Klamath Basin News, Thursday, 10/21 – County Has 52 New Covid-19 Cases; White House Wants Vaccinations for children ages 5-11; FDA OKs mixing COVID Vaccines; Backs Moderna, J&J Boosters

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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.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Klamath Basin Weather

Today A 20% chance of rain after 11am. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 63. Tonight, rain with a low around 40. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New precipitation amounts between a half and three quarters of an inch possible.

Friday Rain before 11am, then a chance of showers after 11am. Snow level 6500 feet lowering to 5800 feet. High near 52. New precipitation amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.
Saturday Rain much of the day. Snow level 6000 feet rising to 6700 feet in the afternoon. High near 49. Overnight low around 37. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.
Sunday Rain. Snow level 7200 feet rising to 7900 feet in the afternoon. High near 51.
Monday Showers. Snow level 5300 feet rising to 5900 feet in the afternoon. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 50.
Tuesday Showers. Snow level 5700 feet rising to 6800 feet in the afternoon. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 50.

Today’s Headlines

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The Klamath 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 worth an estimated $20 million. Read more below.

Another day and another large marijuana operation is discovered in Klamath Falls. On Tuesday, law enforcement found more than 17,600 pounds of mostly processed marijuana buds with a street value of more than $20 million after executing a search warrant on a downtown Klamath Falls warehouse located in the 300 block of Market Street.

According to law enforcement, the 20,550-square-foot facility was filled with drying and processed marijuana, as well as tents and temporary living quarters for 28 workers who were detained and later released.

Two small children were also living inside the warehouse with their parents, who were working as trimmers for the illegal marijuana production, according to police. DHS Child Welfare responded to the scene and investigated.

The illegal marijuana was seized and destroyed at the Klamath County Waste Management Landfill. The Basin Interagency Narcotics Enforcement Team (BINET) searched the property after information from a Klamath County Sheriff’s Office investigation into grows busted in August and September. An even larger illegal facility was busted earlier this month.

The illegal marijuana operation was operating under the guise of licensed hemp production, according to police. However, on site testing did note the presence of THC. One man was cited and released for felony unlawful manufacture of marijuana. Additional charges on other suspects will be referred to the Klamath County District Attorney’s Office.

Oregon reports 1,343 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 9 new deaths

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is reporting 1,343 new confirmed and presumptive cases on Wednesday, bringing the state total to 354,681.  The state is also reporting nine new COVID-19 related deaths overnight.  The state’s death toll due to Covid-19 is now 4,235.

 The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported Wednesday were in the following counties: Baker (15), Benton (17), Clackamas (108), Clatsop (12), Columbia (11), Coos (26), Crook (17), Curry (4), Deschutes (111), Douglas (60), Gilliam (1), Harney (2), Hood River (10), Jackson (76), Jefferson (30), Josephine (28), Klamath (52), Lake (7), Lane (79), Lincoln (18), Linn (59), Malheur (44), Marion (155), Morrow (7), Multnomah (132), Polk (51), Sherman (2), Tillamook (4), Umatilla (44), Union (8), Wallowa (6), Wasco (17), Washington (105) and Yamhill (25).

There were 568 COVID hospitalizations in Oregon, which was six more than Tuesday, and 126 patients in ICU beds, which was a decrease of four. There were 63 available adult ICU beds out of 703 total (9% availability) and 267 available adult non-ICU beds out of 4,113 (6% availability).

OHA reported that 13,077 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry on Oct. 19. The seven-day running average is now 9,343 doses per day.

Oregon has now administered 3,195,848 doses of Pfizer Comirnaty, 1,933,674 doses of Moderna and 223,599 doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines. To date, 2,791,014 people have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 2,577,281 people have completed a COVID-19 vaccine series.

Sky Lakes Medical Center reports they are at capacity. The hospital reports an overall patient census of 99 (as of yesterday), including 25 covid patients.  Six of those patients are in intensive care.   Two of the 25 patients in covid care are vaccinated.

COVID numbers in Klamath County remain high but stable, allowing members of the Air National Guard stationed for the last month at Sky Lakes Medical Center to wind down their mission.

All National Guard members are expected to depart by the end of November, though that could change if COVID numbers trend upward in the near future.

