Klamath Basin News, Friday, 8/20 – Gov. Brown Orders Teachers and School Staffs To Get Covid Vaccine, Same Day as All Health Care Workers

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Friday, August 20, 2021

Klamath Basin Weather

Friday Night Widespread smoke and partly cloudy, with a low around 47.

Saturday Widespread haze and smoke throughout the day, sunny, high near 78. Overnight, clear with a low around 46.
Sunday Widespread smoke, mainly after noon. Sunny, with a high near 84.
Monday Widespread smoke. Sunny, with a high near 86.
Tuesday Widespread smoke. Sunny, with a high near 88.
Wednesday Widespread smoke. Sunny, with a high near 88.

Today’s Headlines

Turning up the heat with educators in Oregon today Governor Kate Brown, who has been faced with a surge in Covid-19 infections across the state of Oregon driven by the Delta Variant, ordered all Oregon K-12 teachers, school staff and volunteers to be vaccinated, along with health care workers by October 18th or six weeks after full FDA approval, whichever is later.

The announcement reverses prior state policy which allowed for either vaccination or regular COVID-19 testing. The testing option has been eliminated.

Oregon is struggling with the rapidly spreading delta variation of the COVID-19 virus, which has increased daily infections from under 150 in early July to a record 2,139 cases reported on Wednesday, Aug. 18. The state averages 1,925 cases per day.

Oregon Health and Science University reported that the pace of increases will continue until the first week of September and is likely to leave the state 500 hospital beds short of demand.

Yesterday Gov. Brown announced that Oregon is expanding its COVID-19 vaccine requirement to include all teachers, educators, support staff and volunteers in K-12 schools.

Teachers are the latest to be added to the growing statewide vaccine mandate — which also includes health care workers and state employees — that requires them to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18 or six weeks after a COVID-19 vaccine receives full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, whichever is later.

In addition, Brown announced weekly testing for health care workers will no longer be an option for those who want to avoid vaccination.

The only opt-out of the requirement is either a medical or religious exemption. Oregon’s mandate is similar to the one announced in Washington state on Wednesday, which along with K-12 teachers also includes employees at the state’s colleges and universities.

Last week, California announced a mandate that covers both public and private schools but allows testing instead of vaccination. Earlier this month, Hawaii required all Department of Education staffers to disclose their vaccination status or face weekly testing.

There are 19 new COVID-19 related death in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll at 2,994 the Oregon Health Authority reported at 12:01 a.m. today.  Oregon Health Authority reported 2,971 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of 12:01 a.m. today bringing the state total to 250,835 – as of today, more than a quarter-million Oregonians have contracted COVID-19.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (7), Benton (19), Clackamas (74), Clatsop (35), Columbia (32), Coos (47), Crook (13), Curry (28), Deschutes (147), Douglas (168), Gilliam (2), Grant (4), Harney (19), Hood River (12), Jackson (148), Jefferson (13), Josephine (125), Klamath (40), Lane (240), Lincoln (32), Linn (108), Malheur (15), Marion (164), Morrow (12), Multnomah (235), Polk (34), Sherman (2), Tillamook (36), Umatilla (94), Union (17), Wallowa (5), Wasco (39), Washington (176), Yamhill (45).

The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 845, which is five fewer than yesterday. There are 226 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which are two more than yesterday. As of this morning, there are 41 available adult ICU beds out of 667 total (6% availability) and 310 available adult non-ICU beds out of 4,182 (7% availability). Jackson County reported 345 new cases while Josephine County reported 188. Klamath County reported 53 news cases yesterday.

Crews worked overnight to increase and secure containment lines on the Patton Meadow Fire, while rising humidity complicated operations to burn out fuels in the area around Patton Meadow.

The rind along the edge of containment lines in several areas was increased from 50 feet up to 150 feet, while crews checked for hotspots to prevent flare ups in the interior of the fire. Day shift operations will continue mop-up on the south, lower east and west corners of the fire. Snagging crews will work to clear dangerous standing dead trees, paving the way for mop up crews to work deeper into the fire’s footprint.

Today’s weather forecast of moderate temperatures and light winds will be favorable for burnout efforts to continue in the area around Patton Meadow.  Crews have prepared for burnout operations by laying hose and fortifying control lines before introducing fire to consume remaining fuels. As the threat to structures decreases, OSFM will be returning task k forces to their home agencies. OSFM will maintain an adequate number of resources to complete the work that needs to be done. Remaining task forces will continue with structural assessments and assisting wildland crews where needed.

Klamath City Street Crews

Due to scheduling conflicts, the chip seal operations planned for August 19th and 20th for the upper part of North Hills area have been delayed.

The affected streets include Celeste Avenue, Cambria Street, Skyridge, Lakey Street and Homedale Road from Basin View Drive to Benchwood Avenue. This work will now take place on August 23, 24 and 25, 2001. The city apologizes for the delay and ask that residents do not park on the streets on the newly scheduled dates. The Streets Staff would like to thank our citizens in advance for proceeding with caution in areas where crews are working.

Work may be delayed or due to weather, equipment break-down or unexpected emergencies. If you would like more information about this topic, please call City Public Works Department at (541) 883-5383.

A special tour exploring the design and construction of the 115-year-old Baldwin Hotel Museum building, 31 Main St., will be offered Saturday.

Museum guides will offer the hour-long tour at 11 a.m. Admission is $10 per person, with a $1 discount for students and seniors.

The tour will also examine seismic retrofitting that was performed in 1999. The stone masonry walls of the Baldwin building are 36 inches thick at the ground level, tapering down to 12 inches on the fourth floor. A number of other features of the building remain a mystery, including the purpose of a cupola that sits in the middle of the roof. The Baldwin Hotel Museum is open for regular tours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sept. 4.

