Klamath Basin News, Wednesday, 1/19 – Oregon Health Authority Reporting Over 28,000 New Covid Cases in Four Days, 10 Deaths in the State

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Mick-insurance-2020-new-728x90-1-1024x127.jpg
Mick Insurance, call 541-882-6476

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.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Klamath Basin Weather

Today Partly sunny, with a high near 48. Overnight, cloudy with a low around 30. Calm wind.

Thursday Patchy freezing fog before 10am. Mostly sunny, with a high near 51.
Friday Mostly sunny, with a high near 48.
Saturday Sunny, with a high near 48.

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Coronavirus-update-1.jpg

With the swarm of cases of the Omicron variant, the Oregon Health Authority is today reporting the weekend, Monday and Tuesday Covid cases revealing 10 new COVID-19 related deaths, raising the state’s death toll to 5,893. OHA reported 28,037 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of yesterday, bringing the state total to 541,415.

Today’s total also reflects the weekend and MLK Jr. holiday Jan. 17th. The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 911, which is 51 more than yesterday (1/17). There are 152 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is four more than yesterday.

Here in the basin, 514 new cases were reported in Klamath County.  A whopping 1,835 new cases were reported in Jackson County.

The Oregon Health Authority wants to know when at-home COVID-19 tests results are positive. OHA has created a website where you can report the results. It’ll give health officials a better idea of how widespread COVID-19 is in the community. People who report test results on the website or telephone hotline can also get information on isolation and quarantine. The hotline is 866-917-8881.

Due to staffing shortages, Stearns Elementary School will be closed to students this week (Jan. 18-21). Plans are to reopen on a regular schedule Monday, Jan. 24. The school will contact families if there are any changes or updates. Updates also will be posted on the Klamath County School District website at www.kcsd.k12.or.us.

Also due to staffing shortages, Peterson Elementary School will be closed to students Wednesday, Jan. 19, Thursday, Jan. 20, and Friday, Jan. 21. Plans are to reopen on a regular schedule on Monday, Jan. 24. The school will contact families if there are any updates. Updates also will be posted on our website at www.kcsd.k12.or.

In 2021, Klamath County Fire District 1 was dispatched on more calls than ever before — despite employing the same number of personnel that it did 24 years ago.

In the most recent KCFD1 data available, in 2021 the fire department responded to a total of 8,873 calls in Klamath Falls, roughly 75 percent of which were for emergency medical services.

Countywide, the number of 2021 calls was 9,065. That is an increase of 1,270 calls over the fire department’s previous record, set in 2019. As call numbers have increased, the department’s budget has grown along with it.

The fire department’s total operating budget increased by 46 percent from 2017 to 2021 — from $9.4 million to $13.8 million. But employment numbers haven’t kept pace. In 2021, KCFD employed 75 people, 63 of whom are dedicated to providing emergency response. That’s the same number of employees it had in 1998, when call loads were much lower.

Fire Chief Greg Davis said the fire department averaged nearly 25 calls per day — roughly one call per hour.

The newest building on the Sky Lakes Medical Center campus will be renamed to honor Paul Stewart, the medical center’s long-time president and chief executive officer, who retired in December.

John Bell, chairman of the Sky Lakes Board of Directors says the Paul Stewart Collaborative Health Center at Sky Lakes is everything that Paul Stewart demonstrated over three decades of leadership as CEO.  It represents collaboration, working together toward a common goal through cooperation and partnerships that strive to fulfill a common vision, with confidence in our community and optimism for its future.

Bell announced the name change January 14, during a private retirement celebration for Stewart. The 100,000-square foot, four-story Sky Lakes Collaborative Health Center opened in January 2020. It’s home to the Sky Lakes Primary Care Clinic, the Cascades East Family Medicine Clinic, and the Oregon Health & Science University Campus for Rural Health.

Joanne Moorer-Roberts and her daughter have stepped down as directors of the local Toys for Tots program. The program has grown.

Moorer-Roberts said when they started, they only operated in Klamath County and served about 1,200 children. Over the past five years, they’ve expanded to Lake County and now serve nearly 5,000. 

Certain facets of family life revolved around Toys for Tots. Guests to Moorer’s birthday parties were asked to turn their gifts into donations. October through December of each year became dedicated to the program. They’d shop after Thanksgiving and in December they’d work 60 hours per week. They said they’ve also been impressed by how much the local community has stepped up donations since COVID-19 knocked many people out of their daily routines.

Anyone interested in potentially taking over the local Toys for Tots can call 541-238-5353 or email klamath.falls.or@toysfortots.org.

Around the state of Oregon

Oregon’s Democratic state lawmakers issued a statement marking Martin Luther King Jr. Day by calling on Congress to pass two bills that would expand voting rights at the federal level.

