Oregon Beach News, Monday 9/20 – Coquille Schools COVID Outbreak, Fatal Crash This Morning Involving Log Truck Closes Hwy 126 Near Walton

The latest news stories across the state of Oregon from the digital home of the Oregon coastal cities, OregonBeachMagazine.com

Monday, September 20, 2021

Oregon Beach Weather

Today– Sunny, with a high near 67. Breezy, with an east northeast wind 6 to 16 mph becoming north northwest in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 23 mph.

Tuesday– Sunny, with a high near 73. East northeast wind 5 to 8 mph becoming northwest in the afternoon.

Wednesday– Mostly sunny, with a high near 66. Light and variable wind becoming north northwest 6 to 11 mph in the afternoon.

Thursday– Mostly sunny, with a high near 68.

Friday– Sunny, with a high near 72.

Coquille Schools COVID Outbreak

A number of COVID cases have popped up at the Coquille School District this past week, leading to the suspension of all athletics for the time being, as well as the closure of the Junior and Senior High campus for the next three weeks.

https://www.facebook.com/CoquilleSchools/photos/a.3544542368902438/4537303189626346/?type=3

The district plans to switch from in-person learning to distance learning for the time being at Coquille Junior/Senior high. There are reportedly verified cases in football, volleyball, and soccer programs, which ultimately led to the decision.

Gold Beach Names Interim Police Chief

Chief Tracy Wood’s interim successor was named by the Gold Beach City Council at Monday’s meeting. Sergeant Donald Miller will fill in as police chief until a permanent person can be named.

Wood retired at the end of August after roughly 12 years on the force, the last three as chief. Throughout his tenure he stressed community involvement and creating strong relationships both in the community through partnerships and with outside policing agencies. When asked about his goals at the start of his tenure as chief, Wood said he wanted to rebuild and maintain good relations with the other agencies in the area.”

Police Chief Wood made sure the department joined the interagency task force on narcotics among others in the region.

An Oregon Coast native, Wood said he loves to “hunt, fish and go camping,” something he’ll presumably have more time for now that he’s out of the hot seat.

Wood’s departure is part of a rapid amount of turn over at the top for the small department with only seven full time employees.

Interim Chief Miller also plans to retire and move with his family back to Texas as soon as his successor can be identified and hired.

“He’s promised to stay with us until we can find a replacement,” said Mayor Tamie Kaufman who appointed Interim Chief Miller.

“We’re close on a potential hire. We just have to wait for some tests to come back,” according to Kaufman.

The Gold Beach Police Department doesn’t operate 24 hours per day and receives coordinated assistance from the Curry County Sheriff’s Department.

Both Wood and Miller transferred from the Curry County Sheriff’s Department and worked their way up through the ranks. The style of policing has been consistent according to Mayor Kaufman who is seeking to continue the policies and plans laid out by prior administrations.

“I have a lot of hope to continue to be a peace officer force, to try to prevent crime by having a nice presence in our community.”

Hiring in small departments is a challenge.

A recent survey of nearly 200 departments by the Police Executive Research Forum, a nonprofit research firm, shows a 45% increase in the retirement rate of police officers and a nearly 20% increase in resignations in 2020-21 compared to the previous year.

The change is affecting departments of all sizes. The research group’s survey shows that in the largest departments with 500 or more officers, the retirement rate increased by nearly 30%. Overall, according to the survey, new police hiring has dropped 5%.

PERF reports the conversation nationally about policing and accountability is driving some of the shortages. In Portland a new division to look at race related crimes had four applicants for a 14 person unit. Other openings in Portland have remained as they scramble to find qualified officers.

Fatal Crash Monday Morning Involving Log Truck Closes Hwy 126 Near Walton

Highway 126 east of Walton was closed Monday morning following a fatal crash involving a log truck and several other vehicles, officials said.

Trip Check is reporting that both lanes of Highway 126 near milepost 37 are closed due to a crash.

According to Lane Fire Authority, commuters can expect a lengthy closure and detours.

Traffic is being detoured to Highway 36 at Mapleton and Poodle Creek Road, the Oregon Department of Transportation said.

