Oregon Beach News, Thursday 1/13 – Southern Coos Hospital’s No Visitor Policy Back In Effect Due To Virus, Florence Winter Music Festival Getting Ready to Roll

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

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Oregon Beach Weather

Today– Rain, mainly before 4pm. High near 50. Breezy, with a west southwest wind 10 to 20 mph, with gusts as high as 31 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.

Friday– Patchy fog between 9am and 10am. Otherwise, partly sunny, with a high near 53. East northeast wind around 6 mph.

Saturday– Patchy fog between 9am and 10am. Otherwise, partly sunny, with a high near 54. Light and variable wind becoming north around 6 mph in the afternoon.

Sunday– Mostly sunny, with a high near 53.

Monday: M.L.King Day– A slight chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 52.

Southern Coos Hospital In Bandon’s No Visitor Policy Back In Effect Due To Virus

Visitors are not allowed Southern Coos Hospital & Health Center at this time “due to another surge in COVID-19 cases in Bandon and Coos County.”

“For the health and safety of our patients, staff and the community, we are reinstating a no-visitor protocol,” the hospital said in a statement.

Some exceptions apply. For example, caregivers; parents of pediatric patients; and family of patients on comfort care.

According to the hospital:

Southern Coos Hospital & Health Center takes the safety of our community extremely seriously. As of Jan. 12, 2022, COVID-19 cases and testing volumes have reached the highest level of the pandemic in Coos County, Oregon and nationwide, this time due to the Omicron variant.

While the Omicron variant may not make people as severely ill as the Alpha and Delta variants, it is much more contagious.

Despite breakthrough infections, getting vaccinated and boosted are still the best way to avoid hospitalization if you do get sick with COVID-19. The SCHHC Multi-Specialty Clinic offers vaccines and boosters by appointment by calling 541-329-0154.

There are other facilities in the county offering vaccines and boosters. To make an appointment, visit the Coos County Vaccine Scheduling Website at https://www.communityhealth.events/scheduler/

In an effort to ensure the continuity of SCHHC’s ability to continue to provide healthcare services, we will continue to practice COVID safety precautions for our staff and patients and implement additional protocols to limit the spread of COVID.

Some exceptions to SCHHC’s no visitor protocol may apply; e.g. people with disabilities, caregivers, family of patients on comfort care, and parents of pediatric patients, among others.

If you have an appointment or are scheduled for a service (lab work, medical imaging, etc.) you may enter the hospital through the main entrance. Please be aware that you must wear a mask and be screened upon entry.

The Emergency Department is open for people experiencing a health emergency and COVID screening is done prior to entry. The SCHHC Multi-Specialty Clinic is following the same entry guidelines.

Unless you need emergency care for your symptoms, please don’t visit the Emergency Department for COVID-19 testing or treatment. If you have a health condition that doesn’t require emergency care, contact your health care provider or an urgent care clinic.

If you do have COVID-19 symptoms, you can get still get tested at SCHHC. Call 541-347-2426 ext. 172 when you arrive at the hospital and you will be instructed on how to receive the test from your vehicle. Those without symptoms who believe they may have been exposed to COVID-19 are asked to contact their health care provider and follow quarantine guidelines.

Masks, face coverings or face shields are required in all indoor spaces for everyone ages 5 and older in Oregon.

“Thank you for your patience as we navigate the current situation, which is changing daily,” the hospital said in a statement. “We are here to serve you and, as always, have your health and safety forefront in our minds.”

For more information, call SCHHC at 541-347-2426 or visit our website at http://www.southerncoos.org.

The Florence Winter Music Festival will host performance and writing workshops for musicians and open jam sessions for the public again this year.

“Jam sessions are sure to reflect the diversity of styles with young and old alike participating,” said Florence Winter Music Festival chairperson Kirk Mlinek. “We have dedicated space for jamming at the Florence Events Center. The room will be clearly marked and available as soon as the doors open on Friday morning (Jan. 28) and close at 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. The River House Inn and the Lighthouse Inn are also hosting jam sessions. Don’t leave home without your instrument.”

A schedule of jams will be posted at WinterMusicFestival.org. Masks and social distancing protocols will apply at jam sessions.

