Klamath Basin News, Thursday, 9/9 – Smoke Blankets Klamath Basin; 85 New Covid-related Cases in Klamath County

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Thursday, September 9, 2021

Klamath Basin Weather

Air Quality Alert

Today Some showers between 11am and 2pm today, plus widespread smoke, with a high near 91. Light and variable wind becoming southwest 9 to 14 mph. Overnight a 50% chance of showers and thunderstorms, low of 56.

Friday A 30% chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly before 11am. Some of the storms could produce gusty winds.
Saturday Patchy smoke. Sunny, with a high near 81. Light and variable wind.
Sunday Patchy smoke. Mostly sunny, with a high near 82.

Today’s Headlines

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The Oregon Health Authority today reports 2,352 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 47 new deaths overnight

The new cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (13), Benton (40), Clackamas (137), Clatsop (6), Columbia (18), Coos (154), Crook (30), Curry (37), Deschutes (86), Douglas (132), Gilliam (2), Grant (2), Harney (19), Hood River (5), Jackson (201), Jefferson (8), Josephine (86), Klamath (85), Lake (21), Lane (142), Lincoln (12), Linn (118), Malheur (82), Marion (257), Morrow (6), Multnomah (147), Polk (64), Tillamook (15), Umatilla (115), Union (7), Wallowa (2), Wasco (29), Washington (135) and Yamhill (139). 

Sky Lakes Medical Center is still on surge status with covid-19 patients as of this morning. 

There has been a dramatic increase in patients needing hospitalization for any reason. COVID-19 patients require more staff for their care than general non-COVID-19 patients.

As more people require hospitalization from COVID-19, their care needs affect other parts of our medical center that are already strained because of our overall patient census. Hospitalization from COVID-19 can be prevented with vaccination.

The hospital stresses  if you haven’t done so yet, please get vaccinated to help prevent COVID-19 hospitalizations and death so that resources in the medical center are more evenly distributed among all patients. https://www.skylakes.org/getvaccinated/

21 Covid patients are in Sky Lakes.  Three are in the ICU.   Only one of the patients that is hospitalized has been vaccinated.

It was a full house at the Klamath County Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, during which several members of the public spoke in opposition to statewide mask and vaccine mandates imposed by Gov. Kate Brown.

Many asked Klamath County Commissioners to oppose those mandates, but commissioners said the rules were made by state officials and remain out of their hands.

On August 13, Brown reinstated statewide mask mandates in all indoor public settings, and mandated that state executive branch employees, health care workers, teachers and more must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18.

County Commissioner Derrick Degroot said he met with and gave his support to Matt Chavarria, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 3340. The union, which represents 29 firefighters stationed at Kingsley Field Air National Guard Base, recently joined with the Fraternal Order of Police and nine Oregon State Police troopers in a lawsuit against Gov. Kate Brown.

The lawsuit, filed in Jefferson County Circuit Court, hopes to stop the state’s enforcement of the vaccine mandate.

Commissioner Kelley Minty Morris encouraged people to reach out to their state representatives in Salem, as it is there — not in Klamath County — where these sorts of decisions are being made, she said.

For the first time since 2019, steady streams of youngsters ambled through an early September morning at Shasta Elementary on their way to their regularly scheduled, full-time, in-person first day of school.

At Shasta and across Klamath County, backpack-wearing kids burst from lines of cars and yellow buses on Tuesday. Many dressed their best for the first day, sporting dresses, bowties and new hairdos — the gelled-up fauxhawk is back, at least among elementary schoolers.

There were no reports of protests on Tuesday for the first day of school. But such activity could still take place, with many parents and community members in rural districts across the state — including Klamath County — unhappy with state mandates for school masking and vaccine requirement for K-12 employees.

Another month, another fire.

The Cougar Peak Fire, burning approximately 15 miles northwest of Lakeview, is now estimated to be more than 3,200 acres with no containment.

Fire behavior overnight continued to be active, with running, torching and spotting in mixed conifer and brush.  The fire is burning primarily to the northeast on the Lakeview Ranger District of the Fremont-Winema National Forest and Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) protected lands.

Numerous wildland firefighting resources are assigned to the fire, with more on order.

The South Central Oregon Fire Management Partnership (SCOFMP) Type 3 Incident Management Team is currently managing the fire.  A Type 2 Incident Management Team arrived yesterday.

Recreation sites in the area are closed, including Upper Cottonwood Campground and Cottonwood Creek Trailhead.

Meanwhile, Concerns about the Antelope Fire, which is rapidly spreading, has caused Lava Beds National Monument to close southwest section of the park.

Park officials said the Antelope Fire spread beyond containment lines near Red Cap Mountain on Monday, then made a rapid run four miles north before crossing Forest Road 15 overnight.

The closure includes Merrill Cave, the Whitney Butte Trail, Heppe Cave, Mammoth Crater, the Big Nasty Trail, and the Medicine Lake Road. Fleener Chimneys also remains closed due to wasp activity.

There currently are no active wildfires burning in Lava Beds and the park is not under evacuation orders.

Young person wearing a mask and waving.


The Board of Directors of EagleRidge High School, an Oregon Nonprofit Corporation, will hold a Board Meeting on Wednesday, September 15, 2021, at 4:00 pm via a Zoom meeting.  The meeting agenda includes discussion of the new school year.  The Board may also consider other business brought before the board.   

EagleRidge High School was established to create and implement an autonomous, high achieving and equitable small high school in collaboration with the Klamath Falls City School District pursuant to the Oregon Charter School law.  The meeting will be conducted in accordance with the Oregon Public Meetings law. 

Around the state of Oregon

As more than 600,000 K-12 students head back to school in Oregon — the vast majority for in-person and full-time instruction inside classrooms — the state’s top schools chief pleaded with families Tuesday to try to “limit” gatherings with other families “to the extent that they can” in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

During a back-to-school news conference with the governor and the state epidemiologist, Oregon Department of Education Director Colt Gill said he believes a return to the physical classroom can be a success even in the age of recent record-breaking COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations — if all school communities follow a list of “advisories” like forgoing gatherings outside school hours.

Also Tuesday, state epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger expressed confidence in the state’s guidelines for reopening. He said the Oregon Health Authority has worked closely with the Department of Education to ensure “schools remain well-protected against COVID-19.”

The Medford Police Department says that three people were injured, two seriously, in a shooting at Fichtner-Mainwaring Park in the southwest area of the city on Tuesday night.

Police officers and medical personnel responded to reports of the shooting just before 8:30 p.m., arriving at a parking lot along Holmes Avenue. MPD said that three victims were transported to the hospital, two with life-threatening injuries.

At the time, there was little information regarding a suspect or vehicle description. MPD asked for patience while detectives and officers investigate the shooting. Anyone with information was asked to call MPD dispatch at 541-770-4783.

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