Klamath Basin News, Wednesday, 8/18 – Covid Cases Spiking in Oregon; Klamath County with 52 New Cases Overnight

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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 Insuranceyour local health and Medicare agents.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Klamath Basin Weather

Today Sunny and smoky skies with a high near 75. Northwest wind increasing to 15 to 20 mph in the afternoon.

Thursday Sunny, with a high near 83.
Friday Sunny, with a high near 84.
Saturday Sunny, with a high near 81.
Sunday Sunny, with a high near 88.

Today’s Headlines

COVID-19 cases are spiking heavily in Oregon. The state is currently seeing its highest numbers yet of COVID-19 patients in the hospital, in the Intensive Care Unit and on ventilators.

At the same time, there’s a staffing shortage of frontline workers. The combination is having a detrimental effect.

Gov. Kate Brown’s office says there aren’t any current plans in place to set up field hospitals to help with capacity issues. If that does become a possibility, the question will be who is going to staff them?

As of Monday, Oregon had only 47 ICU adult beds and 276 non-ICU adult beds available. In the past three weeks, the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations has increased from 207 to 752.

Oregon reports 2,941 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 15 new deaths

This morning the Oregon Health Authority is reporting 2,941 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of 12:01 a.m. today, bringing the state total to 245,758.

The new cases reported today includes new cases that were reported to some counties over the weekend and are in the following counties: Baker (3), Benton (29), Clackamas (151), Clatsop (36), Columbia (71), Coos (76), Crook (27), Curry (​8​), Deschutes (94), Douglas (300), Gilliam (6), Harney (14), Hood River (12), Jackson (247), Jefferson (11), Josephine (110), Klamath (52), Lane (253), Lincoln (42), Linn (110), Malheur (39), Marion (363), Morrow (11), Multnomah (145), Polk (43), Tillamook (27), Umatilla (84), Union (40), Wallowa (4), Wasco (25), Washington (420) and Yamhill (88).

Oregon has now administered 2,727,893 first and second doses of Pfizer, 1,812,233 first and second doses of Moderna and 190,254 single doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines

As of today, 2,557,489 people have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 2,354,372 people have completed a COVID-19 vaccine series. 

Lakeview, OR  –  Overnight temperatures dropped down to 36 degrees  as fire crews worked hard to plumb and strengthen lines around the Patton Meadow Fire near Lakeview.  With dry and windy conditions gusting up to 32mph, some fire crossed the fire line on the northwest corner of the fire at Patton Meadow, but quick response by crews kept the fire from spreading any further.    

Operations Section Chief John Pellissier was upbeat at this morning’s briefing, saying “everyone’s happy with where we’re at right now and that lines are very secure.” Crews are preparing for burnout operations to further secure the fire line on the north side.  

On the south side of the fire, crews continue mop-up operations from the current 50 feet up to 100 or 150 feet into the perimeter to keep the fire from crossing containment lines.  “Lines are in and water is flowing,” added Pellissier, in regard to perimeter lines along Highway 140 on the fire’s south side. 

Most of the remaining heat on the fire is along the north perimeter, burning in steep, rugged terrain towards Cottonwood Road. Dozers working along Cottonwood Road have completed a contingency line and crews are now working to develop a perimeter closer to the fire’s north front. 

OSFM will be sending two task forces home today since the risk to structures has reduced. There are still 8 structural task forces available for structure assessment, building defensible space, and assisting wildland crews where needed. As of this morning, 88 structures have been assessed.

The overnight infrared flight showed Patton Meadow at 6,538 and Willow Valley at 824 acres. The fires are 30 percent and 65 percent contained respectively.

Lake County Sheriff’s Office evacuation details can be found by visiting https://www.facebook.com/Lake-County-Oregon-104435824529906.

The team will again provide a personal update during a Facebook Live informational meeting tonight at 7pm. Click here for more information https://fb.me/e/1dM4zde6c.

A potential buyer for the Eternal Hills Cemetery was identified in a federal court filing last week.

Stukel Memorial Services — a new company started by Klamath Falls native Travis Sandusky — is working with the former owner’s family trust to purchase the cemetery property, a motion filed in federal court showed.

In June, a federal bankruptcy judge ruled that Robert Gordon and his family trust could not own the cemetery, which had fallen into disrepair and bankruptcy under Gordon’s care. That ruling originally gave the Gordon Trust 60 days to find a qualified buyer and Monday was slated to be the deadline.

Sandusky and his wife, Alice, have owned and operated Cascade Cremation & Burial on E. Main Street since last year. Before opening the cremation and burial business, the couple remodeled an old funeral home at the location. The couple also operated Redwood Memorial Chapel and Crematory in Brookings in the decade prior to returning to Klamath Falls. Sandusky is related to Robert Gordon.

A 34-year-old man was arrested Friday near the intersection of Lakeshore Drive and Highway 140 after allegedly leading law enforcement on two separate vehicle chases.

Daniel Wray Lobdell, of Klamath Falls, allegedly failed to yield for a traffic stop and then engaged officers in a nearly 11-minute vehicle pursuit, a probable cause statement filed in Klamath County Circuit Court stated.

