Klamath Basin News, Wednesday, 5/12 – Gov. Brown Says Most County Covid Restrictions Will Be Lifted When 70% of Oregon’s population 16 And Older Has Received At Least A First Dose of a Covid-19 Vaccine

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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Klamath Basin Weather

Today Sunny, with a high near 81. Overnight will be clear with a low around 46.

Thursday Sunny, with a high near 81. 
Friday A 20% chance of showers and thunderstorms after 11am. Mostly sunny, with a high near 76. 
Saturday Sunny, with a high near 73.

Today’s Headlines

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In a press conference on Tuesday, Governor Kate Brown outlined Oregon’s next benchmarks for reducing coronavirus restrictions throughout the state, which will be directly tied to vaccination targets. Brown’s office said that “most” COVID-19 restrictions will be lifted when 70 percent of Oregon’s population 16 and older has received at least a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Mask and physical distancing requirements are likely to persist in some form even after this benchmark is reached, with Brown’s office pledging to evaluate those remaining mandates based on CDC recommendations and Oregon’s “conditions and experience.” Brown said that more than half of Oregon adults have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with the state expected to have reached two million people this week.

In the meantime, individual counties will have the option to see loosened restrictions based on vaccination progress. Starting May 21, counties that have reached 65 percent of residents 16 and older with a first dose can move to Lower Risk. Counties will also have to submit a plan to the Oregon Health Authority detailing their efforts to close vaccination equity gaps. In southern Oregon, this means that counties will see a plateau in restrictions for at least the next two weeks. Jackson, Josephine, and Klamath counties will remain at High Risk, with Curry County at Moderate Risk, and Lake County at Lower Risk.

There are 16 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 2,549, the Oregon Health Authority reported today. Oregon Health Authority reported 660 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of today, bringing the state total to 192,416. The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 345, which is 19 more than yesterday. There are 89 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is 11 more than yesterday. The total number of COVID-19 positive patient bed-days in the most recent seven days is 2,300, which is a 3.0% decrease from the previous seven days. The peak daily number of beds occupied by COVID-19 positive patients in the most recent seven days is 345.

Get Vaccinated Oregon infographic showing new metrics

There is less than a week until  the May 18 special district election in Klamath County. The last day to mail in ballots is Friday, May 14. Ballots can be placed in drop boxes until 8 p.m. on election day. Turnout is slightly outpacing the previous two special elections in May 2019 and May 2017. In the 2019 election total turnout was just 20% and in 2017 just 18% of voters participated in the election. This year’s turnout of 9.3% is slightly ahead of turnout rate a week before the election in those prior two. At this time in 2019, about 9.0% of Klamath County voters returned their ballots and 8.8% of ballots were returned in 2017.

Today Governor Kate Brown announced to the Lake County Prison Committee that she has decided not to close the Warner Creek Correctional Facility. More than 100 Lake County residents work at the correctional facility and have family members that work in the local schools, businesses and county offices. Closing the facility would have displaced hundreds of residents who would need to find new jobs elsewhere.  “I want to thank Governor Brown for making the right call by keeping the Warner Creek Correctional Facility open,” said Representative E. Werner Reschke (R-Klamath Falls,) a vocal supporter of keeping the facility open. “This was a group effort and will be a relief for the people who rely on these family-wage jobs with good healthcare.”

Colorful pianos will soon return to the streets of downtown Klamath Falls this summer, but first, the project is looking for artists with a vision for a piano painting. Five artists will be selected to paint five new pianos that will be placed around downtown, at places like the courthouse, Veteran’s Park and the Klamath Commons. Artists can submit their proposals online at downtownklamathfalls.org under the piano project tab. The deadline for proposals is May 17 at 5 p.m. Project organizer Laty Xayavong said those who wish to paint a piano don’t need to be professional artists, just locals looking to create a piece of community pride.

