Klamath Basin News, Wednesday, 10/20 – Oregon’s Vaccine Mandate Arrives; Local Education and Health Care Employees Mostly Vaccinated or Have Exemptions

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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Klamath Basin Weather

Today A 40% chance of showers, mainly before 11am. Mostly cloudy today with a high near 55. Windy day with gusts as high as 24 mph. Snow level 5400 feet rising to 6800 feet in the afternoon. Overnight, cloudy a low around 41.

Thursday A 30% chance of rain, mainly after 11am. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 62. Overnight rain with a low around 39.
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.

Today’s Headlines

Tuesday Raid On Klamath Falls Warehouse Finds 8.8 Tons Of Black Market Marijuana

A raid on a warehouse in downtown Klamath Falls on Tuesday found a major marijuana processing operation and roughly 17,600 pounds of marijuana, according to Klamath Falls Police.

The Basin Interagency Narcotics Enforcement Team (BINET) served a search warrant on the 20,550 square-foot warehouse, finding it filled with drying and processed marijuana and temporary living quarters for 28 workers who were detained on-site and later released.

“Two small drug endangered children were also living inside the warehouse with their parents who were working as trimmers for the illegal marijuana production,” Klamath Falls Police said. “DHS Child Welfare responded to the scene and investigated the child welfare concerns.”

One person was cited and released for felony Unlawful Manufacture of Marijuana. Additional charges and more suspects could be referred to the county District Attorney’s office.

KFPD said that roughly 17,600 pounds of mostly-processed marijuana buds were seized, taken to the Klamath County Waste Management landfill, and destroyed. Police estimated that the product had a black market street value of more than $20 million.

According to KFPD, the investigation into this operation started with a previous Klamath County Sheriff’s Office investigation into multiple illegal marijuana grows in southern Klamath County. BINET detectives then dug further into the drug trafficking organization, eventually leading to the warehouse in Klamath Falls.

The grow operations were operating under the guise of “hemp” farms, but KFPD said that the product in the warehouse tested as high-THC marijuana and not hemp.

Anyone with information regarding the illegal manufacture or distribution of drugs within Klamath County is asked to call the Klamath Falls Police Department Anonymous Tip Line at (541) 883-5334 or the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office Tip Line at (541) 850-5380.  

The drought-stricken Klamath Basin is one area that the Family Farm Alliance has identified as needing legislative change, and the organization aims to protect.

Daniel Keppen of Klamath Falls is president of the Family Farm Alliance. Family Farm Alliance works to gain water rights for western agriculture areas and describes itself as a powerful advocate before the government for family farmers, ranchers, irrigation districts, and allied industries in 17 western states.

The alliance says it has this goal to ensure the availability of reliable and affordable irrigation water needed to produce the world’s food, fiber, and fuel.

The comprehensive 27-page testimony by the alliance covered everything from key concerns from members of the alliance, to what can be done to mitigate future droughts. The key concerns included are water infrastructure, water management, wildfire disasters, and lack of collaboration between farmers and the government.

The proposed solutions include investing in Western water infrastructure.

Keppen says 12 that a package the coalition developed was included in a bi-partisan senate bill  that passed earlier this summer, with $8.3 billion that could go toward new water storage, improved conveyance facilities, groundwater recharge, water conservation, water management improvements, water reuse, and desalination.

A large part of the drought in the United States is the toll that it has taken on the country’s ability to maintain food independence. While the Family Farm Alliance says the country should be responsible for providing a healthy, abundant, and transparent food supply, it says it is also a matter of national security.

Monday marked the deadline for state employees in Oregon- such as hospital workers and K-12 teachers — to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or have acquired an exemption. Those that missed the deadline cannot work moving forward.

To comply with the mandate, employees must be fully vaccinated or been approved for a medical or religious exemption. That means they must have gotten the full regimen of doses of the vaccine more than two weeks prior.

Both the Klamath County School District and Sky Lakes Medical Center are expecting some of their employees to be suspended due to noncompliance with the state mandate. However, neither is expecting catastrophic results. Klamath Falls City Schools administration said its staff is in full compliance with the mandate. 

At Sky Lakes Medical Center, it is currently unknown how many employees will be ineligible to work due to the mandate and whether or not those employees are clinical or non-clinical staff.

The hospital is doing its due diligence to follow state law, and any employee who is not fully vaccinated or formally exempt will be placed on leave until vaccination or the exemption process is complete. 

The Klamath County School District includes 22 schools, 7,029 students and 895 employees. It does not expect any serious disruption or staffing issues due to the vaccine mandate, said Marcia Schlottmann, public relations specialist for the district.

Of the district’s employees, 640 have been fully vaccinated and 237 have been granted exceptions, Schlottmann said, a 98% compliance rate. 

There are 16 employees who have started the vaccination process but will be placed on unpaid administrative leave until full vaccination is achieved. 

Keith Brown, superintendent of Klamath Falls City Schools, said his district is 100% in compliance with the state’s vaccination mandate. He said 82% of his staff has been fully vaccinated, while the other 18% have been formally exempt.

