The latest news stories across the state of Oregon from the digital home of the Oregon coastal cities, OregonBeachMagazine.com
Thursday, May 27, 2021
Oregon Beach Weather
Today– A 40 percent chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 58. Breezy, with a south southwest wind 11 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.
Friday– Patchy fog before 8am. Otherwise, mostly sunny, with a high near 64. Breezy, with a light and variable wind becoming north northwest 15 to 20 mph in the afternoon.
Saturday– Mostly sunny, with a high near 63. North northwest wind 5 to 13 mph.
Sunday– Patchy fog before 7am. Otherwise, partly sunny, with a high near 67.
Memorial Day- Mostly sunny, with a high near 64.
Oregon reports 399 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 11 new deaths
There are 11 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 2,639. The Oregon Health Authority reported 399 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 199,784.
The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (3), Benton (11), Clackamas (60), Columbia (4), Coos (1), Crook (3), Curry (2), Deschutes (38), Douglas (20), Harney (4), Hood River (2), Jackson (29), Jefferson (4), Josephine (13), Klamath (9), Lake (1), Lane (24), Lincoln (1), Linn (18), Malheur (4), Marion (43), Morrow (2), Multnomah (58), Polk (2), Tillamook (1), Umatilla (6), Wasco (3), Washington (28) and Yamhill (5).
Risk level changes announced
Governor Kate Brown yesterday announced several updates to the County Risk Levels. From Thursday, May 27through Thursday, June 3, there will be 18 Oregon Counties in Lower Risk, three in Moderate Risk and 15 in High Risk.
Among the counties moved this week was Multnomah County, which moved from High to Lower Risk after vaccinating 65% of its residents ages 16 and older and submitting a vaccine equity plan.
Other counties that moved were:
- Baker County from High Risk to Lower Risk
- Clatsop County from High Risk to Moderate Risk
- Curry County from Moderate Risk to Lower Risk
- Tillamook County from Moderate Risk to Lower Risk
Earlier this month, Governor Brown announced that counties that vaccinate at least 65% of residents 18 and older with at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and that submit an equity plan to close gaps in their vaccination efforts will be eligible to move into the Lower Risk category.
In addition, Oregon continues to make progress toward the statewide goal to have 70 percent of adults (age 18 and above) vaccinated, which would allow the state to lift the current risk metrics. The 70 percent target is based on CDC vaccination data, which is more comprehensive in scope, and captures vaccine doses administered by federal entities – such as the Veterans Administration– that are not reflected on OHA’s vaccine dashboard.
Vaccinations in Oregon
Today, OHA reported that 27,555 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry. Of this total, 14,972 doses were administered on May 25 and 12,583 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry on May 25.
The seven-day running average is now 29,993 doses per day.
As of today, 1,771,880 people have completed a COVID-19 vaccine series. There are 2,194,351 people who have had at least one dose of a vaccine.
Oregon has now administered 2,138,051 first and second doses of Pfizer, 1,561,198 first and second doses of Moderna and 136,795 doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines.
Cumulative daily totals can take several days to finalize because providers have 72 hours to report doses administered and technical challenges have caused many providers to lag in their reporting. OHA has been providing technical support to vaccination sites to improve the timeliness of their data entry into the state’s ALERT Immunization Information System (IIS).
To date, 2,619,045 doses of Pfizer, 2,090,720 doses of Moderna and 286,600 doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines have been delivered to sites across Oregon.
These data are preliminary and subject to change. OHA’s dashboards provide regularly updated vaccination data, and Oregon’s dashboard has been updated today.
The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 273, which is one fewer than yesterday. There are 77 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is two more than yesterday.
The total number of COVID-19 positive patient bed-days in the most recent seven days is 1,905, which is an 18.5% decrease from the previous seven days. The peak daily number of beds occupied by COVID-19 positive patients in the most recent seven days is 301.
The total number of patients in hospital beds may fluctuate between report times. The numbers do not reflect admissions per day, nor the length of hospital stay. Staffing limitations are not captured in this data and may further limit bed capacity. More information about hospital capacity can be found here.
Weekly COVID-19 cases, deaths, hospitalizations decline
The Oregon Health Authority’s COVID-19 Weekly Report, released today, shows decreases in daily cases, hospitalizations and deaths from the previous week.