Tom Hottman, public information officer at Sky Lakes, said the hospital is thankful for the 48 temporary, trained healthcare staff who were dispatched to the hospital, as well as the 23 members of the National Guard who provided non-clinical assistance during the current COVID spike. In August, Gov.

Kate Brown activated up to 1,500 Oregon National Guard members to assist in hospitals overwhelmed by COVID patients. The Guard members assisting at Sky Lakes are all from the 173rd Fighter Wing unit housed at Kingsley Field Air National Guard Base in Klamath Falls.

As of Tuesday, she said there were 13 members of the 173rd Fighter Wing unit still working out of Sky Lakes. Hottman said the hospital will ask the state to lengthen the National Guard assistance if COVID again threatens to exhaust current resources.

As of Tuesday, the Oregon State Police had seen little fallout from the state’s vaccine deadline for state employees on Monday, according to numbers provided by the agency.

The news broke earlier in the day that OSP’s northern counterparts, the Washington State Patrol, had terminated the employment of 127 employees after reaching their own state-mandated deadline.

According to OSP data provided on Tuesday, there were 1,267 employees who fell within the scope of Executive Order 21-29, which mandated vaccination against COVID-19.

Of those, 78% provided proof of vaccination. Almost all of the remaining OSP employees either had an exception approved or had submitted for an exception that is pending review. Of all in-scope OSP employees, 15% had an exception approved as of Monday night. The vast majority of those exceptions, 96%, were for a “sincerely held religious belief.” Only the remaining 4% were for medical reasons. Exceptions pending review accounted for 7% of OSP’s employees within the scope of the mandate.

The proportion for these pending exceptions was significantly different — 65% religious and 35% medical. According to OSP, employees in this category are considered to be in compliance with the mandate while still under review.

Oregon could achieve herd immunity for COVID-19 by December 26th.

Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University say new modeling suggests the amount of vaccination and infection occurring in the state will lead to a continued decline in the infection rate. Currently, there are less than six-hundred hospitalized patients, which is about half of what the state saw at the peak of the Delta variant surge.

FDA OKs mixing COVID vaccines; backs Moderna, J&J boosters 

U.S. regulators on Wednesday signed off on extending COVID-19 boosters to Americans who got the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine and said anyone eligible for an extra dose can get a brand different from the one they received initially.

The Food and Drug Administration’s decisions mark a big step toward expanding the U.S. booster campaign, which began with extra doses of the Pfizer vaccine last month.

But before more people roll up their sleeves, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will consult an expert panel later this week before finalizing official recommendations for who should get boosters and when.

The latest moves would expand by tens of millions the number of Americans eligible for boosters and formally allow “mixing and matching” of shots — making it simpler to get another dose, especially for people who had a side effect from one brand but still want the proven protection of vaccination.

Specifically, the FDA authorized a third Moderna shot for seniors and others at high risk from COVID-19 because of their health problems, jobs or living conditions — six months after their last shot. One big change: Moderna’s booster will be half the dose that’s used for the first two shots, based on company data showing that was plenty to rev up immunity again.

For J&J’s single-shot vaccine, the FDA said all U.S. recipients should get a second dose at least two months following their initial vaccination.

The FDA rulings differ because the vaccines are made differently, with different dosing schedules — and the J&J vaccine has consistently shown a lower level of effectiveness than either of the two-shot Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

Vaccinations for children ages 5-11 pushed by The White House

We will see what parents think of this as the administration and The White House is moving quickly today to begin rolling out its plan to vaccinate children ages five to 11, as soon as the Pfizer shot is authorized, which could happen in early November 2021.

The plan is to give the vaccines in kid-friendly spaces, including more than 25,000 pediatric and primary care provider sites. The administration is planning an educational campaign to ease any concerns parents may have.

“These vaccine doses will be shipped with all of the supplies necessary to vaccinate kids, including smaller needles,” said Jeffrey Zients, the White House COVID Response Coordinator.

For adults, the Food and Drug Administration could authorize the mix and match of different COVID-19 vaccines as booster shots as soon as today.

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Around the state of Oregon

JCSO Investigating Domestic Violence Homicide Near Ruch. Suspect in Hospital with Self-inflicted Gunshot Wound, Victim Dead from Apparent Gunshot Wounds

Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) is investigating a domestic violence homicide that occurred early Wednesday morning on the 3300 block of Little Applegate Rd. near Ruch. The suspect, David Allen Karnes, 54, of Ruch, is at a local hospital with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, pending charges from the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office.

