Klamath Basin News, Friday, 10/30 – Klamath Reports 10 New Covid-19 Cases; Oregon Records Largest One Day Total of Covid Cases with 575

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The latest and most comprehensive coverage of local News, Sports, Business, and Community News stories in the Klamath Basin, Southern Oregon and around the state of Oregon from Wynne Broadcasting’s KFLS News/Talk 1450AM / 102.5FM, The Herald & News, and BasinLife.com, and powered by Mick Insurance.

Friday, October 30, 2020

Klamath Basin Weather

Today Sunny, with a high near 68. Overnight will be clear with a low around 31.

Saturday Sunny, with a high near 67.

Sunday Sunny, with a high near 72.

Monday Sunny, with a high near 72.

Election Day Tuesday Partly sunny, with a high near 68.

Oregon reports 575 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, two new deaths

COVID-19 has claimed two more lives in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 673, the Oregon Health Authority reported this morning. OHA says 575 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 overnight have been reported, the largest one day today in the state’s history, bringing the state total to 43,793.

The new cases  are in the following counties: Baker (7), Benton (15), Clackamas (62), Clatsop (2), Columbia (1), Coos (2), Crook (1), Deschutes (25), Douglas (4), Grant (1), Harney (1), Hood River (5), Jackson (54), Jefferson (2), Josephine (1), Klamath (10), Lake (2), Lane (17), Linn (18), Malheur (7), Marion (62), Morrow (5), Multnomah (102), Polk (7), Sherman (1), Tillamook (2), Umatilla (42), Union (7), Wallowa (3), Washington (107) and Yamhill (9).

Klamath County Public Health officials reported 10 new cases of COVID-19 in the community on Thursday according to a news release. The local case count is 431. This week’s total is 21.

Jackson County Public Health reported 54 new cases of coronavirus on Thursday, shattering the last single-day high set last week.

The agency said that last week’s 177 new cases marked a 31 percent increase over the week prior, and the highest number of new cases reported in a week. The test positivity rate — or the ratio of positive tests out of total tests performed — shot up to 8.1 percent, from 6.5 percent the week prior. The benchmark for in-person learning at local schools remains 5 percent.

Schools discontinue facility use amid COVID-19 concerns

Due to this week’s spike in COVID-19 cases, Klamath County School District, Klamath Falls City Schools, and Hosanna Christian School have discontinued use of their facilities by outside groups as of Oct. 29. This includes weekend games and activities scheduled on school fields and campuses.

As of Thursday morning, Klamath County Public Health reported 21 new cases of COVID-19 in the county.

“We are concerned we are trending in the wrong direction,” said Glen Szymoniak, superintendent of the Klamath County School District. “We are doing everything we can to keep our schools open and improve metrics so we can have more students back in school.”

This is the second time this month the districts and Hosanna have had to discontinue facility use because of concerns about increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases in the county. The schools worked with community groups to reopen facilities last week after the number of new cases decreased for two weeks in a row.

The Wendt Family Foundation donated $250,000 to help fund construction of an apprenticeship center at Klamath Community College.

Kenneth DeCrans, chair of the KCC Board of Trustees, called the apprenticeship center a “win-win” for the college and the community. He said the center “will provide much-needed specialty skills training in the trades.”

The Wendt Family Foundation was founded in 1995 and invests in projects, programs and organizations that help build healthy and vibrant communities, largely in Klamath Falls where Richard “Dick” Wendt co-founded Jeld-Wen in 1960.

Rod Wendt, president of the Wendt Family Foundation, said that the apprenticeship center and its programs will provide skills certifications and employment opportunities for thousands of students for decades.

Federal agencies warned that cybercriminals are unleashing a wave of data-scrambling extortion attempts against the U.S. health care system designed to lock up hospital information systems, which could hurt patient care just as nationwide cases of COVID-19 are spiking.

It includes disruptions at Sky Lakes Medical Center in Klamath Falls.

In a joint alert Wednesday, the FBI and two federal agencies warned that they had “credible information of an increased and imminent cybercrime threat to U.S. hospitals and healthcare providers.” The alert said malicious groups are targeting the sector with attacks that produce “data theft and disruption of healthcare services.”

The cyberattacks involve ransomware, which scrambles data into gibberish that can only be unlocked with software keys provided once targets pay up. Independent security experts say it has already hobbled at least five U.S. hospitals this week, and could potentially impact hundreds more.

