Klamath Basin News, Tuesday, March 9 – Covid Vaccinations by Appointment Continue at Sky Lakes Medical Center

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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.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Klamath Basin Weather

Today A 50% chance of snow showers, mainly after 11am. Partly sunny, with a high near 44. Southeast wind 8 to 14 mph, with gusts as high as 21 mph. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible. Overnight a 30% chance of snow showers with a low around 26. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

Wednesday A 30% chance of snow showers after 11am. Partly sunny, with a high near 46. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible. Clear overnight with a low of 26.

Thursday Mostly sunny, with a high near 46. Overnight, clear, with a low around 22.

Friday Sunny, with a high near 53.

Today’s Headlines

Klamath County Public Health officials reported 16 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday. The local case count is 2,829. Friday is a potential risk level movement day for Klamath County.

Through Saturday, the county had seen 63 cases in the two-week assessment period. To move to the “moderate” risk category, cases needed to be below 67. The case count for this week is 12.

There are two new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 2,298, the Oregon Health Authority reported 234 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of today, bringing the state total to 157,515.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Benton (5), Clackamas (26), Columbia (2), Coos (4), Curry (1), Deschutes (7), Douglas (22), Hood River (1), Jackson (22), Josephine (5), Klamath (2), Lane (15), Lincoln (1), Linn (6), Marion (22), Multnomah (31), Polk (3), Washington (57) and Yamhill (2).

Vaccinations in Oregon

More than a million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the state of Oregon since the vaccine first arrived in mid-December.

With three versions of the vaccine — from Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson — as well as the Federal Retail Pharmacy program, distribution has picked up speed despite getting off to a slow start.

Sky Lakes Medical Center will provide Klamath County residents eligible under Oregon Health Authority guidelines first-dose COVID-19 vaccinations 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 11 and Friday, March 12.

Both clinics will be on the fourth floor in the original medical center. The vaccinations are by appointment only and can be scheduled by calling 1-833-606-4370. No walk-in slots or on-site appointments are available. The call center is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.

Once you have an appointment, you are assured of having a dose reserved. Vaccination of anyone in any of the groups currently eligible depends entirely on the number of doses allocated to Sky Lakes.

Around the state of Oregon

FEMA awards $110 million to Oregon for vaccinations

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has awarded $110 million in federal funding to assist the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and partners in operating dozens of COVID-19 vaccination centers throughout the state.

The FEMA-supported vaccination centers will be able to administer more than 2 million vaccines during the 90-day operational period. Timelines are still under review.

Grants for emergency protective measures are funded through FEMA’s Public Assistance Grant Program, which reimburses communities for actions taken for response and recovery from a disaster. FEMA reimbursement is paid directly to the Oregon Office of Emergency Management, which then makes disbursements to the local and tribal jurisdictions and state agencies that incurred costs.

Governor Kate Brown and leading Democrats in the state legislature unveiled on Monday a $250 million package intended to supplement education and childcare programs burdened by the coronavirus pandemic over the past year.

The package would be matched by an estimated $75 million in federal funds. Much of the funding is earmarked for summer programs — both academic and extra-curricular. Governor Brown’s office said that the funding would be made available “equitably” for Oregon’s Black, Indigenous, Tribal, Latino, Latina, and Latinx, Pacific Islander, and children of color populations disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

$90 million would go toward school districts and partner organizations to invest in summer enrichment activities for K-8 students — outdoor activities, performing arts, robotics, and other activities. Schools are encouraged to partner with culturally-specific organizations where possible. Another $72 million is set aside for summer academic programs supporting high school students who fell behind with distance learning.

Governor expected to update county COVID-19 risk levels today

Governor Kate Brown is set to announce another update to the county COVID-19 risk levels Tuesday. This is part of the governor’s plan to reopen the state safely. 

Based on current trends, Multnomah County is set to join Clackamas and Washington Counties in the ‘moderate risk’ category.Changes announced will take effect on Friday.

After the last coronavirus risk level update on February 23, 31 counties were out of the highest risk level, labeled ‘extreme risk’. Under the extreme risk category, social gatherings are limited to 6 people. Restaurants can resume outdoor dining; however, takeout is still highly recommended. Houses of worship and funeral homes are limited to 25% capacity or 100 total people for indoor services (whichever number is smaller).

