Klamath Basin News, Tuesday, 9/28 – Sky Lakes at Hospital Strain Status with Covid-19 Patients; Oregon Reporting 3606 New Covid Cases, 27 More Deaths

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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 28, 2021

Klamath Basin Weather

Today Partly sunny, with a high near 55. Calm winds around 6 mph. Overnight, partly cloudy with a low of 34.

Wednesday Widespread frost, mainly before 8am. Otherwise, sunny, with a high near 67. Southeast wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the afternoon.
Thursday Sunny, with a high near 76.
Friday Mostly sunny, with a high near 73.
Saturday Sunny, with a high near 77.

Today’s Headlines

A Klamath Falls-based air ambulance service took flight Monday to carry the remains of a U.S. Marine Corps sergeant killed in Afghanistan to Virginia for burial at Arlington National Cemetery.

Nicole Gee, a 23-year-old Marine Corps sergeant from Sacramento, California, was one of 13 U.S. servicemembers killed in a terrorist attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 26.  The attack outside of Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul killed 170 other people and wounded hundreds more, including at least 20 U.S. marines.  Gee’s remains were brought from Afghanistan to Sacramento, and a memorial service was held nearby in her hometown of Roseville, California, where her family and friends gathered to say a final goodbye. 

On Monday, a Sacramento-bound Falcon 900 jet taxied down the runway at Klamath Regional Airport amid a procession of emergency vehicles on its way to pick up Gee’s remains for transport to Dulles International Airport in Virginia for burial at Arlington National Cemetery. 

Prior to takeoff, representatives from the Klamath Falls Police Department, the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office, Klamath County Fire District 1, Oregon State Police, the Kingsley Field Fire Department, and the Air National Guard stood together in honor of Gee. 

Sky Lakes Medical center announced they once again are at strain status with 24 total COVID-19 inpatients.

New research on viral transmissibility of COVID-19 suggests that vaccinated people are less likely to have the virus which makes them less likely to spread the virus.  Vaccinated individuals who do get COVID-19 clear the infection quickly and are contagious for a shorter period of time than unvaccinated people. 

Sky Lakes says not only will getting vaccinated help you stay out of the hospital but it will likely limit your potential to spread the virus.  To find out how to get vaccinated, log onto Sky Lakes Main website page.

There are 27 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 3,606. Oregon Health Authority reported 3,606 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of yesterday, bringing the state total to 324,571.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (26), Benton (54), Clackamas (320), Clatsop (85), Columbia (55), Coos (39), Crook (42), Curry (6), Deschutes (309), Douglas (77), Grant (23), Harney (22), Hood River (14), Jackson (149), Jefferson (42), Josephine (70), Klamath (32), Lake (10), Lane (381), Lincoln (35), Linn (227), Malheur (41), Marion (387), Morrow (5), Multnomah (463), Polk (23), Tillamook (11), Umatilla (101), Union (69), Wallowa (18), Wasco (20), Washington (373) and Yamhill (77).

The 27 new deaths and 3,606 new cases reported today include data recorded by counties for the 3-day period between Friday, Sept. 24, and Sunday, Sept. 26. There are 57 available adult ICU beds out of 649 total (9% availability) and 392 available adult non-ICU beds out of 4,272 (9% availability). 32 new cases were reported during the time period here in Klamath County.  Jackson County reported 149 new cases, and Lake County, ten.

Josephine County reports the deaths of five more people due to COVID-19, raising the total number of COVID-19 related deaths to 192. Of those 192 deaths, 86% had not been vaccinated.

Yesterday, Asante’s hospital report for Southern Oregon lists 72 patients hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those, 90% are unvaccinated. Of those 72 patients, 38 are in either the Intensive Care Unit or Intermediate Care Unit; 37 of them are unvaccinated. All of the 13 people on ventilators have not been vaccinated.

Wanda Powless announced her retirement this week as executive director of Marta’s House, following a 25-year career in public service.

Powless started with what was then known as the Klamath Crisis Center in 1996. She will continue through October as a contracted consultant to assist in the leadership transition at Marta’s House.

Christy David will serve as the appointed interim director while a new director is sought.

