Klamath Basin News, Thursday, 11/19 – Gov. Brown’s Two-Week Freeze Devastating To Klamath County

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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.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Klamath Basin Weather

Today A 30% chance of morning snow flurries before 10am, then mostly sunny, with a high near 42. Overnight patchy freezing fog with a low around 21.

Friday Sunny, with a high near 43. North wind 3 to 5 mph.

Saturday Sunny, with a high near 44.

Sunday Mostly cloudy, with a high near 44.

Today’s Headlines

COVID-19 has claimed 10 more lives in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 788.  Oregon Health Authority reported 1,099 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of yesterday, bringing the state total to 59,669.

The new cases  are in the following counties: Baker (9), Benton(13), Clackamas (82), Clatsop (4), Columbia (6), Coos (5), Crook (6), Curry (3), Deschutes (40), Douglas (33), Gilliam (2), Grant (6), Harney (3), Hood River (11), Jackson (108), Jefferson (15), Josephine (20), Lake (8), Lane (115), Lincoln (5), Linn (30), Malheur (33), Marion (84), Morrow (2), Multnomah (210), Polk (9), Tillamook (4), Umatilla (29), Union (3), Wasco (4), Washington (171), and Yamhill (26).

At this time, 406 people are hospitalized in Oregon with COVID-19, marking a new record for the pandemic. The largest increase was in the Portland metropolitan area, followed by the Willamette Valley and then Jackson and Josephine counties. Of the total, 94 are in an intensive care unit.

Meanwhile, The Board of Klamath County Commissioners have voiced their concerns over new state COVID-19 regulations saying the 2 week “freeze” will be too much for already struggling businesses to bear.

Klamath County Commissioner Kelley Minty Morris said that the  “statewide approach does not fit Klamath County. We have a robust health care system, and we are confident the relationships in this community would ensure our health care professionals, and public health, would work together to decide what our community needs without the state’s interference. We do not need a top down approach from the State; we believe we can navigate this challenging issue locally.”

Commissioner Don Boyd added that the “Citizens have spoken clearly, this is causing impacts that cannot be ignored, increases in suicide, domestic violence and substance abuse, these are real consequences of shut downs”.

Derrick Degroot added  the board is fearful that “businesses that close may never re-open, it’s already been the case for more than 2 dozen businesses in this county. Another shut down could increase the number of unemployed right before the holidays”.

Sheriff Chris Kaber says, “The Sheriff’s Office will not be enforcing distancing, gathering, or masking restrictions. I have informed the local paper and that decision has been shared on other media platforms. It is the decision I made in the spring and remains consistent even though the governor indicated she is enlisting local law enforcement this time. The Sheriff’s Office is busy responding to calls for service of greater public safety concern”.

Businesses can contact East Cascades Worksource for questions about business assistance at stefanie@ecworks.org and 541-904-5012.

In response to Governor Kate Brown’s “Two Week Freeze” announcement, the downtown Klamath County library is reducing some services starting Wednesday, November 18th.

These rules will be in place through at least Wednesday, December 2nd:They  strongly encourage visitors to limit their stay to an hour maximum. Public computers for adults will be only available via appointment. Appointments start at the top of the hour or at the half hour, and last for 50 minutes. They are also reducing the number of available public computers, to encourage physical distancing.

An “Express Computer” will be available for users who only need to print materials. Use of this computer will be limited to 15 minutes, and available on a first-come-first-served basis. Computers for visitors under 18 are unavailable until further notice.

The Bookie Joint bookstore and the Senior Center Branch Library are also closed until further notice.  These risk reduction measures are critical in limiting the spread of COVID-19, reducing risk in communities more vulnerable to serious illness and death, and helping conserve hospital capacity so that all Oregonians can continue to have access to quality care.

Klamath Falls City Council once again voted to postpone action on a resolution to recognize racism and economic inequality as a crisis in Klamath Falls.