ECSO dispatch received a call at 12:21 a.m. for a gunshot victim. JCSO deputies and Oregon State Police (OSP) troopers responded to find the suspect barricaded inside the residence. JCSO’s Crisis Negotiators Team (CNT) and SWAT were called in to assist. The suspect did not respond to verbal commands and refused to exit the residence. At 2:49 a.m. a single gunshot was heard as the SWAT Team entered the residence to find the suspect suffering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound and the victim deceased from apparent gunshot wounds. Lifesaving measures were performed on the suspect and a Mercy Flight ambulance took him to a local hospital where he is listed in serious condition.

The victim, Constance Maria Murphy, 54, of Ruch, was married to the suspect. Investigations are ongoing with JCSO detectives being assisted by OSP Forensics crime lab. Further information will come from the DA’s Office. — JCSO Case #21-5574 Jackson Co. Sheriff’s Office

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The 2021 Fire Season is now at an end, the Oregon Department of Forestry announced on Wednesday.

It began particularly early this year, on May 12, as the region saw unseasonably hot and dry conditions. The declaration affects 1.8 million acres of state, private, county, city, and Bureau of Land Management forestlands in counties protected by ODF, and eliminates all public regulated use restrictions and industrial fire precaution level requirement ODF said that it responded to 278 fires during the 2021 season, with 273 acres burned. No homes were damaged or destroyed by wildland fires in Jackson or Josephine counties this year.

Forestry officials credited the successful season to aggressive initial attack strategies and well-trained firefighter crews, as well as other fire agency partners in the region — both federal and local.

Oregon’s unemployment rate dropped to four-point-seven percent in September from five-percent in August.

A total of 102-thousand Oregonians are unemployed, which is down from a high of 270-thousand during the pandemic shutdown in April, 2020. The total number of jobs declined by 200 after an increase of 89-hundred jobs in August.

Government had the most losses. Professional and Business Services had the most gains. The private sector added 36-hundred jobs last month.

Great Oregon ShakeOut earthquake drill today! 10/21 at 10:21

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. 

Barn Fire in Eugene Turns into Large Scale Illegal Marijuana Operation

On 10/19/2021 The Lane County Sheriff’s Office along with several local fire agencies responded to an address in the 81000blk of Hwy. 99 south of Creswell regarding a structure fire. While on scene authorities observed evidence indicating the location to be involved in a large-scale criminal marijuana manufacturing and trafficking operation.

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Deputies applied for and were able to obtain a search warrant to seize evidence related to this operation. Deputies executed the search warrant on the morning of 10/20/21 and seized a very high volume of marijuana. Over 2,000 marijuana plants were seized in addition to over 200lbs of processed, ready-to-sell marijuana. The local street market value of the marijuana seized is estimated at over two million dollars. This value if sold outside the State of Oregon could easily be tripled. Evidence was also obtained that this was an unlicensed, non-medical marijuana operation.

This investigation is on-going and formal charges have not yet been filed. The Lane County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the Oregon State Police Northwest Region Marijuana Team for their assistance with this investigation.

Limited Production Pinot Noir Cuvee Benefits Wildfire Relief and Prevention

Oregon Dept. of Forestry – 10/20/21 4:22 PM
Union Wine Company and six of Oregon’s top wineries partnered with Keep Oregon Green to introduce a limited production Oregon Pinot Noir Cuvee with 100% of sales going toward wildfire relief and prevention.

Keep Oregon Green® is collaborating with Union Wine Company and six of Oregon’s top wineries to introduce a limited production Oregon Pinot Noir cuvee with 100% of sales going toward wildfire relief and prevention.

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Since 1941, the non-profit Keep Oregon Green Association has promoted healthy landscapes and safe communities by educating the public of our shared responsibility to prevent human-caused wildfires in the state. Over 70% of Oregon’s wildfire ignitions are attributed to people’s daily activities. This collaborative wine project is an opportunity to increase awareness among wine lovers of the need to prevent the next wildfire while supporting a worthy cause.

80% of the proceeds of this wine will go to the Oregon Community Foundation’s Community Rebuilding Fund, helping Oregonians whose communities have been leveled by wildfires. The remaining 20% will go to Keep Oregon Green® to help them with their mission of preventing human caused wildfires in Oregon through education and engagement.

