Klamath Basin News, Thursday, July 2 – First Death from Covid-19 In Klamath County Reported; 123 Cases in County At This Time

The latest news stories in the Klamath Basin and around the state of Oregon from Wynne Broadcasting’s KFLS News/Talk 1450AM / 102.5FM, BasinLife.com, Mick Insurance and The Herald & News.


Klamath Basin Weather

Today   Sunny, with a high near 81 degrees.

Friday   Sunny, with a high near 83.

Saturday, Independence Day   Sunny, with a high near 83.

Sunday   Sunny, with a high near 82.

Monday   Sunny, with a high near 82.

Tuesday   Sunny, with a high near 81.


Klamath County Public Health officials reported the first coronavirus-related death in the area on Wednesday, only the second such fatality in southern Oregon.

Officials said that the death happened on Tuesday, June 30. Klamath County Public Health asked that the community respect the family’s need for privacy, and their need to grieve and process the loss. While the agency did not identify the individual, it did provide some basic demographic details.

The person was a woman between the ages of 70 and 79. It is not yet known if she was hospitalized at the time. Klamath County reported a total of 123 coronavirus cases on Wednesday, out of 5,143 processed tests. Ten people have been hospitalized for the virus since the outbreak began.

Many of the recent COVID-19 cases in southern Oregon have been among younger people — particularly in Klamath County — accompanied by a comparatively lower hospitalization rate. 

The state of Oregon has reached a record high in the daily reporting of its COVID-19 cases. On Wednesday, the Oregon Health Authority announced 281 confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19.

The OHA also said one more person has died of COVID-19 in Oregon, bringing the state’s death toll to 208. The patient was a 91-year-old Marion County woman who tested positive on June 18 and died on June 29. Her place of death is being confirmed. The OHA said she had underlying medical conditions. The OHA noted that in addition to the record case count, the fastest rate of new cases is occurring in central and eastern Oregon.

More than 145 youth in the Klamath Basin now have access to meals and snacks for the next week after Integral Youth Services’ Annual Summer Lunch Program Kickoff on Tuesday, which this year was operated via a drive-thru party distribution due to COVID-19 restrictions. Those handing out meals and other resources on Tuesday wore masks and parents and guardians picked up meals curbside in their vehicles. But the mood was light as Smokey Bear ambled between the booths lined up at the park looking for high fives from young attendees. Meal sites will continue throughout the summer and a full schedule is available at IYS’ website. Each week, partners will provide a variety of resources and packets for children, something new this year due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Last weekend the Gambler 500 returned to north Klamath County. More than 2,850 attendees from throughout the United States, Canada and Europe brought more than 1,000 vehicles to Gilchrist for the event.

The Gambler 500 is a rally style, mostly off-road, navigational adventure. Participants enter whimsical or inexpensive vehicles. While traveling from point to point, they pick up tons of trash and remove abandoned vehicles and boats from public lands. The Gambler 500 has been described as Burning Man For Eccentric Mechanics. The community service dimension makes it more than that.

Adapting to COVID-19 made this year’s Gambler 500 unlike previous ones. Gambler participants are welcomed because they are well behaved and respectful. Randy Swan, Klamath County Sheriff’s Operations Lieutenant, stated, “On-scene officers reported it went well.” The economic impact of the Gambler 500 is significant. The Crescent Shell reported that because of the Gambler its sales for the weekend doubled. 

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) officials have updated the 2020 prohibitions regarding the use of fire-causing materials on BLM lands to include the prohibition of using metal targets throughout Oregon and Washington.

This is in addition to the original prohibition of using fireworks, exploding targets, and tracer or incendiary devices.  The prohibition is effective until October 31, 2020. BLM Officials recommend the following fire safety precautions for recreational target shooting: Avoid target shooting on days with hot, dry, and/or windy conditions. Ensure target areas are clear of dry grass, vegetation, and rocks for at least 20 feet around the target. Have a proper backstop.  Bring water, a fire extinguisher, and a shovel. Do not use prohibited items:  metal targets, tracer or incendiary devices, and exploding targets.  People violating these prohibitions can be fined up to $1,000 and/or receive a prison term of up to one year. In addition, people responsible for starting wildland fires on Federal lands can be billed for the cost of putting out the fire.  

An incendiary device is defined as any firebomb or device designed or specially adapted to cause physical harm to persons or property by means of fire, consisting of an incendiary substance or agent and a means to ignite it. Examples include, but are not limited to, flamethrowers, molotov cocktails, or accelerants.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers encourages outdoor enthusiasts to recreate responsibly and safely this holiday weekend.

With reservoirs throughout Oregon near normal capacity and many areas now reopened, Corps officials are expecting increased activity on its water and land-based recreation sites. Corps park rangers would like to remind the public of the following safety guidelines: Be prepared.  Some parks have limited access to amenities and services so bring your own personal protective supplies including hand sanitizer, soap, water, face mask, and disinfectant wipes.  Not all areas are open for camping and parking may be limited so have a plan B.    