Councilors will reconsider the motion at their next council meeting, after deciding Monday night to reevaluate the language of the resolution proposal. Before their decision to postpone, council members heard more than an hour of testimony both in favor and opposed to the resolution. Eric Osterberg, assistant to the city manager and advisor to the task force, provided council members context to understand the challenges faced by people of color within the community. He explained that there are two kinds of systemic prejudice when talking about racism. Councilors all shared a desire to discuss the nuances of the resolution’s wording prior to the next council meeting, where it would be considered again.

Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office deputies in Washington arrested a man who allegedly was scamming people posing as a contractor, including in Klamath County.

The Klamath County Sheriff’s Office warned people in August that Shanadoa Wayne Johnson might be in the area targeting people with driveway and paving work. Last week, KCSO received a tip that Johnson was staying in a hotel in Washington, according to a news release. KCSO forwarded the information to Cowlitz County where he was arrested. Johnson is being held in the Cowlitz County Jail without bail and awaiting extradition. KCSO said he was wanted for crimes in Washington, Nevada and Oregon.

Klamath Falls City Schools will host a community forum webinar tonight at 6 p.m. to collect information from the public in hiring a new superintendent.

The Klamath Falls City Schools Board of Education and the search firm HYA: Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates invites the public to participate in the community forum seeking input to put together a Leadership Profile Report that will be presented on Dec. 14 at the regular board meeting to the Board and community. Residents are encouraged to share thoughts about the strength of schools and the district, the challenges the district is currently facing, what the new leaders’ priorities should be and what are the professional and personal characteristics they would like the KFCS’s next superintendent to have.

The Klamath Tribes will close much of its operations until Dec. 2 as Oregon enters a two-week “freeze” to combat rising coronavirus cases.

On Wednesday, all tribal administration and outlying offices will be closed to walk-in traffic and the general public. Doors will be locked and only employees and “escorted individuals” will be allowed entry. According to a release, the tribes took this action “in consideration of the exponential increase in COVID cases throughout the state of Oregon.” Tribal members seeking services are asked to postpone their visit until after Dec. 2.

For urgent matters, members can call ahead and make an appointment. Individuals will not be allowed to wait in the lobby.

Around the state of Oregon

Gov. Kate Brown made her statewide two-week ‘freeze’ official Tuesday with an executive order that makes the measures enforceable by law.

The freeze will take effect starting Wednesday and aims to limit group activities and slow the spread of COVID-19 in Oregon where cases have reached a record high. As part of the freeze, social gatherings cannot exceed more than six people.

Restaurants are limited to take-out only, while gyms and fitness centers, museums, pools, sports courts, movie theaters, zoos, gardens, aquariums and venues will be closed. Grocery stores, pharmacies and retail stores are limited to a maximum capacity of 75%.

All of the freeze measures are enforceable by law. Workplace violations should be reported Oregon OSHA and restaurant violations to OSHA or OLCC. In the past social gathering limits were “self-enforced.” Now, if caught violating this restriction, a person can be cited, fined or arrested.

As the holiday season starts, Christmas tree permits are currently available from the Fremont-Winema National Forest.

Permits cost $5 and are nonrefundable. A maximum of five permits can be purchased and can be used through December 25. The permits are available for purchase from several vendors in Lake and Klamath counties, online through www.Recreation.gov, and by mail from all Fremont-Winema National Forest offices. Fifth graders with an Every Kid Outdoors (EKO) voucher can get a free Christmas tree permit for a limited time. This is in addition to fourth graders who can get a free permit with their valid EKO pass.

The Fremont-Winema National Forest provided free passes and permits to area fourth graders. They are starting to provide the vouchers and permits to fifth graders in Lake and Klamath counties.

For more information or for those home schooling, contact Public Affairs Specialist Shannon Holt at 541-947-6261 or shannon.holt@usda.gov.

Governor Kate Brown and leading Oregon lawmakers responded to a remarkably stable revenue forecast for the state, while acknowledging that many Oregonians are suffering economically from the ongoing pandemic without any fresh infusions of aid.