Officials reported that a log truck and at least two cars were involved in the crash, which happened around 7:15 a.m. One person died and three others were injured with one potentially hospitalized.

During the closure, officials will be removing logs from the road while law enforcement investigates and reconstructs the crash.

Oregon reports 2,099 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 22 new deaths

There are 22 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 3,569, the Oregon Health Authority reported on Friday. OHA reported 2,099 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 309,841.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (28), Benton (25), Clackamas (252), Clatsop (12), Columbia (22), Coos (40), Crook (17), Curry (2), Deschutes (128), Douglas (59), Gilliam (3), Harney (11), Hood River (12), Jackson (115), Jefferson (14), Josephine (48), Klamath (59), Lake (12), Lane (176), Lincoln (25), Linn (128), Malheur (36), Marion (157), Morrow (3), Multnomah (218), Polk (57), Sherman (2), Tillamook (16), Umatilla (63), Union (8), Wallowa (7), Wasco (29), Washington (188) and Yamhill (127).

Oregon’s public health officials are pointing to signs of optimism in their fight against COVID-19.

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) released weekly infection, hospitalization and death rates Wednesday, showing drops in all three categories.

“During Monday, Sept. 6, through Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, OHA recorded 12,997 new cases of COVID-19 infection – an 11% decrease from the previous week,” the department said in a news release.

The state recorded 281 new infections per 100,000 people during that week. Baker County, in eastern Oregon, experienced the highest rate of infections at 686 new infections per 100,000 people; the county population is little more than 16,000 people.

OHA noted 79% of statewide cases were classified as “sporadic,” meaning it could not trace them back easily to an event that’s likely to blame for the COVID-19 exposure. This contrasts with what OHA calls “clusters” or “outbreaks” that would be considered vectors for other infections. The high number of untraceable cases has been the norm throughout 2021 in Oregon, but the percentage has increased steadily since January.

The drop in cases precipitates a decrease in the hospitalization rate and deaths associated with COVID-19.

“New COVID-19 hospitalizations fell 42% this week – from 1,028 to 592 – the first drop after 9 consecutive weeks of increases,” OHA said. “COVID-19-associated deaths also fell – from 171 to 120 – the first drop in the death toll after 6 weeks of increases.”

The overall hospitalization rate remains low. Only 5.5% of reported COVID-19 infections end up in a hospital visit.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown instituted a new outdoor mask mandate three weeks ago. Additionally, Brown ordered all public workers to be vaccinated, something the governor is facing lawsuits over from firefighters and others.

Brown implored Oregonians to be vigilant with students returning to classrooms, but OHA’s data shows infections among school-age children to be minimal.

Ivermection Poisoning Spike

There have been at least five cases of Oregonians being hospitalized after misusing the antiparasitic drug ivermectin since the beginning of August as the state continues to see a spike in poisoning cases related to the drug, according to Oregon Health & Science University.

Between August 1 and September 14, the Oregon Poison Center reported 25 cases involving Oregonians intentionally misusing ivermectin to treat or prevent COVID-19. Five of those cases resulted in hospitalization, and two were so severely ill that they were admitted to an intensive care unit.

Last year, the Oregon Poison Center saw only a handful of cases involving ivermectin misuse, and there were relatively few this year until the summer. The Oregon Poison Center also serves Alaska and Guam, but officials say that most cases involving ivermectin this year have come from Oregon.

Widespread rain along with lowering temperatures across Southern Oregon has been a welcome sight to many Oregonians and firefighters across the area.

Thanks to that that widespread rain, on Saturday, the Oregon Department of Forestry Southwest District announced that effective Sunday, at 12:01 a.m., the public fire danger level will be decreasing to moderate and the industrial fire precaution level (IFPL) will decrease to one across Jackson and Josephine Counties.

That means that Saturday will be the last day power-driven and/or spark-emitting machinery is completely prohibited. However several restrictions will continue to remain.

The geographic area continued to receive moisture at wetting to light levels west of the Cascade Crest. On the east side of the Divide areas received trace to light levels of moisture. With the storm activity winds were gusty in the basins and over the mountain passes. Lightning was recorded in north-central Oregon. Cooler temperatures and higher humidities kept fire growth on existing large fires light.