The high risk category increases the maximum outdoor social gathering size to 8, and reopens indoor dining, gyms, and indoor entertainment with limits to 25% capacity. Outdoor recreation and entertainment increases to 75 people. It also allows for visitations at long-term care facilities.

Under moderate risk, the limits to at-home indoor gatherings increases to 8, and outdoor gatherings are limited to 10 people. Indoor dining, recreation, and entertainment can allow for 50% capacity or a limit of 100 people – whichever number is smaller. Stores and malls can increase their capacity of shoppers to 75%, but curbside pickup is still encouraged. Indoor church services are also increased to 50% capacity or 150 people – whichever number is less.

At the lower risk category, indoor social gatherings increase to 10 people with a limit to four households, while outdoor social gatherings are capped at 12. Offices are allowed to bring some people back, and outdoor recreation and entertainment increases capacity to 300 people.

Governor Brown recently announced a change to the way the state is adjusting county risk levels, allowing counties to get extensions that might allow them to bring their coronavirus cases down. In a statement, the governor said the change would apply to counties that had moved out of the ‘Extreme risk’ category, reopened businesses, but were possibly facing a move back up to ‘extreme risk’.

The change would allow these counties to have a two-week extension at their current risk level to allow them a chance to drive back down rising cases. At the end of the two-week extension, however, if cases have not changed, the county will be moved back to the ‘extreme risk’ category.

Oregon State Parks Readies for 2021 Camping Season

The first signs of spring are here and Oregon State Parks staff are busy preparing campgrounds for a more “normal” 2021 Spring Break and summer camping season.

Some Oregon State Parks to reopen for limited camping starting June 9 |  News | kptv.com

“Our visitors and staff have weathered a rough 12 months,” said Lisa Sumption, director of the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD).

“None of us imagined this time last year that we would face a more than two-month shutdown of Oregon State Parks and then reopen under pandemic and safety precautions, followed by last September’s wildfires that damaged our local communities and several state parks. This February’s ice storm also brought down trees and limbs and damaged some facilities in northern Willamette Valley and Columbia River Gorge parks”.

“Our park staff, operating with fewer employees because of a revenue shortfall that prevented us from hiring our usual seasonal staff, have rallied and are looking forward to the coming months,” Sumption added. “We’re very grateful to them, and to all state park visitors for their patience.”

Although Oregon Lottery and park visitor fee revenue is projected to be down more than $20 million by the end of the 2019-21 biennium that ends June 30, nearly all state parks are open or will be in the next few months, including those parks that will reopen after usual seasonal closures. Oregon State Parks is also recruiting seasonal staff for park operations, and is able to do so because of spending reductions begun last year.

Park staff are evaluating the status of two park campgrounds that were temporarily closed because of wildfire damage: Collier Memorial State Park and Detroit Lake State Park.

Park Manager Aaron Raines at Collier Memorial State Park and Logging Museum says the campground may open later this year, but staff are waiting for the snow to melt to continue assessing and repairing damage caused by the Two Four Two Fire and for State Historic Preservation Office approvals for some work. The Williamson River Day-Use Area and a portion of the Logging Museum are open, although no park access is available to Spring Creek or the Williamson River during restoration efforts. Raines asks that visitors look for closure signs and to not enter restricted areas for their safety.

Detroit Lake State Park remains temporarily closed, although the Mongold Day-use Area and boat launch are open, says Bob Rea, park manager. Rea added that park staff continue to repair infrastructure damaged by the Beachie Fire and says the campground could open by this summer.

Both Raines and Rea say campground site reservations will be available as soon as reopening dates are determined.

Overnight camping rates will remain the same as 2020 rates except for a $3 increase for electric hookup and full hookup sites in selected parks May 28-Sept. 6.  The electric hookup rate range will be $24-$35 and the full hookup range will be $26-$38 per night at the following parks.

  • Beverly Beach State Park
  • Bullards Beach State Park
  • Cape Blanco State Park
  • Cape Lookout State Park
  • Devil’s Lake State Recreation Area
  • Fort Stevens State Park
  • Harris Beach State Park
  • Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park
  • Nehalem Bay State Park
  • South Beach State Park
  • Sunset Bay State Park
  • William M. Tugman State Park
  • The Cove Palisades State Park
  • LaPine State Park
  • Tumalo State Park
  • Valley of the Rogue State Park
  • Wallowa Lake State Park
  • Champoeg State Heritage Area
  • Detroit Lake State Recreation Area
  • L.L. Stub Stewart Memorial State Park
  • Silver Falls State Park

These rates include applicable state and local taxes. The temporary, COVID-related surcharge that added up to an additional 30% fee to overnight stays for out-of-state campers ended March 1. All campers in 2021 will pay the same rates. OPRD plans to open a public discussion about making out-of-state rates a normal part of the overnight stay rate structure.