Brown framed the news as another sign that a second federal stimulus package is needed in order to buoy both businesses and workers that are suffering from public health closures, saying that she has been lobbying Congress to put aside partisan bickering and pass another relief bill. Oregon’s Congressional delegation has been pushing FEMA to shoulder the full cost of clean-up from the wildfires. As things stand, the state of Oregon will be on the hook to pay for costs that FEMA does not cover, with the full response and clean-up estimated to cost more than $1 billion.

Responding to the revenue forecast news, Republicans in the legislature took shots at the “freeze” restrictions that went into effect on Wednesday, decrying the economic impact on Oregonian households.

Oregon provides mortgage support for homeowners in financial distress due to COVID-19.   $20 million available until funds run out.

SALEM, OR – The Oregon Homeownership Stabilization Initiative (OHSI) has launched a mortgage relief program to help homeowners at risk of losing their homes due to COVID-related financial hardship.

The COVID-19 Mortgage Relief program provides assistance to homeowners who have experienced a financial hardship to help them avoid foreclosure. The program provides a one-time payment directly to mortgage servicers to bring delinquent first-lien mortgage accounts current.

OHSI is a program administered by Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS), on behalf of the Oregon Affordable Housing Assistance Corporation, and funded through U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Hardest Hit Fund (HHF) established during the Great Recession. OHCS, with the support of Senators Wyden and Merkley, successfully advocated to extend these funds to provide relief to Oregonians impacted by COVID-19.

“Oregon residents are facing multiple crises at once,” said Emese Perfecto, Director of OHCS Homeownership Division.  “We know that easing the burden of past due mortgage payments is a critical way we can keep families stable while they endure these challenges. This program provides hope to many struggling homeowners.”

As of September, 165,000 people were unemployed in Oregon, double the number of unemployed people one year ago. While the unemployment rate has improved slightly since the beginning of the pandemic, many Oregonians are still struggling. Since 2011, OHSI has helped more than 16,000 families keep their homes. The program has invested more than $300 million in direct assistance to Oregonians.

“Being at risk of losing your home can be extremely stressful. We want homeowners to know that they are not alone,” Perfecto said.  “Our trained partners are here to advise you and answer any questions you have.”

The program eligibility criteria include:

  • Became past due on mortgage payments after Jan. 1, 2020
  • Experienced a financial hardship such as job loss, reduced income, high medical costs, disability, death in the family, or divorce.
  • Mortgage payment is no more than 45 percent of household monthly income

More eligibility requirements and a FAQ, as well as the application portal, are available on the OHSI website. Housing counseling partners are also available to assist homeowners with the application process.

The $20 million program is funded through the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Hardest Hit Fund. The assistance is offered through a no-interest, forgivable, five-year loan that requires no payment from the recipients so long as they don’t sell or refinance their home for cash for at least five years. Because funds are limited, homeowners in need are encouraged to apply as soon as possible.

Along with these resources, Governor Kate Brown’s Executive Order 20-37 extended the foreclosure protections established by House Bill 4204 (2020 1st special session). Oregon homeowners in need should contact their lender or a Homeownership Center for relief options.

APPLY FOR FOOD, CASH AND OTHER ASSISTANCE FROM HOME DURING OREGON TWO-WEEK FREEZE

(Salem, Ore.) – With Gov Brown’s statewide Two-Week Freeze to stop the rapid spread of COVID-19 across state, here’s a reminder that all Oregonians can apply for food, cash and child care assistance provided through the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) from home without having to visit an office in person.

Visit govstatus.egov.com/or-dhs-benefits for information on how to apply for assistance using the ODHS online application, email, mail, telephone or application drop off.

Oregonians who need urgent and ongoing food assistance can visit needfood.oregon.gov.

Older adults or people with disabilities who need additional information about resources available to help can call 1-855-ORE-ADRC (1-855-673-2372) or visit www.adrcoforegon.org.

Information on how to apply for domestic violence assistance can also be found at govstatus.egov.com/or-dhs-benefits.

While many ODHS offices remain open to the public for essential business, we encourage members of the public to apply online, by email, by phone, or to call before coming in. In most cases, you don’t need to visit an office in person to get assistance.

