Klamath Basin News, Tuesday, 9/14 – Klamath County with 41 Covid-19 Related Cases; Cougar Fire Now 86,412 Acres Burned, 6% Contained

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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.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Klamath Basin Weather

Today Widespread haze while sunny, with a high near 86. Overnight patchy smoke with a low around 50.

Wednesday Patchy smoke. Sunny, with a high near 83.
Thursday Patchy smoke. Sunny, with a high near 78.
Friday Widespread haze after 11am. Patchy smoke before 11am. Mostly sunny, with a high near 79.
Saturday A chance of rain. Partly sunny, with a high near 71.

Today’s Headlines

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Oregon reports 4,700 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 32 new deaths, surpasses 300,000 cases

There are 32 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 3,446 the Oregon Health Authority reported 4,700 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 301,504. The 32 new deaths and 4,700 new cases reported today include data reported by counties for the 3-day period between Friday, Sept. 10 and Sunday, Sept. 12.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (53), Benton (44), Clackamas (399), Clatsop (2), Columbia (53), Coos (58), Crook (26), Curry (22), Deschutes (410), Douglas (201), Gilliam (5), Grant (11), Harney (13), Hood River (11), Jackson (305), Jefferson (28), Josephine (170), Klamath (41), Lake (22), Lane (433), Lincoln (56), Linn (284), Malheur (32), Marion (457), Morrow (12), Multnomah (629), Polk (58), Tillamook (51), Umatilla (85), Union (70), Wallowa (3), Wasco (21), Washington (493) and Yamhill (142).

The 32 new deaths and 4,700 new cases reported today include data reported by counties for the 3-day period between Friday, Sept. 10 and Sunday, Sept. 12. The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 1,075, which is 11 fewer than yesterday. There are 274 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is nine fewer than yesterday. There are 62 available adult ICU beds out of 652 total (10% availability) and 316 available adult non-ICU beds out of 4,264 (7% availability). Jackson County reported 305 new cases, Josephine  170, and Klamath County reported 41 new cases during the time period.  Lake County reported 22.

Sky Lakes Medical Center is back back at surge status today. This means their non-COVID resources are severely strained. Patient care needs change daily as every patient requires a different level of care. COVID-19 patients require a high level of care which limits resources we can allocate to other areas in the hospital.  A total of 21 Covid patients are in Sky Lakes.  One of those is in intensive care. Only three of the 21 total patients are vaccinated against Covid. Last week, the hospital had a record 27 patients needing hospitalization due to Covid.

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Cougar Peak Fire Update, Tuesday Morning. Sept. 14th

Northwest Incident Management Team 8, Incident Commander Kevin Stock
Oregon State Fire Marshal Incident Management Blue Team, Incident Commander Scott Magers

Lakeview Ore. – The Cougar Peak Fire is estimated at 86,412 acres and 6% contained. Excellent progress is being made to secure perimeter lines and cool hot spots. Firefighters have also scouted and created miles of direct and indirect line while mopping up areas that threaten the existing containment lines.

With the improvement in visibility, all aviation assets assigned to the fire were very active yesterday. A heavy equipment group continues to make progress around the fire assisting with line construction. A weak cold front has brought lower humidity to the region will accelerate the drying of fuels and increase fire activity.

Last night, crews patrolled the fire and worked hotspots found along the fires edge. Today’s priority will again concentrate on the eastern and southern edges of the fire. Handlines and dozer lines will be constructed to connect the existing containment lines. Hose lays will continue to help with mop-up efforts. The forecasted weather for today is expected to be favorable for tactical burning operations to reduce unburned fuel between the fire edge and the line. Fire managers plan to secure the fire line on the southwest corner of the fire with a burnout. Clear skies will give ground resources access to all available air assets today to extinguish flare ups and hot spots throughout the fire.

On the west side of the fire, the heavy equipment group will continue to reinforce contingency lines. Due to the limited availability of logistic support, all resources will continue to report to the Incident Command Post in Lakeview and there will not be a spike camp set up in Paisley. The burnout operations on Round Mountain are complete, and crews will continue mop-up in the area. Along the containment line on the southeastern portion of the fire, mop-up has reached 50-100 feet into the fires edge.

