Klamath Basin News, Monday, 3/22 – Klamath Health Partnership Offering Covid Vaccine Waiting List For Any Klamath County Resident

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Monday, March 22, 2021

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Today’s Headlines

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There is one new COVID-19 related death in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 2,363, the Oregon Health Authority reported today. Oregon Health Authority reported 224 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of 12:01 bringing the state total to 161,531.  

The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 112, which is six more than yesterday. There are 22 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is four fewer than yesterday.

From Salem, Governor Kate Brown on Friday said that Oregonians with serious medical conditions and frontline workers are among those who will become eligible earlier for the COVID-19 vaccines.

“This doesn’t mean that every Oregonian will be able to get a shot right away.  We expect to have enough doses for every Oregonian who wants a vaccine to have the opportunity for at least a first dose by the end of May” Brown said.   Brown ordered a compression of the state’s priority list after President Joe Biden directed states to remove all limits on vaccine eligibility by May 1 — two months earlier than Oregon had planned.

Vaccine eligibility

Under the revised timeline, people age 45 and older with serious medical conditions that could lead to severe illness or death if they were infected by COVID-19 can get vaccinated beginning today, Monday. The group had been scheduled to become eligible March 29.

Counties must send a written statement to OHA attesting they have “largely” vaccinated residents over 65 and can handle moving on to the next group.

With 58 percent of those 65 and older now vaccinated, many counties will likely start inoculating the new group.  Vaccine providers have been told to use an honor system for determining who should get the shots. OHA has published a list of medical conditions that meet the standard. Those seeking the vaccination will not be asked to provide medical records or a doctor’s note. They will be asked to attest that they meet the guidelines.   Migrant and seasonal farmworkers in counties where they are already working can also be vaccinated beginning Monday, March 22.

All other Oregonians become eligible on May 1. There is no vaccine approved for children, though Moderna is developing one it hopes to have available by summer.

On the vaccine front OHA reported that 22,232 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry.  Oregon has now administered a cumulative total of 1,509,386 first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines. All vaccinations occurred at Oregon hospitals, long-term care facilities, emergency medical service (EMS) agencies, urgent care facilities and Local Public Health Authorities (LPHAs).  To date, 1,858,385 doses of vaccine have been delivered to sites across Oregon.

Klamath Health Partnership is now offering a COVID-19 vaccine waiting list for any Klamath County resident. “KHP has been providing vaccines for weeks now,” said Victoria Leon, vaccine coordinator at the organization. “We started by calling our patients directly for appointments. With the governor’s announcement last week, we want a more efficient way to know if our patients are interested in receiving the vaccine.”

Governor Kate Brown announced Friday that phase guidelines will change as early as today. According to Dr. Flor Mounts, KHP medical director, the organization “will continue to prioritize vaccines based on risk and guidelines. This waiting list simply allows us to focus our call outreach to patients who meet criteria and have expressed interest in the vaccine.”Any Klamath County resident, regardless of patient status, may register. Priority will be given to KHP patients. The waiting list can be found at klamathopendoor.org.

Sky Lakes Medical Center receives a limited number of COVID-19 vaccine doses each week and encourages anyone in eligible categories to call the Vaccination Scheduling Center, 1-833-606-4370, on Wednesdays to learn appointment availability for the week.

Education personnel, first responders, and people 65 and older are among those currently eligible for the vaccine, according to the Oregon Health Authority’s criteria. People 45-64 with an underlying health condition that would put them at increased risk and includes people living in low-income senior housing, senior congregate and independent living become eligible for COVID-19 vaccinations on March 29.

After that date, Sky Lakes will begin scheduling appointments for this group depending on vaccine availability.  

Frontline workers and individuals 16-44 with underlying health conditions become eligible on May 1.  

People who are 45-64 are in Phase 2 and become eligible on June 1.  All Oregonians 16 and older become eligible on July 1.  

Sky Lakes will begin scheduling appointments for each of the groups after they become eligible and depending on vaccine availability.

Oregon Tech administration and the school’s union remain at odds after each side gave their “last, best and final offer” Wednesday and no deal has been reached after 15 months of bargaining. According to the Oregon Tech-American Association of University Professors union, this “leaves bargaining unit members with the tough decision of whether to declare a strike.” Faculty will vote whether or not to strike once a mandated cooling off period ends April 17. Faculty can have their vote recorded immediately, and voting will remain open until noon on April 2. Union secretary Kari Lundgren said that the latest offer from the university left key issues, like faculty workload, undefined and continued to tie pay increases strictly to merit, which the union feels is ill-defined by the university. Lundgren said the latest proposal leaves room for management to make unilateral decisions and leaves faculty with uncertainty about their workloads, pay increase potential and other factors. University administration said it is now combing through the “last, best and final offer” proposed by the union. Vice President of Institutional Advancement Ken Fincher said that as they crunch the numbers on the union’s proposal, it was frustrating to see that the union had already publicly dismissed their proposal just two days after it was submitted. “We were disappointed,” Fincher said. “We went months with little movement on their side and to the point where we had to declare impasse. So for them to now to say, ‘Well this isn’t good enough’ is truly frustrating for the administration team that feels like we have done everything … and made superior offers and very generous offers to the faculty and provided for them all during this time.”