For more ways to connect with ODHS or to find other types of assistance, contact 211info:

PARKING FEE WAIVED AT OREGON STATE PARKS NOV. 27, THE DAY AFTER THANKSGIVING

Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) invites Oregonians to head outside for some fresh air the day after Thanksgiving, Nov. 27, also known as ‘Green Friday.’ OPRD will waive day-use parking fees that day in 25 state parks across Oregon. 

“We recognize that being outdoors makes us feel better and is a break from the stresses of 2020,” said director Lisa Sumption. “In this unconventional year, we feel it is especially important to honor this tradition as thanks to Oregonians for supporting us through our toughest times.”

Thanksgiving weekend falls squarely within the Governor’s Two-Week Freeze, Nov. 18 – Dec. 2. Accordingly, OPRD directs people to limit gatherings at parks to six people and two households. This is in addition to longstanding direction to stay local, wear face coverings and maintain a 6’ distance from other visitors.

“Following these precautions is particularly important in the coming weeks to support statewide efforts to stop the spread of the virus,” Sumption said. “When visitors prepare and care, it keeps parks safe for everyone.”

Green Friday typically kicks off a series of holiday events in state parks, but this year OPRD opted to cancel these events. 

“The pandemic challenges all of us to find new, creative ways to celebrate the holidays,” Sumption said. “We look forward to the safe return of these holiday traditions, and until then, parks are open and here for you.”

The parking waiver applies from open to close Nov. 27 at the 25 parks that charge a $5 daily parking fee. A list of parks that require day-use parking permits is available at stateparks.oregon.gov. Parking is free year-round at the majority of Oregon’s 250-plus state park properties.  

The Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS), Child Welfare Division, asks the public to help find Kyla Blackmore. Kyla Blackmore, age 14, is a foster child who went missing from Medford, Ore. on Nov. 11, 2020. She is believed to be in danger.

Kyla Blackmore knows the Klamath Falls area and is suspected to be traveling with Lydia Jazmin, age 16, a foster child who also went missing from Medford, Ore. on Nov. 11, 2020.

Name: Kyla Blackmore
Pronouns: She/Her
Date of birth: April 21, 2006
Height: 5’2
Weight: 185 pounds
Eye color: Brown
Hair: Brownish blonde
Other identifying information: Kyla Blackmore has a nose piercing and may sometimes draw on her face.
Medford Police Department Case #18910
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children #1406373

Anyone who suspects they have information about Kyla Blackmore’s location should call 911 or local law enforcement.

A small number of children in foster care may be in significant danger when they run away or have gone missing. As ODHS works to do everything it can to find these missing children and ensure their safety, media alerts will be issued in some circumstances when it is determined necessary. Sometimes, in these situations, a child may go missing repeatedly, resulting in more than one media alert for the same child.

Report child abuse to the Oregon Child Abuse Hotline by calling 1-855-503-SAFE (7233).  This toll-free number allows you to report abuse of any child or adult to the Oregon Department of Human Services, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year.

FATAL CRASH ON HWY 97 – DESCHUTES COUNTY

On Wednesday, November 18, 2020 at approximately 12:52 P.M., Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a multi-vehicle collision on Hwy 97 at Jack Pine Loop.

Preliminary investigation revealed a Dodge D20 pickup, operated by a male juvenile,  was northbound when it side swiped a Ford Explorer, operated by Craig Marcum (27) of Bend, that was turning onto Jack Pine Loop. The Dodge then entered the southbound lane and collided with a Uhaul econoline van operated by Jeffery Ferris (35) of Fairview. 

Marcum was not injured.

The male juvenile operator of the Dodge sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased.

Ferris sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased.

A male juvenile passenger in the Dodge and a male juvenile passenger in the U-Haul were transported to St. Charles Medical Center in Bend with injuries.

FATAL CRASH HWY 26 – CLACKAMAS COUNTY

On Wednesday, November 18, 2020 at approximately 5:20 P.M., Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a vehicle collision on Hwy 26 at the intersection of SE Kelso Rd.