“Our outstanding workshops are back too,” Mlinek added. “We are incredibly fortunate to have Linda Leavitt as our instructor and emcee for the workshops. Workshops are free to any person holding a ticket to any one of the main-stage shows; others may attend for $20 payable at the door.”

Masks and social distancing protocols will apply during workshops.

Leavitt is a musician, writer, educator and event producer with a passion for bluegrass music. For nearly a decade, Leavitt co-coordinated Taborgrass, an adult bluegrass education program in Portland, and teaches bluegrass singing and how-to-jam workshops at festivals and at Nechville West in Sisters. She serves on the board of the Oregon Bluegrass Association and is the editor of the association’s quarterly journal, The Oregon Bluegrass Express. All workshops will be held at the Florence Events Center.

Workshops include:

  • Beginner’s Bluegrass Jam with Linda Leavitt on Friday, Jan. 28, at 1 p.m.
  • Songwriting workshop with award-winning duo Kristen Grainger and Dan Wetzel of True North on Saturday, Jan. 29, at 9 a.m.
  • How to Play as a Duo with John Lowell and Ben Winship of Growling Old Men at 10:30 a.m. John and Ben will explain how it works to play in a duo as opposed to playing in a full band. They will work up a song on the spot to show the process of arranging the tune, figuring out harmony parts, when to play leads and the role of each player.
  • Blues and Rags Guitar with Mary Flower at 11 a.m. Flower will delve into left and right-hand moves that drive both Delta and Piedmont guitar styles. Expect some of her original songs that will demonstrate syncopation, movable chords, alternating thumb and dead thumb. Students will come away with a few new tunes as well as tools to apply to their own arrangements. Both the ability to read tab and fingerpicking experience will be helpful. Students are encouraged to record the class (audio).

COVID-19 protocols will be in place for all jam sessions and workshops, including proof of vaccination or evidence of a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of arrival at the venue. Social distancing is required and masks must be worn. Organizers said they will be grateful for the public’s understanding and cooperation and that persons unwilling to comply with these requirements will be asked to leave the building.

Visit WinterMusicFestival.org for schedules, artist profiles, tickets and more.

Oregon reports 8,760 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 31 new deaths

PORTLAND, Ore. — There are 31 new COVID-19-related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 5,845, Oregon Health Authority (OHA) reported at 12:01 a.m. today.

OHA reported 8,760 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of 12:01 a.m. today, bringing the state total to 494,945.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (30), Benton (321), Clackamas (820), Clatsop (45), Columbia (50), Coos (244), Crook (53), Curry (31), Deschutes (737), Douglas (155), Gilliam (6), Harney (2), Hood River (39), Jackson (375), Jefferson (110), Josephine (158), Klamath (70), Lake (3), Lane (678), Lincoln (209), Linn (313), Malheur (45), Marion (801), Morrow (21), Multnomah (1,454), Polk (213), Sherman (7), Tillamook (33), Umatilla (325), Union (38), Wallowa (13), Wasco (37), Washington (1,158), Wheeler (12) and Yamhill (154).

OHA news conference scheduled Thursday

OHA will host a press conference at 2 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 13 about the status of COVID-19 in Oregon. Speakers will include Oregon Health Director Patrick Allen, Oregon Department of Education Director Colt Gill and Dr. Dean Sidelinger, state health officer and state epidemiologist. The public is invited to watch the press conference on YouTube. Members of the media can participate by joining this Zoom link.

Consider alternatives for non-urgent health issues

With a record number of cases recorded and the spread of the Omicron variant statewide, Oregonians are being asked to ease the burden on health systems and emergency rooms. If you are looking for non-emergency COVID-19 treatment, please call your doctor or an urgent care clinic. Not sure who to call? Start with 211. You can find a test here.

Oregon National Guard to Start Second Hospital Relief Mission

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With the surge of COVID-19 cases, Oregon Governor Kate Brown has ordered an increase of National Guard Service Members for the second hospital relief mission, with up to 1,200 Oregon Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen mobilized today. This new activation of the Oregon National Guard is an increased from 500 to over 1,200 Service Members in 40 hospitals across the state. National Guard members will provide much-needed support for understaffed hospitals during this deployment, which will begin no later than Jan. 18, 2022. 

