Klamath Basin News, 11/25 – Thanksgiving Arrives, Holiday Shopping, Heavy Traffic, Drive Carefully

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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, November 25, 2021

Klamath Basin Weather

Thursday, Thanksgiving Day Mostly sunny, with a high near 50. Overnight, cloudy, with a low around 25.

Friday Partly sunny, with a high near 54.
Saturday Mostly sunny, with a high near 58.
Sunday Mostly sunny, with a high near 58.

Today’s Headlines

AAA estimates that more than 53 million people are expected to travel for Thanksgiving. That is the highest single-year increase since 2005.You are going to want to take some extra time when traveling this holiday season.

Holiday travel can be stressful, but AAA has tips to make a trip go smoothly.

  • Driving? Make sure your car is checked out before hitting the road. AAA says they rescue more than 400,000 people during the Thanksgiving holiday.
  • If you still need to book anything — hotel or rental cars — you need to book those as soon as possible; the earlier, the better. Consider working with a travel advisor who can make any last-minute changes to travel plans and explore travel insurance options.
  • Protect yourself and your trip. As travel restrictions remain in flux, it’s essential to know requirements and recommendations based on your vaccination status, where you’re traveling from and where you’re traveling to.
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Oregon reports 869 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 51 new deaths

There are 51 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 5,066, Oregon Health Authority (OHA) reported today. OHA reported 869 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 today, bringing the state total to 386,634.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (11), Benton (3), Clackamas (68), Clatsop (5), Columbia (10), Coos (22), Crook (16), Curry (6), Deschutes (58), Douglas (43), Grant (1), Hood River (11), Jackson (50), Jefferson (3), Josephine (16), Klamath (40), Lake (3), Lane (68), Lincoln (11), Linn (23), Malheur (6), Marion (105), Morrow (2), Multnomah (83), Polk (54), Sherman (2), Tillamook (5), Umatilla (15), Union (16), Wallowa (5), Wasco (7), Washington (71) and Yamhill (30). 

COVID-19 hospitalizations 

The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 404, which is nine more than yesterday. There are 92 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is six more than yesterday. 

There are 44 available adult ICU beds out of 681 total (6% availability) and 316 available adult non-ICU beds out of 4,090 (8% availability).  The total number of patients in hospital beds may fluctuate between report times.

Klamath County Commissioner Donnie Boyd announced Tuesday during a routine board meeting that he plans to resign from his post on Jan. 10, 2022.

Near the end of a Klamath County Board of Commissioners’ business meeting, Boyd said he is resigning because of “personal reasons.” 

Boyd will have until Monday, Jan. 10, to put his resignation in writing and he will have three business days to withdraw that resignation if he so chooses, according to Rochelle Long, Klamath County Clerk. Long said commissioner Derrick DeGroot and board chair Kelly Minty Morris will appoint someone to fill Boyd’s seat, effective Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022 to serve through the end of the year. 

The individual appointed by the board will perform the duties of the office until the vacancy is filled in an election, Long said. 

The new commissioner will be elected in November 2022 and serve through 2024. Because the seat is a vacancy anyone wishing to run for the seat will have to file by March 8, 2022.  If two candidates file for the seat, they will automatically face off in the November election. But if more than two candidates file, they will face off in a May primary, Long said. Whoever wins the election will assume office in January 2023, she added. 

A Chiloquin man died Nov. 19 after crashing into a cow on Modoc Point road.

David Eugene Pelton, 57, was driving about 12:30 a.m. when he struck the bovine in the roadway near the intersection of Modoc Point and Toqua roads, according to the Klamath County Sheriff’s Office. Pelton died at the scene. The crash remains under investigation, according to the sheriff’s office. 

The Ross Ragland is excited to bring ‘A Christmas Story’ to the theater this holiday season!

A part of the Ragland Film Series, you can catch this holiday classic Thursday, December 2nd at 7:00PM.  