Physics professor Robyn Wilde of Oregon Tech

For 18 years, Oregon Institute of Technology professor Robyn Wilde has been teaching students at Oregon Tech the properties of physics — a prerequisite in many of the engineering and health degrees and an area of interest for many environmental sciences and mathematics majors.

To expand his study of the topic even further and allow students realistic learning, Dr. Wilde has applied for — and been awarded — $120,000 from the National Science Foundation’s Research in Undergraduate Institutions grant opportunities.

Beginning this year, Dr. Wilde will start a three-year research investigation that will study particular aspects of how since joining Oregon Tech in 2002, Wilde has found many creative ways to show students applied physics — from introducing Vernier probes and computer interfaces into physics labs in 2005; to developing physics courses specifically applicable for medical imaging technology students; to working with students creating weather balloons; and through a course called “Journey to the edge of space.”

Halloween festivities this year may be understandably subdued amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, but for those still looking for a little spooky fun safely, Klamath Union High School is offering a drive-thru haunted house.

Dubbed the Nightmare on Monclaire Street, the fun begins on Friday, Oct. 30 at 5:30 p.m. in the Klamath Union High School parking lot entrance for a city-wide drive-thru family-friendly scary show. The event is free to attend, but organizers are treating the event as a fundraiser and are asking for $5 donations per car, with proceeds benefitting the Klamath Union Class of 2021 graduation celebration.

Klamath Union High School is located at 1300 Monclaire St. in Klamath Falls.

Fires must be constantly monitored while burning and be completely extinguished after use. Fireworks are prohibited in the park at all times.

Friends of the Children of the Klamath Basin” is holding its annual Potato Sale Fundraiser. Because helping kids is “no small potatoes,” Friends has available 20-pound boxes of premium potatoes for $20 until all boxes are sold.

The fundraiser begins Saturday, November 7, at Klamath Falls Subaru, where premium russet potatoes from sponsor CAL-ORE Produce can be picked up outdoors 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

Potatoes also can be purchased and picked up starting November 9 at the Friends of the Children Clubhouse, 3837 Altamont Drive, Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m. to noon, and at AmeriTitle and all three branches of Washington Federal Bank, including in their South 6th St. parking lot Friday, November 13, 2-4:30 p.m.

“Friends of the Children” also will deliver potatoes in the Klamath Basin. To order potatoes for delivery, call (541) 273-2022 and leave a message with your name, phone number, number of boxes desired, and address.

Around the state of Oregon

Governor Kate Brown is extending the state of emergency for nine counties ravaged by wildfires.  The declaration includes Clackamas, Douglas, Jackson, Klamath, Lane, Lincoln, Marion and Tillamook counties.  The move allows the Office of Emergency Management to provide more state resources to assist residents in need and continue emergency response efforts.

With just a few days until Election Day, more than half of the registered voters in Oregon have already cast their ballots.

At this point during the last three presidential elections, fewer than 44% of Oregonians had returned their ballots. As of Wednesday, more than 57% of registered voters in the state had done so, according to the Elections Division of the Secretary of State.

As of Sunday, more than 58 million ballots have been cast across the country. Americans’ rush to vote is leading election experts to predict that a record 150 million votes may be cast and turnout rates could be higher than in any presidential election since 1908.

During the last two presidential elections, between 80% and 82% of registered voters in Oregon returned their ballots. During the last four presidential elections, about 40% of voters cast their ballots during Election Day and the two day days leading up to it.

DRUG RING BUSTED IN OREGON

U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams announced today that members of a major international drug trafficking organization, including one of its ringleaders and sources of supply from Mexico, have been charged with distributing methamphetamine, heroin, and fentanyl into Oregon between 2018 and 2020.

 A federal grand jury in Eugene has returned a one-count indictment charging Victor Diaz-Ramirez, 30, who was residing in Mexico, with Conspiracy to Distribute Methamphetamine. This Indictment is part of a much larger investigation into the large-scale distribution of drugs into Oregon from Mexico by the drug trafficking organization led by Diaz-Ramirez (“the Diaz DTO”).   According to court documents, the Diaz DTO has been operating at least since 2018.  The Diaz DTO imported drugs into the United States from Mexico, transported them from California to Oregon hidden inside vehicles, then distributed them throughout Oregon from its distribution cell located in Lane County. 