Some pandemic-related, temporary changes remain in place based on statewide restrictions to group gatherings, including keeping group facilities and hiker/biker camping areas closed. In addition, visitor stays in yurts and cabins are followed by a one-day resting period. The resting day reduces overall availability, but staff uses the time to thoroughly clean the facilities to ensure visitor safety. Yurt and cabin visits in coastal campgrounds require a two-night minimum stay.

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department budget is 44% Lottery Fund dedicated by Oregon voters in 1999 and 2010; 50% “Other Fund” from park visitors, a portion of recreational vehicle registrations, and other sources; and 6% Federal Fund, mainly for heritage-related programs. For more information about Oregon State Parks and campgrounds, visit stateparks.oregon.gov. – Oregon Parks and Recreation Dept. 

Cape Blanco Lighthouse, Hughes House, and Lifeboat Museum to stay closed to indoor visits through April 2022

PORT ORFORD, Oregon — The interior areas of three historic sites in northern Curry County will remained closed through April 2022 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) announces. 

Cape Blanco Lighthouse - Oregon Coast Visitors Association

At Cape Blanco State Park, the Hughes House and Cape Blanco Lighthouse will be closed to tours during this timeframe. The Port Orford Lifeboat Station Museum at Port Orford Heads State Park will also be closed. The grounds at all three locations will remain open.

“Out of an abundance of caution, and due to the current uncertainty, we and our partners decided to keep these facilities closed,” said Casey Nielsen, who manages both parks. “All the staff, volunteers and partners are looking forward to a time when we can safely reopen these interpretative locations and share the rich history in Curry County.”

The facilities have remained closed since March 23, 2020, when the virus first hit Oregon. OPRD has kept museums, meeting halls and other indoor facilities closed in response to statewide health guidelines.

Visitors should continue to follow health protocols while visiting state parks: limit the size of gatherings, wear face coverings, give space to others and wash hands often. For more information on what to expect while visiting state parks during the pandemic, visit our COVID-19 FAQ page.

The Hughes House and Lifeboat Station Museum are operated in partnership between OPRD and the Cape Blanco Heritage Society. OPRD operates the Cape Blanco Lighthouse in partnership with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Cape Blanco Heritage Society, Coquille Indian Tribe, Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians and Curry County.

If you are interested in volunteering, please contact the Cape Blanco Management Office at 541-332-6674 or the Cape Blanco Heritage Society at 541-332-0521. – Oregon Parks and Recreation Dept. 

Bill Introduced To Expand Insurance Coverage For Fire Victims In Oregon

Many insurance policies allow homeowners up to one year to rebuild their home after a disaster, like a wildfire. A bill to extend this timeline is being introduced in the Oregon legislature this week.

Rep. Pam Marsh (D-Ashland) is proposing a bill that would strengthen insurance benefits for fire victims. If passed, insurance companies would be required to provide all policy-holders additional time to rebuild their destroyed homes.

Marsh says that last year’s Almeda Fire made the need for expanded insurance coverage especially clear.

“When individuals are experiencing one of the worst moments of their lives, as they certainly did after Almeda,” says Marsh, “we need to make sure that they know they can rebuild that they have time to do that, that they have support for themselves and their families as they are striving to rebuild — that they can make good choices that benefit both them and their families.”

If passed, the bill would require people who have experienced a single disaster, like an individual house flood, at least two years to rebuild and two years of living expenses. For mass disasters, like wildfire, coverage would expand to three years. It would also allow policy holders to legally hold insurance companies accountable for failing to meet the bill’s requirements.

Marsh says that although this bill was drafted because of the devastating aftermath of the Almeda Fire, the protections will likely be important in the future, as well.

“Sadly, we are probably not done with disasters of various kinds,” says Marsh. “It is likely that we will face other wildfires or floods or catastrophic earthquakes and we need to make sure that insurance policies provide the pretty basic coverage that we are going to need in those circumstances.”