Later Friday, Lobdell was arrested after allegedly attempting to elude police for second time. He was lodged in the Klamath County Jail on a $30,000 bail.

Lobdell was charged with fleeing or attempting to elude police, unauthorized use of a vehicle, reckless driving, burglary second degree and theft second degree. He appeared in circuit court on Monday.

Klamath Community College will partner with the 142nd Wing in Portland to establish an educational testing center for airmen in northwest Oregon and Washington to assist in college degree completion and career advancement.

KCC will support development of the new 500-square-foot testing center, located at the Portland Air National Guard Base, at the request of the 142nd Wing. The center will serve 1,500 enlisted officers across several military branches and is slated to open in September.

The center will provide college-level examination program testing for college math and other courses required to complete a Community College of the Air Force degree or an associate degree.

KCC will provide the center with five computers and the tests will be proctored in-person, at the Portland location, once per month, by KCC employees. KCC will also provide education advising to service members who use the center.

The Klamath County Marine Patrol will conduct free boat inspections on Wednesdays from 6-7 p.m. at Moore Park Marina 2.

Inspections will continue every Wednesday during the summer months.

Once a boat has passed inspection and has all of the required equipment, the boat owner is issued an inspection decal that signals to other marine law enforcement that the boat meets all of the state requirements for safe operation

Wildfires in Oregon and Washington have already burned 20 times more land this year than last.  

The Northwest Interagency Coordination Center is reporting over one-million charred acres in the two state’s this year.  

By contrast, over 52-thousand acres were destroyed in 2020.  In that time span, the number of wildfires also doubled, with 37 fires last year and 77 this year, through August 15.  

Included in that total is the Bootleg Fire in southern Oregon, which burned more than 413-thousand acres, making it the largest wildfire in the country before final containment early this week.

From Grange Co-op Klamath Falls

Grange Co-op is proud to announce a donation of over $23,000 in cash and supplies to Klamath County Ranchers affected by the Bootleg Fire. On August 18, 2021 at 10AM, Grange Co-op will present a check to the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association for their Wildfire Stewardship Fund.

We extend an invitation to you for attendance, the check presentation will be hosted at Klamath Falls Grange Co-op, located at 2525 Washburn Way, Klamath Falls, OR.

Around the state of Oregon

Governor Kate Brown responded on Tuesday to murmurs from some parents and school officials around the state threatening to avoid mask requirements, calling on Oregon’s educational community to heed the mandate and work to ensure that students can attend school full-time and in-person this year.

Brown’s office said that most Oregon districts have been moving forward with the state’s health and safety plans for mitigating the spread of COVID-19 during the upcoming school district, but they cited “troubling statements and actions” from some local school leaders indicating that they might ignore the state requirements.

Brown’s office indicated that the mask requirement can be enforced by Oregon OSHA under state law, as with previous COVID-19 workplace countermeasures during the pandemic. Monday’s statement also implied that following current restrictions would be necessary to keep kids in the classroom full-time with “minimal disruptions.”

After months of incremental decline, the Oregon Employment Department’s latest report suggests that the state’s unemployment rate is finally showing signs of an accelerated recovery.

Unemployment in Oregon hit an all-time high in April of 2020 with a rate of 13.2 percent. While jobs showed a relatively quick recovery at several stages of reopening as the pandemic continued, it slowed to a crawl at the beginning of 2021. Unemployment declined just .1 percent for each of the first five months of this year.

Recovery started to pick up slightly in June, with the unemployment rate dropping .2 percent. In July, the new OED report says, it dropped .4 points, hitting an unemployment rate of 5.2 percent.

Oregon’s unemployment has tracked the US rate closely over the past several years, but the state dropped slightly below the national rate of 5.4 percent in July.

The Britt Music & Arts Festival announced Monday that it will begin requiring masks for all patrons and staff effective immediately as the venue’s summer concert series gets going.

The requirement extends to patrons, staff, volunteers, vendors, and contractors when not consuming food or beverages. Britt said that they will provide masks upon request.

Oregon’s mask mandate is currently reserved to indoor public areas, but masks have been strongly recommended by federal, state, and local public health agencies for crowded outdoor areas. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival has similarly instituted a mask requirement — in addition to proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test — for performances at its outdoor Allen Elizabethan Theatre.

Britt said that anyone who refuses to adhere to the policy will be removed from the venue, and they asked for cooperation in order to keep the venue open and operating.

Wildland firefighters working for federal agencies will now receive at least $15 an hour for their work, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on Tuesday.

The change is estimated to increase pay for about 3,500 firefighters within the US Department of the Interior and more than 11,300 firefighters at the USDA Forest Service.

Interior currently employs about 5,000 wildland firefighters across multiple agencies — the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service. About 3,500 of those employees will receive a total of $7.6 million under the change. The USA Forest Service employs 14,500 firefighters, and more than 11,300 will receive a total of $24.3 million.

The pay increase goes into effect immediately, along with backpay dating to June 30. Firefighters will receive awards to all frontline firefighters currently earning less than $15 an hour to ensure their pay will meet the minimum. All temporary firefighters will receive a $1,300 award and permanent firefighters up to GS-9 will receive an award equal to 10 percent of six months base pay.

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