The government’s investigation has resulted in the prosecution of 35 individuals (listed below) who are members or associates of the Diaz DTO.  The scheme involved shipment of drugs from Mexico into Southern California by Diaz-Ramirez and others, where they were subsequently transported in large wooden boxes by couriers to Oregon and delivered to co-conspirators operating a distribution cell.  There, the drugs were divided and prepared for distribution in large pound quantities for delivery to local distributors in Eugene, Springfield, and Salem, for eventual redistribution to their local customer base.   During its investigation, law enforcement seized from the Diaz DTO over 260 pounds of methamphetamine, 16 pounds of heroin, 6 pounds of fentanyl in the form of 4000 fentanyl pills, 76 firearms, 1 grenade, multiple vehicles, and more than $760,000 in cash used to facilitate drug transactions.

The following people have been arrested as members and associates of the Diaz DTO and prosecuted with drug related charges: Victor Diaz-Ramirez, 30; Rodolfo Arroyo-Segoviano, 34; Jose Manuel Cabadas, 36; Nicholas A. Norton-Guerra, 30; Arturo Gonzalez Jr., 22; Jose Cruz Granados Munoz, 33; Robert Harrington, 40; Gregory Todd Daily, 57; Austin Wayne Reinke, 34; Shelby Lynn Mathews, 30; Javin Michael Loomis, 42; William Joseph Hawkins, 42; Randy Allen Hendricks, 59; Vernon Eli  Reece, 58; Alejandro Augustin Cardenas, 43; Spencer Arthur Crawford, 36; Anthony Robert Andreotti, 43; Isidro Mateo-Olivera, 32; Andres Santacruz, 40; Yasmani Diaz Iturbe, 35; Artemio Lorea Carrillo, 47; Alejandro Lara, 27; Karine Garabedian, 36; Tamara Gonzalez-Valdivia, 24;  Andres Avila Gamboa, 29; Israel Salvador Mercado-Mendoza, 33; Rigoberto Morfin-Pedroza, 36; Delfino Angel Davila-Tamayo, 27; Cristina Maria Elizabeth Fregoso, 36; Jose Leonidas Gonzalez-Castillo, 52; Felipe Antonio Rapalo, 31; Eddy Eduardo Rapalo, 24; Gustavo Arango-Moreno, 29; and Victor Ramos-Vergara, 32.

“For years, the Diaz DTO brought poison from Mexico to the streets of Oregon in the form of methamphetamine, fentanyl and heroin” said United States Attorney Billy J Williams.  “This takedown represents a major disruption of that pipeline of drugs into our community. This investigation shows that large scale drug distribution is not limited to Portland. This organization used Lane County as its base and from there sent drugs across the entire state.   This prosecution is especially important as the entire organization was targeted; from the source of supply in Mexico, to the couriers bringing the drugs north, and to those involved in the statewide distribution network.  The prosecution of those involved is a major step in law enforcement’s efforts to stop the river of drugs flowing from Mexico to Oregon.  I want to thank our federal and state partners for their work in investigating, interdicting, and arresting those involved and especially effecting the arrest of the alleged ringleader, Victor Ramirez-Diaz.”

“The dismantlement of this international drug trafficking organization centered in Eugene, Oregon, demonstrates how effective law enforcement efforts are when we work together,” said DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Cam Strahm. “The organization targeted and brought to justice through this case will not prey on the citizens of Lane County and residents of Oregon for a long time.”

The Drug Enforcement Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Marshals, Springfield Police Department, Eugene Police Department Street Crimes Unit, Lane County Sherriff’s Office, Oregon State Police, Line Task Force in Linn County, and DINT Task Force in Douglas County investigated this case.  It is being prosecuted by Joseph Huynh and Judi Harper, Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the District of Oregon.

On October 26, 2020, at about 5:00pm, Grants Pass Police responded to reports of shots fired in the area of Tussing Park in Grants Pass. Citizens reported two males on the Rogue River, in a pontoon boat, shooting at water fowl near the pedestrian bridge. Witnesses reported stray pellets from the shotguns went through the trees above their heads. 

The subjects were eventually located on the river near Redwood Circle. The subjects, identified as Jon Clement and Ryan Clark, were taken into custody and found in posession of two shotguns. The subjects were arrested and lodged at the Josephine County jail on the above listed charges. 