OSFM task forces will be helping with mop-up on the north and south sides of the fire. The great work the crews have accomplished on the fire has secured property and structures, for that reason the existing structure taskforces and overhead team are expected to demobilize tomorrow morning. Crews across the fire will continue to report all cattle found in or near the fire perimeter and have created a mapping system to assist livestock owners in locating their animals.

Behavior: An increase in fire behavior is anticipated. The dry air mass is expected to stay in the area through the week, resulting in critically low relative humidity. This may increase fire activity and increase smoke coming out of the Cougar Peak Fire.

Acreage: 86,412
Containment: 6%
Cause: UndeterminedFire Information: (541) 900-5788 (8:00 am to 8:00 pm)

To the south, – Firefighters continue to battle the Antelope Fire in eastern Siskiyou County after it made a significant push to the north and east last week, breaking containment lines.

The fire is currently estimated at 145,025 acres with containment dropping again to 63 percent. Fire officials said that the Antelope Fire was more active Sunday night than on previous nights, as vegetation continues to dry out following last week’s minimal rain.

Crews worked to patrol fire lines and extinguish any remaining heat overnight. Activity increased where the fire now burns within Lava Beds National Monument. The Lava Beds park remains largely closed to visitors, with only the eastern entrance and northern road to Gillem Bluff and Captain Jack’s stronghold remaining open. Crews are stationed within the park. On the south and southwestern areas of the fire, within the fire’s original footprint around the community of Tennant, fire officials said that only isolated interior heat remains.

Crews there continue to conduct mop-up operations whenever new heat sources are found. Similar efforts are underway in the Tamarack area.

Bear Flat Fire currently burning in Klamath River Canyon

KENO, Ore. – The Bear Flat Fire was discovered this afternoon in the Klamath River Canyon between Frain Ranch and Klamath River Campgrounds, approximately 9 miles southwest of Keno.

The fire is burning on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Lakeview District and moving towards Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) protected lands.  It is currently estimated to be 50 acres and the cause is under investigation.

The Bear Flat Fire was discovered by a commercial airline and called in at 3:57 p.m.  Klamath Falls ODF Engine 8151 spotted the fire at 4:06 p.m. on the northwest side of the Klamath River.

The fire is burning with a high rate of spread in steep, inaccessible terrain and heavy timber.  It is moving up the canyon, to the northwest. 

There are four engines on scene, as well as two helicopters, two heavy airtankers out of Medford, and two single engine airtankers.  More resources are on their way to the fire or on order, including engines, dozers, hand crews, water tenders, and additional air resources.

Campgrounds in the area are closed and the public is asked to stay out of the recreation area.  Area residents and visitors are also asked to avoid Topsy Grade Road due to increased traffic from wildland firefighting equipment.

Fire danger remains “Extreme” in Lake and Klamath counties.  Extremely dry fuels and seasonal winds can make even a small spark rapidly grow into a large wildfire. 

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. 

The latest restrictions and regulations, including for ODF and the federal agencies are available at https://scofmp.org/restrictions.shtml.

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Oregon Institute of Technology (Oregon Tech), again ranks among the nation’s best universities in multiple categories in the newly-released U.S. News and World Report “Best Colleges” rankings. The report lists Oregon Tech at No. 2 Top Public College in the West, No. 10 Best Western Regional Colleges and No. 62 Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs. U.S. News groups colleges into categories, with Oregon Tech listed within regional colleges in the west, a list comprised of the best of the baccalaureate colleges in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming. The overall university rankings, published annually since 1983, are based on several criteria, including graduation and retention rates, graduation rate performance, social mobility, faculty resources, expert opinion, student excellence, financial resources and alumni giving. The publication places the heaviest weight on student outcomes, including analyzing schools’ success at retaining and graduating students within a six-year time range. Among Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs in the nation, Oregon Tech ranks No. 62. The undergraduate engineering program rankings are based solely on peer assessment surveys. To appear on an undergraduate engineering survey, a school must have an undergraduate engineering program accredited by ABET. Oregon Tech is also featured as a Top Performer on Social Mobility for advancing social mobility by enrolling and graduating large proportions of disadvantaged students awarded with Pell Grants.

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The 2021 Klamath Independent Film Festival will be held this weekend, September 17-19. It is Oregon’s premier Oregon-centric film fest showcasing the best in independent filmmaking in the state of Oregon in the past calendar year.