These Soldiers and Airmen will serve in non-clinical support roles as material handlers, equipment runners, in addition to COVID testing support, laundry, custodial services, ensure hospital operations and other services in support of healthcare systems. The mission’s planning is ongoing, with guard members placed on orders and assigned to hospitals.

This activation follows a prior deployment of over 1,500 Oregon National Guardsmen that provided the same non-clinical support rolls in Oregon hospitals that began in August of 2021, and ended in December 2021. 

The Oregon National Guard comprises over 8,000 Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen, dedicated to serving the communities they live in and maintaining the ability to serve the nation in times of war. The organization has the motto “Always Ready, Always There” and is the largest part-time employer in the state. Its members, on average, serve one weekend a month with an additional two-week period a year while maintaining civilian employment.  

OHA launches website, hotline for COVID-19-positive people

New services, which allow people to report positive tests and get info on isolation and quarantine, follow shift toward focus on outbreaks at high-risk settings

PORTLAND, Ore. — Oregon Health Authority is moving to an opt-in model for investigating COVID-19 cases, launching a new website and hotline as a way for people who test positive for the virus to report results from an at-home test kit or testing provider.

People using the new Positive COVID Test website and COVID-19 Case Support Hotline, 866-917-8881, can complete an online survey linked from the web portal to report their positive case, or get help completing the survey through the hotline. They can also get information on isolation and other ways to keep themselves and those around them safe while they recover.

The launch of the services follows an OHA decision to revise its guidelines for investigating COVID-19 cases to focus less on interviewing individual cases and conducting contact tracing, and more on outbreaks in high-risk settings, such as those in congregate care, health care, K-12 education and food chain industries.

“The current and rapidly growing surge of COVID-19 cases driven by the Omicron variant has outpaced the capacity of Oregon’s public health system to effectively conduct active case investigation and contact tracing, which cannot effectively slow the spread of the disease in the context of widespread community transmission,” said Dean Sidelinger, M.D., M.S.Ed., health officer and state epidemiologist at Oregon Health Authority.

“As a result, given the burdens to the entire public health infrastructure and the need to pivot resources to higher priority public health measures, we are adjusting case investigation and outreach efforts. OHA will move away from individual investigation and contact tracing calls to focus on investigating outbreaks in high-risk settings,” he said.

OHA is adopting an “opt-in” approach to case investigation, with a focus on ensuring people who test positive for COVID-19 or who are exposed to the virus can quickly access information and resources to safely isolate and quarantine. The first offering is the website, Oregon.gov/positivecovidtest, which contains a link to a mobile-friendly Case Investigation Survey. The survey, soon available in 12 languages – it’s now accessible in English, Spanish and Russian – can be used by anyone who tests positive to provide additional information to public health.

OHA does not require individuals to report their at-home test results, but it highly recommends people do so, and let their close contacts know they may have been exposed so they can take steps to limit exposure to others. Hospitals, health care providers, laboratories and local public health authorities are required to report test results.

The COVID-19 Case Support Hotline, 866-917-8881, will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Support staff will be available to provide general health information; answers to questions about isolation and quarantine; answers to questions about how to tell close contacts they may have been exposed to COVID-19; information about resources to help them during isolation; and help filling out the online Case Investigation Survey so callers’ positive tests can be reported. Staff will provide support in English and Spanish, with interpreter services available for additional languages.

Sidelinger said those staffing the COVID-19 Case Support Hotline include members case investigation and contact tracing team from OHA’s COVID Response and Recovery Unit (CRRU), so they are well qualified to answer questions about isolation, quarantine and available resources. Availably of the hotline also will allow local public health authorities to reduce or eliminate phone-based case investigation, “allowing them to redeploy those resources to higher-value mitigation efforts.”

Hotline staff will also be able to triage calls that might normally go to local public health authorities, forwarding them only if they require local follow-up.

The following local public health authorities and Tribes recommend their residents and members use local contact information if they have questions or support needs after they test positive for COVID-19:

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Oregon Department of Revenue Provides 2022 Tax Season Tips

The Oregon Department of Revenue is offering tips to taxpayers in preparation for the 2022 tax filing season. The IRS and DOR will begin accepting efile tax returns on January 24.  The tax filing deadline this year is April 18.