The Grants Pass Police Department is requesting anyone who had been in the area of Tussing Park or Reinhart Volunteer Park during the time of the incident to please contact the department. Anyone with information regarding this case can call 541-450-6260, and reference case number 20-49629.

An Oregon prosecutor said Thursday he will file charges against seven people who were involved in violent clashes during dueling political events at a park in Bend, Oregon earlier this month.

Those facing prosecution include people from both sides of the political spectrum. Bend police had recommended charges against 15 people, but Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel declined to charge more than half of them.

The district attorney also released 200 pages of police reports related to the case after police Chief Mike Krantz took the unusual step last week of publicly releasing his department’s charging recommendations.

The charges resulted from an Oct. 3 confrontation between racial justice demonstrators and President Donald Trump supporters at Pilot Butte Neighborhood Park. Police said a man broke a $20 Trump flag off a truck and a brawl ensued.

Trump administration officials on Thursday stripped Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves in most of the U.S., ending longstanding federal safeguards and putting states and tribes in charge of overseeing the predators.

The U.S. Department of Interior announcement just days ahead of the Nov. 3 election could lead to resumption of wolf hunts in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin — a crucial battleground in the campaign between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden.

It’s the latest in a series of administration actions on the environment that appeal to key blocs of rural voters in the race’s final days, including steps to allow more mining in Minnesota and logging in Alaska.

The Bureau of Land Management Medford District sold nearly 25 million board feet of timber during an oral auction on Thursday, Oct 29.  

Timber Products was the high bidder for the “Bear Grub” timber sale. The 12 million board feet of timber sold for the appraised value of $1,085,651.20. The sale is located on Oregon and California Railroad Grant (O&C) Lands in Jackson County.  

Boise Cascade was the high bidder for the “Lodgepole” timber sale. The 11.2 million board feet of timber sold for $3,447,965.60 million, significantly above the appraised value of $2.2 million. The sale is located on O&C Lands in Jackson County.  

Estremado Logging was the high bidder for the “Savage Murph” timber sale. The 0.828 million board feet of timber sold for the appraised value of $51,077.20. The sale is located on O&C Lands in Josephine County.  

Macs LLC was the high bidder for the “Wild Bill” timber sale. The 0.549 million board feet of timber sold for the appraised value of $90,977.20. The sale is located on O&C Lands in Josephine County. 

The BLM manages 2.4 million acres of timberlands in western Oregon, under two programs: O&C Lands and public domain lands. Timber sales like these are a critical part of the BLM’s active forest management and are important for promoting resilient landscapes. BLM timberlands are some of the most productive in the world, and contain a diversity of plant and animal species, wild and scenic rivers, wilderness areas, and cultural and historical resources. In addition to opportunities for harvest, these timberlands provide multiple uses including recreation, mining, grazing, and more. 

A sustainable forestry program is critical to the economies in western Oregon. Local communities rely on the jobs and timber that come from BLM land, and the BLM is committed to providing predictable and sustainable timber harvest opportunities. Revenue generated from timber sales on O&C lands are split between 18 western Oregon counties and the general fund of the U.S. Treasury, as designated under the O&C Lands Sustained Yield Management Act of 1937. The revenue generated from the timber harvested on Public Domain land is deposited with the U.S Treasury.  

It takes approximately 16,000 board feet of lumber to frame a 2,000-square-foot home. The combined 25 million board feet of timber sold today is enough to build approximately 1,575 family sized residential homes. 

For additional information on the Bureau of Land Management’s timber program, please visit https://www.blm.gov/programs/natural-resources/forests-and-woodlands/timber-sales 

Oregon Health Authority saw an alarming spike in drug overdose deaths in Oregon this past spring compared to last year, and public health experts believe use of illicit fentanyl and methamphetamine is driving the increase.

Analysts in the Injury and Violence Prevention Section at the OHA Public Health Division found that Oregon saw a nearly 70% increase in the number of overdose deaths during April and May 2020 compared to the same time in 2019. There also was a nearly 8% increase in the number of overdose deaths during the first quarter of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.

The preliminary data come from the State Unintentional Drug Overdose Reporting System (SUDORS), which includes combined and abstracted data from medical examiners and death certificates.