In 2021 KIFF will be presented in a hybrid-model, both in-person and online live streaming/on-demand thanks to Eventive.If you can’t attend, you can, see the films from the comfort of home, with exclusive filmmaker Q&As for every film as well as live streams from The Ross Ragland Theater throughout the festival.Patrons visiting The Ross Ragland will be required to have temperatures checked, wear a mask, and provide contact tracing information before lanyards will be distributed. They appreciate your cooperation as we present KIFF2021 in as safe a way as possible.

Around the state of Oregon

Oregon Man Charged in Assuming Dead Child’s Identity For More Than 30 Years and Collecting Fraudulent Benefits

A 70-year-old Oregon man who assumed the identity of a dead child for more than three decades then worked under the child’s name, and later applied for Social Security retirement benefits under both his true and assumed names was sentenced on Monday to two years of federal probation.

Robert Lizaragga, of Gresham, obtained a Social Security number in the child’s name and used that identity as his own since 1991 according to a federal prosecutor.

Lizarraga collected double in retirement benefits, having worked under his real name until 1991 and then under the child’s name, according to court records.

The Internal Revenue Service also sent him CARES Act checks for both his true and fake identities, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Rachel Sowray.

Lizarraga told the judge he had gone to a courthouse and obtained the dead child’s name and birthdate from court records. It’s unclear if he had known the child or if the child was from Oregon, or what spurred him to commit the crime. In June, he pleaded guilty to theft of government funds and making a false statement.

Lizarraga has repaid the Social Security Administration $12,509.60 in retirement benefits that he collected in the child’s name from 2017 through 2020 and also sent a $1,200 check to repay the IRS for the extra CARES Act check, according to Assistant Federal Public Defender Michelle Sweet.

Lizarraga said he was sorry. “I’ve done everything I can to get things right. … I apologize to the courts and to everybody I affected,” he told U.S. District Judge Karin J. Immergut.

He sat in a wheelchair, explaining to the judge he had suffered a stroke and now is struggling with blood clots in his leg. Immergut said she appreciated that he paid back what he owed, but was struck by the long period of what appeared to be calculated fraud.

WorkSource Oregon to Host Statewide ‘Back to Work Day’ Wednesday 9/15

The Oregon Employment Department, in partnership with WorkSource Oregon, is launching a statewide Back To Work campaign Wednesday, Sept. 15, to help people find jobs and businesses to find talented workers.

Statewide Hiring Event — “Back to Work Day” - Cascade Business News

“We are hosting scavenger hunts, job fairs, drive-thru and virtual hiring events, and even a ‘Large Business Extravaganza’ in Albany with more than 50 employers,” said Jim Pfarrer, director of workforce operations at the Oregon Employment Department. “We have a deep well of experience helping people find work during and after a recession, and our dedicated and knowledgeable employees can help people find the right job or training.”

Work Source: https://www.oregon.gov/employ/jobseekers/Pages/Job-Fairs-and-Events.aspx

A Roseburg man is now in jail after police in Grants Pass say he tried to lure two minor girls into sex via the internet. Detectives with the Grants Pass Police Department traveled up to Roseburg on Thursday to locate Ernest Dwayne Langford Jr. Roseburg patrol officers and detectives helped the Grants Pass team find Langford Jr., interview him, and book him into the Douglas County Jail. According to GPPD, Langford Jr. contacted two minor females over the internet and tried to lure them into having sex. He’s been charged with two counts of Online Sexual Corruption of a Child in the First Degree and two counts of Luring a Minor. The investigation is ongoing.

Rep. Pam Marsh Hosts “Our Path To Recovery” One Year Following The Almeda Fire: TUE 9/14

Our Path to Recovery: A Report for District 5 — Tuesday, September 14, 6:30-8:00 PM

One year post the devastating events of the Almeda Fire in Southern Oregon, Democratic Representative Pam Marsh for District 5, Southern Jackson County, is hosting “Our Path to Recovery: A Report for District 5” Tuesday, September 14, 6:30-8:00 PM.

Rep. Marsh included in her invitation to community members, “One year after the devastating losses caused by the Almeda Fire, our community has begun to rebound—and much more work lies ahead.”

