Oregon Beach News, Friday, 5/15 – Phase One of Reopening Oregon Begins Today

The latest news stories and stories of interest along the Oregon coast and around the state of Oregon from the online digital home of the Oregon coastal cities, OregonBeachMagazine.com

FRIDAY, May 15, 2020

Oregon Coast Weather

Today  Mostly cloudy, with a steady temperature around 57. Overnight a 40% chance of rain with a low around 52.

Saturday   Rain. High near 62. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New precipitation amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible. Saturday night, rain before 11pm, then a chance of showers after 11pm. Low around 52. South wind 7 to 14 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.

Sunday  Showers likely. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 61. Chance of precipitation is 70%.

Monday  A 50 percent chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 60.

Tuesday  A slight chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 59.

Today’s Headlines

Phase One Begins.  At a press conference yesterday Governor Kate Brown announced which counties have been cleared to enter “Phase One” of the state’s plan for loosening coronavirus restrictions. 

Under the retail ban lifting starting today, Friday — as long as retailers aren’t in a mall and they follow the new COVID-19 health guidelines, they can open. Proper safety measures include employees wearing face masks, limiting the number of customers, enforcing physical distancing and frequently sanitizing high traffic areas.

That means standalone furniture stores, art galleries, jewelry shops and boutiques that were closed by executive order weeks ago can reopen. But, stores in outdoor- and indoor-shopping centers are an exception. They will need to open on a county-by-county basis.

Phase One plan begins today in Oregon

In her press conference yesterday, Governor Brown was joined by Oregon Health Authority Director Pat Allen and State Epidemiologist Dean Sideliner who both urged Oregonians to continue practicing proper social distancing and to wear face coverings.

As of today, 33 of 36 Oregon counties are approved to open in this Phase One plan.

Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington counties — those hardest hit by the COVID-19 outbreak in terms of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths — did not apply to reopen and will wait until they say they are better prepared.

Around the state, COVID-19 has claimed three more lives in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 137, the Oregon Health Authority reported late yesterday.

Oregon Health Authority reported 67 new confirmed cases and no new presumptive cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, bringing the state total to 3,479.

The new confirmed cases reported today are in the following counties: Deschutes (2), Linn (2), Malheur (1), Marion (33), Multnomah (19), Polk (1), Umatilla (2), Washington (2), Yamhill (5). Oregon’s 135th COVID-19 death is a 66-year-old man in Multnomah County, who tested positive on April 11 and died on May 13 at Kaiser Permanente Westside Medical Center. He had underlying medical conditions. Oregon’s 136th COVID-19 death is a 61-year-old man in Multnomah County, who tested positive on April 22 and died on May 12 at Oregon Health & Science University. He had underlying medical conditions. Oregon’s 137th COVID-19 death is a 66-year-old man in Washington County.

Around the State of Oregon

Despite the fact that counties in our region have been given the phase one go-ahead, local Oregonians plan to rally this weekend.

More than 200 people say they’ll be attending and over 600 have said they’re interested on a Facebook event page created for the Faith & Freedom Rally. The rally is scheduled to begin at 11:00AM at the Jackson County Courthouse on Saturday, May 16th. The rally will be held on the lawn of the courthouse and will have multiple speakers, including congressional candidate Jason Atkinson, Oregon State Senator Herman Baertschiger, and Jackson County Commissioner Colleen Roberts.

Oregon’s vote-by-mail system is earning praise during the coronavirus pandemic, but some Oregonians still will need help to get their vote counted.

Disability Rights Oregon deputy legal director Tom Stenson says people who are blind or have low vision usually get assistance filling out their ballots from the local county clerk’s office, with staff sometimes coming to folks’ houses.  Stenson says his organization is thinking of next Tuesday’s primary as a trial run for the general election, when coronavirus might still be impacting the state. Disability Rights Oregon will be documenting what works and what doesn’t so the system can be improved before November.

During the week of May 3-9, the Oregon Employment Department received 14,100 initial claims for unemployment benefits.

The agency has received 396,000 initial claims since coronavirus business closures began in mid-March. According to The Oregon Employment Department, these three counties had the largest number of unemployment claims during the week of May 3-9: The agency says if measured by dollars paid, Unemployment Insurance would now be the largest paying subsector of Oregon’s economy. By comparison, unemployment benefits would have ranked 37th by payroll prior to the coronavirus closures. The greatest number of initial claims continued to come from the accommodation and food services sector, with 68,400 initial claims filed in the industry since March 15.

