Klamath Basin News, Thursday, Jan. 6 – Covid Vaccines and Boosters Available at Fairgrounds Today Thru 12th

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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, January 6, 2022

Klamath Basin Weather

Today Mostly cloudy, with a high near 44. Overnight rain and snow, mainly after 10pm. Snow level 4900 feet. Low around 33. Chance of precipitation is 80%. Little or no snow accumulation expected.

Friday Rain and snow. Snow level 4400 feet. High near 41. West southwest wind around 15 mph, with gusts as high as 23 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. Little or no snow accumulation expected, low of 23.
Saturday Partly sunny, with a high near 38. Low of 18.
Sunday Mostly sunny, with a high near

See Road Camera Views

Hiway 97 at GreenSprings Dr. (Bi-pass)
Lake of the Woods   
Doak Mtn.   
Hiway 97 at Chemult   
Hiway 140 at  Bly
Hiway 97 at LaPine

Today’s Headlines

The Herald and News is launching a reporting project months in the making. Focused on solutions to the Klamath Basin water crisis in the context of climate change, “Project Klamath” aims to shift the broader narrative about this beloved, ailing watershed. See it in its entirety at projectklamath.heraldandnews.com.

In May, the newspaper received funding to produce this project through a fellowship with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Environmental Solutions Initiative, which aims to unite local communities facing climate change impacts and other environmental problems. The funding allowed reporters to travel throughout the basin and hear a variety of perspectives on this long-standing water issue. That’s where “Project Klamath” hopes to pick up the baton. The basin has endured its most destructive summer in modern memory, bookending more than 100 years of development and policy that have decimated communities and environment.

Though everyone bears their own scars emerging from Water Year 2021, stakeholders narrowly avoided an actual “water war” and even secured a sizable federal windfall for restoration.

A Klamath Falls man was charged for a number of sex crimes after allegedly coercing a minor into sexual intercourse on a number of occasions.

Jarrod Martin Rains, 33, allegedly forced a minor, who was 16 years old at the time, to engage in sex acts with him on four separate occasions, according to a probable cause statement filed with the Klamath County Circuit Court. The alleged forced sexual contact spanned four months, taking place in Klamath Falls between June 2020 and September 2020, documents showed.

Rains is charged with three counts of first-degree sodomy, first-degree attempted sodomy, three counts of first-degree sexual abuse and three counts of third-degree sexual abuse. Rains was arraigned Tuesday. His next court date is scheduled for Monday, Jan. 10.

Oregon on Wednesday shattered its previous record of daily coronavirus infections as the Oregon Health Authority reported 6,203 new cases of COVID-19, 36 percent above the record established Tuesday and approaching double any daily case count tallied in previous waves of the pandemic.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (17), Benton (214), Clackamas (594), Clatsop (46), Columbia (49), Coos (136), Crook (37), Curry (5), Deschutes (716), Douglas (93), Gilliam (1), Grant (26), Hood River (37), Jackson (264), Jefferson (77), Josephine (89), Klamath (24), Lake (2), Lane (518), Lincoln (52), Linn (206), Malheur (14), Marion (395), Morrow (29), Multnomah (1268), Polk (94), Tillamook (29), Umatilla (218), Union (10), Wallowa (9), Wasco (23), Washington (874), Wheeler (3) and Yamhill (34).

State officials reported nine new deaths and 523 people hospitalized with confirmed cases, 13 more than Tuesday and consistent with the slow uptick in hospitalizations in recent weeks that health care experts forecast will continue as the highly-contagious but so-far less lethal omicron variant becomes more dominant in the state. Emergency departments in Oregon are under significant strain.

If you have a medical condition that doesn’t require emergency care, contact your provider. An urgent care center may also help you get the care you need and will save emergency departments from added strain.

The endless changes from the CDC keep coming. Yesterday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that younger teens ages 12 to 15 get a COVID-19 booster shot to enhance protection against the omicron variant.

Covid Vaccines and Boosters will now be available at the Klamath County Fairgrounds beginning today.

People looking to receive first, second or booster doses of Johnson & Johnson, Moderna or Pfizer vaccines soon will have week of opportunities, starting today.

Free COVID-19 vaccinations will be offered for those age five and older from 12:30 to 6:30 p.m. daily through Wednesday, Jan. 12 at Klamath County Fairgrounds’ main building in meeting room A.