Returns will be processed in the order they are received. However, as in years past, the department won’t issue personal income tax refunds until mid-February. A refund hold is part of the department’s tax fraud prevention efforts and allows for confirmation that the amounts claimed on tax returns match what employers report on forms W-2 and 1099. 

Revenue encourages taxpayers to organize their tax records and check on the following items before filing their 2021 tax return to ensure that it is a complete and accurate tax return:

  • Make sure your information is current at Revenue Online.
  • If you don’t have a Revenue Online account, we encourage you to set one up.
  • See the IRS and DOR websites for tax filing tips.
  • Assemble your W-2 from your employer(s), 1099 forms and other documents you will need to file. 
  • Check the amount of any Child Tax Credit payments you received. Advance payments were sent automatically by the IRS to those eligible. Families who received advance payments need to file a 2021 tax return and compare the advance payments they received in 2021 with the amount of the Child Tax Credit they can properly claim on their 2021 federal tax return.
  • Choose a reputable tax preparer. The Oregon Board of Tax Practitioners offers a License Lookup website and there is more information from the IRS website.

The Oregon Office of Economic Analysis (OEA) confirmed a nearly $1.9 billion tax surplus, triggering a tax surplus credit, or kicker, for the 2021 tax year that will be returned to taxpayers through a credit on their 2021 state personal income tax returns filed in 2022.

You’re eligible to claim the kicker if you filed a 2020 tax return and had tax due before credits. Even if you don’t have a filing obligation for 2021, you still must file a 2021 tax return to claim your kicker credit. There will be detailed information on how to claim your kicker credit in the 2021 Oregon personal income tax return instructions: Form OR-40 for full-year Oregon residents, Form OR-40-P for part-year residents, and Form OR-40-N for nonresidents. Composite and fiduciary-income tax return filers are also eligible. Use the What’s My Kicker calculator to determine what your credit amount will be.

Keep in mind that the state may use all or part of your kicker to pay any state debt you owe, such as tax due for other years, child support, court fines, or school loans. 

Here are a few other things for taxpayers to keep in mind this tax season:

  • E-filing is the fastest way to get your tax refund. On average, taxpayers who e-file their returns and request their refund via direct deposit receive their refund sooner than those who file paper returns and request paper refund checks. There are several free or low-cost preparation options available for both federal and Oregon tax returns, as long you meet the qualifications. Free tax preparation services are available for low- to moderate-income taxpayers through AARP and CASH Oregon. United Way also offers free tax help through their MyFreeTaxes program. Check the DOR website for more information. 
  • Taxpayers can order copies of past returns, letters, or other correspondence—from 2015 to current—through their Revenue Online account. They can also order and pay for these, or older documents, over the phone at 800-356-4222. 
  • Anyone who needs a personal income tax return booklet can download and print it from the department’s website at www.oregon.gov/dor/forms They can also order a copy online, by calling 503-378-4988 or 800-356-4222, or by mailing their request—along with their name, phone number, and mailing address to

Forms

Oregon Department of Revenue

PO Box 14999

Salem, OR 97309-0990 

For more information about the Earned Income Tax Credit and eligibility, visit the IRS website at www.irs.gov. For details on the Oregon Earned Income Credit, visit the DOR website. Even taxpayers who aren’t required to file taxes could be eligible for both credits.

You can visit www.oregon.gov/dor to get forms, check the status of your refund, or make payments. Call 503-378-4988 or 800-356-4222 (toll-free) or email questions.dor@oregon.gov for additional assistance. For TTY for hearing- or speech-impaired, call 800-886-7204. Oregon Dept. of Revenue 

Oregon Capitol Installing Metal Detectors and Adding Bag Searches

Oregon is beefing up security at its State Capitol in Salem, requiring visitors to go through metal detectors and have their bags checked starting on Jan. 27.

All visitors, employees and elected officials will have to pass through the metal detector and bags will be checked personally or run through an X-ray machine, the State Senate and State House said in a news release. Security guards will also man the State Capitol.

Oregon will join 33 other states that have metal detectors installed in the capitol building, according to the release, which called the new measures akin to courthouse security.

