Klamath Basin News, Friday, 8/27 – Gov. Kate Brown’s Outdoor Mask Mandate Goes Into Effect Today; United Way of Klamath Basin Cancels Kickoff Luncheon For Now, Ride the Rim at Crater Lake National Park Canceled…

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Friday, August 27, 2021

Klamath Basin Weather

Today Widespread haze after 11am. Patchy smoke before 11am. Sunny, with a high near 84. Overnight smoke nd haze with a low around 48. North wind 7 to 13 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph.

Saturday Widespread haze before 2pm. Sunny, with a high near 89.
Sunday Sunny, with a high near 90.
Monday Sunny, with a high near 86.
Tuesday Sunny, with a high near 81.
Wednesday Sunny, with a high near 82.

Today’s Headlines

Brown requiring adults and most children to wear masks in outdoor settings to slow the covid-19 delta variant in Oregon. Will people comply?

The state of Oregon will require adults and most children to wear face coverings starting today in most public settings where people are close to each other, in yet another attempt to slow spread of the contagious delta variant of COVID-19.

Children under 5 years old are exempt from the mandate, as are people of all ages while eating and drinking outdoors and people living outdoors while experiencing homelessness.

Gov. Kate Brown announced the new rule Tuesday and noted the number of people hospitalized with COVID had hit 1,000. Oregon is one of five states with an indoor mask mandate already in effect, according to the New York Times. It is the first to announce a mask requirement for outdoor activities during which people are close together.

People will need to wear masks regardless of whether they are vaccinated. 

Though no official word has come from the Klamath County Sheriff’s office regarding the mask mandate enforcement strategy locally, two nearby counties are saying they won’t enforce it.  

Josephine County Sheriff Dave Daniel put out a statement on Thursday, clarifying that his agency will not be enforcing any of Governor Kate Brown’s COVID-19 mandates, though they will respond to “incidents that may arise from such mandates.”  

Sheriff Daniel’s statement comes hot on the heels of a message from Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin, one which pledged not to enforce state mandates while also vocally criticizing the Governor’s “style of leadership.”

The position that local law enforcement in Oregon will not enforce the Governor’s COVID-19 executive orders has been relatively standard since the beginning of the pandemic, and enforcement has largely fallen to state regulatory agencies like Oregon OSHA. In that sense, nothing substantive has changed. In addition, Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin posted a letter on Wednesday pledging that his agency would not be enforcing any of Governor Kate Brown’s COVID-19 mandates, 

There are nine new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 3,095, the Oregon Health Authority reported today. Oregon Health Authority reported 2,057 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of today, bringing the state total to 265,210.

Klamath County reported 67 new cases yesterday.

The new cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (15), Benton (12), Clackamas (133), Clatsop (19), Columbia (22), Coos (21), Crook (13), Curry (24), Deschutes (95), Douglas (69), Grant (29), Harney (9), Hood River (5), Jackson (215), Jefferson (8), Josephine (75), Klamath (67), Lake (5), Lane (190), Lincoln (24), Linn (103), Malheur (26), Marion (206), Morrow (13), Multnomah (184), Polk (67), Sherman (1), Tillamook (22) Umatilla (112), Union (13), Wallowa (8), Wasco (23), Washington (158), Wheeler (3) and Yamhill (68).

OHA’s most recent update on COVID-19 breakthrough cases, released today, found that 88% of the 14,523 reported COVID-19 cases between Aug. 15 and Aug. 21 occurred in people who were unvaccinated. There were 1,739 breakthrough cases, accounting for 12% of the week’s cases.

The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 1,085, which is five more than yesterday. There are 299 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is four more than yesterday. There are 51 available adult ICU beds out of 661 total (8% availability) and 333 available adult non-ICU beds out of 4,269 (8% availability).

Graphic depicting the number of breakthrough cases reported between Aug. 15 and Aug. 21

United Way of the Klamath Basin has canceled its Community Campaign kickoff luncheon on September 7 due to the surge of COVID cases in the Klamath Basin according to a release.

