Oregon Beach News, Wednesday 5/26 – Beach Driving Restrictions Start Near Pacific City, List of Oregon Coast Beaches To Be Monitored For Bacteria Is Released

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

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Oregon Beach Weather

Today- Mostly sunny, with a high near 60. Calm wind becoming west northwest 5 to 8 mph in the afternoon.

Thursday- Rain before 11am, then a chance of showers after 11am. High near 57. South southwest wind around 14 mph, with gusts as high as 22 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.

Friday- Partly sunny, with a high near 61. Light and variable wind becoming north northwest 6 to 11 mph in the afternoon.

Saturday- Mostly sunny, with a high near 63.

Sunday- Mostly sunny, with a high near 65.

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Oregon reports 424 new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases, 4 new deaths

There are four new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 2,628, the Oregon Health Authority reported at 12:01 a.m. today.

Oregon Health Authority reported 424 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 as of 12:01 a.m. today, bringing the state total to 199,391.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (2), Benton (4), Clackamas (48), Columbia (7), Coos (3), Crook (5), Deschutes (48), Douglas (19), Grant (1), Harney (1), Jackson (24), Jefferson (12), Josephine (7), Klamath (18), Lane (26), Linn (16), Malheur (3), Marion (41), Morrow (1), Multnomah (57), Polk (3), Umatilla (21), Union (5), Washington (39), Wheeler (1) and Yamhill (12).

Vaccinations in Oregon

Today, OHA reported that 25,851 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry. Of this total, 15,160 doses were administered on May 24 and 10,691 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry on May 24.

The seven-day running average is now 30,070 doses per day.

Oregon has now administered 2,124,214 first and second doses of Pfizer, 1,550,655 first and second doses of Moderna and 135,220 single doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines. As of today,1,755,318 people have completed a COVID-19 vaccine series. There are 2,182,229 people who have had at least one dose.

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, 2,053,920 doses of Moderna and 285,800 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.

COVID-19 hospitalizations

The number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 across Oregon is 274, which is eight more than yesterday. There are 75 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is no change from yesterday.

The total number of COVID-19 positive patient bed-days in the most recent seven days is 1,938, 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 306.

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.

Half of Oregon’s 36 counties now at COVID-19 Lower Risk level

Improving COVID-19 vaccination numbers have put five more counties in the Lower Risk category for business restrictions, including the most populous Multnomah, meaning half of Oregon’s 36 counties are at that less restrictive category, Gov. Kate Brown announced Tuesday.

Brown announced updates to county risk levels under the state’s public health framework to reduce transmission and protect Oregonians from COVID-19. Effective Thursday, May 27 through Thursday, June 3, there will be 15 counties in the High Risk level, three at Moderate Risk, and 18 at Lower Risk that have reached a 65% adult vaccination rate and whose equity plan has been approved.

Other counties moving to Lower Risk include Baker, Curry, Grant and Tillamook. Clatsop County moved from High to Moderate Risk. A complete list of counties and their associated risk levels is available here.

“The science is clear: vaccines are very effective in keeping people safe from COVID-19, and they are the key to returning to normal life and lifting health and safety restrictions statewide,” Brown said. “This disease remains dangerous for those in communities with high rates of unvaccinated individuals. That’s why I’m encouraging all Oregonians to roll up your sleeves, take your shot, and get a chance to change your life. It’s never been easier to get vaccinated, and you may just end up a winner through the Take Your Shot, Oregon campaign.”

On May 11, Governor Brown announced that counties that vaccinate at least 65% of their residents 16 or older with at least one dose and submit documentation on how they will close equity gaps in their vaccination efforts are eligible to move to the Lower Risk level. A county vaccination data dashboard is available on OHA’s website. Please note that the dashboard displays state vaccine allocations only, and does not track federally administered vaccine doses.  

Updated Guidance for Lower Risk Levels
On Monday, Brown announced that businesses, churches and venues in Lower Risk counties will soon have the option of creating vaccinated sections. Businesses will be able to take advantage of this option beginning Thursday, May 27. Additional details will be posted by Thursday to OHA’s website. 