Preliminary investigation revealed that a Ford Explorer, operated by Dan Smith (93) of Boring, was westbound on Hwy 26 and turned left into the path of an eastbound Jeep Grand Cherokee operated by Frank Angelcyk (40) of Astoria, New York. 

Smith was transported to Emanuel Hospital with serious injuries.  His passenger, Maxine Smith (94) of Boring, was transported to Emanuel Hospital where she was pronounced deceased.

Angelcyk was not seriously injured.

Weekly cases and hospitalizations at record highs

OHA’s COVID-19 weekly report released today set pandemic highs for daily cases and hospitalizations.

OHA reported 6,491 new daily cases during the week of Monday, Nov. 9 through Sunday, Nov. 15, a 25% increase over the previous record-high week. The percentage of positive tests for COVD-19 increased to 12.5% from 11.9%, even with an increase in the number of people tested.

Weekly hospitalizations from COVID-19 rose to 291, the highest yet reported in the pandemic.

There were fewer deaths, 31, associated with COVID-19 than the previous week’s record high of 42.

People aged 20 to 49 accounted for 51% of the cases, while people 70 and older accounted for 75% of deaths.

Note: This week’s report includes a report on people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who have been diagnosed with COVID-19. This includes people living in congregate or residential settings.

To date, there have been 5 people with intellectual or developmental disabilities who have died from COVID-19 associated illness.

This total comes from matching client lists from the state’s Office of Developmental Service Disabilities and the COVID-19 database.

Today, the State of Oregon announced it is joining the national Get Covered 2021 campaign, spearheaded by Get Covered America, Covered California, and the Kentucky Health Benefit Exchange.

Oregon joins 14 states and the District of Columbia that are promoting Get Covered 2021, demonstrating the state’s commitment to helping people stay safe during the pandemic and making sure they have the ability to get quality health care when they need it.

“The pandemic has placed a renewed focus on the importance of staying healthy and safe,” said Governor Kate Brown. “During this open enrollment period, it’s critical for all of us to seek insurance coverage, not just because of COVID-19, but for preventive care and financial protection in case of serious illnesses and chronic conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure. We owe it to ourselves and our families to get covered in order to have access to life-saving services.”

Recognizing the link between COVID-19 and the benefits of health insurance, Get Covered 2021 is focused on two key priorities:

  • Stay healthy: Every American has a role to play in reducing the spread of the virus and keeping communities safe through safe practices: Wear a mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance.
  • Get insured: Every American should have affordable insurance coverage to help them stay healthy and get the right care when they need it. Let’s make sure the 16 million people eligible for financial help now know where to go and get help signing up.

Oregon has consistently worked to help Oregonians who do not get health insurance through their job or a program such as the Oregon Health Plan or Medicare to understand their coverage options. This year, Oregonians face additional challenges to getting enrolled in health coverage due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Oregon’s devastating wildfires, but Oregonians should not delay; open enrollment ends Tuesday, Dec. 15. If you miss the deadline, you may not be able to get coverage for 2021.

Financial savings are available for most Oregonians. In 2020, more than seven in 10 Oregonians who chose plans through HealthCare.gov got financial help for monthly premiums and out-of-pocket costs. Individuals making up to $51,040 per year and families of four making up to $104,800 may get help paying for coverage. These savings lowered the average premium to just $145 per month.

“Oregon is proud to be a part of the Get Covered 2021 coalition to advance efforts to protect against COVID-19, and to close the coverage gap by getting all eligible Oregonians enrolled in health insurance,” said Chiqui Flowers, administrator of the Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace. “We are proud to work alongside all of the partners in the Get Covered 2021 coalition to send the message in Oregon and across the nation that we are standing together to help Americans stay safe and healthy, and that coverage and financial help is there for them during a time they need it the most.”

To get started with health coverage enrollment, people should go to OregonHealthCare.gov before Dec. 15 and answer a few Oregon-specific questions to get to the right application for them. Also, they can search the “get help” directory on the site to find an insurance agent or community partner organization that can help them complete the application and enroll. Insurance agents and community partners provide local, one-on-one assistance at no charge to the client. This help is available virtually and over the phone.

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