The bill is slated to be introduced in the House Committee on Business and Labor on Wednesday.

Two Found Dead in Philomath

Two adults were found dead of apparent gunshot wounds in a home in Philomath on Sunday.  Police responded to a hang-up 911 call in the 1200 block of North 19th Street at about 10:40 a.m.

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The incident happened near the Forest Meadows mobile home park in the 1200 block of N. 19th Street.

The officer arrived at the scene and didn’t receive a response from the home’s occupant. A Benton County Sheriff’s deputy helped force entry into the home.

Police have identified the deceased as Carl and Merry Rath, age 55 and 53 respectively.  The official cause of death has yet to be determined. An autopsy is scheduled for later in the week.

Police assure the public that the community is safe and there are no outstanding suspects. If you have any information, contact officers at 541-929-6911 or by email at police@philomathoregon.gov.

Person Dies in House Fire in Junction City

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A house fire in Junction City has ended in a death, officials say. Crews responded to 236 E 4th Ave. around 2:45 p.m. after a report of a single-family structure that was heavily involved in fire with possible entrapment of one occupant.

“In a situation like this, when time is of the essence, we have mutual aid agreements with neighboring fire departments,” Junction City Fire spokeswoman Crystal Riley said. “Today, we have Lane Fire Authority, Eugene-Springfield Fire, medic units, Harrisburg Fire and our crews along with Junction City Police Department to thank for our robust response.”

Junction City Police Chief Bob Morris said he stepped in once he got on scene.

“I found one of the relatives of the victim partway in the living room of the house with a garden hose trying to put the fire out,” Morris said. “I had to physically pull him out of the house, so he would not become a victim of the fire as well.”

No more information is available at this time about the victim, the cause of the fire or a damage estimate. There were no injuries to fire crews.

US 101 Road Work Will Cause Delays Near Oregon Border

Road Work Ahead Sign - Plastics Make It Possible

Emergency work to replace a culvert in Pacific County will cause delays just north of Astoria-Megler bridge.

In a release from the Washington State Department of Transportation, they say that work to replace a failing culvert under US 101 at milepost 1.2 begins this week.

During the work, US 101 will remain open with a temporary signal, alternating travelers through a single lane while construction crews stage equipment and supplies. 

Once construction begins later this week, travelers should plan for delays of up to 20 minutes. 

On Monday, Feb. 16, after several days of heavy seasonal rainstorms and harsh winter weather swept through Pacific County, maintenance crews discovered that the concrete culvert that runs underneath the highway had begun to fail, causing a portion of the road to give way and sink.  

Crews determined that the drainage system became overloaded, causing two separate sections in each shoulder to collapse under the highway. 

To keep travelers safe, crews closed a single lane of the road until permanent repairs could be made.  

“During the most recent winter storms, our maintenance crews were working around-the-clock to keep the roads and highways open and safe for travelers,” said Project Engineer Joanna Lowrey. “We realize that it’s never ideal to close a lane of the highway, especially when there’s only two lanes for travel.

In this instance, a single lane closure is the best way traffic can continue to use the stretch of highway safely, until crews can replace the culvert.” https://wsdot.wa.gov/projects/us101/astoria-megler-bridge/home

Time Change this Weekend

Change Your Clocks — It's Time To Spring Forward! Kids News Article

Suddenly, the air is a little warmer, the sky is a little bluer, and everyone is a little happier. It must be almost time to wipe those smiles away and change the clock.

Daylight saving time starts again at 2 a.m. Sunday, March 14.

That means, at 2 a.m. on March 14, the clocks magically leap forward to 3 a.m., and you will wake up wondering why you feel so tired. Could this be the final time Oregonians slog through a week of post-daylight saving fog?

After the 2019 passage of Oregon Senate Bill 320, when the state spins forward into daylight saving time this very spring, in less than two weeks time, we are supposed to stay there. No fall back in the fall. No more changing the clocks.

Of course, that will happen only if Congress approves the change. But the move to allow states to permanently remain in daylight saving time has bipartisan support.

Study Shows Medford/Grants Pass Metro Area Rated Among the Safest in America When it Comes to Covid-19

The U.S. reported over 61,000 new cases of coronavirus on Mar. 7, bringing the total count to more than 28,600,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19. There have been more than 500,000 COVID-19-related deaths — the highest death toll of any country.