Weekly County Movements
As case rates continue to decline, starting next week county risk level changes will be announced every week. The next risk level changes will be announced on Tuesday, June 1, to take effect on Friday, June 4. Counties facing moves back up in risk level will be given a caution period to re-focus efforts to drive back down creeping case numbers.

When Oregon achieves a first dose 70% statewide vaccination rate for residents 16 or older, Oregon will lift all risk level health and safety restrictions. Some restrictions based on CDC guidance for use of masks and physical distancing may remain in place.


Beach Driving Restrictions Start Near Pacific City

The Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission approved a new rule restricting driving on some beaches in south Tillamook County around Cape Kiwanda.

A new fence atop the Cape was also unveiled this week, providing hikers with different views of the rocky headland and surf.

Driving on the beach from Tierra del Mar, an unincorporated community north of Pacific City, north to the mouth of the Sand Lake estuary was previously open for part of the year, and is now closed to all motor vehicles year-round. The beach south of the Tierra del Mar access remains open to driving. Signs at the beach access make the driving rules clear.

The Cape Kiwanda beach access in Pacific City is reached from a county-owned parking lot and boat ramp. The beach north of the boat ramp is available for parking by people launching or retrieving a boat. The beach from the county boat ramp is closed to motor vehicles from there south about a quarter mile. Boats may occasionally launch from this area when the area just north of the ramp is unsafe for launching or retrieving boats.

The beach was temporarily closed to motor vehicles in 2020 in cooperation with the county to reduce COVID-related crowding concerns, and due to staff and revenue shortages also prompted by COVID-19.

“This change moves nearly all the motor vehicles to designated parking areas off the beach on the south side of Cape Kiwanda,” says Park Manager Jason Elkins. “It’s great seeing families having a natural experience on the beach without dodging cars.”

Cape Kiwanda is a sandstone headland just north of Pacific City and reachable by walking up a steep dune. The area is prone to erosion and has several sheer drops to the ocean. An old fence kept hikers more than a hundred yard back from the cliff edges in most areas, except for a small viewpoint. Hikers regularly ignored the fence and ventured into risky areas of the cape. Between 2014-2016, six people died due to falls. A new fence that creates several new views of the ocean and geologic features was unveiled May 20, 2021.

“We want visitors to enjoy better views without being tempted to cross a fence,” says Park Manager Jason Elkins.

The fence has gone through different configurations since the area became a state park in 1973, and the elements and crumbly sandstone have made past attempts difficult to maintain. The new fence uses the same kinds of hardy wooden posts used in vineyards and for growing hops, with coated, nonreflective chain link covering the spaces under the rails.

State Park and Department of Corrections crews installed 2,500’ feet of fence at a cost of $30,000 over the last year.

List of Oregon Coast Beaches To Be Monitored For Bacteria Is Released

Every year, from May through September, the Oregon Beach Monitoring Program (OBMP) kicks into gear and monitors the sands for bacteria. The 2021 season is now on for the Oregon coast, and state officials at the Oregon Health Authority Public Health Division have released the list of beaches that will be sampled.

It’s a partnership between the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), where beaches are tested for the presence of bacteria, which is mostly fecal in origin when it occurs. The reasons vary: they can be human-caused in some way (often leaking pipes somewhere onshore), excessive animal droppings, and even too many gulls in an area.

The new list includes some of the most frequently visited spots on the Oregon coast, as well as areas where the program has found bacteria in the past. In some cases, local partners and the public have requested monitoring due to potential pollution concerns.

OBMP said the new list of beaches may expand later – more beaches for monitoring could be added in the future.