This funding supports the work Solid Ground has underway, including expanding staff capacity to serve 180 participants throughout rural Klamath Basin through equine-assisted learning and therapeutic riding programs.

Philanthropic partners, businesses and Solid Ground Equine-Assisted Activities & Therapy Center was awarded a $15,000 grant from the Oregon Community Recovery Fund and a $5,000 grant from the Olsrud Family Fund of Oregon Community Foundation to support the local response to the coronavirus.individuals across the state have taken quick action with contributions to the Oregon Community Recovery Fund.

The fund, established by many partners throughout Oregon, and hosted by the Oregon Community Foundation, was established in March to rapidly deploy resources to community-based organizations at the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak. Resources are prioritized where and when they are critically needed, with a focus on Oregon’s most vulnerable populations. Donations are accepted online. Nonprofit organizations working to respond to this crisis can review funding guidelines and apply for grants on the OCF website.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles will offer office hours May 18-20 at its Tulelake office. Area residents can visit the office at 399 Main Street from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will be required to wear face coverings and maintain physical distance during the COVID-19 pandemic emergency. The DMV plans to offer in-person services at the location again in August. The Tulelake office used to open for a few days each month until the COVID-19 emergency forced the DMV to stop providing this service in March 2020. Driving tests will be offered by appointment only and can be scheduled by visiting dmv.ca.gov, calling 800-777-0133 or stopping by the office in-person. DMV examiners will follow health and safety protocols.

Around the state of Oregon

People in Oregon are enrolling in health coverage at a much higher rate than this time last year. As of April 30, 2021, more than 10,100 people in Oregon have newly enrolled in health coverage through the Marketplace, which is an increase of 31 percent over people who enrolled during this time last year and 80 percent more than enrolled during the same period in 2019. Higher enrollment in the Marketplace from Feb. 15 through April 30 is likely due to the COVID-19 special enrollment period, which is open to anyone who needs health coverage and is eligible to shop through HealthCare.gov. This special enrollment period continues through Aug. 15, 2021. In addition, people applying through the Marketplace are now eligible for substantially higher savings thanks to the American Rescue Plan. More than 4 in 5 people in Oregon now qualify for financial assistance in the form of premium tax credits, which reduce the cost of the monthly premium to have health coverage, and cost-sharing reductions to reduce the out-of-pocket costs associated with health care. People already receiving premium tax credits are also receiving additional savings. Enrollees can choose to receive all of the increased tax credits with their 2021 tax return or they can update their HealthCare.gov application for 2021 coverage to reduce monthly premiums for the rest of the year. Enrollees who are already covered through the Marketplace receive savings of an average of $50 per person per month.

The State of Oregon received approval from the federal government to issue Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) for the 2020 – 2021 school year. This will provide more than $550 million in food assistance for approximately 572,000 children in Oregon. P-EBT provides food benefits to families whose children do not have access to the free or reduced-price meals usually provided at school. Oregon was approved to provide retroactive food benefits to eligible students for the 2020 – 2021 school year. The P-EBT benefits are expected to be issued beginning in July. ODHS and ODE share responsibility in ensuring that children across Oregon receive P-EBT food benefits. ODE collaborates with school districts across Oregon to determine eligibility and ODHS issues the benefits on Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards. Households do not need to apply for P-EBT. Benefits will be automatically issued for students who normally have access to free and reduced-price meals and are enrolled at a school in Oregon.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday expanded a drought emergency declaration to a large swath of the nation’s most populated state amid “acute water supply shortages” in northern and central parts of California. The declaration now covers 41 of 58 counties, covering 30% of California’s nearly 40 million people. The U.S. Drought Monitor shows most of the state and the American West is in extensive drought just a few years after California emerged from a punishing multiyear dry spell. Officials fear an extraordinarily dry spring presages a wildfire season like last year, when flames burned a record 6,562 square miles. The expanded declaration includes the counties in the Klamath River, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and Tulare Lake watersheds across much of the northern and central parts of the state.

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