Free transportation will be available. No appointments are necessary for vaccination. Spanish-language professionals will be onsite daily.

Around the state of Oregon

The Oregon Office of Emergency Management urged Oregonians to avoid traveling this week as many areas of the state recover from one major winter storm system and brace for another.

Officials said that a complex winter weather system is bringing heavy snowfall, ice, and high winds to parts of the state, and heavy rain and melting snow to others. OEM asked people to “stay home to stay safe” and ease the strain on the state’s response system along a number of treacherous roadways.

Southern Oregon has seen relatively fewer weather impacts than the northern and eastern reaches of the state this week, but more weather is on the way. Forecasts indicatet that another storm system will come into the region Thursday night into Friday. OEM said that it is monitoring and coordinating the response to statewide hazards, impacts, and needs, and trying to keep Oregonians informed of the available tools and resources to stay safe.

Meanwhile, crews from the Oregon Department of Transportation are working to keep roads clear and urging travelers to respect highway closures, give crews space to work, and never drive around barricades or pass snowplows on the right. Counties that are expecting to see flooding have established sandbag locations. 

For local flood advisories and sandbag locations, call 211.

Oregon Department of Transportation notice

Debris slides after periods of heavy rain are nothing new in in Oregon and that’s what happened in the Columbia River Gorge Thursday.

After days of rain and snow, a slide briefly closed the Historic Columbia River Highway, U.S. 30, early Thursday between Vista House and Larch Mountain Road. Crews were able to get the road open before sunrise, however.

Then came bigger problems. A Thursday morning slide between mileposts 36 and 37 forced the closures of Interstate 84 in both directions between exit 17 in Troutdale and exit 62 in Hood River. A jackknifed truck at milepost 53 in the eastbound lanes complicated recovery. ODOT expects an extended closure.

Oregon has been like that this week with lots of everything everywhere all the time. Even for Oregon it feels like it won’t stop. And we’re in for more with more snow expected by nightfall in the upper elevations, more rain in the lowlands and both in the Gorge.

We pay the price on the roads. Conditions remain unsettled across much of Oregon, including the mountain passes, and travelers need to use caution everywhere and consult Tripcheck.com to check their route in advance. And take a look at Tripcheck’s live camera network; many cameras include temperature and altitude information that can help you better understand your route.

In Eastern Oregon, OR 334 remains closed Thursday by heavily drifting snow. Interstate 84 re-opened completely in Eastern Oregon Wednesday after weather-related closures.

With all this rain, travelers need to be prepared for delays caused by high water, rising rivers, downed trees or slides. Consider packing a bag with supplies like water, food, a charged phone and other necessities that might be needed in a lengthy closure.

And if you’re out on the roads, look out for the crews who have been working so hard everywhere in recent days to keep the roads safe and clear. Give crews a wide berth so they can get the job done. 

Former Oregon House Republican Leader Christine Drazan announced Tuesday that she will be running for governor.

Rep. Drazan is adding her name to a growing list of Republican candidates running for the governor’s seat. She stepped down as House Republican leader in late 2020, ahead of the announcement. Democrats have held the state’s highest office for more than three decades. Current Gov.

Kate Brown is term-limited. In her announcement, she said, “Through these conversations, it has become clear that Oregonians are ready for change. They are tired of the backroom deals, the broken promises and the failed leadership. They are tired of our state consistently being in the national headlines for all the wrong reasons. Frankly, I am too”.

The average price of gas in Oregon is up six cents a gallon over the last week, which is the largest increase in the country.

The triple-A reports Oregon’s average is three-dollars-and-83-cents-a-gallon. A refinery fire in Texas and distribution problems due to weather in the Pacific Northwest caused prices to increase. Oregon’s average is fifth highest in the country.

Washington State is third with an average price of three-dollars-and-89-cents.  Bend’s average price for a gallon of regular is $3.91. 

Klamath Falls is generally two cents higher than Bend.

Following COVID-19 spread throughout Oregon, Portland Public Schools announced on Tuesday night that mitigation strategies from the spring of 2021 will be returning to extracurricular activities until at least Feb. 4.  

Will those adjustments happen statewide soon?  The changes come following new recommendations from Oregon health officials on Monday, asking that schools either implement new safeguards to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Oregon, or put a pause on extracurriculars altogether.

