Klamath Basin News, Friday, Sept. 3 – Sky Lakes Medical On Surge Status, Another 45 Cases Reported Overnight; KCSD Holds Town Hall Meetings To Answer Questions & Exchange Ideas With Families

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Friday, September 3, 2021

Klamath Basin Weather

Today Patchy smoke. Sunny, with a high near 85. Light and variable wind. Overnight, partly cloudy with a low around 50.
Saturday Areas of smoke. Mostly sunny, with a high near 90. Smokywith a low around 51.
Sunday Areas of smoke. Mostly sunny, with a high near 92. Calm wind becoming west 5 to 9 mph in the afternoon.
Monday, Labor Day Areas of smoke. Mostly sunny, with a high near 93.
Tuesday Areas of smoke. Mostly sunny, with a high near 94. Overnight a slight chance of showers and thunderstorms before midnight with a low around 54.
Wednesday Areas of smoke. Sunny, with a high near 86.
Thursday Areas of smoke. Mostly sunny, with a high near 84.

Today’s Headlines

Sky Lakes Medical Center has announced it is currently operating on “surge” status after indicating this week that it was experiencing some the worst numbers it has seen throughout the entire pandemic.

In a tweet, Sky Lakes said surge status means, “all resources are limited or exceeded resulting in admission delays, ER boarding, and possible limitations to providing lifesaving care to all who need it.”

On top of that, there are Sky Lakes employees currently out sick and not at work, said Tom Hottman, public information officer for Sky Lakes. The COVID status of most of the employees is not known, he said. The overall census for COVID-positive inpatients has remained relatively flat, Hottman said, but those patients constitute about a fourth of the overall capacity at the medical center.

As of Wednesday morning, there were 19 COVID-positive inpatients at Sky Lakes, three fewer than reported Tuesday morning. Out of the 19, only two were reported to be vaccinated, Hottman said. Hottman said Sky Lakes has submitted a request to the state for additional assistance and resources.

There are 23 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 3,221. Oregon Health Authority reported 2,827 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of yesterday, bringing the state total to 279,086.

The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 1,178, which is 16 more than yesterday. There are 358 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is 36 more than yesterday. There are 52 available adult ICU beds out of 680 total (8% availability) and 326 available adult non-ICU beds out of 4,314 (8% availability). 

Klamath County reported 45 new cases.  Jackson County continued to have record numbers, with 251 new cases.

For the eighth week in a row, COVID-19 cases in Oregon have increased.  There were 16-thousand-252 new cases, which is a 10-percent increase over the last week.  Hospitalizations were also up and the 119 deaths was the highest weekly number since January.  The COVID-19 test positivity rate increased to 12-point-4 percent. 

Klamath County School District leaders and community officials listened to parents and answered questions for nearly two hours Wednesday night at the first of two town halls being hosted this week by Superintendent Glen Szymoniak.

About 170 people attended the outdoor event at Henley High School. As questions were being answered, the meeting was disrupted by members of the crowd. Despite the interruptions, the town hall continued and parents were allowed to provide input and ask questions. After the hour-long event concluded, school and community leaders remained and answered questions for another hour.

A second town hall was held last night at Mazama High School. The event was to share ideas and find out everything going on for the new school year at county schools.

Fifty Airmen from the 173rd Fighter Wing were activated Sept. 1, to assist with the logistical support of hospitals in the Springfield—Eugene area, with more on standby if additional hospitals request assistance through the Oregon Office of Emergency Management. 

Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced the activation of up to 1,500 Oregon National Guard members to help Oregon hospitals with support functions due to a reported increase in COVID-19 cases and staff shortages, Aug. 13.

The Airmen will work in non-clinical roles such as material handling, equipment support, COVID testing support, laundry and custodial services and other necessary activities to assist hospital operations. Airmen were tasked from career fields across the entire base including maintenance, medical, logistics, communications, as well as public affairs. 

The wing is not only supporting this activation request, but they are also continuing with their other Federal and State missions at this time. He also highlighted that Oregon Guardsmen who have medical careers as well as first responders will not be a part of this activation.  This is also true for those qualified for fighting wildfires. 