“The 2020 wildfire season affected Oregon’s wine country, proving it’s not immune to a severe wildfire threat,” said Kristin Babbs, president of the Keep Oregon Green Association. “We are proud to introduce this 100% Oregon-grown Pinot Noir, where all ingredients and services were donated, and where 100% of the proceeds go toward relief, recovery, and wildfire prevention efforts.”

About the wine: The Oregon Pinot Noir is a blend of Oregon Pinot Noir grapes from Stoller Wine Group, Furioso Vineyards, Willamette Valley Vineyards, Ponzi Vineyards, A to Z Wineworks and Bjornson Vineyards, and packaged by Union Wine Company.

“At Stoller, we have a deep appreciation for our land and desire to support our community,” said Melissa Burr, vice president of winemaking for the Stoller Wine Group. “We were thrilled to participate and collaborate on this project.”  

“2020 was a tough year for all of us here in Oregon, but it brought into light how amazing and supportive our wine community really is,” said Darin Dougherty, Marketing Director at Union Wine Company. “We can always find ways to learn, grow and be more aware of the impact we have on our ever-changing environment. We’re so excited to support Keep Oregon Green’s mission to drive awareness around human caused wildfires.”

Whether at home, on the job, or out having fun, Keep Oregon Green reminds Oregonians that it’s important to be able to predict the outcome of common outdoor activities that could possibly spark a wildfire. Babbs said that as the state’s population continues to grow, urban boundaries expand, and wildfires increase in frequency, intensity and cost, Keep Oregon Green’s message is more important than ever. “The power and responsibility of wildfire rests squarely in our hands.”

The wine is now available at select New Seasons Market and Market of Choice stores, the participating wineries’ tasting rooms, or online through Union Wine Company’s website at www.unionwinecompany.com

To learn more about wildfire prevention, go to www.keeporegongreen.org.  — Oregon Dept. of Forestry

Earthquake Swarms at Mount Hood

Mount Hood, Oregon’s biggest volcano, is being rocked by a new swarm of earthquakes just months after a similar swarm struck the volcano. In the previous 30 days, 41 earthquakes have hit Mount Hood’s slopes and peaked; in the last 24 hours, 33 earthquakes have struck. The majority of the earthquakes have hit the southern flank of the stratovolcano in the previous 24 hours. The strongest of the earthquakes was a 2.5 that occurred earlier Wednesday.

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The Cascades Volcano Observatory (CVO) of the United States Geological Survey (USGS) keeps track of volcanoes in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. CVO has not modified the volcanic warning level or the aviation color code at Mount Hood, despite classifying it as a “very high danger potential.” Therefore, the current volcano warning level is just “NORMAL,” with “GREEN” as the aviation color code.

“Several tens of minor earthquakes have occurred near the peak of Mount Hood,” the USGS stated in a statement on the earthquake swarm. This isn’t a lava eruption. This swarm of earthquakes started late on Sunday, October 17th. The greatest magnitude so far has been M2.5, with depths ranging from 1-3 km below sea level (3-5 km below the surface). There have been no recorded earthquakes. Swarms at this depth and position are frequent at Mount Hood, and they do not signal an increase in the volcanic threat. Swarms in the past have lasted anything from a few days to a couple of weeks.”

According to the USGS, an earthquake swarm consists of largely minor earthquakes with no discernible mainshock. Swarms are typically short-lived, although they can last for days, weeks, or even months at a time. They frequently repeat in the same places.

The majority of swarms are linked to geothermal activity. Swarms aren’t always linked to earthquakes. A series of earthquakes that occur following a bigger mainshock on a fault is known as aftershocks.

Aftershocks occur in the fault zone where the mainshock ruptured and are part of the fault’s “readjustment process” following the main slide. With time, aftershocks become less frequent. However, they might last for days, weeks, months, or even years in the case of a big mainshock.

Mount Hood is the state’s highest mountain and the state’s biggest volcano. It’s roughly 50 miles east-southeast of Portland and was formed by a subduction zone on the Pacific Coast in the Pacific Northwest. Mount Hood rises to a height of 1,240 feet and is home to 12 recognized glaciers and snowfields. While the USGS classifies the volcano as “possibly active,” the peak is now considered inactive.

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