OHA reported 3,090 new daily cases of COVID-19 during the week of Monday, May 17, through Sunday, May 23. That represents a 25% decrease from the previous week.
New COVID-19 related hospitalizations fell to 224, down from 265 last week and the lowest figure in five weeks.
Reported COVID-19 related deaths fell to 34, down from 57 last week.
There were 107,233 tests for COVID-19 for the week of May 16 through May 22 — a 4% increase from last week. The percentage of positive tests fell from 6.4% to 5.4%.
People 70 years of age and older have accounted for 38% of COVID-19 related hospitalizations and 75% of COVID-19 related deaths.
Today’s COVID-19 Weekly Outbreak Report shows 32 active COVID-19 outbreaks in senior living communities and congregate living settings, with three or more confirmed cases and one or more COVID-19 related deaths.
Killer Whale Sightings High This Year
Whale sightings are high along the coastline, with Orca sightings at an all-time high. The numbers of killer whale reports right now far outweigh the gray whales, but that doesn’t mean there are more Orcas than grays. There are simply more means of reporting whales these days and lots more eyes out there than there used to be, along with the means to record them.
Thus, plenty of eye-popping video has surfaced in the recent weeks, largely due to the new group Oregon Coast Killer Whale Sightings.
Also on the killer whale group’s page, there’s video of a pod of five Orcas in Depoe Bay over the weekend. Another member caught video of a couple of Orcas lingering right up against Pacific City’s Cape Kiwanda.
On the group Port Orford and PNW Whale Watchers, one member snapped some interesting pictures of Orcas in Coos Bay on May 15, showing a massive cargo vessel behind one of the killer whales splashing around.
One of the more spectacular sightings was on May 8 when at least two Orcas made their way into Tillamook Bay on May 8. Garibaldi Charters snagged one of the money shots, while a few videos are circulating showing all the action.
A bit later, the Transient Killer Whale Research Project actually identified the three Orcas in the various footage and photos. According to their lead scientist, Josh McInnes, they were the cataloged whales known as T049A2, T073, and T073D. They are known to be a little more common in coastal inland waters of Washington, British Columbia and southeast Alaska.
On May 18, Orcas were reported at the Cove in Seaside, which is a rare sight.
May 8 was a good day for whales all over the shoreline. On the southern Oregon coast, near Port Orford’s Battle Rock, there were some reports of whales documented there.
On May 16, the Port Orford and PNW Whale Watchers showed some stunning video of whales near the docks of Port Orford – at least four grays.
May 7 was particularly spectacular for South Coast Tours LLC. They caught video of two whales coming in close to check out a couple of divers that had just dropped into the ocean for some training. The cries of joy in the video are rather infectious and understandable, considering what a dazzling encounter that must’ve been for the divers.
All this doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed spotting an Orca or two. Even spotting gray whales – which are still migrating up the coast is a patience game, so finding an Orca will be similar. It’s important to note gray whales have no dorsal fin (top fin), but killer whales do.
While it’s possible to see whales at any spot along the Oregon coast, here are the best viewing locations to increase your chance of seeing whales:
- Cape Kiwanda
- Ecola State Park
- The Highway 101 Neahkahnie Mountain Historic Turnout
- 10th floor Inn at Spanish Head Lobby
- Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint
- Boiler Bay State Scenic Viewpoint
- Cape Lookout State Park at the tip of the cape (which is a 2.5 mile hike. Check to see that the trail is open before going, as weather damage can close this trail on occasion).
- The Depoe Bay Sea Wall
- The Depoe Bay Whale Watching Center (May be closed due to Covid-19)
- Cape Foulweather
- Rocky Creek State Scenic Viewpoint
- Don Davis City Park
- Devil’s Punchbowl State Natural Area
- Cape Perpetua Interpretive Center (May be closed due to Covid-19)
- Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area
- Cape Ferrelo
- Harris Beach State Park
- Shore Acres State Park
- The Umpqua Lighthouse
- Cook’s Chasm Turnout
Female Kidnapping Suspect Leads Police on Wild Chase Along Coast Line
Grand Ronde Tribal Police relayed that they had been chasing a black Jeep Wrangler westbound on Hwy 18 on May 26, 2021 at 11:14 AM to the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office. Police were unable to keep in visual contact with the suspect vehicle and the pursuit was terminated.
Soon Lincoln City Police Officers observed the same vehicle driving south bound in Lincoln City.
