Brown expands COVID vaccine eligibility to all Oregonians over 16

Gov. Kate Brown announced Tuesday all Oregonians over the age of 16 will be eligible for the COVID vaccine on April 19.

“We are locked in a race between vaccine distribution and the rapid spread of COVID-19 variants,” Brown said in a statement.”Today, Oregon will pass the threshold of 2 million vaccine doses administered. And yet, in communities across Oregon, COVID-19 is spreading at concerning rates. We must move as quickly as possible to get more shots in arms.”

The announcement comes right before President Biden is set to move the national deadline of May 1st for states to make all adults eligible for the coronavirus vaccine.

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St. Charles medical techs ratify first-time, 3-year contract

The medical techs, technologists, and therapist at St. Charles in Bend on Wednesday ratified their first union contract.

 The average increase is about 11%, which is consistent with increases received from 2019 through the first quarter of 2021 for non-contracted technical caregivers, according to St. Charles.

Most OFNHP members did not receive wage increases during the bargaining process.

According to a press release by the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, it is “a new stage of labor peace and partnership with the hospital.”

Voting on the first-time contract comes days after St. Charles and the union representing the hospital’s medical techs reached a tentative agreement on a first-time contract.

“We have won a groundbreaking new contract, which raises our wages an average of 25% and ensures that we have a strong voice at work.” says Frank Dewolf, a technologist in the Cardiac Cath Lab.

About 150 medical techs – radiology techs, therapists, technologists, ultrasound techs and others – officially went on strike March 4th after more than a year of failed negotiations over a first contract.

During the eight-day strike, the hospital assured the public everything was running smoothly inside with contracted replacement workers.

The medical techs will also become members of the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals.

“We are so pleased the Bend techs agreed with the compensation philosophy St. Charles has in place for all of its non-contracted caregivers,” said Hillary Forrest, director of Human Resources for St. Charles and a member of the bargaining team.

According to the hospital, the contract provides general wage increases and market adjustments for the first year that will bring the technical caregivers to the same wage level as St. Charles techs at other campuses.

The wage package brings the technical caregivers up to the level of wages they would have already received if they had not voted to unionize in September 2019, according to St. Charles.

“Our bargaining philosophy has been to ensure that all St. Charles caregivers are treated fairly – regardless of if they are unionized,” Forrest said. “We did not provide retroactive pay for the technical caregivers and we achieved our goal of ensuring this group of caregivers is compensated with the same processes and general increases as caregivers who are not part of a union.”

During bargaining, the Bend techs missed out on a potential of four wage and market increases that others have received since the fall of 2019.

After the first year, the contract follows the same wage methodology St. Charles already uses for non-contracted caregivers.

Negotiations on the contract have been taking place since January 2020.

“The wage proposal that was ratified by yesterday’s vote is the same proposal St. Charles put on the bargaining table before the technical caregivers went out on strike,” Forrest said. “As we have said multiple times, no one wins in a strike situation. We are pleased that OFNHP was willing to return to work so we could negotiate the last items in the contract to ensure no future disruptions to patient care.”

▶️ SAR volunteers clean up abandoned homeless camps along Deschutes River


Deschutes County Search and Rescue volunteers cleaned up abandoned transient campsites along the Deschutes River over the weekend.

The steep canyon near the Riverhouse Convention Center served as a training opportunity for volunteers to practice rope rescues.

An escaped campfire last summer and high water this winter forced transients to abandon their campsites downstream of the North Canal Dam.

They left behind piles of garbage in a difficult to access area.

“Camping equipment, kitchen stuff, rotting food, hypodermic needles, clothes, shoes. Just tons and tons of trash rotted from sitting down here all winter,” said Neil Marchington, Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office.

SAR decided to help remove the trash via a rope system with litters that normally carry injured people.

They erected a complex rope and pulley system anchored to juniper trees that cantilevered out over the cliff.

A device called a “vortex” kept the rope clear of sharp rocks.

“That will involve setting up systems to haul the garbage up and being a litter attendant,” said Kamilla Farkas, Search & Rescue Lead. “Right now, there’s no live load but there could be, so this is a good training.”

Volunteers who pulled more than 2,000 pounds of garbage out of the canyon over two days say the cleanup couldn’t happen soon enough.

“There was literally trash floating down the river where people are swimming and kayaking. Bags with hypodermic needles floating across the Deschutes River here in Bend,” Marchington said. “That’s something we don’t want to have endangering our kids and our families.”