With the holidays right around the corner, Christmas movie marathons are sure to begin. A Christmas Story will certainly be at the top of everyone’s list! Based on the novel by Jean Shepherd, A Christmas Story was released in 1983 and is still enjoyed by audiences to this day. It’s the type of movie that can be watched repeatedly while never going out of style.  The nostalgia, memorable scenes, and brilliant cast make it a one-of-a-kind film that has become a staple of Christmas movies.

Don’t forget the 2021 Annual Gingerbread Building Competition is being held at the Ross Ragland as well! The Ragland’s lobby will be open to public for ticket holders to view the gingerbread creations prior to the movie starting!

Friends of the Children- Klamath Basin invites the community to combine gaming and giving this holiday season in the Ugly Sweater Game Night Challenge, open now through January 2.

Anyone interested in participating should register (free) at https://fckb.ejoinme.org/ugly2021, host a game night now through January 2 with a donate-to-play format, then send proceeds to Friends of the Children – Klamath Basin.

There are LEGO Advent Calendars for 2 of the first 20 registrants, host swag bags sponsored by Klamath Falls Subaru for the first 50 registrants, and 3 prizes sponsored by People’s Bank of Commerce: for the host who posts the best family-friendly ugly sweater group photo, the host who holds the most game nights, and the host who sends the biggest donation by January 4.

Friends of the Children is a national nonprofit that creates generational change by empowering youth facing the greatest obstacles through relationships with professional mentors, called “Friends,” for 12+ years. Friends of the Children originated in Portland, Oregon, in 1993. It was established in Klamath Falls in 2000. Learn more at friendsklamath.org.

Effective immediately, the Oregon Health Authority is lifting the outdoor mask mandate for outdoor settings. 

Additionally, The Oregon Department of Education released the following information regarding a lessening of quarantine requirements from students.

The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) and Oregon Health Authority (OHA) announced changes to Oregon’s COVID-19 prevention measures today: state health officials will lift outdoor mask requirements for large public gatherings and state education officials announced that an adequate and stable COVID-19 test kit supply has been acquired for all public and private schools in the state to be able to implement test to stay protocols.

Health officials at the Oregon Health Authority have lifted the requirement for outdoor mask wearing in crowded settings, effective immediately. The rule was implemented in August at the onset of Oregon’s most recent surge. Health officials noted that the outdoor mask rule was among the actions the state took to combat Oregon’s most recent and deadly COVID-19 surge, which has been fueled by the spread of the Delta variant, largely among unvaccinated Oregonians.

The outdoor mask rule, a rule that requires people to wear masks indoors in public settings and a slow but steady rise in vaccination rates, have helped reduce transmission rates. Health officials lifted the outdoor masks requirement in light of the overall progress Oregon has made to curb new infections and stabilize hospitalizations.

Graphic: Masks are no longer required in crowded outdoor settings.

The Oregon Health Authority is offering to pay pharmacies $35 for each dose of COVID-19 vaccine they give, a move that possibly could help pharmacies hire employees to deal with the growing workload that has resulted in long lines across the state.

The program, which launched this month, also is intended to boost vaccination rates and to ensure that vaccines are available to all residents, said Rudy Owens, a public affairs specialist for the Oregon Health Authority (OHA).

To qualify for the payments, pharmacies must meet certain standards for “vaccine equity,” including such things as offering multilingual signing for COVID-19 vaccinations, “expanded vaccine-related counseling aimed at boosting vaccine confidence,” and “a plan for ongoing evaluation and continuous improvement to ensure equitable access,” according to a flyer from OHA.

The agency’s other program more directly addresses the staffing shortages that have plagued pharmacies, as the state will pay temporary pharmacists to bolster workforces.

State Report Finds Oregon’s Aging Workforce Trend Expected To Accelerate

An October report by the Oregon Employment Department found the share of aging workers age 55 and older has tripled across the state over the past three decades — while the total number of jobs grew only about 50%.

According to the report, these aging workers held slightly more than 10% of jobs in the state in 1992, but by 2019, that number increased to 24%. The report cited that the large Baby Boomer generation, now 55 and over, are more likely to continue in the labor force at that age than previous generations.