The new security measures are in response to the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol as well as the December 2020 breach of the Oregon State Capitol, when a Republican lawmaker opened a door to let in protesters objecting to new coronavirus restrictions being discussed during an emergency session of the assembly. The Capitol was only cleared after state and city police arrested several people.

Gov. Brown’s $200 Million Workforce Development Plan

Oregon lawmakers got their first look Tuesday at a $200 million legislative package being proposed by Gov. Kate Brown’s office to bolster the state’s workforce.

The program, titled “Future Ready Oregon,” aims to prioritize key populations disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and existing disparities in Oregon’s workforce. They include Oregonians of color, women, low-income individuals, rural communities, veterans and those who are incarcerated or formerly incarcerated.

Three specific sectors would benefit from the program: Health care, manufacturing and construction.

Members of Brown’s Racial Justice Council, business groups and labor policy experts developed the program in late 2021 with the central theme of “meeting people where they are.”

That means investing approximately $82 million in existing programs that have shown results in putting people to work. Those include programs administered by the state’s nine regional workforce development boards, community colleges and career-specific apprenticeship programs.

The governor also wants to help especially hard-hit Oregonians by spending $95 million to solve problems that keep people out of the workforce. That includes covering the cost of tuition and fees for school and training programs, transportation, housing, food and childcare costs.

The $12.5 million remaining would help launch initiatives to support those engaged in the program by helping them navigate the benefits available to them and connecting the business community to consortiums set up for each of the three sectors involved.

The total $200 million would be composed of both state general fund monies made up of personal and corporate income taxes, as well as American Rescue Plan Act dollars.

Jennifer Purcell, workforce policy advisor to the governor, told lawmakers that there are specific challenges facing each of the three sectors called out in the package that make them ideal candidates for this proposal.

“For example, in health care: COVID has caused significant burnout among workers and we see some folks leaving the health care workforce,” Purcell said. “On the other hand, manufacturing is one of the sectors where we see persistent skills gaps.”

Purcell said that the construction industry — although booming overall with a 61% increase in employment over the past decade — relies on an aging population in its high-skilled labor force. And while Oregon’s workforce is generally split 50-50 male and female, only 20% of the state’s construction workforce is female.

“These three sectors provide short term pathways to meaningful employment as well as higher earning potential and opportunities for economic mobility in communities across Oregon,” she said.

Patsy Richards, the director of the nursing workforce development company Long-Term CareWorks, said the pandemic has illustrated just how much the state labor market has changed in recent years.

She told lawmakers that the $200 million package could break down barriers for certain Oregonians struggling to enter the workforce – such as helping buy new scrubs for low-income nursing students or paying for childcare for parents in apprenticeship programs.

“By 2030, which is just eight years away, 75% of our workforce will be millennials,” RIchards said. “This is why climbing the corporate ladder does not matter as much to them anymore. A work-life balance is what’s coming into view. … The workforce has changed, and we need to change with it.”

Lawmakers didn’t provide much reaction to the governor’s proposal Tuesday, but seemed generally in favor of its goals. A few did express minor reservations such as whether the program is applicable to both rural and urban communities of the state.

The proposal will come back before the committee for a work session and formal approval when lawmakers convene in Salem for the short session in February.

Duncan Wyse, president of the Oregon Business Council, called the program a “game changing and exciting” proposal.

“We have immediate needs. Employers need talent right now, and there are a lot of Oregonians who are looking for new careers as they’ve gone through the pandemic,” he said. “(This program) really is trying to reimagine how we provide education and training services to adults.”

Wyse said many of the state’s programs have been designed around getting young adults and teenagers into the workforce – Brown’s plan maintains that goal but combines it with new focus on helping Oregonians who are ready for a career change as well.

He said that the design of this proposal will allow employers to work with schools and training systems and community groups to reimagine how the state delivers those services so that they can be more effective.

Wyse said putting health care, manufacturing and construction at the core of the program helps to meet the workforce shortage in the three sectors where it is most pronounced. Those three sectors, he said, are also critical to the state’s economy and provide great opportunity for high wage jobs attainable in a relatively short amount of time.

Wyse noted that if the program passes during the upcoming legislative session and works, it could serve as a model for future investment into other sectors such as information technology and cybersecurity.

