibles, which consumers have to pay before their plans kick in, account for part of the cost. Premiums are so high in Oregon that for households on company plans they are approaching the average cost of a new compact car – $21,000.

The report is the first of its kind in Oregon and is part of the state’s efforts to curb skyrocketing health care costs. Such expenses affect hundreds of thousands of Oregonians, causing households to skimp on other expenses and drain savings, with some going into debt and bankruptcy. 

The state is also publishing price hikes for new medications to publicly shame companies that charge six- and even seven-figure sums for new products. Despite opposition from industry, the Legislature put the health authority in charge of overseeing company mergers to ensure they don’t drive up costs.

The report found that health care costs tax the economy, burden poorer communities, widen the equity gap and jeopardize personal finances.

Among the data: 

  • Premiums grew 40% from 2013 through 2019 to about $3,600 a year.
  • Oregonians spent more than the national average on health care over those same years.
  • 10% of Oregonians exhausted their savings in 2019 to pay for health care.
  • 60% of bankruptcies in 2019 included medical debt.
  • Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Oregonians were three times more likely to report using up their savings on medical bills as white Oregonians. 

“This report fleshes out with data a troubling picture of the impacts of rising health care costs on Oregon families,” according to a statement from Jeremy Vandehey, director of the Health Policy and Analytics Division of the Oregon Health Authority. “While we’ve known for a long while that the rate of cost growth was unsustainable, Covid showed us in stark relief how important access to affordable care was to Oregon families. High costs not only cause poor health outcomes, but they also do real financial harm to people in Oregon.”

The report foresees no relief. “Health care costs are projected to continue growing in Oregon and nationally,” it said.

To stem skyrocketing health care costs, the state is aiming to keep annual rate increases to 3.4%. Other states – Delaware, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Washington and New Jersey – have similar programs, following Massachusetts, which led the way in 2012. 

The challenge they face in curbing health care costs is ensuring quality care continues. “We must contain health care cost growth in ways that do not impact people’s health, the quality of health services or exacerbate health inequities,” Vandehey wrote.

The state will continue to monitor health care costs, producing an annual report. In 2026, insurers and providers will be penalized if they don’t follow the target rate. 

Six Oregon high schools win prizes in media contest to promote young worker safety

Salem – Teams of students at Parkrose, Pendleton, Grant, North Eugene, Crook County, and West Linn high schools have earned top prizes in a media contest designed to increase awareness about workplace safety for young workers.

High school students across Oregon were invited to participate in the annual contest organized by the Oregon Young Employee Safety Coalition (O[yes]). In its 14th year of putting a spotlight on the importance of young worker safety and health, the 2021-2022 competition challenged participants to create either a 30- to 90-second video or graphic design that inspires young workers to think twice about their personal health and safety in the workplace. Submissions had to include the tagline “Work. It can be more dangerous than you think.” They also had to highlight the theme of young worker mental well-being. 

Teams of students rose to the challenge. In crisply edited videos and bold graphic designs, they called attention to everything from the stress of a young worker’s first day on the job and the value of a healthy work-life balance to the need to take breaks and to place a high priority on mental health. 

The top winners in each category were:


  • First place: Parkrose High School, “Balancing Act” ($500)
  • Second: Pendleton High School, “Be Bold for Better Balance” ($400)
  • Third: Grant High School, “Workplace Stress” ($300)
  • Finalist: Centennial High School, “Balancing Work” 

Graphic design:

  • First place: North Eugene High School, “Work. Graphic” ($500)
  • Second place: Crook County High School, “Safety presentation” ($400)
  • Third place: West Linn High School, “Too much to handle!” ($300)
  • Finalists: 
    • Spray School, “Work Pressure”
    • West Linn High School, “The unseen struggle” 
    • West Linn High School, “Think twice”

The first-place teams in each category also earned a matching award for their schools.

Check out the winning submissions on the (O[yes]) website

The mission of (O[yes]) is to prevent injuries and illnesses, and promote well-being to young workers. The nonprofit does this through outreach, advocacy, and sharing resources with young workers, educators, employers, parents, and labor organizations. 

The 2021-2022 contest sponsors are: SAIF Corporation, Oregon OSHA, Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences at Oregon Health and Science University, SafeBuild Alliance, Oregon chapters of the American Society of Safety Professionals, Oregon SHARP Alliance, Construction Safety Summit, Hoffman Construction, Oregon811, and the Central Oregon Occupational Safety & Health Conference.

### 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, go to osha.oregon.gov.

The Department of Consumer and Business Services is Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. For more information, go to oregon.gov/dcbs.

The Oregon Young Employee Safety Coalition (O[yes]) is a nonprofit dedicated to preventing young worker injuries and fatalities. O[yes] members include safety and health professionals, educators, employers, labor and trade associations, and regulators. For more information, go to youngemployeesafety.org.

Housing Market Tight as Feds Raise Interest Rates Again

The housing market continues to be tight in the area and the state of Oregon. The Federal raised interest rates again Wednesday as it attempts to cool high inflation, but the demand for housing has been slow to respond.

The pandemic brought record-low mortgage rates and overwhelming demand from people looking to move away from city centers and into homes with more space, which led to a market where the inventory of homes could not keep up with the interest from buyers.

As a result, the value of homes skyrocketed in communities across the country. As the economy reemerges from the pandemic and the Fed raises interest rates, mortgage rates have increased to over 5%.

The uptick can raise the monthly payment for homebuyers by hundreds of dollars. While home purchases and mortgage applications are starting to dip from pandemic highs, the industry is still seeing strong interest.

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Klamath County Sheriff’s Office Asks for Public’s Help in Search For Trucker Suspect

The first real clue to come in on all the missing person cases in the area. Help Klamath Falls Oregon Sheriff Office ID this trucker. He was the last to see this woman alive and could be the key to not only solving this woman’s disappearance but a number of the hundred other women missing in PNW. IF you have any information, please call (541) 883-5130


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