For more information, call the Klamath County Museum at (541) 882-1000.

Klamath Falls City Schools parents are encouraged to bring their “kinders” to the organization’s kinder phase-in.

The first experience of coming to school is less overwhelming for new students if they attend orientation before coming every day. The benefits to attending the kindergarten launch/phase-in allows students to experience in a small class to learn how school works, to be familiar with the building, to show and practice procedures for lunch. It also helps teachers place students into classrooms.

The first week launch phase-in also provides an emotionally safe environment to get some of the “jitters” out before a long day begins on the regular school day the following week.

Bonanza Elementary School physical education teacher Jason Hardrath climbed his way into Pacific Northwest mountaineering history by scaling all of Washington’s 100 tallest peaks in just 50 days, 23 hours, 43 minutes.

The feat took him through 869 miles of Washington State’s mountain terrain while accumulating over 411,500 feet of elevation gain.

This list of 100 peaks is commonly referred to as “Bulger’s List,” which as of this writing has only been completed 82 times. Most who complete the list, which was created in 1980, take four or more years to complete it. The previous speed record for the feat had been 1 year, 1 month, 15 days before Hardrath blew that apart by doing the entire challenge in less than two months. Since finishing, Hardrath is taking some hard-earned rest, but is already looking forward to getting back out in the mountains.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality extended an air quality advisory Thursday for Jackson, Klamath and Deschutes counties due to smoke from fires in the Oregon Cascades and Southern Washington.

DEQ expects smoke levels to fluctuate between moderate and unhealthy in these areas through at least Friday afternoon.  Smoke levels can change rapidly depending on weather. Check current conditions on the Oregon Smoke Information Blog, DEQ’s Air Quality Index, or by downloading the free OregonAIR app on your smartphone. Smoke can irritate the eyes and lungs and worsen some medical conditions.

People most at risk include infants and young children, people with heart or lung disease, older adults and pregnant women.

Around the state of Oregon

Strong words from the Oregon Nurses Association.

“The Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) knows that vaccines are the most important tool for protecting our members, their patients and families, and our communities from the ongoing spread of COVID-19. We know Oregon’s registered nurses and nurse practitioners have already achieved a high rate of vaccination. We also know that some health care workers are deeply opposed to vaccine mandates; so deeply that some will leave the profession before accepting a mandate. Governor Brown’s previous rule that required weekly testing with a waiver for health care workers who show proof of vaccination was a reasonable compromise that encouraged vaccination while protecting public health. Today’s decision to mandate vaccinations for health care workers may ultimately exacerbate an already dangerous staffing crisis in hospitals across the state.   ONA calls upon all stakeholders to join us in taking urgent, innovative steps to address this crisis now. We call on hospitals and health systems to focus on nurse retention and recruitment, invest in health care workers serving on the frontlines and open up a space at the decision-making table so they can hear from frontline nurses and caregivers. We must work together to protect our communities during this crisis. In addition, ONA-represented facilities must bargain immediately on the impacts of this change to the conditions of employment as required by law. ONA is already at the bargaining table in some of our represented facilities, and we will demand to bargain with all our represented facilities on the wide and varied impacts of this change. ONA believes that the COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on the deep fractures in our health care system.”

The COVID-19 Delta variant is causing a sharp spike in new coronavirus cases in Oregon.  

The Oregon Health Authority says there was a 53-percent increase in new cases of COVID-19 last week.  The number of new hospitalizations more than doubled to 546, making it the fifth consecutive week of increases.  There were 46 deaths, which is six more than the previous week.  

The number of positive tests increased to eleven-point-eight-percent.

President Biden is nominating an Oregonian to become director of the National Park Service.  

Biden announced yesterday he intends to nominate Chuck Sams, making him the first Native American to be nominated to the job.  

Sams has worked in state and tribal governments as well as the non-profit natural resource and conservation management fields over 25 years.  He’s currently a member of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council.  He’s the former director of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.  His nomination needs to be approved by the U.S. Senate.

A young gray whale washed ashore along the central Oregon coast earlier this week, officials said.

Jim Rice, program manager with the Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network, said the 30-foot juvenile male was first reported Monday in the waters of a small cove near 6th Street in Yachats. Rice said the whale came ashore Tuesday, and he was able to collect tissue samples before the tide took it out again, though it is likely still in the area.

The animal had likely been dead for a day or two before it came ashore, Rice said. It was unclear how it died.

West Nile virus has been detected in mosquitoes collected southeast of Eagle Point on August 11, 2021.

It is the second time this year that West Nile virus has been found in Jackson County, with the previous detection occurring west of White City on August 4th. The mosquitoes were collected by the Jackson County Vector Control District as part of their routine monitoring program and tested at Oregon State University’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.Jackson County residents are advised to take precautions against mosquitoes since West Nile virus is spread to humans through the bites of infected mosquitoes.

People should consult their health care providers if they experience any flu-like symptoms. Health care providers can contact the Jackson County Health Department for information on West Nile virus testing.

The Jackson County Vector Control District suggests the following steps to protect against mosquitoes:

• Eliminate or treat sources of standing water around your home where mosquitoes can breed like birdbaths, ornamental ponds, buckets, and tires.
• Avoid outdoor activities at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
• Use repellants containing DEET, oil of lemon/eucalyptus, or Picardin. Always follow the label directions.
• Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants in mosquito-infested areas.
• Make sure screen doors and windows are in good condition and fit tightly.

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