“This addresses immediate needs, but we hope what will come out of this is a roadmap for a 21st century adult workforce career development system,” Wyse said.

A Klamath Falls man was sentenced to more than 45 years in prison for his role in a series of kidnappings and assaults over the period of several months.

Harland Joseph Wright, 34, received a 550-month sentence in the Oregon prison system from Judge Alycia Kersey. Wright, along with co-defendant Elliott Donald Parker, 33, also of Klamath Falls, was charged with crimes related to the horrific torture of numerous victims in the Klamath Falls area.

Some of the gruesome details of Wright’s crimes were shared during the two-day bench trial. One victim was terrorized by Wright and Parker in June 2020. Wright was upset that the individual was wearing a sweater that was
stolen from him, according to the Klamath County District Attorney’s Office. The two men kidnapped and then beat the victim, including with a gun that went off during the beating, almost killing the victim.

According to the Klamath County District Attorney’s office, Wright, with the help of others, lured another victim to a residence on the 900 block of Lincoln Street. The victim arrived in the evening of Aug. 15, 2020, with his puppy. When the man tried to leave, he was then threatened with a firearm and forced to sit in a chair.

Parker is accused of taking the victim’s money and phone. About two hours later, Wright arrived with a large, machete-like knife and a silver revolver that he used to beat multiple victims. Another victim was lured to the same house on Lincoln Street on Sept. 1, 2020. Wright and the same Parker suspected the victim of making insulting statements about Wright and cooperating with police in a drug investigation.

Red Cross: National blood shortage crisis could be dangerous for patients  

American Red Cross – Cascades Region 

The American Red Cross is facing a dangerously low blood supply. Our inventory is truly at crisis levels. Right now, doctors are being forced to decide which patients receive blood transfusions and who must wait. It’s a dire situation, and we need your help letting potential donors know how critical it is that they make an appointment to give blood or platelets this winter.   

Virtual MEDIA AVAILABILITY today at 10:30 a.m. with Red Cross and OHSU representatives to highlight the dangerously low blood supply.

Attending will be:

  • Lara Weberling – her young son battled and lost his fight to neuroblastoma in 2012 which required numerous blood products. His fight inspired Weberling to join Red Cross blood services to help others.
  • Rachel Cook, M.D. – OHSU medical director of inpatient Bone Marrow Transplant unit, member of OHSU blood supply task force.
  • Angel Montes – Red Cross Regional Donor Services Executive to highlight need for blood donors

Please click here for Zoom access.

In thanks, those who come to give in January will automatically be entered for a chance to win a getaway to Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles and will also be automatically entered to win a home theater package and a $500 e-gift card. Terms apply; visit RedCrossBlood.org/SuperBowl for more information. 

To help relay the seriousness of our current situation, the following is available to support your coverage: 

The below news release further details the blood crisis, the consequences facing patients and how the public can help. If you would like to set up an interview or need additional information, please let me know. Thank you for your support and consideration. 

Sincerely,  

Dawn Johnson

Regional Communications Manager

American Red Cross 

Cascades Region

Red Cross: National blood crisis may put patients at risk

Dire situation facing blood supply, those in need of blood transfusions

Donors have the chance to help save lives, win trip to Super Bowl LVI

PORTLAND, Oregon (Jan. 11, 2022) — The American Red Cross is facing a national blood crisis – its worst blood shortage in more than a decade. Dangerously low blood supply levels are posing a concerning risk to patient care and forcing doctors to make difficult decisions about who receives blood transfusions and who will need to wait until more products become available.

Blood and platelet donations are critically needed to help prevent further delays in vital medical treatments, and donors of all blood types – especially type O − are urged to make an appointment now to give in the weeks ahead.

In recent weeks, the Red Cross had less than a one-day supply of critical blood types and has had to limit blood product distributions to hospitals. At times, as much as one-quarter of hospital blood needs are not being met.

Pandemic challenges

The Red Cross continues to confront relentless challenges due to COVID-19, including about a 10% overall decline in the number of people donating blood as well as ongoing blood drive cancellations and staffing limitations. Additionally, the pandemic has contributed to a 62% drop in blood drives at schools and colleges.