Starting Monday, May 18, everyone at the Portland International Airport needs to wear a face covering to help stop the spread of coronavirus. PDX officials made the announcement Wednesday, along with unveiling several other new requirements for passengers, employees and contractors at the airport.

According to the new rules, only children under 2 years old and people with medical conditions that prevent them from wearing face coverings are exempt from wearing a cloth mask. Some airlines have already been requiring passengers to wear masks.  While still open as an essential service, PDX says its passenger volume is down 90-95% from last year.

The coronavirus outbreak is devastating the economy and leading to surges in hungry people. Oregon Food Bank is stepping up to meet the challenge and believes we can emerge stronger from this crisis.

The food-distribution network says its partners around the state have seen 20 to 60 percent spikes in demand for hunger relief over the last few weeks. Oregon Food Bank C-E-O Susannah Morgan says it’s the biggest crisis she’s seen in her 24 years working in food banking. But she adds that meals still are flowing to 13-hundred assistance sites distributing food across Oregon and southwest Washington each week.

 Donations for Oregon Food Bank’s “#EmergeStronger Community Challenge” is allowing the network to deploy more than four-point-one million dollars to get their emergency response plan running, according to a report from the organization.

Oregon State Police says it may have to cut hundreds of jobs due to a loss in revenue. The law enforcement agency says it could be forced to eliminate 199 positions by July.

The agency says its forecast revenue for May is down by three-billion-dollars. The agency is also expecting to lose some funding with Governor Kate Brown’s anticipated 27-million-dollar budget cuts to state agencies.  Oregon State Police says it is awaiting next Wednesday’s revenue forecast before making any final decisions.

On Thursday evening Oregon State Police Troopers and emergency personnel responded to a single vehicle crash on Hwy 101 near milepost 252.

Preliminary investigation revealed that a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), operated by Donald Games (53) of Coos Bay,  was traveling southbound when it failed to negotiate a curve, left the roadway, and struck a tree.  After the crash the CMV caught fire and Millington Fire Department and Green Acres Fire Department responded and extinguished the flames.

Games sustained fatal injuries and was pronounced deceased.

Oregon Farm Bureau (OFB) invites the public to submit their best photos of agriculture for the 2021 Oregon’s Bounty Calendar.

The award-winning calendar celebrates all aspects of Oregon agriculture: the products, the people, the production, the landscape, the enjoyment, anything that depicts the beauty, technology, culture, enjoyment, or tradition of family farming and ranching in this state.  

“Spring is a great time to look for photo opportunities in Oregon agriculture,” said OFB Communications Director Anne Marie Moss. “Fields and orchards are blooming, farmers markets have opened, and there’s lots of spring activity happening on farms and ranches. Farm Bureau members are #StillFarming and #StillRanching, working hard to provide food and other ag products for society in these challenging times.”

Horizontal-format, high-resolution images — both close-ups and panoramic views — are sought of all types of agriculture in all seasons. Subject ideas include close-ups of ag products, planting/harvesting crops, ranching scenes, panoramic views of farmland, people enjoying Oregon ag products, farm animals, portraits of Farm Bureau members, farming/ranching scenes from all seasons, to name just a few ideas.

The deadline for entries is Sept. 15.

Photos can be emailed to annemarie@oregonfb.org. Find instructions for uploading or mailing in images at OregonFB.org/calendar. Also find examples of previous Oregon’s Bounty Calendars, photo specifications, and contest rules at OregonFB.org/calendar.

PORTLAND, Ore.—Omnicare, Inc., a subsidiary of CVS Health and a provider of pharmacy services to long-term care facilities, has agreed to pay the United States a $15.3 million civil penalty to resolve allegations that it violated federal law by, among other things, allowing opioids and other controlled substances to be dispensed without a valid prescription, United States Attorney Billy J. Williams announced yesterday.

Omnicare operates “closed door” pharmacies – meaning they were not open to the public – that deliver controlled substances to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities (LTCFs). Omnicare makes daily deliveries of prescription medications to residents of LTCFs, and it also pre-positions limited stockpiles of controlled substances at LTCFs in “emergency kits,” which are to be dispensed to patients on an emergency basis. These emergency kits, which often include opioids and other controlled substances that are commonly abused and diverted, remain part of Omnicare’s inventory and must be tightly controlled and tracked. The controlled substances may be dispensed only pursuant to a valid prescription.