The cleanup served as one of three monthly trainings that Deschutes County Search & Rescue volunteers undergo year-round.

Such trainings sharpen their skills for when somebody needs to be rescued from difficult to reach areas.

Driver sought after hitting young pedestrian in Redmond crosswalk

Redmond Police is looking for a woman suspected of hitting a minor pedestrian with her truck earlier this month.

Police say the crash happened February 17th at the crosswalk at SW Highland Ave. and SW 15th St.

The victim was hit crossing the street and the driver pulled over, police said.

The driver even provided the victim a ride home but did not talk with the victim’s parents or leave any information with them.

The suspect’s truck is a white Ford F-150 with a white tonneau cover.

The driver was described as a white woman between the ages of 40-50 with light blonde hair.

Anyone with information is asked to call police at 541-693-6911; reference case no. 21-3692.


Florence café fined nearly $18K over COVID-19 rules

FLORENCE, Ore. (AP) — The state of Oregon has fined a Florence restaurant nearly $18,000 for willfully exposing workers to COVID-19 after an investigation in which officials say compliance officers were threatened.

The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration on Tuesday announced the fine for The New Blue Hen.

Officials say complaints led to an inspection which was carried out despite several people – including one carrying a firearm – who blocked the business’ entrance and threatened compliance officers.

The investigation found the restaurant had been allowing indoor dining since at least Dec. 26.

The restaurant didn’t immediately respond to The Register-Guard’s message seeking comment.

The restaurant has 30 days to appeal.

Top board leaders resign after deadly Texas power outages

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Four board leaders of Texas’ embattled power grid operator are resigning.

The announcement Tuesday follows outrage over more than 4 million customers losing power during a deadly winter freeze last week.

All of the board directors stepping down live outside of Texas, which only intensified criticism of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

The resignations are effective Wednesday, one day before Texas lawmakers are set to begin hearings over the outages in the state Capitol.

Portland to pay $2M to settle fatal police shooting of teen

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The city of Portland is set to pay $2 million to relatives of a teen suspected in an armed robbery and attempted carjacking who was shot and killed by police four years ago.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports the settlement was reached in a federal civil rights lawsuit.

Lawyers for Quanice Hayes’ family argued Hayes was not a threat when he was killed on Feb. 9, 2017.

They say he was unarmed on his knees and moving forward in an attempt to lie on the ground in response to commands from officers.

The lawsuit contends police acted unreasonably with excessive force.

A grand jury found no criminal wrongdoing by officers.

Bend Police issues warnings to speeders, distracted drivers in school zones

Bend Police have issued nearly 100 written warnings for speeding, cell phone use and other violations while monitoring school zones this month.

On February 16 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. three traffic officers and two school resource officers enforced the school zones near Elk Meadow Elementary and Mountain View High School.

The speed limit in school zones is 20 mph and is clearly marked with signage.

There were 41 citations issued and 12 warnings.

Of the 32 citations issued for speeding, all of the drivers were traveling 30 mph or above in the posted 20 mph school zones.

Some drivers were traveling over 40 mph in the school zones.

Officers issued four citations for cell phone use and the other violations were for driving while suspended, failure to obey a traffic control device and failure to wear a seatbelt.

The Bend Police conduct several distracted driving details throughout the year.

Drug executives: Big jump in vaccine supply is coming soon

WASHINGTON (AP) — COVID-19 vaccine makers tell Congress to expect a big jump in the delivery of doses over the coming month.

The companies insisted Tuesday at a hearing that they will be able to provide enough vaccine for most Americans by summer.

By the end of March, Pfizer and Moderna expect to have provided the U.S. government with a total of 220 million vaccine doses, up from the roughly 75 million shipped so far.

That’s not counting a third vaccine, from Johnson & Johnson.

It is expected to get a green light from regulators soon.

State health officials say demand for inoculations still vastly outstrips the limited weekly shipments provided by the federal government.

Security officials cast blame for Jan. 6 failures at Capitol

WASHINGTON (AP) — The former chief of the U.S. Capitol Police has told lawmakers investigating the Capitol invasion that he learned only after the attack that his officers had received a report from the FBI that forecast, in detail, the chances that extremists could commit “war” in Washington.

The head of the FBI’s office in Washington has said that once he received the Jan. 5 warning, the information was quickly shared with other law enforcement agencies through the joint terrorism task force.

But former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund says he didn’t learn of it until later.

The former security officials are testifying publicly for the first time about the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, casting blame on the Pentagon, the intelligence community and each other.