“It’s important to consider the implications for businesses’ future ability to find enough workers,” Gail Krumenauer, state employment economist and author of the report, told the Business Tribune. “We’re already in a situation, with an unemployment rate at 4.4%, that is really low by historical standards. Employers are currently having widespread difficulty finding all the workers that they’d like to hire or need to hire.”

Many of these aging workers do plan to retire within the next decade — retiring their skillsets and knowledge, as well — and business owners will need to replace them somehow.

“Even though we should see some of that current (hiring) difficulty get alleviated in the coming months, in the longer-term with more workers hoping to retire in the coming years, that’s going to create a different but ongoing source of difficulty for them to have enough available workforce,” Krumenauer said.

The report found this aging workforce trend can be expected to accelerate in the near future. It also found the pace of retirements will quicken in industries that have higher shares of aged workers. In Oregon, the healthcare industry has the most aged workers, the report found — and rural counties have even more aged workers.

Authorities say a police officer and a suspect were shot in Clackamas County, Oregon. The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office says both the officer, a Gladstone police sergeant, and the suspect were expected to survive. The shooting happened late Monday. Multiple law enforcement agencies are investigating, including the the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, the Oregon State Police and the Gladstone and Happy Valley police departments.

State of Oregon to hold Hearing on Prescription Drug Prices Dec. 8

Division of Financial Regulation logo

The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services will be hosting a public hearing on prescription drug prices on Wednesday, Dec. 8, from 1 to 3 p.m. via Zoom.

Oregonians are encouraged to participate in two ways.

  1. Make your voice heard. The department set up a brief survey – http://dcbspage.org/RxStories – for consumers to ask questions and share their stories about rising prescription drug prices. Drug prices play a major role in health care decisions of Oregonians and the cost of many prescription drugs have steadily increased in the past 10 years. The department wants to know what questions you have about the cost of prescription drugs and how has it affected you and your family.
  2. Tune in to the hearing. The Department of Consumer and Business Services will host the public hearing via Zoom: http://dcbspage.org/RXDRUGPRICEHEARING2021. There will be opportunities to provide public testimony during the hearing. There will be invited panels on these topics: 
  • Approval of Aduhelm for Alzheimer’s 
  • Patient assistance programs and co-pay accumulators 

The Prescription Drug Price Transparency Act (ORS 646A.689) directed the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services to establish a transparency program to accept reports and disclose certain information from prescription drug manufacturers, health insurance carriers, and consumers on drug prices.

The goal of the program is to provide accountability for prescription drug pricing through the notice and disclosure of specific drug costs and price information from pharmaceutical manufacturers, health insurers, and consumers. The Division of Financial Regulation is part of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, Oregon’s largest business regulatory and consumer protection agency. Visit dfr.oregon.gov and dcbs.oregon.gov.  Oregon Dept. of Consumer & Business Services

CMS seeks public input on plan to expand Oregon Project Independence, create Family Caregiver Assistance Program

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is seeking public comment on an Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) application to apply for Medicaid funding to expand Oregon Project Independence and create a Family Caregiver Assistance Program. Both programs serve older adults and people with disabilities.

The application, which is being made through the Oregon Health Authority to CMS, is an 1115 demonstration waiver. The programs to be expanded and created are offered by the ODHS Office of Aging and People with Disabilities.

The federal comment period on the application extends through Dec. 16, 2021. To learn more about how to comment visit the CMS web page on the comment period.

Oregon has a track record of innovating programs to serve older adults and adults with disabilities, but gaps remain in Oregon’s system, especially for individuals with limited income. These Oregonians are at risk of requiring Medicaid when they need long-term care services and supports.

Nearly 800,000 Oregonians are age 65 and older. By 2030, this population is projected to increase by 25 percent. For those age 85 and older, and most at risk of needing Medicaid long-term care services and supports, the population is estimated to increase by 33 percent in the next 10 years, according to the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis.

