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 Insurance, your local health and Medicare agents.
Tuesday, October 19, 2021
Klamath Basin Weather
Today Partly sunny, with a high near 59. South wind 6 to 11 mph increasing to 15 to 20 mph in the afternoon and gusts as high as 30 mph. Overnight, a 50% chance of rain, mainly after 11pm. Snow level 5700 feet. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 38.
Wednesday A 40% chance of rain, mainly after 11am. Snow level 5400 feet rising to 6500 feet in the afternoon. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 53. Overnight a slight chance of rain with a low around 40.
Thursday A 20% chance of rain after 11am. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 59. South wind 13 to 18 mph, with gusts as high as 28 mph.
Friday Rain, mainly before 11am. Snow level 8800 feet lowering to 6100 feet in the afternoon . High near 52. Chance of precipitation is 90%.
Saturday Rain likely, mainly after 11am. Snow level 6000 feet rising to 6600 feet in the afternoon. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 49.
Sunday Rain on and off during the day, with a high near 50.
Special Bulletin, 11:58AM
Just in…A federal judge on Monday denied a last-minute bid by more than three dozen state employees, health care providers and school staff to temporarily stop the state’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate.
U.S. District Judge Michael H. Simon rejected their motion for a temporary restraining order, marking the first federal judge’s ruling after several state court decisions thwarting similar efforts to block Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s and the Oregon Health Authority’s power to require that certain workers to get the vaccines or risk losing their jobs, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.
At least 10 vaccine mandate challenges have been filed in state and federal court since September.
“In the middle of a global pandemic while infections and hospitalizations continue at high rates, Plaintiffs are not likely to succeed in showing that their individual interests in remaining unvaccinated outweigh the State’s interest in public health and welfare,” the judge wrote in a 55-page opinion.
State workers have had two months to prepare for the governor’s deadline to be fully vaccinated, which came Monday for about 5,000 employees. It originally extended to about 43,000 executive branch employees, but the deadline for most is now Nov. 30 following negotiations with government employees’ unions.
Among the 42 plaintiffs are nurses, doctors, teachers and school athletic coaches including a LifeFlight paramedic, a hospice nurse, dental hygienist and pharmacist.
Attorney Stephen J. Joncus, representing the plaintiffs, argued that they have a constitutional right “not to be coerced into taking experimental medication,” citing the 14th Amendment and the Nuremberg Code, which is a set of ethical principles for human experimentation.
The plaintiffs’ arguments that the vaccines are dangerous or experimental, the state’s lawyers said, are not supported by the top medical and public health authorities in the nation.
Simon noted the vaccine mandate offers state employees choices: either get the vaccine, apply for a religious or medical exception or find a job elsewhere including out of state.
“Plaintiffs have not shown that the international community collectively condemns this type of choice as the type of coercion that falls within the prohibition of the Nuremberg Code, particularly during a global pandemic and when the vaccine is FDA-authorized,” Simon wrote.
The judge’s ruling does not end the lawsuit. It allows state enforcement of the vaccine mandates as the case proceeds.
Sky Lakes medical center reports they are operating at capacity again today. Their COVID-19 inpatient numbers are consistently in the low to mid 20’s.
With flu season coming up, Sky Lakes urges you to please protect yourself by getting vaccinated, taking care of your health, and adhering to healthy habits to prevent spreading viral disease. Currently, 24 patients are in the hospital locally being treated for Covid. Four of those patients are in intensive care. Just one out of the 24 are vaccinated patients.
Oregon reports 3,276 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 24 new deaths
The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (12), Benton (87), Clackamas (256), Clatsop (12), Columbia (44), Coos (31), Crook (29), Curry (6), Deschutes (311), Douglas (124), Grant (4), Harney (18), Hood River (18), Jackson (149), Jefferson (49), Josephine (61), Klamath (55), Lake (7), Lane (340), Lincoln (28), Linn (240), Malheur (12), Marion (296), Morrow (14), Multnomah (515), Polk (45), Tillamook (16), Umatilla (47), Union (31), Wallowa (3), Wasco (11), Washington (334), Wheeler (4) and Yamhill (67).
Of the number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 561, which is 11 more than yesterday. There are 140 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is two fewer than yesterday.regon Health Authority reported 3,276 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of yesterday, bringing the state total to 352,026.
Regional/border county count from us locally in Klamath, which reported 55 new cases, include Douglas (124), Deschutes (311), Jackson (149), Josephine (61), Lake (7), and Lane (340).
98% of KCSD Employees In Compliance As Vaccination Deadline Arrives
As the state vaccination deadline for educators arrived today (Oct. 18), 98% of Klamath County School District employees were in compliance – either by being fully vaccinated or submitting a valid exception.