“Winter weather across the country and the recent surge of COVID-19 cases are compounding the already-dire situation facing the blood supply,” said Dr. Baia Lasky, medical director for the Red Cross. “Please, if you are eligible, make an appointment to give blood or platelets in the days and weeks ahead to ensure no patient is forced to wait for critical care.”

Over the next month, about 60 percent of donation appointments remain unfilled in the Cascade Red Cross Region. Make an appointment to give blood or platelets as soon as possible by using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting RedCrossBlood.org or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). 

The Red Cross and the NFL are partnering this January, during National Blood Donor Month, to urge individuals to give blood or platelets and help tackle the national blood shortage. Those who come to give blood, platelets or plasma in January will automatically be entered for a chance to win a getaway to Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles. As an extra thank-you from the Red Cross, those who come to donate will also be automatically entered to win a home theater package and a $500 e-gift card. Terms apply; visit RedCrossBlood.org/SuperBowl for more information.

Who donations help

For Lara Weberling, a Red Cross Donor Recruitment Representative from Portland, getting more blood donors through the door is personal. Lara lost her son, Hans, to the pediatric cancer neuroblastoma in 2012. During his 6-year battle with the disease he received many blood transfusions and blood-related products including stem cell transplants with maintenance therapy. Hans was 9 when he lost his battle with cancer. His mother, however, is still fighting. Lara, through her job with the Red Cross, works to get more blood donations so that kids like Hans who rely on donors can get the treatment they need.

“It’s amazing,” said Lara. “I get to help kids like Hans every day.” 

Volunteers needed

In addition to blood donors, the Red Cross also needs the help of volunteers to support critical blood collections across the country. Blood drive volunteers play an important role by greeting, registering, answering questions and providing information to blood donors throughout the donation process. Blood transportation specialists – another volunteer opportunity − provide a critical link between blood donors and blood recipients by delivering blood to hospitals in communities across the country. To volunteer to support Red Cross blood collections, visit redcross.org/volunteertoday.

Blood drive safety 

Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control, and additional precautions – including face masks for donors and staff, regardless of vaccination status – have been implemented to help protect the health of all those in attendance. Donors are asked to schedule an appointment prior to arriving at the drive. 

Save time during donation

Donors can also save up to 15 minutes at the blood drive by completing a RapidPass®. With RapidPass®, donors complete the pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of donation, from a mobile device or computer. To complete a RapidPass®, follow the instructions at RedCrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Red Cross Blood Donor App.

To donate blood, individuals need to bring a blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification that are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also must meet certain height and weight requirements.

Health insights for donors 

At a time when health information has never been more important, the Red Cross is screening all blood, platelet and plasma donations from self-identified African American donors for the sickle cell trait. This additional screening will provide Black donors with an additional health insight and help the Red Cross identify compatible blood types more quickly to help patients with sickle cell disease who require trait-negative blood. Blood transfusion is an essential treatment for those with sickle cell disease, and blood donations from individuals of the same race, ethnicity and blood type have a unique ability to help patients fighting sickle cell disease.    

Donors can expect to receive sickle cell trait screening results, if applicable, within one to two weeks through the Red Cross Blood Donor App and the online donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org.  

About the American Red Cross

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides comfort to victims of disasters; supplies about 40% of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; distributes international humanitarian aid; and supports veterans, military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to deliver its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or cruzrojaamericana.org, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.  

Terms and conditions apply. Additional information and details are available at RedCrossBlood.org/SuperBowl.

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A 17-year-old was reported missing in Salem and detectives say the teen might be the victim of an online catfishing scheme.

Ezra Mayhugh, 17, was last seen on October 15, 2021 after being dropped off in downtown Salem by a friend, the Marion County Sheriff’s Office said. He was reported as a runaway the following day when he did not return home.

Investigators say he might be in Washington or California. They hope to reunite Ezra safely with family members.

He’s described as about 5-foot 11-inches tall, weighing 130 pounds, with blonde hair and brown eyes.

If you have had contact with Mayhugh since October 15 or have other helpful information on his whereabouts, the sheriff’s office asks you to contact Detective M.J. Sphoon at 503-588-6808 or to submit a tip by texting TIPMCSO and your tip to 847411.

https://www.facebook.com/pg/Have-You-Seen-Me-Southern-Oregons-Missing-People-161249961222839/posts/

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