There are 41 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 4,226, the Oregon Health Authority reported Tuesday. Oregon Health Authority also reported 1,366 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of Tuesday, bringing the state total to 353,368.

Klamath County reported 81 new cases yesterday.  Jackson County reported 56 and Lake County 14 new cases.

Locally, Sky Lakes Medical Center says they are at stress capacity with 26 Covid patients, six of those in intensive care.  Just three of the total patient load are vaccinated patients.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (7), Benton (44), Clackamas (87), Clatsop (13), Columbia (14), Coos (29), Crook (42), Curry (8), Deschutes (73), Douglas (44), Gilliam (3), Grant (15), Harney (17), Hood River (3), Jackson (56), Jefferson (14), Josephine (14), Klamath (81), Lake (14), Lane (124), Lincoln (22), Linn (60), Malheur (26), Marion (116), Morrow (4), Multnomah (123), Polk (51), Sherman (2), Tillamook (7), Umatilla (72), Union (3), Wallowa (3), Wasco (22), Washington (107), Wheeler (9),and Yamhill (37).

The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 562, which is one more than day prior. There are 130 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit beds, which is 10 fewer than day prior.

There are 56 available adult ICU beds out of 706 total (8% availability) and 292 available adult non-ICU beds out of 4,127 (7% availability).

Note: Do not visit an emergency department for COVID-19 testing, unless you require emergency care for your symptoms.

On Tuesday, OHA reported 8,804 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations added to the state immunization registry on Oct. 18. The seven-day running average is now 9,511 doses per day.

As of today, 2,788,567 people have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 2,574,554 people have completed a COVID-19 vaccine series.

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. It’s one of the first of many legal actions regarding the issue to be heard by a judge. Many more are expected shortly.

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

At least 10 vaccine mandate challenges have been filed in state and federal court since September.

Among the 42 plaintiffs are nurses, doctors, teachers and school athletic coaches including a LifeFlight paramedic, a hospice nurse, dental hygienist and pharmacist.

Mazama High School was on a lockout for about an hour today (Oct. 19, 2021) after a former student, who was not on campus, indicated they wanted to cause harm at the school.

School administration contacted law enforcement who responded to the former student’s location and secured the student. When it was determined there was no longer a possible threat, the lockout was lifted at 11:20 a.m.

A lockout is an emergency response procedure initiated when there is a potential hazard outside a school building. All students and staff are brought inside the school and all outside doors are confirmed locked and secured. Business then continues as usual inside the building.

Supporters of Ella Redkey Pool in Klamath Falls kicked off a campaign Monday to raise $150,000 for three projects at the Ella Redkey Pool.

The projects include creation of a plaza and ADA walkway, replacing the pool’s water slide and renovation of the pool’s locker rooms.

Klamath Falls Mayor Carol Westfall said the pool is an asset to Klamath Falls as the only outdoor, geothermally-heated pool in the United Stated that is open year-round.

John Bellon lamented about all the community members who have visited the Pool over the decades, when the Wendt Family remodeled the pool, put in the slide and several other upgrades, and to his own time spent growing up at the Ella Redkey Pool. He noted the need to increase the number of members in the Friends group to keep the pool alive.

Around the state of Oregon

Vaccination Mandate Affecting Hospitals In Oregon

Oregon’s urban hospitals have lost hundreds of employees and some have consolidated services over the state’s vaccine mandate but they’re continuing to admit patients, perform necessary surgeries, and conduct lab tests, they reported on Monday.

Rural hospitals, which play a bigger role in their communities, have dealt with the mandate by largely accepting claims from employees that they should be exempt for religious or medical grounds.

Though some patients might face longer wait times during a busy day in an emergency room or for a non-urgent procedure, the impact of the mandate is likely to be invisible for most patients, health experts predicted.

The Oregon Health Authority said that it is “not seeing evidence there will be a large number of vacancies in health care staffing” after Monday’s deadline.

“We are hearing from health care partners that the number of vaccinated health care workers continues to rise with many health care systems reporting more than 90% of their staff vaccinated,” a spokeswoman said in a statement. “That said, we don’t yet know the full impact of the vaccination requirement on the state’s health care workforce, and won’t for at least the next several days to a week.”

The agency has asked employers to give staff flexibility in getting vaccinated or requesting an exemption. 

“Staff can be asked to work remotely, take vacation time or unpaid leave until they have met the vaccination requirement. We also encourage employers to keep at it, and encourage their employees to complete vaccination,” an agency spokeswoman said.

Monday’s mandate, which applies to health care staff, school employees and volunteers, and state employees, was declared in August to curtail the surge of the Delta variant which sparked the biggest spike in hospitalizations and death since the pandemic began.

The mandate prodded many health care workers to get inoculated with the Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

“The vaccination requirement worked,” Legacy Health said in a statement.