Powless will now dedicate her energies full time to the Turtle Cove housing program for victims of abuse. Her move to Turtle Cove continues Powless’s work with victims of intimate partner violence, sexual abuse, trafficked victims, and women in the criminal justice system, ensuring that they have support and a safe place to live as they continue to move forward. In addition to her work at Marta’s House, alongside former Klamath County DA Ed Caleb, Powless was instrumental in helping to develop the Domestic Violence Reduction Unit. She also oversaw Marta’s House team to create the Klamath County Trafficking Task Force. This consists of a collaboration of local community partners interested in bringing awareness to human trafficking.

This coming Saturday October 2nd, the community is invited to attend an informational event that explores the world of bees. 

The 1:00pm event will be hosted by the Klamath Tree League at the Klamath Community Arboretum just north of the Oregon Institute of Technology (OIT) campus on Bryant Williams Drive (on Google Maps).  Professors from OIT will be discussing both native and honeybee ecology and the importance of pollinators.  Please bring a chair and plan to learn about our local bees, see an active bee hive and learn about local honeybee research right at the Arboretum!  For more information, call 530.276.7224.

Around the state of Oregon

Sixteen House Republicans returned to the Oregon Capitol on Monday morning, suggesting they will likely cooperate with Democrats to pass new district maps: a congressional map Republicans decry as unfairly stacked against their party and a pair of far less partisan legislative maps that reflect their party’s input.

The Republicans’ presence gives House Democrats the two-thirds quorum they need to conduct business. On Saturday, when all but one Republican stayed away, denying Democrats the 40-member quorum they needed to advance their proposed maps.

House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, warned Republican House members on Saturday that if enough of them didn’t show up by 9:30 a.m. Monday, she would yank the plug on redistricting. 

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The Drug Enforcement Administration issued a Public Safety Alert warning Americans of the alarming increase in the lethality and availability of fake prescription pills containing fentanyl and methamphetamine.

DEA’s Public Safety Alert, the first in six years, seeks to raise public awareness of a significant nationwide surge in counterfeit pills that are mass-produced by criminal drug networks in labs, deceptively marketed as legitimate prescription pills, and are killing unsuspecting Americans at an unprecedented rate.

The DEA Seattle Field Division which includes Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska have seen a 275% increase in seizures involving counterfeit pills containing fentanyl from 2020 to 2021.  Drug trafficking is also inextricably linked to violence. 

Twenty percent of DEA investigations in the Pacific Northwest result in the seizure of firearms and this year alone, DEA seized more than 2700 firearms in connection with drug trafficking investigations nationwide.

The vast majority of counterfeit pills brought into the United States are produced in Mexico, and China is supplying chemicals for the manufacturing of fentanyl in Mexico. These counterfeit pills have been seized by DEA in every U.S. state in unprecedented quantities. DEA laboratory testing reveals a dramatic rise in the number of counterfeit pills containing at least two milligrams of fentanyl, which is considered a lethal dose. A deadly dose of fentanyl is small enough to fit on the tip of a pencil.   

Counterfeit pills are illegally manufactured by criminal drug networks and are made to look like real prescription opioid medications such as oxycodone (Oxycontin®, Percocet®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), and alprazolam (Xanax®); or stimulants like amphetamines (Adderall®). Fake prescription pills are widely accessible and often sold on social media and e-commerce platforms – making them available to anyone with a smartphone, including minors.

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Helpful tips for getting the COVID-19 vaccine even if you’re afraid of needles

Is a fear of needles preventing you or a loved one from getting a COVID-19 vaccine? You are not alone. Scientists estimate that as many as 25 percent of Americans suffer from trypanophobia, a fear of blood or needles.  

Fear of needles prevents millions of Americans from receiving the care needed to live long and healthy lives.  