A special United Way tabloid will be published mid-September in the Herald and News highlighting the vital services of our 16 United Way participating social service agencies, and will report on the people and progress of the campaign, said Leroy Cabral, United Way executive director.

Contributions can be sent to the United Way of the Klamath Basin at 136 N. Third Street in Klamath Falls, OR 97601. For more information contact 541-882-5558 or visit its web site at www.unitedwayoftheklamathbasin.org.

The Ride the Rim event scheduled for September 11 and 18 at Crater Lake National Park is being canceled, due to multiple factors including rising COVID-19 case rates throughout Oregon, limited availability of staff and volunteers, and ongoing unhealthy air quality from fires throughout the region.

Two vehicle-free Saturdays are a favorite for cycling enthusiasts, usually including a trek around Crater Lake with multiple rest stops and bike corrals. The annual event has attracted hundreds of riders to Crater Lake National Park for the approximately 25-mile route around East Rim Drive, or complete the entire route of roughly 33-miles. However, it was canceled in 2020 and, now, in 2021 due to COVID concerns. The health and wellbeing of visitors and staff is a top priority, according to a release from the National Park Service. NPS and its partners said they look forward to the return of Ride the Rim in September 2022.

Though no official word has come from the Klamath County Sheriff’s office regarding the mask mandate enforcement strategy locally, two nearby counties are saying they won’t enforce it.  Josephine County Sheriff Dave Daniel put out a statement on Thursday, clarifying that his agency will not be enforcing any of Governor Kate Brown’s COVID-19 mandates, though they will respond to “incidents that may arise from such mandates.”  Sheriff Daniel’s statement comes hot on the heels of a message from Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin, one which pledged not to enforce state mandates while also vocally criticizing the Governor’s “style of leadership.” The position that local law enforcement in Oregon will not enforce the Governor’s COVID-19 executive orders has been relatively standard since the beginning of the pandemic, and enforcement has largely fallen to state regulatory agencies like Oregon OSHA. In that sense, nothing substantive has changed. In addition, Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin posted a letter on Wednesday pledging that his agency would not be enforcing any of Governor Kate Brown’s COVID-19 mandates, 

Around the State of Oregon

The 2020 Pandemic was an event that many people across the country and Oregon will never forget.

During 2020, more than nineteen million people were infected with coronavirus and more than 343,000 people died as a result. But in almost 9 months into the second year of the pandemic has the situation become more dire? The answer, is yes.

According to the CDC, roughly 630,000 thousand people have died in total since the pandemic started. That means in 2021, more than 290,000 people have already died and there are still four more months in the year.

On average that means in 2020, roughly 28,000 people were dying every month while in 2021 that number has jumped to more than 36,000. Data also shows that recently, the U.S. has begun to report about 1,000 deaths per day from COVID-19, due to the recent surge.  Hospitalizations are also at record numbers this year.

OHA is reporting that across the state, more than a thousand people are currently in the hospital with COVID-19. In Jackson County, or Region 5 which includes Jackson and Josephine Counties, hospitalizations have surpassed more than 220 people. The previous record in 2020 was 69. The most recent report from the CDC also shows that COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2020 with only cancer and heart disease taking the top two spots. Studies show that during the pandemic, cancer deaths dropped very slightly while new cancer deaths increased dramatically compared to 2019. 

A routine traffic stop turned into a high-speed pursuit early Thursday morning in White City, ending near Ashland with a small grass fire and a call to the Oregon State Police bomb squad.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office said that deputies tried to get a driver to pull over for speeding on Highway 62 in White City in the early hours of the morning. At 4:22 a.m., the driver sped toward the I-5 expressway heading southbound.

Officers from Medford Police joined the chase, but quickly broke off for public safety. Deputies and police officers shadowed the suspect vehicle south, successfully deploying spike strips just before 4:30 a.m. near I-5 exit 21. Though the vehicle was disabled, the driver continue south at slower speeds as officers restarted the pursuit. JCSO said that the vehicle crashed just after I-5 exit 19 in Ashland, with two suspects emerging to run away on foot.