Officers tried to stop the vehicle and it fled at high rate of speed. The pursuit was terminated due to the driver driving recklessly while officers attempted to keep up.
Police followed at a safe distance keeping the vehicle in line of sight as it traveled south on Hwy 101. Multiple attempts to deploy spikes were unsuccessful due to the high volume of traffic. The pursuit was again terminated to avoid predicted hazardous conditions inside Newport City limits.
Several police officers observed the suspect vehicle drive recklessly through Newport while continuing south on Hwy 101. Once the vehicle exited the city limits officers attempted another traffic stop and the vehicle eluded again. On Highway 101 near SW 68th street, Deputy Honse with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office was successful in spiking one tire on the Jeep. The vehicle continued south at a high rate of speed. Another successful tire spike strip was used just south of Seal Rock where the second front tire was deflated. The vehicle continued south on Hwy 101 on one rim and one flat tire.
Police then learned the suspected driver was 40-year-old Corienne Anne Meyer of Ward, Colorado. She was wanted out of Colorado State for Kidnapping. Because of the seriousness of the warrant and the observed blatant disregard to public safety, heightened measures were taken to stop the fleeing vehicle. Deputies with the Sheriff’s Office conducted a rolling “box-in”. The suspect vehicle intentionally struck the back of the lead patrol vehicle twice before coming to a complete stop. The driver was taken into custody and her identity was confirmed. Ms. Meyer was taken to the Lincoln County Jail and charged with numerous charges to include Reckless Driving, Attempt to Elude, Attempted Assault III, Attempted Assault on a Police Officer. Her bail was initially set at $95,000 with additional charges expected from surrounding agencies. No injuries to the suspect or officers were reported.
The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by Oregon State Police, Grand Ronde Tribal Police, Lincoln City Police Department and the Newport Police Department.
Bottle and Can Redemptions To Increase On The Central Oregon Coast
Oregon BottleDrop and Fred Meyer are excited to announce the grand opening of the first bulk bottle and can redemption location in Florence. This BottleDrop network drop location at the Florence Fred Meyer, 4701 Highway 101, will allow area residents to participate in the Green Bag program and will open up new fundraising opportunities for local nonprofits through the Blue Bag program.
The BottleDrop network drop location will make it fast and easy for Central Coast residents to return, redeem and recycle redeemable beverage containers in special 20-gallon BottleDrop Green Bags, which can be purchased at the Florence Fred Meyer store.
“At Fred Meyer, we are excited to be able to offer new options for our customers and also help contribute to the reduction of waste in our community, which aligns with our Zero Hunger/Zero
Waste social impact plan. This new facility will make redeeming beverage containers faster and easier for our Florence area customers,” said Jeffery Temple, Director of Corporate Affairs for Fred Meyer.
Customers can also sign up for a BottleDrop account at the store kiosk, and print bag tag labels with QR codes linking the bags to their accounts. Then they simply tag their bags, fill them with empty Oregon 10-cent refund containers, and drop them off at the new BottleDrop network drop location. Their containers are counted and credited to their BottleDrop accounts within seven days.
BottleDrop is operated by the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative (OBRC), which introduced the Green Bag program in 2010 as a convenient and efficient redemption option for Oregonians. The program has grown each year, with Oregonians returning 8.3 million Green and Blue Bags in 2020.
According to Oregon State Rep. Boomer Wright, “Redeeming cans and bottles just got a lot easier on the Central Coast. Oregon’s Bottle Bill continues to get some of the best outcomes in the world, in part because of convenient options like the Green Bag program. I’m tremendously excited to see the BottleDrop network expanding to our area.”
Oregon State Sen. Dick Anderson also expressed excitement.
“This option is very popular everywhere it’s available, and it makes redeeming cans and bottles fast and easy,” he said. “This location will also open the area up to the Blue Bag program, which helps nonprofits engage their supporters and supercharge their fundraising through ongoing can and bottle donations.”
How does BottleDrop’s Green Bag system work?