If you have a fear of needles, you may experience fear or anxiety, panic attacks, sweats or nausea when you think about getting a COVID-19 vaccination. Since vaccination remains the safest and most effective way to protect yourself from COVID-19, we’ve put together these tips to help you get the vaccine: 

  • Bring support for your vaccination. Hold the hand of your spouse, family member, friend, or clinical staff member to help keep calm. 
  • Use distraction. Listen to music in headphones or focus on anything other than the shot. Have a casual conversation with the vaccinator.    
  • Inform the vaccinator about your concerns. Many vaccinators have given thousands of shots. You are not the first patient to be apprehensive about receiving the vaccine. 
  • Look away. There is no reason to watch the injection.  
  • Relax the muscle. This can reduce the pain.  
  • Lay down if you have fainted or felt dizzy when receiving injections in the past. 
  • Therapy is an option. Mental health specialists can help provide strategies to cope with anxiety surrounding your vaccination. 

If you do not like thinking about needles, remember you are not alone. Talk to your doctor about the tools available to make your vaccination process a positive experience — to protect yourself and your loved ones against COVID-19. 

The Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup is recommending older and at-risk individuals receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine booster shot six months after getting fully vaccinated.

The workgroup released the recommendation late last week, allowing the booster to be given in Oregon, Washington, California, and Nevada. It’s recommended that people older than 65, people in long-term care facilities, and people 50 to 64 years old with underlying medical conditions get a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

A booster shot will also be available to people between 18 and 64 if they have underlying medical conditions or work in a job where they’re at higher risk of getting COVID-19.

Just before 9:30 a.m. Sunday, US Coast Guard Station Umpqua River was notified of capsized boat just outside the Umpqua River Bar.

According to US Coast Guard 13th District Public Affairs, there were 5 people in the water. Three were recovered, but 2 were stuck in the boat’s cabin – a 5-year-old girl and middle aged woman.

The Coast Guard responded with a 29-foot response boat, a 47-foot life boat and a helicopter from North Bend. They deployed a rescue swimmer from the helicopter who was able to get both the girl and woman out of the cabin, but both were unresponsive. Despite CPR efforts, the woman was pronounced deceased at the dock. The child was transported to the hospital, where she later died, the Coast Guard said.

A small boat was able to bring the survivors in the water to safety. The operation took about 40 minutes.

A booster shot will also be available to people between 18 and 64 if they have underlying medical conditions or work in a job where they’re at higher risk of getting COVID-19.

More areas re-open in Santiam State Forest after 2020 Labor Day fires

Most of the Santiam State Forest south of Highway 22 will re-open October 1, along with non-motorized access to the Stout Creek block north of the highway.

This includes re-opening the Rock Creek area, which was not damaged by fire. 

The Rock Creek Campground remains closed for the season. Additionally, the Santiam Horse Camp and associated trails are still closed as recovery efforts continue after 2020’s fires.

The Stout Creek area north of Highway 22 was affected by fire and is open to non-motorized access only. 

Maps, closure areas, and anticipated re-opening timelines for popular areas are posted to the Santiam State Forest recovery site at https://www.oregon.gov/odf/recreation/Pages/santiam-state-forest.aspx. Re-openings will also be announced on ODF’s Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Note that the ODF North Cascade District is still in fire season, and some restrictions on public use are still in place. Visit Oregon.gov/odf and click “Fire Restrictions & Closures” for more information.

Many of the Santiam’s popular recreation areas, like Shellburg Falls, Rocky Top and Natural Arch, and the High Lakes area remain closed due to damage from 2020’s wildfires.

In closed areas, some of the recovery and restoration activities include re-establishing and repairing trails, replacing infrastructure like signs and bridges, removing hazard trees, and post-fire timber harvesting in some areas.

Oregon Wildfire Map and Updates Oregon Dept. of Forestry

Fire danger, IFPL lowering, some fire restrictions lifting Friday in South Central Oregon
…Oregon Fire Map and Wildfire Updates

LAKEVIEW, OR — Shorter days, cooler temperatures and increasing humidity recovery are making it possible for the agencies of the South Central Oregon Fire Management Partnership (SCOFMP) to lift Public Use Restrictions in many areas, reduce the fire danger and lower the Industrial Fire Precaution Level (IFPL) this Friday. 

Public Use Restrictions will be lifted on the Fremont-Winema National Forest and the Sheldon-Hart Mountain and Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complexes.  Restrictions will also be lifted on the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Lakeview District with the exception of the Klamath River Canyon.  Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) Regulated Use Closures remain in effect.