At Oregon Health & Science University, more than 450 people are being laid off or are on unpaid leave while the institution reviews their exemption requests. About 7% of staff at Providence Health & Services, the largest health care system in Oregon, were still not compliant on Monday and St. Charles Health System, based in Bend, reported it has lost 180 employees, with most of them resigning last week.

Kaiser Permanente had already adjusted to the mandate by Monday, while Santiam Hospital and Clinics, which employs about 550 people in Stayton, reported a vaccination rate of nearly 85%.

“About 20 hospital employees have chosen unpaid leave, termination or early retirement rather than get vaccinated,” said Lauren Benjamin, the hospital’s spokeswoman. “We have not had to consolidate or postpone our services.”

Providence, based in Portland with 23,000 employees, echoed that message. “We are confident that we will be able to minimize any potential impacts on our patients and their families,” said Gary Walker, a Providence spokesman.

Hundreds of employees on leave

Asante Health, with three hospitals in southern Oregon, has lost dozens of employees among a staff of 6,100, and Legacy Health, with nearly 6,500 employees, has nearly 600 on unpaid leave.

The state health authority left health care companies with the responsibility for approving medical or religious exemption claims. Some companies were more generous than others in their approvals. 

The Oregon Nurses Association complained about religious rejections at Legacy Silverton Medical Center, the only Legacy hospital where it has members. The company acknowledged that “the denials were upsetting for some employees.”

There appears to be less controversy in rural areas, however, where hospitals cannot afford to lose even a single employee.

“We’re not just a hospital,” Charlie Tveit, CEO of Lake Health District, told the press. “We are responsible for the county public health, county mental health. We have a couple of long-term care and assisted living (facilities). We provide the EMS service for our area now. So we do a lot of things other than just a hospital.”

The district, based in Lakeview near the border of Nevada, has 400 employees and volunteers, and only about 60% are fully vaccinated. Almost all of the rest have been approved for their exemptions claims, Tveit said.

“As of an hour ago, we had less than 1% who are undecided,” Tveit said Monday afternoon. “For some people, they either couldn’t make up their mind as to (whether) they should get vaccinated. But the date helped solidify that for those who elected to get an exemption.”

Only 1% of his workforce had not been inoculated or requested an exemption by late Monday. Tveit said he hopes he won’t lose anyone. “The workforce is critical in rural settings,” Tveit said. “We’re fortunate if we can get people to work for us, and it’s hard to recruit if somebody leaves. So we’ve elected to keep everyone safe and accept their exemptions. We’re not in a position to challenge somebody’s medical reason or their religious beliefs.”

Although unvaccinated health care employees are not supposed to be involved in patient services after Monday, Tveit said the health care district will carry on as before, with health care staff masking, sanitizing surfaces and wearing appropriate protective gear. 

Less than 40% of the population in the county – only about 8,000 people – is inoculated but only 11 people have died from Covid-19, the fourth lowest number in Oregon after Gilliam, Sherman and Wheeler counties.

“I think we have done a really good job in Lake County,” Tveit said. “We don’t have a high incidence of hospitalization in our county … and we haven’t had employees getting sick from exposure while at our health and our facilities.”

He said that other rural hospitals, even in counties with a much higher number of cases and fatalities, are also approving all exemptions. 

Good Shepherd Health Care System in Hermiston, in a county with nearly 145 deaths, more than 14,000 Covid-19 cases and an overall vaccination rate of 50%, said last week it would meet the mandate. It did so, said Caitlin Cozad, who oversees the hospital’s communications and marketing. “Good Shepherd is fully compliant with the state mandate and fully operational,” she said.

An official at Blue Mountain Hospital District, which includes a hospital in John Day, said the facility has seen a “significant increase” in vaccinations leading up to the mandate. The hospital has created an internal pool of cross-trained employees to give it greater flexibility and has asked the state for staffing help to fill any gaps.

“Our patients should expect to continue to receive safe, high-quality care without disruption when they come to any of Blue Mountain Hospital District’s facilities,” said Var Rigby, director of human resources at the district.

Salem Health, located in urban Marion County, said it has approved most exemption requests. “As of today, 100% of Salem Health employees are in compliance with the Oregon state rule for vaccine mandates,” said Lisa Wood, a Salem Health spokesperson. “Salem Health has received 490 vaccine mandate exception requests to date and the vast majority of these requests have been accepted.”

She said unvaccinated staff with an exemption will be required to undergo regular Covid-19 tests. The few people who are not inoculated or who have not submitted an exemption request will have until Jan. 31 to become compliant.

Wood said patients can choose to be treated only by vaccinated staff. “Salem Health does not anticipate any disruption in patient care as a result of the vaccine mandate deadline. As we have throughout the pandemic, we have contingency plans in place to meet staffing needs and continue serving the community.”

Oregon’s new congressional districts are receiving national attention as a Democratic group pushes back against Republican claims that the state’s political boundaries are gerrymandered.

Oregon Public Broadcasting reports that in a filing on Monday, the National Democratic Redistricting Committee urged a judicial panel to approve the map — which was passed during last month’s contentious special legislative session — insisting that the boundaries meet all legal standards.