The northern Cascades could see a few residual showers this morning, but the overall pattern has an upper-level ridge clearing, warming and drying to the region today and tomorrow. At the surface, a thermal trough will draw north/northeast winds into southwestern Oregon today, with light offshore flow following by tomorrow morning east of the Cascades in Oregon and Washington.

An upper-level trough will cross the region Wednesday, boosting westerly winds, increasing cloud cover and maybe bringing some light rain to western Washington. Warm, dry conditions follow Thursday through the weekend.
New significant fire potential will be low today and through much of the workweek due to the wet weather received over the weekend. Fire danger will rise a bit during the week but no critical weather patterns are expected.

Level 3 Dropped to Level 2 for Some Tiller Residents

After consultation with the Devils Knob Fire Managers, the Sheriff’s Office is announcing changes to evacuation orders previously issued for some homeowners in Tiller.

Based on current weather conditions and fire activity, the following homes are now under a Level 2 “BE SET” evacuation advisory: 

  • All homes on Ash Valley Road
  • All homes on South Umpqua Road starting at Dumont Creek Campground to the 28000 block of South Umpqua Road.

These homes are no longer under the previously issued Level 3 “GO!” order. 

Level 2 “BE SET” means: You must prepare to leave at a moments notice. This level indicates there is significant danger to your area, and residents should either voluntarily relocate to a shelter or with family/friends outside of the affected area, or if choosing to remain, to be ready to evacuate at a moments notice. Residents MAY have time to gather necessary items, but doing so is at their own risk. THIS MAY BE THE ONLY NOTICE YOU RECEIVE. Emergency services cannot guarantee that they will be able to notify you if conditions rapidly deteriorate.

Residents can opt in to receive emergency alerts based on their address by registering at www.dcso.com/alerts.

An interactive evacuation map can be found at www.dcso.com/evacuations

Fire activity information can be found at the following locations:

Devils Knob Complex Fires:
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/2021-Devils-Knob-Complex-112079071131008 
Inciweb: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7771 
Fire Information: (541) 900-6133 (8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.)
Email: 2021.DevilsKnob@firenet.gov

It Rained!

The Pacific Northwest finally saw rain throughout the region this weekend.

For the first time since January, Portland measured more than one inch of total rainfall in a single day. That was 1.31″ recorded at the Portland International Airport on Saturday. Between Friday and Saturday, 1.38″ of rain came down at the airport.

Other spots across the region were even wetter between the two days: 1.54″ measured in Eugene and 1.58″ in Vancouver. In Astoria, 2.3″ of rain came down.

Was it enough to put a dent in the local drought levels? Based on the latest look at the US Drought Monitor in Oregon, central Oregon is still at the worst drought level on the spectrum. In western Oregon, the environment is suffering from severe and extreme drought.

According to NOAA, we would need six to nine inches of new rainfall for western Oregon and Washington to cut away at the drought, and twelve to 15 inches of new rain for northern central Oregon. We may not see any major impacts in drought levels until the wetter months of the winter.

There are still 14 uncontained fires burning between Washington and Oregon, according to the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center. Moisture like what we had this weekend is helping fire season wind down as we head into fall.

OHA recognizes Preparedness Month by focusing on emotional health needs from disasters

Oregonians invited to continue ‘Honor with Action’ in face of emergencies

Oregon Health Authority joins the national observation of Preparedness Month during September, with special emphasis on emotional health resources for communities, and building social connections as public health emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic and wildfires continue.

Like many of its emergency management partners, OHA encourages people in Oregon to start or continue their journey toward being prepared for emergencies. OHA’s emphasis is on helping people prepare for their health needs during and after a disaster, including reminding people to review their plans and kits to make sure they address their household’s health and medical needs.

OHA recommends:

  • Families with infants consider essential items like diapers, special items or food.
  • People who rely on regular medical care like dialysis discuss their facilities’ emergency plans.
  • People who use medical devices plan to take them as part of their evacuation kit and know how to replace them if the devices are lost during a disaster.
  • People learn about other ways to prepare for health needs during a disaster at HealthOregon.org/preparedness.