The two bills — the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the For the People Act — have previously passed in the US House, but face near-certain defeat in the Senate. While Senate Democrats largely support the two bills, they lack the votes needed to overcome a Republican filibuster.

Democrats see the bills as a remedy for the wave of more restrictive voting laws passed by Republican-controlled state legislatures in the wake of the 2020 election. Some aspects of the For the People Act are already the law of the land in Oregon, such as universal mail-in voting. Others, like campaign finance reform and efforts to rein in gerrymandering, would be as new to Oregon as they would other states.

President Joe Biden called on Democrats last week to overhaul the filibuster in order to pass the two bills, but Senator Kyrsten Sinema signaled her intransigence on the topic. Democrats will be unable to change the filibuster without every party member in the Senate onboard.

From the White House today, the Biden administration will begin making 400 million N95 masks available for free to U.S. residents starting next week. They are hoping to continue emphasizing better mask protection against the omicron variant of COVID-19 over cloth face coverings.

The White House announced Wednesday that the masks will come from the government’s Strategic National Stockpile, which has more than 750 million of the highly protective masks on hand. The masks will be available for pickup at pharmacies and community health centers across the country. They will begin shipping this week for distribution starting late next week, the White House said.

This will be the largest distribution of free masks by the federal government to the public since the COVID-19 pandemic began. In early 2020, then-President Donald Trump’s administration considered and then shelved plans to send masks to people at their homes. President Joe Biden embraced the initiative after facing mounting criticism this month over the inaccessibility — both in supply and cost — of N95 masks as the highly transmissible omicron variant swept across the country.

After facing similar criticism over a winter shortage of COVID-19 at-home test kits, Biden this week launched a website for Americans to order four rapid tests to be shipped to their homes for free, with the first tests to ship later this month.

The White House said the masks will be made available at pharmacies and community health centers that have partnered with the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign.

Officers from the Medford Police Department are actively searching for the suspect in two bank robberies that happened Tuesday morning.

MPD learned just after 10 a.m. that the First Interstate Bank and Banner Bank, nearby one another in the 2600-block of E Barnett Road, had both been robbed. The suspect was last seen on foot, heading toward the Larson Creek bike path. MPD indicated that no weapon had been seen in either robbery. St. Mary’s High School temporarily went on lockdown as officers searched around the campus.

Police said that the suspect’s description varies, but he’s believed to be a white male, in his mid-’40s, between 5’8″ and 6’0″ with a medium build. He was wearing a dark or camo-colored hoody, black sunglasses, and a blue-colored or American flag style mask.

Eugene Police have identified the people shot Friday when an unidentified gunman opened gunfire outside the WOW Hall on Friday night.

According to police, 5 of the 6 are from out of the area. Four of the six victims were from Pendelton, Oregon.

In the aftermath of the shooting, Police Chief Chris Skinner said witnesses were not cooperative with the officers who first responded to the scene. Skinner called the scene “chaotic” and says it’s one of the most significant shootings to ever happen in Eugene.

In an industry that has become overtaxed and overregulated, an unwelcome trend is spreading in Northern California, as the nation’s most populous state enters its fifth year of broad legal marijuana sales.

Industry experts say a growing number of license holders are secretly operating in the illegal market – working both sides of the economy to make ends meet. Legal businesses have long complained that heavy taxes and regulation, paired with thriving illegal sales, make it impossible for licensed shops to turn a profit. Industry executives recently warned Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom the market could collapse. Some estimates say $3 of every $4 in the pot economy are spent in the illegal marketplace.

An Ashland man was formally charged on Tuesday for allegedly grooming and sexually abusing a 14-year-old boy, according to the Ashland Police Department.

64-year-old Frederick Mark Hutchinson was arrested on January 13. APD said that for a period of months, Hutchinson had actively groomed the victim before sexually abusing him. A Jackson County grand jury approved an indictment of Hutchison on Tuesday, charging him with first-degree sex abuse, third-degree sex abuse, and felony delivery of marijuana to a person under 21.

The Ashland Police Department believes that Hutchinson may have had other victims, and the agency has requested that anyone with additional information call Detective Dan Moulin at 541-552-2178.

Back to the Wynne Broadcasting BasinLife.com Homepage

Must Read

Klamath Basin News, Monday, 3/8 – Low Faculty Morale at Oregon Tech is Concern of Faculty Staff and Senior Administration Officials

Brian Casey

Klamath Basin News, Friday 4/12/19 – City Schools Enrollment Down, Lake County Declares Emergency Over Flooding

Brian Casey

Klamath Basin News, Wednesday; Kingsley Field Group Addresses Harmful Chemical Concerns

Brian Casey