Oregonians who have a BottleDrop account can purchase approved 20-gallon Green Bags for a small fee. They also receive printed bag tag labels with QR codes linking their bags to their accounts. They fill the 20-gallon bags with redeemable bottles and cans and drop them at any approved Green Bag drop location. BottleDrop will count the contents and credit the account within seven days. There are different ways account holders can spend their redemption funds:
- Withdraw for cash at the Fred Meyer Florence or any BottleDrop kiosk;
- Make them go 20% further by spending them at the Fred Meyer Florence through the
BottleDrop Plus program;
- Save for education with an Oregon 529 account; or,
- Donate to a charity of your choice through BottleDrop Give.
Customers can get started with the Green Bag program on BottleDrop’s website, by downloading the mobile app via the App Store and Google Play or by signing up at the BottleDrop kiosk inside the Fred Meyer Florence.
The Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative (OBRC) is the industry steward of Oregon’s nationally recognized beverage container redemption system and operator of the BottleDrop centers. Headquartered in Clackamas, Ore., OBRC is a statewide, not-for-profit cooperative, formed by the beverage distributors, manufacturers and grocers. OBRC helps keep Oregon beautiful by providing outstanding services to partners, distributors, retailers and the public for the recovery, reuse and recycling of beverage containers.
Through OBRC’s BottleDrop Redemption Centers and container pickup service for more than 2,500 retail partners, the co-op recycles around 3 billion beverage containers annually. To learn more, visit BottleDropCenters.com or OBRC.com.
AROUND the STATE of OREGON
Memorial Day Weekend Comes with Higher Fire Risk
The first holiday getaway of the season is finally here as families and friends look forward to Oregon’s great outdoors. AAA reports that about 485,000 Oregonians plan to travel over the Memorial Day weekend, a big increase from 2020.
Also up will be fire danger. As people head to their favorite camping spot this weekend, fire professionals are spreading a word of caution with temperatures expected to be near 90 degrees.
“It’s time for everyone to put their Smokey hat on,” said Oregon Department of Forestry’s Fire Prevention Coordinator Tom Fields. “The continued drought and unseasonably warm weather we’re facing could lead to unintentional wildfires.”
Fields says that ODF firefighters have already been busy this year with 267 fires burning over 1,900 acres, more than twice the 10-year average for number of fires. Fire crews on patrol have also extinguished about a dozen abandoned campfires.
“The last thing anyone wants is to have their holiday weekend ruined by not putting out their campfire.” Fields reiterated that people should follow well-known fire prevention tips listed below.
- Know before you go: Before going camping, always contact the forest district, agency or landowner first to learn if there are any current campfire restrictions where you plan to recreate.
- Have water and fire tools on site: Bring a shovel and a bucket of water to extinguish any escaped embers. When you are ready to leave, drown all embers with water, stir the coals, and drown again. Repeat these steps until the fire is DEAD out. If it is too hot to touch, it is too hot to leave.
- Select the right spot: Where campfires are allowed, choose a site with an existing ring. Fire pits in established campgrounds are the best spots. If you choose to build a campfire, avoid building it near your tent, structures, vehicles, shrubs or trees, and be aware of low-hanging branches overhead. Clear the site down to bare soil, at least five feet on all sides, and circle it with rocks. Store unused firewood a good distance from the fire.
- Keep your campfire small: A campfire is less likely to escape control if it is kept small. A large fire may cast hot embers long distances. Add firewood in small amounts as existing material is consumed.
- Attend your campfire at all times: A campfire left unattended for even a few minutes can grow into a costly, damaging wildfire. Stay with your campfire from start to finish until it is dead out, as required by law. That ensures any escaped sparks or embers can be extinguished quickly.
- Consider alternatives to a campfire this summer: Portable camp stoves are a safer option to campfires at any time of year. Areas that prohibit campfires outside maintained campgrounds with established fire pits often allow camp stoves.
- Never use gasoline or other accelerants: Don’t use flammable or combustible liquids, such as gasoline, propane or lighter fluid, to start or increase your campfire.
- Burn ONLY local wood: Hauling your firewood to a remote campground can potentially transport invasive species. Instead, buy it where you’ll burn it or gather wood on site where permitted. State regulations prohibit the open burning of any other material that creates dense, toxic smoke or noxious odors.
Escaped campfires can be costly. State and federal law require the proper clearing, building, attending and extinguishing of open fires at any time of year. While citations and fines may apply, the biggest potential cost for an escaped campfire is firefighting costs. These can range from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars or more.
Klamath Water Crisis Ongoing
Twenty years after a shut-off of most irrigation water in the parched Klamath Project brought the competing needs of farmers, fishermen and tribes to a head, a new drought — and a fresh federally ordered water shut-off — is triggering a sense of déjà vu.