“The anniversary of the devastating wildfires that affected so many Oregonians last year falls during Preparedness Month and on top of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic,” says Steve Allen, OHA’s behavioral health director. “People often experience heightened distress surrounding the anniversary of a disaster event, so it’s a good time to recognize and work to support ourselves, our families and our community’s emotional health needs right along with our other preparedness activities.” 

Allen says Preparedness Month is a good time to empower community members to take action by preparing for the next public health emergency. That preparation can displace fear of disasters.

“Kits and plans are a starting point and what we put in them can save lives and also bring comfort,” says Allen, noting how including a few fun activities or toys can make a difference for kids.  “When it comes to protecting our emotional health, sometimes it’s about having healthy coping strategies.”

Some of these coping strategies include taking care of your body through sleep, exercise and healthy eating; taking lots of breaks to unwind or help strong feelings fade; staying informed while still avoiding exposure to too much news; and reaching out for help when needed.

Children and youth can be especially vulnerable to stress during and after emergencies. Communities can support them by encouraging them to participate in their families’ preparedness activities in age-appropriate ways. After a disaster, adults can help kids by encouraging them to share what they’re thinking, answer their questions, limit their exposure to media coverage of disasters, keep to routines, and get them support when they need it.

Emergency management professionals around the country chose the theme “Honor with Action” for this year’s Preparedness Month. After the wide range of disasters this past year, it fits well with OHA’s emphasis on emotional health preparedness and recovery.

“Our social connections are an important part of what make us resilient,” Allen says. “The pandemic, along with the wildfires disaster, has made it hard to stay connected, but it is more important than ever to re-establish connections or build new ones. Take time to honor the losses of the past year by reaching out to loved ones and neighbors. Also, reach out to survivors and see what help they need.”

If you or someone you know is thinking of harming themselves or needs help because of drug or alcohol use, call Lines for Life which is a 24/7 crisis line at 800-273-8255. Lines for Life also offers specialized support for seniors, military members, youth and those facing racial equity concerns. In addition, it provides specialized services through its COVID-19 & Oregon Wildfire Outreach Program. Find more information at www.linesforlife.org.

Other services:

Public Asked for Help in Case of Another Missing Woman in Southern Oregon

The family of a missing woman last seen in Medford is hoping residents in Southern Oregon and California can help find her after they said she was released from the hospital and has not been seen or heard from since.

41-year-old Marlen Sandoval’s family said the mother of three was under an involuntary 72-hour hold at Asante’s Behavior Health Clinic, when she was released after being cleared by doctors on August 26.

“She was let go because according to them she was sick but not sick enough to keep her against her will,” Jasmin Padilla, Sandoval’s daughter said. “We haven’t had any contact with her since then.”

Padilla explained that Sandoval was previously diagnosed with bipolar psychosis and a type of dissociative disorder in Mexico.

She said Sandoval was on medication at a hospital in Mexico before moving to White City in January.

“We have not had a solid diagnosis here in the U.S. so that is why it has been hard to get information or help,” Padilla said.

The Medford Police Department confirmed the family filed a missing person’s report on September 11.

“The hospital here said they couldn’t give us a lot of information because she didn’t authorize them to, they confirmed with me when I called that she was in there but said she hasn’t signed the release to give you information,” Rocio Sanchez, Sandoval’s niece explained.

Sanchez said the hospital informed her that Sandoval would be released on her own, but when the family went to pick her up, Sandoval was nowhere to be found.

She said Sandoval’s mental health has been deteriorating and the family is worried about her wellbeing.

Both Sanchez and Padilla said it is hard to describe what Sandoval behaves like because she has not been acting herself lately due to her state of mind.

“She keeps to herself, if someone were to see here, I do not think she would be in a group of people, she would most likely be alone, doing her own thing, in her own mind,” Padilla added. “Just so you can understand, a couple of months ago she was saying she was Russian, we don’t know where her mindset is now.”