Beaches now being monitored for the 2021 season:

SEASIDE BEACH – Seaside, Oregon – Clatsop County
CANNON BEACH – Cannon Beach, Oregon – Clatsop County
TOLOVANA STATE PARK BEACH – Cannon Beach, Oregon – Clatsop County
SHORT SAND STATE PARK BEACH – Arch Cape, Oregon – Tillamook County
ROCKAWAY BEACH – Rockaway, Oregon – Tillamook County
TWINS ROCKS BEACH – Twin Rocks, Oregon – Tillamook County
NESKOWIN STATE PARK BEACH – Neskowin, Oregon – Tillamook County
D RIVER STATE PARK BEACH – Lincoln City, Oregon – Lincoln County
BEVERLY BEACH – Newport, Oregon – Lincoln County
AGATE STATE PARK BEACH – Newport, Oregon – Lincoln County
NYE BEACH – Newport, Oregon – Lincoln County
SEAL ROCK STATE PARK BEACH – Seal Rock, Oregon – Lincoln County
HECETA BEACH – Florence, Oregon – Lane County
BASTENDORFF BEACH – Coos Bay, Oregon – Coos County
SUNSET BAY STATE PARK BEACH – Coos Bay, Oregon – Coos County
HUBBARD CREEK BEACH – Port Orford, Oregon – Curry County
HARRIS BEACH STATE PARK – Brookings, Oregon – Curry County
MILL BEACH – Brookings, Oregon – Curry County

Additions this year:

OCEANSIDE – Oceanside, Oregon – Tillamook County
CAPE KIWANDA – Pacific City, – Tillamook County

Beach advisories are issued for those areas being monitored.

When alerts are issued, the public is usually asked to stay out of the water in that area until test samples show bacteria below certain levels. Those warnings usually last for a day to a few days, and testing takes about 24 hours for results.

“As part of an adaptive sampling plan, beaches and sampling locations are routinely re-evaluated to ensure available resources best protect public health,” OBMP said

For more information and current beach monitoring conditions please visit: www.healthoregon.org/beach, or contact OBMP at Beach.Health@state.or.us or 971-673-0400.


Detectives Find Missing Remains Of Murdered Oregon Mother 

Deputies say they’ve located the missing remains of Sara Zghoul, an Oregon woman who was murdered in January of 2018.

“I am happy we were able to reach a complete resolution in this case, and I hope this helps Ms. Zghoul’s family obtain some closure in this tragic loss they have had to endure,” Washington County sheriff’s detectives said.

Zghoul, a 28-year-old mother from the Aloha area, was found deceased inside of a car on January 25, 2018.

Investigators later identified Jeremiah Johnston of Aloha as a suspect in the case. He later pleaded guilty to murder, kidnapping, and abuse of corpse charges in Zghoul’s killing.

On May 19, 2021, detectives from the sheriff’s office Violent Crimes Unit located Zghoul’s missing remains.

Johnston was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 65 years, at which time he would be 101 years old.

Some Public Lands In Oregon Still Closed In Wake Of 2020 Wildfires

Portions of Oregon’s National Forests and other public lands remain closed in the wake of the catastrophic 2020 fire season.

The USDA Forest Servicecreated an interactive map to help visitors identify areas that remain closed to the public. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9v68sVk7PFY

OED Phases Work Search Requirements Back In – Claimants must meet multi-step requirements by certain deadlines

The Oregon Employment Department is putting back in place some unemployment insurance (UI) requirements that were suspended or changed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The first return to work requirement being restored is to register in the Department’s iMatchSkills® online system and create a Job Seeker profile before a certain deadline. Since it is estimated that approximately 220,000 claimants will need to register, deadlines will be staggered over the next five weeks to make it easier for claimants to call their local WorkSource Oregon office with questions.

These return to work requirements are only for people receiving Regular UI or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC). PUA requirements are being finalized and will be announced soon, however, PUA claimants are welcome to register now if they would like help finding employment.

“Over the last 14 months, the Employment Department has played a critical role in supporting Oregonians. Putting work requirements on hold for more than a half million people during the crisis was the right thing to do, because these benefits provided a critical stabilizing force for families—and our economy. As the pandemic begins to fade and the economy changes, we are still focusing on how we can help fuel economic recovery, and help Oregonians overcome challenges related to employment,” said David Gerstenfeld, acting director of the Oregon Employment Department.