The 1115 demonstration waiver would provide the following service expansions with Medicaid funding beginning in July 2022 for a five-year period:

• Oregon Project Independence would expand to serve 4,500 Oregonians, up from about 2,350 currently served. The federal matching funds will also permit local programs to serve additional younger adults with disabilities, whose participation has been limited to only one-third of Oregon counties.

Oregon Project Independence services include case management, in-home support and personal care services, adult day services, home delivered meals, assisted transportation, assistive technology, and other supports.

About $5 million in general funds that have been allocated by the Oregon Legislature for this program would not be matched. This ensures that the ODHS Office of Aging and People with Disabilities can continue to serve Oregonians who would not be eligible for the Medicaid-funded program introduced with the 1115 demonstration waiver.

• A Family Caregiver Assistance Program would be created to support qualifying Oregonians, whose family members provide them with care in their own homes, through a combination of state and federal funds. Oregonians who receive this assistance would be eligible to receive services and supports totaling no more than $500 per month, with an annual increase for inflation.

Oregonians served by this program would be able to choose from a list of services including caregiver respite, adult day services, transportation, assistive technology, caregiver training and education, and other services that the consumer finds compatible with the caregiving relationship they have with their caregiver.

This program would not replace the Older Americans Act funded Family Caregiver services. Instead, it would build on that program to serve additional individuals.

Additional information about the application may be found on the ODHS 1115 Medicaid Demonstration Waiver webpage. Included on the page are fact sheets that provide more information on the hypothesis being tested, the methodology, and the projected cost savings. — Oregon Department of Human Services

The Oregon Lottery would like to remind everyone that no matter the time of year, you must be at least 18 years old to play Lottery games.

Each holiday season, Oregon Lottery ticket sales experience a spike as people buy tickets as stocking stuffers, gift tags and easy-to-give gifts. The holiday gift-giving season also provides the Lottery with an opportunity to share the message that if the gift is a Lottery ticket, be sure the gift’s recipient is at least 18 years old.

“While we put added emphasis on this during the holidays, it is simply part of how we promote our games year-round,” said Oregon Lottery Senior Marketing Product Manager Stacy Shaw, also a board member of the Oregon Council on Problem Gambling. “We believe that responsible gaming is for all customers, all the time.”

During this holiday season, the Oregon Lottery and lotteries worldwide are partnering with the National Council on Problem Gambling and the International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-Risk Behaviors at Canada’s McGill University to promote giving lottery tickets responsibly. The Oregon Lottery has been part of this annual campaign for over a decade.

Oregon Lottery proceeds provide funding for free, confidential, and effective problem gambling treatment programs statewide. Since 1992, over $111 million in Lottery dollars has been directed to fund problem gambling treatment and awareness in Oregon.

Josephine County Public Health offers reduced COVID-19 quarantine for residents who test negative following exposure

Josephine County residents may be able to spend less time in quarantine after being exposed to COVID-19.

Josephine County Public Health will now allow residents exposed to COVID-19 to quarantine for seven days instead of 10 days if they test negative for the virus after the fourth day of quarantine and show no symptoms of the disease. This follows the latest Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Department of Education guidance for schools. Tests can be performed at a person’s place of business, at a lab or clinic, or by using a self-testing kit. Both Antigen and PCR testing is acceptable.

Despite the change, employers may require a stricter set of requirements be met before an employee can return to work. JCPH is available to support any employers that choose to observe stricter requirements relating to COVID-19 exposure. 

All residents can now report positive test results from commercially available self-testing kits to their health care provider or the JCPD COVID-19 call center at (541) 916-7030. Results must be reported within 48 hours of testing. A contact tracer will contact the individual for a confidential conversation and further guidance.

Visit co.josephine.or.us/COVID19 to schedule a vaccine appointment or for more information. Call the Josephine County COVID-19 Call Center at (541) 916-7030 to ask questions, schedule a vaccine appointment, schedule a testing appointment, schedule monoclonal antibody treatment, or report a positive home test.

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