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

The Fire Danger is being lowered from “Extreme” to “High”.  While days are getting shorter and humidity levels are increasing, fuels are still dry and caution should still be used to prevent wildfires.

The IFPL is being reduced from Level III to Level II (Partial Hootowl) on federal lands.  Under IFPL II, the following may operate only between the hours of 8 p.m. and 1 p.m.:

  • Power saws except at loading sites
  • Cable yarding
  • Blasting
  • Welding or cutting of metals

Personal and commercial woodcutters are reminded of their responsibility to stay informed of current IFPLs and all restrictions that apply to activities conducted on public lands.  Failure to comply with precautionary fire requirements may result in the issuance of a Violation Notice.

“We know the public is eager to get back to normal fall activities, like woodcutting and hunting camps,” said Interagency Deputy Fire Management Officer Coley Neider.  “Conditions are improving enough to allow chainsaw use and campfires, but the forest and desert are still dry.  We are asking everyone to be careful to not start a wildfire.”

If you have a campfire or are using a portable stove:

  • Use metal fire rings or grills where available. Wood placed on a fire should never exceed the size of the grill or fire ring.
  • If building a fire on the ground (in areas where permitted), select a location away from adjoining or overhanging flammable material, and ensure the ground beneath and around the fire is clear of all flammable materials.
  • On windy days avoid building fires if possible.
  • If you have a campfire, make sure it is fully extinguished before leaving the area. Douse fires with water and dirt, then stir with a shovel until it is completely cold to the touch.
  • If you are using a portable stove, make sure the area is clear of grasses and other fine fuels. Prevent stoves from tipping and starting a fire.

For those working, recreating or traveling through area wildlands:

  • Never throw cigarettes out the window of a vehicle. Instead, use ashtrays to prevent wildfires.
  • Practice Leave No Trace principles—pack out cigarette butts and burned materials.
  • Ensure chainsaws and other equipment, including generators, are maintained and have an approved spark arrester in good condition.
  • Make sure off-road vehicles have a properly functioning catalytic converter or approved spark arrester.
  • Never park a vehicle over dead grass and avoid driving through tall grass – your vehicle can ignite the fuels and start a fire.
  • Ensure tires are properly inflated – tire rims on roads can throw sparks and start fires.
  • If towing a boat or trailer, ensure safety chains are properly secured and not dragging.
  • Discharging fireworks or use of incendiary ammunition or exploding targets is illegal.

“Fire season is continuing in Klamath and Lake counties and while the risk is reduced, current conditions can still carry wildfire quickly,” said Randall Baley, ODF Protection Unit Forester in Klamath Falls.  “There is a need to remain vigilant over the coming weeks while conditions continue to gradually improve on public and private wildlands.”

Suspected wildfires should be reported to 911 as soon as possible. 

South Central Oregon Fire Management Partnership provides comprehensive wildland fire services to more than eight million acres of land administered by the Bureau of Land Management Lakeview District; Fremont-Winema National Forest; Oregon Department of Forestry Klamath-Lake District; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Klamath Basin and Sheldon-Hart Mountain National Wildlife Refuge Complexes; and Crater Lake National Park. The area encompasses federal, state, and private lands within south central Oregon and northwest Nevada.

Southern Oregon Missing Persons

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Oregon Department of Human Services urges Oregonians to help one another be prepared before the next disaster

Honor those impacted by the 2020 wildfires by proactively preparing for future disasters.

The Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) joins the national observation of Preparedness Month during September by encouraging Oregonians to help one another in their readiness efforts.

“This past year’s extreme heat, wildfires and ice storms remind us of the importance of preparing ourselves for any kind of disaster, as well as our responsibility to help our neighbors, friends and family,” ODHS Director Fariborz Pakseresht said. “We urge Oregonians to use this heightened awareness and take action today to ensure their community is prepared before the next emergency strikes.”

“If you already have an emergency plan and kit, that’s great! Now’s the time to help others be prepared,” Ed Flick, director of ODHS’ emergency management unit said. “If you haven’t started, or haven’t finished your emergency planning, why not use this time to work with others to get it done? The experience of working together with another person can make this essential task easier.”