Work search requirement notices will be mailed on a rolling basis, with distinct deadlines for each group of claimants. The first of these notices will go to approximately 35,000 people. Claimants receiving letters will need to complete a two-step process by the deadline listed in their notices to continue receiving benefits:

  1. Complete registration in iMatchSkills®, where they will provide basic information about themselves, AND
  2. Create their Job Seeker profile in iMatchSkills®, which includes their work history and occupations they are seeking. This information will help match them to job opportunities.

If claimants do not complete both steps by their deadline, their benefits will be denied.

Claimants will be required to begin reporting their work-seeking activities on their weekly claim to continue receiving benefits. The deadline for this requirement is July 31 for all regular UI claimants. Going forward, they must report work-seeking activities for any week they want to receive benefits.

Some people will also be mailed a letter informing them they must complete a Welcome Conversation with WorkSource Oregon staff, virtually or in-person. If they are selected for a Welcome Conversation and do NOT complete the tasks by the assigned deadline, their  benefits will be denied.

Anyone who restarts their unemployment claim will have to complete the iMatchSkills® registration process, as will anyone filing a new claim for benefits. If a person is not currently filing weekly unemployment claims, this requirement does not apply to them.

To help people successfully complete this process, a step-by-step guide is available online at unemployment.oregon.gov/ReturnToWork. Claimants who need assistance with iMatchSkills® can call their local WorkSource Oregon office for additional help or the WorkSource Oregon Language Access Line at 833-685-0845 if they need help in a language other than English.

WorkSource Oregon has been connecting Oregonians to jobs for more than 17 years and is offering virtual appointments and services, as the offices remain closed to walk-ins. Offices will reopen July 6. Whether filing claims or not, if people are looking for work or training opportunities, they can reach out to WorkSource Oregon and register in iMatchSkills®.

Equal Opportunity program — auxiliary aids and services available upon request to individuals with disabilities. Contact: (503) 947-1794. For people who are deaf or hard of hearing, call 711 Telecommunications Relay Services. Oregon Employment Department 

Couple Discovers Huge Lava Cave Below Their Home in Bend

A Bend Oregon couple have discovered a large lava tube on their property.

In 2017, Suzanne and James Brierley purchased the home that sits on a 10-acre lot in Bend. At the time, their real estate agent told them there was a small cave somewhere on the property, below the home.

However, they did not realize how extensive the cave really was, or that it was a lava tube,

The Brierleys contacted Oregon High Desert Grotto, a branch of the National Speleological Society, to help them explore the lava tube, according to the Newsweek report. The Oregon High Desert Grotto has not yet responded to Patch’s request for comment.

Lava tubes are underground passageways created by lava flows and are capable of transporting large quantities of lava long distances underneath the surface, according to the National Park Service. When the lava supply runs out after an eruption, or if it gets diverted elsewhere, it leaves behind an empty cave.

According to the National Park Service, the longest lava tube cave in the world is the Kazumura lava tube system, within the 500-year-old ‘Ailā’au lava flow of Kīlauea, Hawaii. It is more than 40 miles long.

Lava tube exploration is highly popular on the West Coast, especially at Lava Beds National Monument, run by the National Parks Service. The lava tubes there were created between 10,500 and 65,000 years ago, as lava that was flowing beneath the surface began to cool and solidify on the tops and sides. As the lava flow ran dry, the rock cooled and cracked, producing openings to the surface.

Visitors can go caving at the Lava Beds National Monument, where developed caves are divided into three groups based on their varying levels of difficulty.

In the Pacific Northwest, lava enthusiasts flock to the Ape Cave at Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Lewis County, Washington. The Ape Cave is 2.5 miles long and is one of the longest and most accessible lava tubes in North America, according to the USDA Forest Service. The lava tube formed about 2,000 years ago following an unusual lava flow down Mount St. Helens.

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