The car started a small grass fire that was quickly extinguished by officers.

While a JCSO K9 was able to track and detain a female suspect, a male suspect is still at large.

The Oregon State Police has a temporary command center at the Oregon State Fair, which includes a dispatch console.

This command center gives OSP Troopers the ability to quickly facilitate remedies to a wide variety of incidents that can come up at the State Fair. The Oregon State Fair starts this Friday and runs through September 6, 2021. An OSP Trooper will be stationed at each entrance greeting every visitor who comes to the fair. They also will be encouraging parents to utilize the “if lost” bracelets that the fair provides.

Parents or guardians will be asked to write their cell phone number on the inside of a bright yellow “if lost” bracelet and place it on their child’s wrist. If the child is separated Reminder masks will be required to be worn by all guests ages 5 and up, exhibitors, employees, and volunteers while on the Oregon State Fairgrounds, in both indoor and outdoor locations.

A school board in central Oregon, where COVID-19 is surging, has passed a resolution protesting statewide mandates that require masks in schools and vaccines for all teachers, staff and volunteers.

The resolution that passed on a 3-2 vote in Redmond on Wednesday says the 7,500-student district will fight to regain local control of decisions around mask-wearing and vaccines in its schools The resolution specifies that the board supports the district using medical and religious exemptions to avoid the mandates and includes the possibility of legal action against Democratic Gov. Kate Brown.

Board members said Wednesday during debate over the resolution that the district will follow Brown’s mask and vaccine mandates while they pursue legal challenges. Two board members voted against the resolution because it did not specifically include language that said that. An amendment to add that language failed, also by a 3-2 vote.

Experts say Oregon is becoming less resilient to drought as fewer seasons of abundant rain and snow prevent it from bouncing back from hot and dry conditions.

The Capital Press reports that Larry O’Neill, state climatologist at Oregon State University, says the current drought is “historically significant,” with about three-quarters of the state experiencing conditions considered “extreme” or “exceptional.” However, the state is actually in the fourth year of below-average precipitation, which has exacerbated the drought during “unprecedentedly” high temperatures this summer, O’Neill told the Oregon Water Resources Commission on Wednesday.

Parched soils were insufficiently recharged with moisture over winter and spring, which has harmed vegetative growth, including crops and forage, said Ryan Andrews, a hydrologist at the Oregon Water Resources Department, which is overseen by the commission.

Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is issuing a public health advisory today for unsafe levels of fecal bacteria in ocean waters at Harris Beach State Park in Curry County.

People should avoid direct contact with the water in this area until the advisory is lifted. Unsafe levels of fecal bacteria can cause diarrhea, stomach cramps, skin rashes, upper respiratory infections, and other illnesses. Children, elderly and those with a compromised immune system should use extra caution as they are more vulnerable to illness from waterborne bacteria.  Visitors should avoid wading in nearby creeks, pools of water on the beach, or in discolored water, and stay clear of water runoff flowing into the ocean. Levels of fecal bacteria tend to be higher in these types of water sources.

Even if there is no advisory in effect, avoid swimming in the ocean within 48 hours after a rainstorm. 

Poison control operators in Oregon have already seen a third more calls this month for people who intentionally misused veterinary and human forms of ivermectin than they saw in all of the other seven months of the year combined.

The Oregon Poison Center at Oregon Health & Science University has received nine calls surrounding the “intentional misuse“ of the anti-parasitic drug, according to OHSU spokesperson Franny White. Only six poison control calls for intentionally misusing the drug were reported between January and July. The drug, which the Food & Drug Administration says is not an anti-viral, is most often prescribed to humans in pill form for intestinal parasites.

Its use as an ill-advised COVID-19 home remedy became national news over the weekend, however, after the Mississippi State Department of Health issued a public health alert Friday because people ingesting veterinary formulations of ivermectin made up about 70% of that state’s poison control calls.

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