ODHS suggests Oregonians act now by taking these steps: · Be aware of potential hazards in the area and sign up for emergency alerts.

· Be “2 Weeks Ready” with at least two weeks’ worth of food, water and critical supplies. Learn how to assemble an emergency supply kit at Ready.gov or American Red Cross.

· Talk with your friends and family about being prepared. Ask if they have a plan yet and what concerns them about disasters. That can help you know where to prioritize planning efforts. · If your family or friends includes people with disabilities or older adults, learn about specific steps they might need to take to be prepared. Many of the tips for people with disabilities also apply to older adults. Understanding and preparing for needs like medications, mobility devices, equipment that needs electricity and specialized transportation can make the difference in a person being able to remain safely in place or evacuate.

· Do your friends, family or neighbors have language, cultural or religious considerations that need to be addressed? Have an early conversation about how to address those needs before disaster strikes.

· Talk with your neighbors. Are they prepared? Do any neighbors have specialized equipment, like a generator that could help another neighbor use their life-saving equipment? Or expertise like medical training? Develop a plan on who will check on neighbors in need during an emergency.

“Let’s all use the valuable lessons of the disasters we’ve experienced in 2021 to plan together so we can be more resilient and prepared for the future,” Flick said.

About ODHS and disasters: Oregon’s emergency and recovery plans give ODHS responsibility to support impacted Oregonians during emergencies and recovery, at the request of and in partnership with local and tribal governments. This is in keeping with the agency’s primary role to assist people in meeting their basic needs while moving toward independence. ODHS is responsible for supporting the sheltering, feeding, emergency assistance and human services needs of people impacted by disasters. In this role, ODHS coordinates efforts among local and Tribal governments and nongovernmental organizations. Oregon Department of Human Services 

Hillsboro Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Mail and Identity Theft Scheme

A Hillsboro, Oregon man was sentenced to federal prison today for stealing hundreds of pieces of residential mail throughout the Portland Metropolitan Area and using the personal identity of one local resident to purchase a luxury car.

Dwayne Leroy Daan, 42, was sentenced to 90 months in federal prison and three years’ supervised release.

According to court documents, between February and May 2020, Daan stole more than 800 pieces of mail from residences in Portland, Beaverton, West Linn, Milwaukee, and Hillsboro, Oregon. Some of the mail was stolen using a counterfeit U.S. Postal Service arrow key. On April 20, 2020, Daan used the stolen identity of a local resident to obtain a line of credit and purchase a 2018 Audi for $51,031 from a car dealership in Milwaukee.

On July 16, 2020, a federal grand jury in Portland returned a four-count indictment charging Daan with possessing stolen mail and a counterfeit U.S. Postal Service arrow key. Later, on June 29, 2021, a superseding criminal information added felony charges for bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.

On July 1, 2021, Daan pleaded guilty to possessing stolen mail and a counterfeit U.S. Postal Service arrow key, bank fraud, and aggravated identity theft.

A restitution hearing has been scheduled for December 20, 2021.

As part of a global resolution, Daan’s federal prison sentence will run concurrently with a sentence previously imposed in Washington County Circuit Court and a sentence to be imposed in Multnomah County Circuit Court for similar conduct. The Clackamas County District Attorney’s Office will dismiss charges pending against Daan as part of this resolution. Daan will serve his entire sentence in federal prison.

Acting U.S. Attorney Scott Erik Asphaug of the District of Oregon made the announcement.

This case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service with assistance from Homeland Security Investigations, the Portland Police Bureau, West Linn Police Department, and Hillsboro Police Department. It was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon with assistance from the Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington County District Attorney’s Offices. — U.S. Attorney’s Office – District of Oregon

Skeletal Remains Reported at Wallowa Lake Turn Out to Be Plastic Skeleton

A group that was fishing reported seeing skeletal remains 45 feet down on the bottom of Wallowa Lake last week.

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“Assisted by the Wallowa County Sheriff’s Office further investigation showed that the item was not consistent with an actual human skeleton,” Oregon State Police said. “The next day OSP and members of the Wallowa County Sheriff’s Office with the assistance of a diver were able to recover the plastic skeleton.”

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