With the filing, the NDRC is seeking to insert itself into a fight that began last week, when former Secretary of State Bev Clarno and three other Republicans sued to challenge the map, which includes a new sixth congressional seat — increasing Oregon’s national political clout.

The new congressional map includes four U.S. House seats that either are safe Democratic or lean in the party’s favor, one reliably red seat and one seat that could be a toss-up.

Jackson County declared a state of emergency last Wednesday, in part as a vehicle to lobby the state for funding that could translate into more law and code enforcement personnel to deal with the rapid escalation of unlicensed marijuana grows and local authorities’ inability to respond quickly enough.

In a statement, Governor Brown’s press secretary Liz Merah indicated that Brown agreed with the commissioner’s assessment of the severity of the problem, but would not be able to commit more resources until next year.

Merah cited Brown’s support of House Bill 3000, one of the most recent legislative efforts to combine state and local resources in cracking down on unlicensed cannabis, and the creation of a multi-agency team to work on implementing it.

“This team has been hard at work in the region during harvest season,” Merah said. “Additionally, and after conversations with local leaders, the Governor directed OSP to specifically dedicate additional resources to multi-agency operations.”

Brown also authorized doubling the size of cannabis-related law enforcement grants for the region, Merah said, but those funds won’t come through until just prior to the 2022 growing season.

The Oregon National Guard does already have a presence on several drug enforcement teams in southern Oregon, Merah said — although it likely does not represent the kind of investment in personnel that Jackson County has requested. One full-time National Guardsman is embedded each with the OSP Marijuana Task Force based in Medford, the Homeland Security Investigations Medford office, and with the Klamath County High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force.

Merah said that this year the Oregon Military Department also has an aviation program with two pilots who have flown missions in support of law enforcement agencies.

“The message is clear –– Oregon is not open for business to illegal cannabis grows,” Merah continued. “These are criminal enterprises that deplete water resources while our state is in drought, hold their workforce in inhumane conditions, and severely harm our legal cannabis marketplace.”

Guardsmen are unlikely to be mobilized in force to southern Oregon on marijuana enforcement duty this year for two reasons, Merah said: first, because many of them have already been deployed to support hospitals during the COVID-19 Delta variant surge; and because the current growing season is already essentially over.

“The Governor remains concerned about the situation and will continue to monitor what resources might be needed for the 2022 growing season,” Merah concluded.

As both Josephine and Jackson counties work to crack down on illegal marijuana grow operations, they differ somewhat on how they approach the issue. Jackson County recently asked Governor Brown to bring in the National Guard. But Sheriff Daniel said that he does not think that is the answer.

Daniel says, for one, he doesn’t think Governor Brown would active the National Guard for this purpose. Meanwhile, recent state assistance and the prospect of federal aid could help Josephine County address the situation on their own terms. Daniel said that the recent passage of House Bill 3000 will support the county’s efforts by doubling the size of the Josephine Marijuana Enforcement Team (JMET).

According to Sheriff Daniel, the problem is not a local one so much as an international one.

“We have cartel-type operations from Bulgaria, China, Ukraine, Mexico … all different countries,” Daniel said. “And so it’s an international problem, so I think on the federal level is really where some assistance would be very much welcomed.”

Josephine County Realtor Arrested as Suspected Of Working In Black Market Marijuana Trade

Deputies from the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office arrested a Grants Pass-based realtor on Tuesday in connection with the black market marijuana trade that has rapidly expanded in southern Oregon within the last several years.

According to Sheriff Dave Daniel, his agency had been investigating a broker employed with RE/MAX in Grants Pass who had allegedly conducted more than two dozen transactions related to property used for illegal marijuana operations.

Sheriff Daniel said that, over the space of several years, the realtor had transferred ownership of properties from individuals to LLCs in order to cover illegal activity. Detectives are also looking into potential money laundering.

Investigators served search warrants on Tuesday at a residence in Rogue River and the brokerage office in Grants Pass.

41-year-old Tyra Polly Ann Foxx was booked into the Josephine County Jail on Tuesday on charges for Unlawful Manufacture of a Marijuana Item, Hindering Prosecution, Tampering With Physical Evidence, and Forgery in the First Degree. She posted bail later the same day. Foxx has yet to be arraigned or indicted in court.

Grants Pass Police Detectives Arrest Sexual Predator

On 10-19-2021 at approximately 1340 hours, Grants Pass Police Detectives arrested Boris Deleon, a 35-year-old white male, for charges of Compelling Prostitution, Coercion, and Intimidation in the first degree.

Boris Deleon
Boris Deleon

On 10-18-21, the Grants Pass Police Department received a complaint regarding a 21-year-old female receiving death threats from an unknown male subject she had met online. 

The victim reported the male subject, later identified as 35-year-old Boris Deleon, had contacted her in early October 2021 to solicit her for sexual contact for a substantial amount of money. 