The virtual forum is meant to provide area residents with an account of the progress that has been made and what is still to come.

Local leaders involved with the restoration will share their perspectives on the past year, as well as plans for the next phase of rebuilding and response.

  • Darby Ayers-Flood, Mayor, City of Talent
  • Terry Baker, Mayor, City of Phoenix
  • Brent Barry, Superintendent, Phoenix-Talent School District
  • Lucy Brossard, President, Long Term Recovery Group
  • Jeff Golden, State Senator, District 3
  • Danny Jordan, County Administrator, Jackson County
  • Kathy Keesee, Program Coordinator, Unete Center for Farmworker Advocacy
  • Caleb Yant, Deputy Director, Oregon Housing and Community Services

Please join us for this important community report. Spanish and ASL interpretation will be available. If you have questions for the panelists, please submit them in advance to Rep.PamMarsh@oregonlegislature.gov

Use this link to attend:https://bit.ly/3zgRL8p.
The meeting link may also be accessed here: https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/marsh.

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After speaking to community members and leaders, Marsh said housing remains the highest priority around recovery.

“Nothing moves as quickly as we would like. There is still much work ahead, and the actual process of recovery means responding to the full breadth of our population that was displaced. There are still many people who don’t have any idea of where their permanent home may be.”

From each community participant tomorrow, Marsh says she wants to know the important moments over the past year that need to be acknowledged, the tasks that have been checked off on the restoration list, and what work still needs to be done.

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There’s been an uptick in the number of Pacific Northwest white-tailed deer dying of viruses that typically infects more animals during hot summers and periods of drought, experts say. The deer get the viruses after getting bitten by gnats that flourish when the mud underneath dried-up watering holes, where the insects live, is exposed, according to the Northwest News Network. And in dry times, more deer gather around those holes in search of water and are more likely to get bitten by gnats, experts say. The tiny insects can live in puddles of water as small as a deer’s hoof print, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Oregon shut down hunting season in the Blue Mountains last year because an estimated 2,000 deer died of that virus.

It didn’t surprise officials at CHI Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg that their desperate pleas this summer for Douglas County residents to get vaccinated elicited hostile responses. For some Southern Oregonians, the vaccines have come to symbolize government overreach and urban power plays rather than deliverance from a pandemic. What some Mercy officials didn’t expect, however, was for one of the most respected physicians in the region to echo some claims of vaccine skeptics. Last month, Dr. Timothy Powell, CEO of one of the largest medical offices and urgent care centers in the county, issued a stunning manifesto questioning the safety and efficacy of the vaccine — even as he got the vaccination himself. Powell, who is also a member of the hospital’s board of directors, wrote on his Evergreen Family Medicine blog that the vaccines are less effective and far more dangerous than health officials are claiming. For healthy, young adults, the risks of the vaccine may outweigh the benefits, he argued and the virus poses “very little risk” to children, who should return to school immediately without masks.

Statewide Survey Findings: COVID


Nearly 18 months after Oregon’s first confirmed COVID case, a broad view of Oregonians’ thoughts and beliefs about COVID-19 in their communities.


From August 9-17, 2021, the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center conducted a statewide survey of Oregonians’ perceptions of COVID-19. The questions were intended to gather preliminary data to inform more in-depth research in the months ahead. It is important to note that the survey was conducted before the Pfizer COVID vaccine received FDA approval, and before many of the mask and vaccine mandates implemented during August 2021.

The online survey consisted of 1,154 Oregon residents ages 18+ and took approximately 15 minutes to complete. This survey’s margin of error, for the full sample, ranges from ±1.7% to ±2.9% depending on how the response category percentages split for any given question. Due to rounding, numbers may not add up to 100%. 

Respondents were contacted by using professionally maintained online panels. In gathering responses, a variety of quality control measures were employed, including questionnaire pre-testing, validation, and real-time monitoring of responses. To ensure a representative sample, demographic quotas were set, and data weighted by area of the state, gender, age, and education.

This survey uses aggregated data to analyze the opinions of BIPOC residents in comparison to the opinions of residents who identify as white and not another race. BIPOC residents are not a monolith; the grouping represents a wide diversity of races and ethnicities. The findings included in this memo should not be construed such that all people of color are believed to share the same opinions. Disaggregated race data will be provided when sample sizes permit reliability.