The new protocols will be going in to effect immediately, and include: Students and performers must wear a mask at all times, including during competitions and performances, Limited access to locker rooms, No overnight travel for competitions or performances, No concession stands available at events and Spectators age 5 and up must show a proof of vaccination or show a negative COVID-19 test within the last 72 hours.

So far, no other districts in the state have followed the PPS mandate.

A longtime employee with the Oregon Department of Transportation passed away over the weekend after he was critically injured on the job last week, ODOT public information officer Gary Leaming confirmed on Tuesday.

58-year-old Wes Hamner fell from a front-end loader that had just been secured to a trailer at the ODOT facility near I-5 Exit 6 last Thursday, Leaming said. His co-workers did what they could to tend to his injuries until an ambulance arrived.

Hamner died on Sunday at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center. Oregon OSHA and ODOT’s own safety division are now investigating the circumstances of Hamner’s fall, the spokesman said. Southern Oregon had just gotten through the worst of a series of winter storm systems last Thursday when the fall happened, with ODOT crews working hard to keep roadways clear.

Airbnb will soon block hosts in Oregon from seeing prospective guests’ full names, in an anti-racism experiment.

For two years, beginning January 31st, Oregon landlords offering houses and apartments on the popular short-term rental website will initially see only guests’ first initials. Full names won’t appear until after the booking is confirmed. The experiment Airbnb announced Tuesday is aimed at curbing discrimination against Black travelers.

Oregon And Washington Facing Severe Blood Shortage

Blood service organizations like the American Red Cross and Bloodworks Northwest have called on the public for help, as the region reaches unprecedented blood shortage levels.

“There is truly an unprecedented, prolonged national blood shortage,” said Bloodworks Northwest Executive Vice President of Blood Services, Vicki Finson . “I would call it a crisis.”Blood shortage: Red Cross in need of donors”

Finson said the dire, pre-existing need for donors was exacerbated by recent inclement weather, staff shortages, and the Omicron variant surge. “Locally, as we speak right now, we have less than 50% of a one-day supply of blood,” Finson explained.

American Red Cross Regional Biomedical Services Support Manager for the Pacific Northwest Region, Mack Fitz-Gerald says that road closures caused by the winter storms have forced the organization to close blood drives and cancel blood transport to local hospitals in need.

“In the last two weeks alone, the Red Cross in our Pacific Northwest region has seen about 1,000 units lost,” said Fitz-Gerald. “That is critical to us. That is 3,000 potential lives that have been affected. And the only way we can make that better is to try and get the donors in the door now to help fulfill that need.”

He added, “To most people 1000 units doesn’t sound like much, but to us it is detrimental. It’s a huge loss. When we’re already impacted by COVID, and the normal deficit as it is, this is really devastating.”

Although, Bloodworks Northwest and The American Red Cross both claim to be experiencing ongoing staff shortages, the organizations say they have enough staff to meet the rise in demand and service incoming donors.

“We do have adequate staff to be collecting way more blood than we are right now. But it is impacting our ability to set up pop-ups,” Finson stated. “I don’t think anyone has gone without a transfusion, but I know there have been delays.”

According to Fitz-Gerald, the severe lack of blood donations comes down to a matter of life and death.

“You don’t want to use the word death, but that’s exactly what it is,” he explained. “The blood product services and platelets go to the hospitals for a reason, whether it be for surgeries or other life saving issues.”

Fitz-Gerald continued, “So, if we’re not getting it [blood] there, and patients are postponing surgeries or not having procedures done, that could have a detrimental impact on those individual’s lives.”

Bloodworks Northwest currently has all centers open . Blood donations can be scheduled online and are available by appointment only.

Finson said, sometimes appointments go quickly — but that doesn’t mean the need has been met. She recommends making an appointment for a later time, if possible.

“You might try to make an appointment and not find something and think, ‘Oh gosh, they don’t need me.’ Yes we do!” Exclaimed Finson. “We draw blood 364 days of the year, patients are transfused 365 days. This is ongoing, it’s forever, and everyday. So don’t get discouraged. Whenever you donate, you’re helping.”

The American Red Cross is accepting blood donor appointments online , through their app , and over the phone at: 1-800-398-7888.

“Having these shortages and patients not be able to have their lives saved due to the blood not being there is a huge problem right now.” Fitz-Gerald said. “The number one reason why people don’t donate is because they weren’t asked. So we just need to put the ask out there. We desperately need it, the patients need it.”

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