New cases continue to rise at a steady rate. In the past week, there were an average of 19.6 daily new coronavirus cases per 100,000 Americans — essentially unchanged from the week prior, when there were an average of 21.8 daily new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people.

While new data shows that the risk of contracting COVID-19 is high in almost every part of the country, cities continue to be the sites of major outbreaks and superspreader events. Experts agree that the virus is more likely to spread in group settings where large numbers of people routinely have close contact with one another, such as colleges, nursing homes, bars, and restaurants. Metropolitan areas with a high degree of connectivity between different neighborhoods and a large population may be particularly at-risk.

In the 50 largest metro areas, the incidence of COVID-19 grew at an average rate of 21.2 new cases a day per 100,000 residents in the past week — 10.1% greater than the case growth in all counties outside of metro areas.

The Medford, OR metro area consists of just Jackson County. As of Mar. 7, there were 3,987.1 confirmed cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 Medford residents, the 17th lowest rate of all 383 metro areas with available data. For comparison, the U.S. has so far reported 8,865.0 cases per 100,000 Americans nationwide.

In order to slow the spread of COVID-19, city and county governments have ordered the closure of thousands of consumer-facing businesses. These measures have led to widespread job loss and record unemployment. In the Medford metro area, unemployment peaked at 15.6% in April 2020. As of December 2020, the metro area’s unemployment rate was 6.4%.

To determine how the incidence of COVID-19 in the Medford, OR metro area compares to the rest of the country, 24/7 Wall St. compiled and reviewed data from state and local health departments. We ranked metro areas based on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents.To estimate the incidence of COVID-19 at the metropolitan level, we aggregated data from the county level using boundary definitions from the U.S. Census Bureau. Population data used to adjust case and death totals came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 American Community Survey and are five-year estimates. Unemployment data is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and is seasonally adjusted.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has awarded $110 million in federal funding to assist the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and partners in operating dozens of COVID-19 vaccination centers throughout the state. The FEMA-supported vaccination centers will be able to administer more than 2 million vaccines during the 90-day operational period. Timelines are still under review. Oregon has now administered a cumulative total of 1,163,828 first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines. To date, 1,420,125 doses of vaccine have been delivered to sites across Oregon.

Governor Kate Brown and leading Democrats in the state legislature unveiled on Monday a $250 million package intended to supplement education and childcare programs burdened by the coronavirus pandemic over the past year. The package would be matched by an estimated $75 million in federal funds. Much of the funding is earmarked for summer programs — both academic and extra-curricular. Governor Brown’s office said that the funding would be made available “equitably” for Oregon’s Black, Indigenous, Tribal, Latino, Latina, and Latinx, Pacific Islander, and children of color populations disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

$90 million would go toward school districts and partner organizations to invest in summer enrichment activities for K-8 students — outdoor activities, performing arts, robotics, and other activities. Schools are encouraged to partner with culturally-specific organizations where possible. Another $72 million is set aside for summer academic programs supporting high school students who fell behind with distance learning.

Two people died in a car accident on U.S. Highway 26 near Warm Springs on Sunday.

Around 3 p.m., Warm Springs Police Department responded to a three-vehicle crash near milepost 81. Officers found a a silver Chevrolet pickup truck and a black Dodge pickup truck with significant damage on their front ends, according to Warm Springs Police Lt. Ron Gregory. About 100 feet away, a third vehicle was on its side with air bags deployed. The silver Chevrolet pickup was going eastbound on Highway 26 toward Warm Springs and crossed over the center line into oncoming traffic, according to a statement from Gregory. The silver Chevrolet hit the green Chevrolet Silverado in the westbound lane, which caused the Silverado to roll onto its side. The silver Chevrolet then crashed head-on into a black Dodge pickup.

A union representing food and commercial workers in Oregon and southwestern Washington criticized Governor Kate Brown over the weekend after she received the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 555 released a statement on Sunday, accusing Brown of cutting in line under the vaccine schedule that she helped to develop and implement. Governor Brown received the vaccine on Saturday in an effort to prove that the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine was “safe and effective.” The union has been pushing for essential workers to be moved up on Oregon’s timeline since the schedule was expanded at the end of February, saying that many workers are “livid” at being left out. 

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