Back to Health Chiropractic Alliance, located at 621 Klamath Avenue, just celebrated their 20 year anniversary in Klamath Falls. As part of their celebration, on February 1 the practice offered a 20th anniversary special. They also held a raffle for their patients. Community partners Blue Zones Project, Leap of Taste and Sammy’s Parlor contributed to the raffle. Michael Shatto, owner of “Back to Health Chiropractic Alliance” and his staff donated the proceeds from the event totaling $4,170.00 to the Assistance League of Klamath Basin. The donation will be used for the League’s primary philanthropic program, Operation School Bell. The program provides school-age children with clothing, supplies, and meets other challenges.

Oregon Institute of Technology junior Eleanor Kenyon is one of 28 students chosen to participate in a NASA Student Airborne Research Program internship where she will sample and study atmospheric gases. Kenyon is currently an environmental sciences major and hopes that participating in the program will further her knowledge of data analysis and air quality research. SARP is an eight-week internship opportunity for rising undergraduate students, which gives them an opportunity to acquire hands-on research experience in atmospheric science. Research areas include atmospheric chemistry, air quality, forest ecology and ocean biology. The group was chosen from a pool of students attending more than 160 different colleges. Held this year as a virtual program, SARP leadership designed an at-home air sampling project to take advantage of the geographic distribution of interns across the United States. Students are sent devices to collect samples in their hometowns, which they send back for analysis. Collecting an air sample involves students going outside and turning the valve on the evacuated canister to fill it with air. Originally from Myrtle Point, Eleanor will be filling her canister there, hoping it will show the agricultural presence in the area and the prevalence of wildfires on the West Coast.

The Mills Community Garden, located on the northwest corner of Richmond Street and Orchard Avenue a block west of Mills Elementary School, has two different sizes of rentable plots in the garden. The garden has a total of 44 4’x10’ plots. Double plots of 4’x20’ are also available. The cost of renting a smaller plot is $20 per year while the cost of renting a double plot is $35 per year. The season opens April 1. The annual rent includes the cost of water use in the garden along with liability insurance. Garden tools and gloves are available for free use at the garden, together with other amenities, such as compost and other soil amendments. Facilities there include a tool shed and greenhouse. Gardening advice will also be available, as needed. For additional information, call Sustainable Klamath at 541-363-7316 or you can send an  email to chair@sustainableklamath.org.

Around the state of Oregon

Five wolves were found dead in northeastern Oregon in February, according to law authorities. On Feb. 9, a collar on a wolf indicated a mortality signal in the Mt. Harris area in Union County. Arriving officers found a total of five wolves dead. The cause of death is unknown, he said. All five carcasses were taken to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife forensic lab to determine the cause of death. The incident is under investigation, according to Oregon Fish and Wildlife spokeswoman Michelle Dennehy.

Recently, Oregon Wildfire Response released a new detailed hiking map to the public. The map was created to help people better understand where hiking closures are, because of last year’s wildfires, to help the public plan ahead, avoid closed areas, and recreate safely outdoors. Oregon currently has a large number of post-fire recreation area closures across many land management agencies because of the 2020 wildfire season. According to Oregon Wildfire Response, there was a need for a ‘one-stop-shop’ map for the public to be able to understand where these closures are. The agency says that by creating this map, this allows the public to plan ahead and be prepared prior to arriving at their hiking destination. According to Oregon Wildfire Response, the map is not updated in real-time which means that there could be delays on when a hiking trail opens back up. During last year’s wildfire season, more than a million acres of land was destroyed and more than 3,000 buildings were completely eradicated. 

PacificSource Health Plans announced consolidated financial results for the twelve months ended December 31, 2020.  PacificSource reported a $48M profit in 2020. This number is the combination of a loss on 2020 underwriting results of $8M and the recoupment of a $56M “Risk Corridor” payment from the Federal Government for losses in the years 2014, 2015, and 2016. The recording of the $56M reflects the successful result of a lawsuit relating to the Federal Government’s failure to pay its obligations under the Affordable Care Act in prior years. In accordance with Statutory Accounting Principles, this $56M is recorded in premium revenue in the 2020 financials, the year it was finally received.  

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