When the victim refused to participate, Deleon made death threats to the victim and claimed to be part of the Sinaloa cartel. Deleon admitted to “catfishing” individuals online thousands of times.

The Grants Pass Police Department would like to remind citizens to practice sound judgment when communicating online. “Catfishing” is when someone poses as another person while communicating electronically.  While “catfishing” itself is not illegal, there are circumstances when the conduct can become criminal. 

We encourage anyone who has been subjected to online threats to participate in sexual activity, propositions for monetary compensation for sexual contact, or threats to publicly shame another person because of sexual activity to report those activities to the Grants Pass Police Department. 

 If anyone has further information related to this investigation, please call the Grants Pass Police non-emergency number at 541-450-6260. — Grants Pass Police Department

Great Oregon ShakeOut earthquake drill encourages Oregonians to learn and practice safe methods to reduce their risk during an earthquake – on Thursday, 10/21/21 at 10:21AM.

Oregonians have learned the importance of preparedness due to numerous recent hazards – including wildfire, drought, floods, ice storms and more. Though earthquakes are less common, they are top of mind in the Northwest due to the Cascadia subduction zone, a fault located off the Pacific Coast with the potential to deliver a 9.0+ magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami. Governor Kate Brown has proclaimed Thursday, Oct. 21, as Great Oregon ShakeOut Day to encourage Oregonians to learn and practice safe methods to use during an earthquake.

A global earthquake drill taking place at 10:21 a.m. this Thursday, the Great ShakeOut urges people to take the following simple but critical safety steps during an earthquake: “Drop, Cover and Hold On:”

  • Drop onto hands and knees.
  • Cover head and neck and crawl to a sturdy desk or table if one is nearby.
  • Hold On until the shaking stops.  

“The state of Oregon takes seriously its responsibility to help ensure the safety of its residents and visitors,” said Oregon Office of Emergency Management Director Andrew Phelps. “Understanding what to do in the first few moments after a disaster can mean the difference between being a survivor and a victim. As we work to build a culture of preparedness in Oregon, it is up to each of us – and all of us – to take action to reduce our risk.  Participating in the Great Oregon ShakeOut is a proactive step anyone can, and should, take.”

More than 500,000 Oregonians – including schools, individuals, families and businesses – have committed to take part in this year’s ShakeOut drill, pledging to drop, cover and hold on wherever they are and whatever they’re doing. 

“Knowing what to do before, during and after an earthquake can save your life,” said OEM Geologic Hazards Coordinator Althea Rizzo. “The event also serves as a reminder to review and update emergency preparedness plans and supplies.” 

OEM’s 2 Weeks Ready program recommends citizens be informed and knowledgeable about the hazards where they live; make an emergency plan for themselves and their loved ones; and build an emergency kit with at least two weeks’ worth of food, water and other necessities. 

The 2 Weeks Ready program offers several resources to help people prepare, including a free publication informing what actions to take in the event of an earthquake or tsunami. To learn more about earthquakes in Oregon and how to prepare, Living on Shaky Ground is available for download at OEM’s website, and hard copies may be obtained at county and Tribal emergency management offices.

Learn more about the Great Oregon ShakeOut and register as a participant at Shakeout.org/Oregon; the public can also view a webinar on the event hosted by OEM on YouTube in English and in Spanish. —- Oregon Office of Emergency Management

DEA Holds National Prescription Drug Take Back Day to Turn the Tide Against the U.S. Opioid Epidemic – 146 Collection Sites in the Pacific Northwest

The Drug Enforcement Administration will host its 21st National Prescription Drug Take Back Day on Saturday, October 23 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. This event offers free and anonymous disposal of unneeded medications at more than 4,000 local drop-off locations nationwide.

This Saturday is another opportunity for the Pacific Northwest to dispose of unwanted, unused and expired medication at one of the 146 collection sites throughout the region.  Currently there are 18 collection sites in Alaska, 29 collection sites in Idaho, 26 collection sites in Oregon and 73 collection sites in Washington. Last April, residents of the Pacific Northwest turned in 36,259 pounds.

According to a report published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), a majority of people who misused a prescription medication obtained the medicine from a family member or friend. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that last year, more than 93,000 people died of drug overdoses in the United States, marking the largest number of drug-related deaths ever recorded in a year. Opioid-related deaths accounted for 75 percent of all overdose deaths in 2020.

For more than a decade, DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day has helped Americans easily rid their homes of unneeded medications—those that are old, unwanted, or no longer needed—that too often become a gateway to addiction. Working in close partnership with local law enforcement, Take Back Day has removed more than 7,000 tons of medication from circulation since its inception. These efforts are directly in line with DEA’s priority to combat the rise of overdoses plaguing the United States.

Oregon’s Unemployment Rate Drops to 4.7% in September

Oregon’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.7% in September from 5.0%, as revised, in August. In September, 102,000 Oregonians were unemployed.