“Our employees take their jobs seriously. They take the education of our community’s youth seriously,” said Glen Szymoniak, superintendent of the Klamath County School District. “This dedication helped ensure that students would not see a disruption in services and programs.”
The Klamath County School District has 895 employees who were subject to the Oct. 18 deadline. Of those, 640 are fully vaccinated and 237 were granted medical or religious exceptions.
Sixteen employees who are not yet in compliance will be put on unpaid administrative leave pending full vaccination status. Since these staff members work at various jobs and in different schools throughout the district, there should be no significant impact on students. Only one is a teacher, and that teacher will be in compliance by Oct. 20.
“The district does not anticipate any staffing issues due to the vaccine mandate,” Szymoniak said. “However, like other districts, we are struggling to fill some positions, including bus drivers, and have worked to find solutions. I want to publicly thank our staff for their hard work, support, and in many cases, extraordinary efforts, to keep our students in school, our kitchens operating, and our buses running.”
YESTERDAY was the deadline for state employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Governor Kate Brown issued the mandate in August requiring state employees, school employees, health care workers, and long-term care facility workers to show proof of full vaccination by October 18th. Workers were also allowed to request an exemption for medical reasons or religious beliefs.
Some state workers are getting a little extra time to get vaccinated thanks to deadline extensions negotiated by their unions. That includes executive branch workers, who have until November 30th.
With the deadline for Oregon’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate at hand as of Monday morning, a representative for Southern Oregon hospital system Asante in the Rogue Valley said that the situation remains “fluid” with their figures changing by the hour.
Lauren Van Sickle, senior public relations specialist at Asante, said that roughly 88% of Asante’s workforce had provided proof of vaccination by Monday morning, representing about 5,500 staff of the 6,000 total in their workforce.
Another several hundred people are somehow in process toward proving vaccination status, she said. About 490 Asante workers have received a valid religious or medical exception, Van Sickle said. However, the exception does not represent a pass for normal work status, with or without regular COVID-19 tests. Of those employees with exceptions, 118 are now working remotely, and the others have been placed on administrative leave.
Workers on leave still receive their benefits and earned time off, such as vacation and sick leave.
Meanwhile, also in Medford, Oregon’s vaccination deadline for educators and healthcare workers has arrived, and Medford School District officials say that they are in good shape.
According to the District, more than 97% of staff are in compliance — either by being fully vaccinated or by submitting a valid exception. The Medford School District has more than 1,500 employees.
Earl said that as of Monday, 80% are considered fully vaccinated. Another 17% or so either received a valid medical or religious exception, or they were office workers who qualified for another kind of exception under state rules.
Following the biggest discovery of illegal marijuana cultivating here in Klamath County just last week, the same day, a southern Oregon county declared a state of emergency amid a sharp increase in illegal cannabis farms, police raided a site that had about two tons of processed marijuana and 17,500 pot plants.
The raid illustrates that the proliferation of industrial-scale marijuana farms has gotten so bad and so brazen that Jackson County Commissioners asked Gov. Kate Brown to send in the Oregon National Guard “to assist, as able, in the enforcement of laws related to the production of cannabis.”
They also directly appealed to Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney and House Speaker Tina Kotek for help getting additional funding to tackle the problem.
During last Wednesday’s raid in Medford, Oregon, police found a vast outdoor growing operation, plus harvested plants hanging upside down on drying racks and 3,900 pounds (1,800 kilograms) of resinous buds stashed in huge bags and in stacks of plastic storage containers. The officers took 26 migrant workers into custody, interviewed them and then released them.
A warrant was issued for the arrest of the primary suspect, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office said. Courtney said he is so concerned about the surge in illegal marijuana farms in Jackson and neighboring Josephine counties that he agrees that the Oregon National Guard should be sent in. Many of the illegal growers are armed.
Meanwhile, The Oregon National Guard has started to draw down the number of troops deployed to hospitals as the state sees fewer COVID-19 hospitalizations.
Governor Kate Brown deployed national guard members in August to help healthcare workers as they faced a surge of patients brought on by the Delta variant.
An Oregon National Guard spokesperson said Friday they started a drawdown of troops since hospitals were covering the “necessary non-clinical positions on their own accord.” The decision to pull guard members is made on a case-by-case basis as hospitals determine their individual staffing needs in coordination with the Oregon Health Authority, according to the ONG.
The guard members offered logistical support for roughly 20 hospitals such as “materials handlers and equipment runners.” They will also assist with COVID-19 testing and other supportive hospital operations.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars, Klamath Freedom Celebration and Pacific Crest Federal Credit Union are sponsoring the annual Veterans Day Parade Thursday Nov.11 in downtown Klamath Falls.