The United States alleged that Omnicare violated the federal Controlled Substances Act in its handling of emergency prescriptions, its controls over the emergency kits, and its processing of written prescriptions that lacked required elements such as the prescriber’s signature or DEA number.

Portland General Electric and Pacific Power are working together to spread awareness and tips to help utility customers avoid becoming a victim of scams.

Scammers are taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to target those who are most vulnerable and who may be particularly worried about potential disruption of their service. Anyone can be a target, although they often prey on senior citizens, low-income families, non-English speakers and small business owners. With the right information, customers can learn to detect fraudulent activity.

“We don’t want anyone to fall victim to this kind of fraud,” said John McFarland, PGE vice president for customer solutions. “If you receive one of these calls, texts or emails don’t give them any information. If you’re unsure, call your utility directly to check your account status and ask about payment arrangements if you need help with your bill.”

Thieves impersonating electric company employees use phone calls, texts, social media messages, emails and sometimes even knock on doors to reach potential victims. The impostors threaten to disconnect service immediately unless a payment is made within a short timeframe, usually with a prepaid credit card or even Bitcoin. These payments are not traceable and give the scammer instant access to the victim’s money.

“These scammers exploit the trust of the community at a time of uncertainty,” said William Comeau, vice president of customer experience for Pacific Power. “We have been helping our customers during this difficult time by suspending disconnections, waiving late fees and providing more flexible payment arrangements.”

PGE and Pacific Power encourage customers to be aware of these tips to protect themselves against scams:

  • When in doubt, check it out! Contact the utility company to verify account information and status if someone threatens you with immediate disconnection. Use the phone number on your monthly bill or from the utility company’s website – not a number provided by the suspected scammer.
  • During the COVID-19 crisis, PGE and Pacific Power have temporarily stopped disconnecting service for non-payment and collecting late fees and are urging customers who may be having trouble paying their monthly bills to contact their customer service representatives directly for help.
  • Even during normal business conditions, customers will never receive just a single notification with one hour or less to respond. A legitimate utility company employee will allow customers to call the office to ask questions and discuss arrangements.
  • Legitimate utility companies will never ask for payment via prepaid or pre-loaded credit card. Utility companies offer a variety of ways to pay a bill, including online or by phone. Customers should never agree to purchase and pay with a prepaid card to prevent an immediate shutoff.
  • If someone comes to the door saying they’re from your utility, ask to see the employee’s badge. A legitimate utility employee will have an official badge with their name, photo, company logo and contact information. If customers feel threatened or uncomfortable, they should not open the door. They should call 911 if at any point they are concerned about their safety.
  • Scammers rely on their victim’s uncertainty and panic over the prospect of having their power cut off to make them act without thinking the situation through. Stop, think and verify.

For more information on tactics used by scammers and how customers can protect themselves, visit PortlandGeneral.com/Scams and PacificPower.net/Scam.

STATE JOINS TASK FORCE TO CRACK DOWN ON COVID-19 INVESTMENT SCAMS

Salem – The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation has joined an international enforcement task force organized by the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) to investigate investment fraud during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We are proud to join our colleagues in NASAA’s COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force,” said Lou Savage, Division of Financial Regulation administrator. “COVID-19 investment schemes are a significant threat and fraudsters need to know that our division is dedicated to protecting Oregonians from these scams.”

The division is a member of NASAA, the membership organization of state and provincial securities regulators in the United States, Canada and Mexico. The task force consists of securities regulators and was formed to identify and stop potential threats to investors stemming from the COVID-19 outbreak. Task force members investigate websites and social media posts that may be promoting fraudulent offerings, investment fraud, and unregistered regulated activities.

A critical component of fighting fraud is investor awareness. To help investors identify common telltale signs of possible investment fraud, the division recommends asking three questions before making a new investment.

1. Is the investment being offered with a guaranteed high return with little or no risk?

All investments carry risk. Anyone who says their investment offer has no risk is lying.

2. Is there a sense of urgency or limited availability surrounding the investment? 

If someone offers you a “can’t miss” investment opportunity and pressures you to invest right now, just walk away.

3. Is the person offering the investment, and the investment itself, properly licensed or registered?

You would not seek an unlicensed doctor or dentist; you should also avoid unregistered investment salespeople and products.

Investors who see or suspect they fell victim to COVID-19 related investment scams can contact the division’s advocacy team at 888-877-4894 (toll-free) or visit the division’s financial services page.

Visit the division’s COVID-19 consumer page for more financial services information.


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