This is a remarkable improvement from the worst labor force impacts of the COVID recession when 270,000 Oregonians were jobless in April 2020. However, there is still ground to make up to approach the average of 82,000 Oregonians unemployed during 2017 through 2019, during the tight labor market of the prior economic expansion. The U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 4.8% in September from 5.2% in August.

In Oregon, nonfarm payroll employment declined by 200 in September, following a revised gain of 8,900 jobs in August. Monthly gains averaged 10,200 during January through August. Job reductions in September were largest in government (-3,800 jobs) and construction (-1,400). These losses were balanced by substantial gains in professional and business services (+2,500 jobs); leisure and hospitality (+2,200); and transportation, warehousing, and utilities (+1,000 jobs).

The private sector added 3,600 jobs in September, continuing the steady private-sector expansion that averaged 4,600 jobs added per month over the past six months.

Government job losses in September were concentrated in local government where some K-12 schools added fewer employees than is typical at the start of the school year. Other local government employers are still well below their staffing levels seen two years ago, prior to the recession. 

Leisure and hospitality added 2,200 jobs in September, following a gain of 1,200 in August. Despite these gains, leisure and hospitality still accounts for the bulk of Oregon’s jobs not recovered since early 2020, with 42,100 jobs left to recover to reach the prior peak month of February 2020. The industry has regained 62% of jobs lost early in the pandemic.

Professional and technical services has grown at a rapid rate throughout 2021, and is now well above its pre-recession peak. This industry added 11,800 jobs since the low point in April 2020. Most of the jobs in the broader industry are found in firms providing services in the areas of legal, architectural, engineering, computer systems design, management consulting, research, and veterinary. 

To file a claim for unemployment benefits or get more information about unemployment programs, visit unemployment.oregon.gov. — Oregon Employment Department

Mother and Child Rescued From Submerged Car near Tillamook

A mother and her one-year-old child were rescued from a car submerged in a river after a crash near Tillamook on Sunday, according to the Tillamook County Sheriff’s Office.

Tillamook County Sheriff’s Office (TCSO)

Deputies said the crash happened on Highway 6. “It was reported that this vehicle was westbound toward Tillamook, making numerous bad passes before crashing and landing in the river,” said TCSO deputy Ethan Ault.

Crews including Tillamook Fire District personnel and police officers helped safely rescue the mother and child, deputies said. This crash is being investigated by Oregon State Police.

OSP Warns of Wildlife In Roadways Major Safety Hazards To Drivers Particularly This Time of Year

Oregon State Police say you are “usually safer” if you hit an animal with your car than if you swerve to avoid wildlife on roadways.

Oregon State Police photo

Troopers shared the story of a driver who recently came upon an animal on Highway 20 outside Sweet Home.

“The driver attempted to avoid the animal by applying his brakes, however, they were non-responsive, so he went into the gravel on the shoulder and lost control,” state police said. “His vehicle rolled down the ravine about 20 yards. A local bystander stopped and rendered aid to the driver who had minor injuries. The driver was transported by medics to a local hospital for treatment.”

Troopers managed to locate the driver’s dog unharmed after the crash.

The incident illustrates the danger of swerving to avoid animals in the road.

“If you cannot stop in time, unfortunate as it may be, it is usually safer to hit the animal than swerving,” state police said. “Swerving may land you in the path of another car or like this gentleman in a ditch.”

If you do hit an animal, troopers ask you to pull over and call your Oregon State Police (dial *OSP from your cell phone in Oregon) or local law enforcement to report the incident and have the animal safely removed from the roadway.

“Wildlife in the roadways presents major safety hazards to drivers,” state police said. “October through December is an especially high-traffic time for animals moving from one part of their habitat to another while they breed and forage for food, although they can and do appear on the roads throughout the year.”

Driver Safety Tips

  • Scan Ahead and watch for shining eyes or movement along roadsides.
  • Look for more animals after you see one animal – they often travel in groups.
  • Brake. Don’t Swerve.
  • Be ready for animals to change direction.
  • Obey traffic signs, including wildlife warning and speed limit signs, and slow down on blind curves.
  • Don’t drink and drive.
  • Stay Alert. Avoid driving distracted.
  • Slow Down to increase your reaction time.
OSP release vaccination numbers for personnel.

The Oregon State Police is releasing information related to employee compliance with Executive Order 21-29.  These employees are covered under a mix of policies, LOA’s and procedures and the Oregon State Police is committed to treating members fairly and consistently. 

Total number of OSP Employees In-Scope of EO 21-29

1267 Fully Vaccinated*

78% of OSP’s In-Scope employees

Submitted Exceptions – “Approved” as of 10/18/21 @ 11:59pm

15% of OSP’s In-Scope employees

  • 96% of those are Religious Exceptions
  • 4% of those are Medical Exceptions

Submitted Exceptions – “Pending Review” Status by Complex Leave Team as of 10/18/21 @ 11:59pm **

7% of OSP’s In-Scope employees

  • 65% of those are Religious Exceptions
  • 35% of those are Medical Exceptions

Protected Leave Status (Examples: Military/OFLA/FMLA/etc.)