Sandoval speaks English and Spanish, is described to be around 145 pounds, is 5.4 ft. in height, has dark brown eyes and her hair is long with black roots and light brown tips.

She was last seen wearing a black pink and white plaid shirt, faded jeans, and a small white purse that she wears across her body. The family said Sandoval would walk down Highway 62 in White City and is known to roam around Walmart.

They said Sandoval may not have any identification on her, and she may use another name because of her mental state. Sandoval once lived in Santa Cruz and the family believes it is possible, she may return to the area again.

“She would never go this long without calling, she is pretty unpredictable, but she would at least call her 11-year-old son that needs her,” Padilla said. “We are really worried, we really need help.”

If anyone knows of Sandoval’s whereabouts, the family asks that they call Medford Police, Sanchez, or Padilla. (541) 774-2250

Catalytic Converters Stolen a From Portland School District as Portland Faces School Bus Driver Shortage

The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office is looking for a man suspected of stealing catalytic converters from several Reynolds School District vehicles Saturday night. 

According to investigators, it was all caught on camera. The district says it caused about $70,000 in damage and knocked 19 buses out of service. School leaders say it has 115 buses so there shouldn’t be any significant delays, but the massive theft has compounded existing issues with their transportation services. 

Photo of the suspect provided by Reynolds School District

“It was a pretty quick job, and unfortunately it did a lot of damage to our buses,” Reynolds School District spokesperson Steven Padilla said. 

The sheriff’s office is looking for the man pictured below. He was seen on surveillance video Saturday morning scoping out the school district’s bus yard before returning to steal the converters. The suspect’s face was covered by a mask and hat, but district officials are hoping someone recognizes him. He has a tattoo on his right hand. 

District officials are now looking for converters to replace the stolen ones, but they haven’t had much luck. 

“Right now there is one catalytic converter for our bus in the state of Oregon,” Padilla said. 

Ideally, the district would like to recover the stolen converters. Even though it would take hours of work, they could still repair their buses with the original parts. 

“It’s going to take months for the buses to be repaired because of the (catalytic converter) shortage. We’re reaching out to the state of Georgia. They have five; we are trying to secure those,” Padilla said. 

Anyone with information is asked to call the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office (503) 988-4300 or Crime Stoppers. 

To top this off- Families of some Portland students find themselves in a tough spot wondering how they’re going to get their kids to school as Portland Public Schools already has a school bus driver shortage.

In an email to parents on Friday, Portland Public Schools announced that they canceled 13 bus routes to Benson and Lincoln High schools and 16 routes with different pickup or drop-off times for the foreseeable future.

PPS says it will have more information for families this coming week to help them, and the email outlines some of the things they’re working on including:

  • Reducing the number of big bus routes
  • Using other contracted smaller vehicles
  • Talking with business and state officials to get drivers
  • Offering financial support to families whose routes are canceled
  • And figuring out a system to coordinate family carpools

Other states turn to the national guard for help driving busses.

Bootleg Fire Damage Affect on Endangered Species

Though it may seem like the Bootleg Fire’s damage has already been done after crews contained the blaze last month, the 647 square mile scar spells trouble for the entire Klamath Basin once the wet season arrives.

If actions aren’t taken quickly to protect streams and drainages in the burn area, water quality in Upper Klamath Lake — and the endangered c’waam and koptu that call it home — could suffer.

For decades, suckers have been plagued by excessive phosphorus loading into the lake through its main tributaries — the Sprague, Williamson and Wood rivers.

Though the Upper Basin is naturally rich in phosphorus due to its volcanic soils, land use changes and agricultural practices have channelized streams, reduced natural water
storage and accelerated riparian erosion, all of which increases the amount of nutrient- carrying sediment flowing into Upper Klamath Lake.

Having passed a natural threshold, the additional phosphorus has given rise to a monoculture of cyanobacterial algae that dominate the lake ecosystem in the summer.
Fish biologists say dramatic declines in water quality related to the algae’s bloom-and-crash cycle stress out juvenile c’waam and koptu in the lake, causing almost all of them to succumb to disease and predation by the end of each summer — before they’re able to reach sexual maturity.

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