Participants are asked to assemble on Spring next to Sharky’s Shack between 8:30- 9:30 a.m. where registrations and parade order will be verified. The parade will start at 10 a.m. and proceed from Spring Street, then along Main Street to Veterans Park Memorial Park. A ceremony and a Kingsley Field Flyover will be provided by the Klamath Falls VFW Post 1383 at 11 a.m. at the park.
Parade applications are available at the Veterans of Foreign Wars, 515 Klamath Avenue, and at www.klamathfc.org. For more information or apps being sent by email, call Doug at 541-281-7094,or Kryssi Heitman at 541- 591-1732 Deadline for parade apps to be received is Monday Nov. 8 by 5 p.m.
More than 100 Airmen from the Oregon Air National Guard’s 142nd Wing have departed from the Portland Air National Guard Base en route to Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, to conduct joint training with the U.S. Air Force’s new F-15EX Eagle II.
The Oregon Airmen traveling to Nellis A.F.B. are also bringing along up to seven Oregon F-15C model Eagles and will spend the next two weeks supporting test and evaluation missions for the F-15EX while gaining operator and maintainer exposure to the new aircraft. The 142nd Wing, based in Portland, Oregon, is set to become the first operational flying unit in the Air Force to operate the F-15EX, which are slated to arrive in 2024.
Kingsley Field here in Klamath Falls is expected to expand operations in anticipation of the new aircraft arriving the same year, an effort expected to bring even more jobs to the former USAF base here.
Around the state of Oregon
Portland is marking a grim new milestone in its ongoing gun violence crisis. Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell announced on Twitter Saturday that the city has now seen over one-thousand shootings since the year began.
That’s more than the nearly 900 shootings reported in Portland in all of last year and the 380 shootings reported in 2019. Lovell called the city’s gun violence a “terrible problem,” saying too many shootings have “prematurely ended lives and caused injury.”
Oregon Governor Kate Brown ordered flags be flown at half-staff to honor Colin Powell, the former Joint Chiefs chairman and secretary of state.
Powell’s death was announced Monday from complications with COVID-19. He’d also been treated over the past few years for multiple myeloma, a blood cancer. He was 84. The proclamation is set to continue through sunset on Friday, October 22.
The governor went on to say Powell lived his life in service to our country, adding that she and her husband “hold his family in our hearts as we mourn his passing.
How to keep the fright away and gather safely this Halloween season
Hosting a Halloween party for grownups this year is doable and doesn’t have to be virtual. But with the highly transmittable Delta variant, it does take a bit of planning and caution.
“Make sure you’re vaccinated, that’s number one,” said Ali Hamade, Oregon Health Authority (OHA) senior health advisor and deputy state epidemiologist. “Number two, wear a good face covering that is at least two layers thick. A Halloween mask will not do the job.”
Hamade adds that outdoor gatherings are best because the risk of transmission is much lower than socializing indoors.
When hosting a gathering, these tips can help keep you and your guests stay healthy:
- Host the party outdoors in a space that allows for guests to stay six feet apart.
- Wear face coverings if you are within six feet of others.
- Discourage guests from crowding together.
- Keep the guest list small and stick with vaccinated guests (no children under 12).
- Don’t replace COVID-safe face coverings with costume masks.
- If your party takes place during trick-or-treating, please wear a mask when handing out candy.
When eating and drinking with others not in your household who have not been isolating for 10 days or longer, please:
- Don’t crowd the food table and maintain distance from other people.
- Wash your hands before and after eating.
- Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
In case guests go inside, be prepared in advance by opening windows and running a fan or air purifier to maximize ventilation. Remind guests that when they are indoors to keep on their masks and physically distance.
To read more about safely gathering and doing activities with others, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) here.
Medicare benefits enrollment available now
Medicare open enrollment is from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, 2021. The new 2022 Oregon Guide to Medicare Insurance Plans is now available to help you decide which plan works best for you.
This enrollment period includes Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans. Medicare plans and coverage for prescription drugs change each year, so it is important for Oregonians who are enrolled in Medicare to evaluate their plan options and make changes during open enrollment.
The Oregon Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance Program with the Oregon Department of Human Services is available to help Oregonians understand
The Oregon Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance Program (SHIBA) also has counselors available to help you understand your Medicare options and benefits, provide enrollment guidance, and answer any questions related to Medicare benefits. Find them by visiting https://SHIBA.Oregon.gov or calling (800) 722-4134 (toll-free).
Our BasinLifeMagazine Veterans Day Photo Contest
Here’s a chance to honor all those in your family who served in the armed forces. Veterans Day is November 11th, 2021.
It’s our FACES OF COURAGE Veterans Day Photo Contest. Salute a family member and be entered to win a $100 Visa Gift Card as our way of saying thank you from Wynne Broadcasting’s BasinLife.com, the online digital magazine of the Klamath Basin.