.01% of OSP’s In-Scope employees

  • Prior to returning to work, these members will work with OSP’s Complex Leave Team to ensure they are also in compliance with EO 21-29.

Number of OSP Employees Placed on Administrative Leave on 10/19/21 – for Non-Compliance with EO 21-29

DAS reported today 778 OSP members are associated to the Oregon State Police Officer’s Association (OSPOA).  As of 10/19/21, OSPOA and the State of Oregon have not entered into an agreement regarding EO 21-29.

11 OSP employees are categorized as OSPOA membership and on Administrative Leave. 

  • Those 11 OSP members are valued employees and are working through the process with our agency to determine next steps.  The primary goal from the onset of EO 21-29 was to protect people, and this includes our valued members.  Each of these members have taken steps to comply with the EO and we will be working directly with them and their OSPOA leadership to remedy the situation.
  • 10 are sworn OSP members and 1 is a professional staff member

Number  of OSP Employees Non-OSPOA membership Utilizing the Grace Period as outlined in LOA/DAS Policy as of 10/19/21 – “In the Vaccination Process”

10 – Ten OSP members are exercising the option to either remote work (if appropriate and available), utilize personal leave banks or leave without pay status as they transition through the “In the Vaccination Process” period.

Number of OSP Employees that Resigned in Response to EO 21-29  

 4-Two professional staff and two sworn members cited EO21-29 at the time their resignations were submitted. 

*“Fully Vaccinated”: Means having received both doses of a two-dose COVID-19 vaccine or one dose of a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine and at least 14 days have passed since the individual’s final dose of COVID-19 vaccine.  This process must have occurred on or before October 18, 2021, as outlined in EO 21-29. 

** “Pending Review Status”: Means an OSP employee has submitted in writing a request for either a Medical or a Religious Exception.  The OSP Complex Leave team has not reviewed or processed these requests as of 10/19/21.  Those employees categorized as “Pending Review Status” are in compliance with EO 21-29 while in the “Pending Review Status”.


Are Oregonians more or less concerned about community health, the economy, and personal finances compared to previous months?


From September 14th through 22nd, 2021, the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center conducted a statewide survey of Oregonians’ values and beliefs. The questions were intended to gather preliminary data to inform more in-depth research in the months ahead.

This online survey consisted of 1,124 Oregon residents ages 18+ and took approximately 15 minutes to complete. This survey’s margin of error, for the full sample, ranges from ±1.8% 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 are 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 size permits reliability.

Findings will include a citation of the relevant question, which can be referenced in the annotated questionnaire and tabs, available on our blog at oregonvbc.org/blog, or sent directly upon request.

Right Direction or Wrong Track?

Oregonians’ opinions on the direction of our state have returned to the more pessimistic lows of last winter. About half of Oregonians say things in the state are headed off on the wrong track (49%). Nearly as many say things are headed in the right direction (45%), and the rest aren’t sure (Q1).

  • These results are almost identical to December 2020 (52% wrong track)1 and February 2021 (49% wrong track)2, and show increased pessimism from May 2021 (42% wrong track, 49% right direction)3.
  • The youngest and oldest Oregon adults are the most optimistic. Among people under 30, half say things are headed in the right direction (50%). Among people 75 and older, 60% say things are headed in the right direction.

Coronavirus Concerns

When thinking about coronavirus, concerns about community health remain high, whereas concerns about personal health have fallen slightly since last summer (Q2-4).

More than three-quarters of Oregonians say they are somewhat or very concerned about the health of their communities regarding coronavirus, a figure essentially unchanged since July 2020 (77% to 78%)4 (Q4). 

  • Levels of concern are similar across the state, irrespective of region (75% to 78%).

Meanwhile, 60% of Oregonians say they are concerned about their own health when it comes to coronavirus, a figure just slightly lower than in July 2020 (63%)4(Q2).

  • Concern is higher among vulnerable, older age groups than among young people: 68% of people 75 and older say they are concerned, compared to 51% of people under 30.

Concerns about the economy vis-à-vis coronavirus remain. All in all, Oregonians are more concerned about Covid-19’s impact on the economy than their individual health—but concern doesn’t mean the economy is in bad shape (Q5).

  • More than eight in ten Oregonians say they are somewhat or very concerned about the economy in the wake of coronavirus (84%), a figure that has slipped only slightly since July 2020 (87%)4.
  • People of all social ideologies share concerns about the economy (81% to 93%). This marks a difference from health concerns, about which liberals are significantly more concerned.

Oregon’s Economy

Oregonians are evenly split as to whether the state’s economy is good or poor. While 45%say it is good or very good, 44%say it ispoor or very poor (Q6).