Now, two Klamath Project irrigators with ties to radical activist Ammon Bundy have purchased private property located next to the headgates of the “A” Canal in Klamath Falls, which would normally deliver water to area farms. And along with local members of the Oregon chapter of People’s Rights, a group founded by Bundy in 2020, they’ve set up an information center and gathering place to talk to the public about the brewing water crisis in the Klamath Basin.
The headgates are essentially like a massive spigot that controls the flow of water stored in Upper Klamath Lake and releases it to farms and ranches via a network of canal ditches throughout the Klamath Reclamation Project. In
2001, after most irrigation water was cut off to protect endangered fish, thousands of demonstrators formed a symbolic “bucket brigade,” passing buckets of water from Lake Ewauna and emptying them into the “A” Canal that runs through Klamath Falls. Another gathering is planned at the tent today, Thursday, May 27.
Ty Burrell will be UO 2021 Keynote Speaker
The University of Oregon has revealed award-winning actor and former Duck Ty Burrell to be its 2021 keynote speaker at the June 12 commencement ceremony. Burrell is most famous for his 11-season run as Phil Dunphy on ABC’s hit show, “Modern Family”.
The Grants Pass native grew up rooting for the Ducks with his family before attending the university in the late 1980s, studying theater. In an alumni newsletter in 2015, he credited the university for being the place he discovered he wanted to be an actor.
Burrell and his wife continue to support the UO through the Ty and Holly Burrell Scholarship in the Department of Theatre Arts. He has also been spotted many times attending football games at Autzen Stadium.
A two-count indictment was unsealed today charging a former Klamath Falls, Oregon police officer for stealing methamphetamine and fentanyl from an evidence room.
Thomas Dwayne Reif, 27, has been charged with two counts of possessing a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, forgery, deception, or subterfuge. According to the indictment, on or about November 27, 2020, Reif is alleged to have entered the Klamath Falls Police Department’s temporary evidence room using an unauthorized key and removed an evidence item containing methamphetamine and fentanyl.
Reif briefly left the evidence room before returning the evidence item to the evidence locker and leaving the facility. Shortly thereafter, Reif overdosed while operating his police car. The car jumped a median, travelled into oncoming traffic, and caused a multiple-vehicle accident. Reif was rushed to the hospital and successfully revived by medical personnel.
Toxicology reports showed that Reif was under the influence of substances including methamphetamine and fentanyl. Investigators searched the personal locker assigned to Reif at the Klamath Falls Police Department. Inside the locker, investigators found that Reif had concealed an evidence bag containing methamphetamine.
Reif made his initial appearance in federal court today before a U.S. Magistrate Judge. He was arraigned, pleaded not guilty, and released pending a jury trial scheduled to begin on August 3, 2021. If convicted, Reif faces a maximum sentence of four years in federal prison, one year of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000.
Oregon to Accept Ballots Postmarked by Election Day
Oregon, the first state to conduct all elections by mail, would join the ranks of states accepting ballots postmarked by election day under a bill that has cleared the Oregon House. House Bill 3291 was approved on a 39-21 vote Monday, May 24, and goes to the Senate. The bill would align Oregon with 17 states — including Washington,
California and Nevada — that allow ballots to count if they are postmarked by election day. Four other states count ballots if they are postmarked the day before the election.
Oregon is among the states that have required ballots to be in the hands of county elections offices by the close of election day. Under the bill, ballots would have to arrive in county elections offices no later than seven days after the election if they are to count. States that allow election-day postmarks range widely from three to 20 days.
Legislature Approves Bill That Will Ban Online Sales Of Nicotine E-Cigarettes and Vaping Products
Both chambers of the Oregon legislature have now approved a bill that will ban the online sale of nicotine e-cigarettes and vaping products, sending it to Governor Kate Brown for her signature.
House Bill 2261 bans all online sales of tobacco or nicotine-related vaping products. It does not apply to marijuana vape devices. Representatives in the House passed the bill with broad bipartisan support in April.
Supporters of the bill say that it will cut down on the availability of e-cigarettes for Oregon’s youth, “closing loopholes” that made it easier for underage Oregonians to buy the products. Oregon banned the online sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products in 2017, and the new bill adds vaping products to the list.