No fireworks. Do not bring your personal fireworks as use of fireworks is prohibited on Corps land except through special event permits.  Additionally, all public fireworks events scheduled at Corps reservoirs have been cancelled this year.  Burn bans may be in effect in some areas so plan accordingly.  Be mindful of social distancing. Recreate safely in this COVID-19 environment and stay home if you are exhibiting any cold or flu-like symptoms.  Recreate locally and only with those in your household, avoid crowds and gathering in large groups, maintain a six-foot social distance from others and utilize facial coverings as often as possible.  

Wear a life jacket!  Calm waters and nice weather is when most people drown and nearly 90 percent of the drowning’s that occur at Corps managed waterways involve people not wearing a life jacket.

Tips for a safe Fourth of July

The safest choice this holiday is to celebrate at home. If you choose to celebrate in other ways, activities that take place outdoors, allow for enough room to maintain physical distancing and involve fewer people are lower risk than activities that take place indoors, don’t allow for physical distancing and involve more people. Below are some extra tips for enjoying the holiday safely:

  • Stay home if you’re sick or if you have an underlying medical condition that puts you at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
  • If you host a gathering, provide hand sanitizer or give people easy access to places where they can frequently wash their hands.
  • Adjust your food offerings to avoid sharing utensils and offer individual servings. Don’t share drinks.
  • During and afterward thoroughly clean all frequently touched areas your guests have access to.
  • Wear a mask if you cannot maintain 6 feet of physical distance.

By knowing and understanding the risk of our actions and activities, we can make informed decisions that not only impact our own health but also protect the health of everyone around us.

Sanford Children’s Clinic Nurse Teams Up with Healthy Klamath to Feed Hungry Families

In February, Katie Walker, a nurse with Sanford Children’s Clinic, reached out to community partners in hopes of helping her patients that are food insecure. Since her initial efforts in February, she has teamed up with the Healthy Klamath Coalition. In the past four months, the duo has been awarded grant funding in the amount of $12,500.

The funds from organizations such as Costco, Cigna, Sanford Foundation, and the Northwest Farm Credit Bureau will be used to create a food pantry at Sanford Children’s Clinic.  With this program, patients that screen as food insecure are referred by clinic nurses and providers with a “prescription” to the pantry and offered a bag of healthy nonperishable food items and an invitation to return twice a month over the subsequent two months to help promote physical health, prevent future illness and facilitate recovery.  


On Wednesday, July 1, 2020 at approximately 10:46 A.M., a Douglas County Deputy attempted a traffic stop on a vehicle south of Reedsport on Hwy 101.  The vehicle fled and eventually crashed on Hwy 101 near milepost 217.  

The operator of the vehicle is deceased.  

What appeared to be explosive devices were located at the scene and the Oregon State Police Explosives Unit is heading to the scene.  Oregon State Police is investigating the crash.  Hwy 101 was closed for several hours with no detour available.   

Oregon’s COVID-19 emergency declaration and associated public land closures coincide with what is promising to be a massive wildfire season. That has forced private forestland owners to make difficult decisions about whether to pre-emptively close their forests to recreation to prevent wildfires that could endanger the lives of firefighters and communities. Most private forestland owners in Oregon strive to keep their forests open to the public for recreational access as good community partners, at least until fire season reaches unsafe levels. As a result they often incur significant costs in the form of vandalism, trash dumping, and increased security, as Oregon Forests Forever reported in January.  This year, because state and federal recreation areas are closed due to COVID-19, the number of recreational visitors to private forests has increased substantially, as well as the trash some leave behind.

In the Grants Pass area, four new cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Josephine County, bringing the county’s total number of cases to 41. Of the new cases, three are presumptive and one is confirmed.

Public Health officials were notified of the cases by the official medical record system provided by the Oregon Health Authority.

Josephine County Public Health is investigating all cases to identify contacts and exposures and to isolate and monitor all individuals relevant to the cases. Public Health will reach out to anyone suspected of exposure to COVID-19.

Of the 41 total cases, 26 individuals have recovered and one individual died from complications relating to a COVID-19 infection.

Oregon DMV online services will not be available from 6:30PM July 2 through 8AM on July 6, as part of the DMV computer system replacement. The system being installed over the holiday weekend will bring new online services and improved efficiency to DMV when it launches on July 6. All DMV services are on hold over the weekend as computer systems are down for the technology replacement and testing. DMV encourages customers to visit www.oregondmv.com/dmv2u starting July 6, when customers will be able to get these services online: Schedule, reschedule or cancel an appointment,  Order a replacement for a lost, stolen or damaged driver license or ID card, Pay a reinstatement fee and Order your own driver record.

Klamath Falls News from partnership with the Herald and News, empowering the community.

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