  • Overall positivity about the state’s economy has increased 15 percentage points since the beginning of the pandemic. In April 20215 and June of 20206, 30% of Oregonians said the economy was good or very good.
  • Men are much more likely than women to report good economic conditions (53% to 37%).
  • Perceptions of economic conditions may be colored by one’s own financial standing or career path. People with household incomes of $100,000 or more were the most likely of any group to rate Oregon’s conditions as good or very good (69%), compared to people with lower incomes (33-47%).
  • Similarly, college graduates have a more positive outlook, and two-thirds say the state’s economy is good or very good (65%), compared to less than half of people with less education (33-40%).

Personal Financial Situation

While ratings of the state’s economy have grown more positive, many Oregonians remain worried about their own finances. More than half now say they are somewhat or very worried about their personal financial situation (53%) (Q9).

  • While overall sentiment has remained roughly the same over the past year, the figure representing those very worried about their finances has creeped up, from 16% in June 20206, to 19% in October 20207, to 21% today.
  • Women are nearly twice as likely to express deep worry than men (27% to 15%).
  • When it comes to those who described themselves as very worried about their finances, there is no notable difference between households with children and without (20%, 21%).
  • Millennials and Gen Xers say they’ve been hit hard. About one-third of Oregonians ages 30-54 say they are very worried about their financial situation (30-34%).

People outside the Portland tri-county region are more likely to say they are struggling financially (Q9).

  • Fewer than half of residents in the tri-county region say they are somewhat or very worried about their financial situation (47%). Meanwhile, in the Willamette Valley, that figure stands at 61%. In other reaches of the state, it sits at 57%.
  • Tri-county residents are also the most likely to say they aren’t worried at all about their financial situation (21%), almost double the rate for people in the valley or elsewhere in the state (12-13%).

Opening Oregon’s Economy

Few Oregonians believe the economy is “fully restarted” since the pandemic began (13%) (Q7).

  • Those who believe this are more likely to be under 30, have college degrees, and have high incomes (18-19%).

About one in five Oregonians feel an urgency to “open everything up and restart the economy” (Q8).

  • Back in June 20206, when many businesses were still closed and fewer people were sick in the ICU with Covid-19, more than one-fifth of Oregonians said they felt strongly it was time to open back up (21%). Yet, even then, more than half felt it was not safe yet (55%).
  • Now, many businesses have re-opened with restrictions, and the proportion of Oregonians eager to open back up has remained mostly stable (19%). Still, 56% say it is better to stay safe and wait.
  • Men are more likely than women to say that things should open back up, by a margin of ten points (42% to 32%).
  • Renters—who might approximate essential workers—are among the least eager to open back up (despite few differences by age). Just 28% say it is time to fully re-open, compared to 43% of homeowners.

Demographic Trends

Identifying What Unites Us and Understanding What Divides Us

Reported below are statistically significant subgroup differences between BIPOC and white Oregonians, and urban and rural Oregonians.  Many of these differences are not major and are presented to inform public education and communications initiatives.

BIPOC and white residents are equally likely to say things in Oregon are headed in the right direction (45%) (Q1).

  • By area, ruralites are much more wary. More than half (57%) say things are off on the wrong track. Meanwhile, about half of urbanites say things are headed in the right direction (49%).

Rural and urban residents are about equally likely to express concern about the health of their communities when it comes to coronavirus, with urban residents ever so slightly more concerned (74% to 79%) (Q4).

  • There is similarly almost no difference between rural and urban residents when it comes to concern about the economy in the wake of Covid-19 (85% to 83%) (Q5).

White residents are somewhat more concerned about the economy than BIPOC residents (86% to 74%). This figure could reflect partisan differences.

Rural areas of the state have been hit especially hard by painful impacts from the pandemic, drought, and wildfires. More than half of rural Oregonians rate economic conditions as poor or very poor (57%) (Q6). 

  • For urban and suburban areas, that figure floats between 38% and 41%.

BIPOC Oregonians are more likely to express worry over their personal financial situation (Q9).

  • Two-thirds of BIPOC residents say they are somewhat or very worried about their personal financial situation (66%), compared to about half of white residents (52%).
  • BIPOC and white residents rate economic conditions nearly identically (Q6).

Half of ruralites say it is time to open everything back up and restart the state’s economy (49%). They are joined by fewer than one in three urbanites (29%) (Q8).

This research was completed as a community service by the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center, an independent and non-partisan organization. OVBC is an Oregon charitable nonprofit corporation.  For more information, please see the OVBC September 2021 Survey Annotated Questionnaire and Crosstabs, visit Oregonvbc.org, or contact us.

Sinclair Broadcast Group, one of the largest TV station operators in the US, said Monday that a ransomware incident is disrupting some of its office and operational networks across the country. Some of their TV stations are in Medford, Eugene and Portland.

At an early afternoon town hall meeting held via Zoom, staffers were told that the ripple effects are widespread and the full ramifications are not yet known.

The intrusion “has caused — and may continue to cause — disruption to parts of the company’s business, including certain aspects of its provision of local advertisements by its local broadcast stations on behalf of its customers,” the company told investors. Shares traded down nearly 3%.

The disturbance impeded the production of local newscasts throughout the day on Sunday and again on Monday, according to staffers at some TV stations.

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