On August 13, 2021, Diamond Home Improvement held its annual Customer Appreciation Golf Tournament raising $13,744 for Benefit For The Basin located in Klamath Falls, Oregon.

The golf tournament was held at Running Y Ranch Resort with over 80 golfers playing. Teams consisted of Diamond staff, vendors and customers. Golfers were able to purchase mulligans and raffle tickets, with all proceeds matched by Diamond and donated to Benefit For The Basin.

Raffle prizes were donated by Grants Pass Broadcasting, Wynne Broadcasting and Diamond.

Of the event’s success, Diamond General Manager and Owner Tim Steiner said, “Our business is so rewarding because of the connections and partnerships we have. We appreciate the investment of time and energy, not to mention generosity, of our vendors and customers who help us give back to the communities we serve.”  Staff and volunteers from Benefit For The Basin attended the event to collect donations and share about their work in the Klamath Basin.

Diamond would like to thank everyone who participated and contributed to this event. Special thanks to Quikrete for generously donating $2,000.

Seven french bulldog puppies were stolen in a Klamath Falls home invasion Monday morning, the dogs’ owner said. 

Daniel Mendoza, a Klamath Falls-based breeder who runs Victory Lap Kennels, said the “very expensive” dogs were taken from his Birch Street address. 

He’s asking the community for information related to the dogs’ whereabouts and offering a $10,000 reward. Those who took the dogs broke in a back window and took the puppies, leaving the adult dogs behind, Mendoza said, adding that he has video of the break-in. 

A police report was filed Tuesday night. The Klamath Falls Police Department took the report at about 11 p.m. Tuesday, Captain Ryan Brosterhous said in an email. Brosterhous said the report isn’t yet complete so he couldn’t provide further details. An arrest would complete the report. 

A deadline of September 20, 2021 has been set for the fall order of memorial bricks.

The memorial bricks are ordered to represent and are dedicated to military veterans and will be placed in the Veterans Memorial located in Veterans Park.  

The goal is to have the bricks placed at the Memorial by Veterans Day in November. The Veterans Memorial Project is a community-wide project that honors and recognizes veterans who have served our great nation. The memorial features a pavilion, war monuments and over 5,000 dedicated bricks meant to be a lasting legacy to our service men and women.  

Bricks can be ordered at a cost of $50 each and dedicated to any United States veteran regardless of where they live and whether they are living or deceased. For more information, contact the City of Klamath Falls Development Services Office at (541) 883-4950 or email idavis@klamathfalls.city.

Around the state of Oregon

Fire conditions continue to be extreme and it does not take much of a spark to become a large fire.  Summer-like temperatures are still in the forecast through the weekend and the extended forecast does not include precipitation.

Summer holiday weekends, including Labor Day, see an increase in abandoned campfires on area wildlands.  Currently campfires are prohibited as part of Public Use Restrictions on most public lands in South Central Oregon. 

The latest restrictions and regulations, including for ODF and the federal agencies are available at https://scofmp.org/restrictions.shtml. The public is responsible for ensuring that they have reviewed and are aware of the restrictions in place for the landscape they plan to recreate or work on.  For all agencies, violation of these prohibitions could result in citations, fines, and even imprisonment, depending on the agency and order. Suspected wildfires should be reported immediately by calling 911.

The Newberg School District is tabling a decision on whether to reverse its ban on Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ Pride flags in school buildings.  

The board voted to table the issue during a special meeting last night.  Board Chair Brian Shannon said he wanted to time any potential reversal of the ban with new policy language.  

The ACLU of Oregon issued a statement Monday demanding an immediate retraction of the ban.  The ACLU says the flags constitute protected speech and that schools are legally obligated to ensure that Black and LGBTQ students and employees are welcomed.  

The Newberg School Board voted 4 to 3 to enact the ban earlier this month, prompting criticism from the ACLU, the teacher’s union and the state legislature’s Black, Indigenous, People of Color Caucus.

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