The question numbers in this document correspond with the survey questionnaire (Q1-Q10, Q18-25, Q36, and Q84).


Trustworthy Information

  • Scientists and doctors are the most trusted sources of information about things like Covid-19 (80%). While science agencies are trusted by many, people are much less likely to rely on these agencies as a first choice (60%) (Q1-10).
    • Even when accounting for ideological differences, media outlets were considered only a mid-tier source in terms of trust. For example, fewer than half of social liberals said NPR type media was one of their top three sources of information (49%), similar to the proportion of social conservatives who said Fox News type media sources were a go-to (41%).

Fact, Belief, Concept, or Fiction

  • While Covid-19 is widely accepted as a fact of life amongst Oregonians, 6% say it is fiction. An additional 16% prefer to characterize it as a concept or a belief (Q18). 
    • About one in three high school graduates say that Covid-19 is a fiction, concept, or belief (32%). By comparison, about one in 10 college graduates say the same (9%).
    • Educational differences are reflected in opinions about Covid-19 in the workforce. Essential workers are less likely to deem Covid-19 a fact (72%), as compared to non-essential workers (82%). 

Physical or Emotional Impacts

  • Five out of six Oregonians have experienced some physical or emotional impacts of Covid-19. A little under half of Oregonians say the impacts have been significant or dramatic (44%) (Q84). 
    • About half of essential workers say the physical and emotional toll has been significant or dramatic (49%), whereas people with non-essential jobs were less likely to report significant or dramatic impacts (40%).
    • People under 30 are even more likely to describe themselves as significantly or dramatically impacted (58%).
    • Women are more likely than men to report significant or dramatic impacts from the Covid-19 pandemic, by a margin of 16 points (50% to 34%). 

Hesitancy About the Vaccine: For Themselves vs. For Their Children

  • One in six Oregonians say they were initially hesitant to get the vaccine, but they now have it or plan to get it soon (17%) (Q19). 
    • Residents under 45 are among the most likely to report having changed their stance on the vaccine (25-26%). High school graduates and social moderates are also more likely to report a change in their attitudes (23%, 26%).
    • One in five Oregonians remain certain of their position that the Covid-19 vaccine isn’t for them (21%). These Oregonians are more likely to be under the age of 55 (23-25%) and socially conservative (41%). 
  • Parents are more hesitant about vaccines for children under 12 than the general population is about vaccines for adults. A little more than half say they vaccinate their young child if an FDA-approved shot were available (56%) (Q24). 
    • Parents under 30 were less likely to say they given and FDA-approved vaccine to a young child (36%), reflecting differences about vaccines by age in general. Parents under 30 are more likely to have infants and toddlers.
    • Educational attainment of parents also presented stark differences. While 39% of high school graduates say they would vaccinate a young child for Covid-19, that figure rises to 55% for those with some college and 75% for those with degrees.
  • Half of parents say their children will attend school only in-person this fall (50%). While some say it will be a hybrid model (11%), even more say they will home school (13%) (Q25).
    • Home schooling is more common among two disparate groups: parents in the Portland tri-county area (18%) and parents who are socially conservative (26%).

Vaccine Mandates: Medical Facilities, Employees, and Customers

  • Despite an Oregon law to the contrary, 70% of residents think medical facilities, including nursing homes, should be allowed to require employees to get vaccinated (Q22).
  • More than half of Oregonians—and essential workers—think businesses should be allowed to mandate whether employees or customers are vaccinated. There is more support for employee mandates (66%) than for customer mandates (55%) (Q20-21). 
    • While a majority of essential workers support these measures, these workers are less supportive than non-essential workers overall, especially when it comes to ensuring customers follow the mandate (51%). 

Optimism for the Future

  • All in all, many people are hopeful that humans can successfully solve the challenge of communicable diseases like Covid-19. Half of Oregonians say humans have a good chance of being successful in this endeavor, or that we will certainly beat these diseases (52%) (Q36). 
    • The pessimism of Gen Z—a generation coming of age amid climate change and an historic pandemic—shows through when it comes to the outlook on controlling the spread of disease. Fewer than half of people under 30 say humans have a good chance or better of succeeding on this front (49%). Meanwhile, two-thirds of seniors 75 and older say we have a fighting chance (67%).

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