Additionally, the analysis found, between April and May 2020 there was a 28% increase in overdose deaths, and a more than 15% increase in overdose deaths between March and April. Opioid-involved deaths increased nearly 70% in April and May compared to the previous two months. And opioid-involved deaths accounted for almost 73% of total overdose deaths in May 2020.

Of opioid-involved deaths, the data show, fentanyl and heroin continue to be the drugs most frequently involved, and fentanyl-involved deaths accounted for almost 40% of total overdose deaths in May 2020.

The analysis also uncovered a continuing alarming trend in methamphetamine use: Methamphetamine/amphetamine-involved deaths accounted for more than 40% of all overdose deaths in May 2020.

Make safety part of your holiday celebrations

With COVID-19 cases recently surging and the weather getting cooler, Oregon Health Authority (OHA) urges Oregonians to rethink holiday traditions to celebrate safely and still enjoy the season.

Along with the “three w’s” —wear a face covering, wash your hands frequently and watch your distance—OHA encourages everyone to participate in lower-risk activities to keep all Oregonians safe during the pandemic.

“Celebrating outside is safer than inside; just remember to dress in cold-weather gear and gather with fewer than 10 people,” said Shimi Sharief, one of the senior health advisors at OHA.

Other low-risk activities include making seasonal dishes with the people you live with, shopping locally or online and attending a virtual faith service.

It is safest to stay home and celebrate. If you decide to travel, go with members of your household and drive to your destination instead of flying, if possible. It’s a good idea to get a COVID-19 test before going anywhere, but it’s important to note that a negative test result is NOT a free pass. Some COVID-19 tests produce a high percentage of false negatives, so even if you test negative, follow stringent safety protocols if you travel.

While a COVID-19 vaccine is not yet available, getting a flu shot ahead of the holidays is especially important and can help avoid a “twindemic.” A flu vaccine will not protect against COVID-19, but vaccination has many other benefits. It’s safe and effective and part of a comprehensive public health strategy to reduce the burden of flu.

For more tips to stay safe all through the holiday season, check out these infographics and share them with your friends and family on your Facebook and Instagram accounts.

 Police say that a Yreka man is in jail after causing an “explosion” in a room at Motel 6 in Weed on Wednesday night.

Officers from the Weed Police Department received a report of the explosion around 9:20 p.m., responding to the Motel 6 on N Weed Boulevard. Police requested firefighters and medical teams to stage near the location.

Arriving at the scene, officers found a man who had been injured in the explosion — apparently caused by a butane gas explosion while he tried to make a concentrated form of marijuana, often called butane honey oil (BHO).

The man, later identified by police as 30-year-old Michael Lynn Cunningham of Yreka, was taken by ambulance to Mercy Medical Center for treatment of his injuries. Once he was released from the hospital, police arrested Cunningham and booked him into the Siskiyou County Jail on charges of manufacturing a controlled substance and felony vandalism.

Umpqua Bank has announced it will provide additional financial relief to homeowners impacted by wildfires seeking to rebuild, renovate or purchase a new home.

In West Coast Communities declared federal disaster areas by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Umpqua is waiving the loan origination fee up to $10,000 for impacted homeowners renovating or rebuilding their home. The bank estimates that most eligible homeowners will save between $2,000 and $5,000, depending on their home’s total cost. For impacted homeowners with loans serviced by Umpqua in designated areas, the bank will also waive any bank fees associated with purchasing another home.

Today’s announcement marks an expansion of Umpqua’s Wildfire Relief Program as wildfires in California have forced thousands of people to evacuate their homes this week. The program was initially launched last month to help communities across Oregon, Washington and California recover from devastating wildfires that consumed more than 5 million acres and resulted in more than 30 deaths across the region.

A suspect was shot and killed Thursday morning following a foot pursuit and shooting involving an officer, according to the Salem Police Department.

Police said an officer was conducting a traffic investigation at around 9:50 a.m. when the involved vehicle crashed at 17th Street Northeast and Court Street Northeast.

The driver fled from the vehicle on foot and the officer chased after the driver into a backyard on Court Street NE.  According to police, shots were fired during a confrontation in the backyard.

The suspect was struck by gunfire and pronounced dead at the scene. The suspect’s name has not yet been released.  Police said the officer was struck in the ankle and was treated by medical staff.

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