Barrett confirmed as Supreme Court justice in partisan vote

WASHINGTON (AP) — Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed to the Supreme Court late Monday by a deeply divided Senate, Republicans overpowering Democrats to install President Donald Trump’s nominee days before the election and secure a likely conservative court majority for years to come.

Trump’s choice to fill the vacancy of the late liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg potentially opens a new era of rulings on abortion, the Affordable Care Act and even his own election.

Democrats were unable to stop the outcome, Trump’s third justice on the court, as Republicans race to reshape the judiciary.

Barrett is 48, and her lifetime appointment as the 115th justice will solidify the court’s rightward tilt.

Monday’s vote was the closest high court confirmation ever to a presidential election, and the first in modern times with no support from the minority party.

The spiking COVID-19 crisis has hung over the proceedings.

Vice President Mike Pence’s office said Monday he would not preside at the Senate session unless his tie-breaking vote was needed after Democrats asked him to stay away when his aides tested positive for COVID-19. The vote was 52-48, and Pence’s vote was not necessary.

Deschutes NF delays seasonal closure of forest service road to Broken Top trailhead

Deschutes National Forest officials have postponed the closure of Forest Service Road (FSR) 370 from the Todd Lake Trailhead to the junction with FSR 4601 due to warmer than predicted conditions.

The road will now close for the season on Tuesday, November 3. FSR 370 provides access to Broken Top Trailhead and other popular high elevation destinations.

Winter conditions can be unpredictable.

If you are traveling in the National Forest, remember that not all roads will be gated and those that are blocked by snow or water should be considered impassable for public safety as well as the protection of natural resources.

Be prepared for a variety of conditions whether you are taking a short or long journey into the forest.

Stocks have their worst day in a month as virus cases surge

NEW YORK (AP) – U.S. stocks fell sharply Monday as a troubling increase in coronavirus counts put investors in a selling mood.

The skid came as doubts mount on Wall Street that Washington will come through with more stimulus for the economy before Election Day.

The S&P 500 slid 1.9%, its biggest single-day decline in more than a month.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 650 points after having been down more than 960 during the heaviest selling.

Technology companies drove much of the broad sell-off, though losses in communications services, financial and industrial stocks helped weigh down the market. Energy stocks also dropped in tandem with crude oil prices.

Stocks also fell across much of Europe and Asia. In another sign of caution, Treasury yields pulled back after touching their highest level since June last week.

“It’s kind of a perfect storm,” said Ross Mayfield, investment strategy analyst at Baird. “The record case numbers and the kind of rolling lockdowns across Europe are getting the headlines. Oil is down on some supply and demand issues. Stimulus seems more and more unlikely by the day, at least pre-election.”

The S&P 500 fell 64.42 points to 3,400.97. The Dow slumped 650.19 points, or 2.3%, to 27,685.38.

The Nasdaq composite lost 189.34 points, or 1.6%, to 11,358.94. Smaller company stocks also took heavy losses, knocking the Russell 2000 index down 35.29 points, or 2.2%, to 1,605.21.

Coronavirus counts are spiking in much of the United States and Europe, raising concerns about more damage to the still-weakened economy.

The U.S. came very close to setting back-to-back record daily infection rates on Friday and Saturday. In Europe, Spain’s government declared a national state of emergency on Sunday that includes an overnight curfew, while Italy ordered restaurants and bars to close each day by 6 p.m. and shut down gyms, pools and movie theaters.

Hopes are fading, meanwhile, that Washington will be able to provide more support for the economy anytime soon.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin weren’t able to reach an agreement in a phone call Monday, according to a Pelosi aide.

The two have been discussing a potential deal to send cash to most Americans, restart supplemental benefits for laid-off workers and provide aid to schools, among other things.

Deep partisan difference remains on Capitol Hill, and time is running out for anything to happen before Election Day on Nov. 3.

Any compromise reached between House Democrats and the White House would also likely face stiff resistance from Republicans in control of the Senate. Another concern is that possible delays in sorting out the results of next week’s elections could end up pushing a stimulus deal back indefinitely.

Moon holds more water in more places than ever thought

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The moon’s shadowed, frigid nooks and crannies may hold frozen water in more places and in larger quantities than previously suspected.

And for the first time, the presence of water on the moon’s sunlit surface has been confirmed, scientists reported Monday.

That’s good news for astronauts at future lunar bases who could tap into these resources for drinking and making rocket fuel.

While previous observations have indicated millions of tons of ice in the permanently shadowed craters of the moon’s poles, a pair of studies in the journal Nature Astronomy take the availability of lunar surface water to a new level.

More than 15,400 square miles (40,000 square kilometers) of lunar terrain have the capability to trap water in the form of ice, according to a team led by the University of Colorado’s Paul Hayne. That’s 20% more area than previous estimates, he said.

Conservation groups launch fundraising effort for Warm Springs water restoration

A coalition of eight conservation organizations have joined with the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, MRG Foundation, and Warm Springs Action Team to mobilize immediate and long-term action to remediate the growing water emergency.

The Chúush: Water for Warm Springs Campaign accepts contributions that will directly assist the tribes in restoring access to and infrastructure for clean water.

The communities of Warm Springs are now in the second year of a devastating water emergency due to a series of pressure breaks in key community water lines.

Over 60% of Warm Springs residents do not have regular, consistent access to clean water for personal or domestic use.

The crumbling water infrastructure is a public health crisis, exacerbated by climate change and the ongoing global health crisis—both disproportionately affecting Native communities.

Conservation groups’ efforts to leverage widespread community support for the Chúush Fund is an extension of the land and water stewardship that the Warm Springs Tribe has modeled since existence.

Chúush: Water for Warm Spring Campaign – Participating Organizations

●      Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs

●      MRG Foundation

●      Warm Springs Community Action Team

●      Blue Mountain Land Trust 

●      Coalition of Oregon Land Trusts 

●      Columbia Land Trust 

●      Columbia Riverkeeper 

●      Deschutes Land Trust 

●      Friends of the Columbia Gorge 

●      The Nature Conservancy of Oregon 

●      Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility

“In a first-of- its-kind partnership of its kind between a foundation and a Tribal Nation, MRG is honored to be the steward of the funds raised from generous folks across the country to help repair and restore the water infrastructure at the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Indian Reservation of Oregon,” said MRG Foundation Executive Director Se-ah-dom Edmo, Shoshone-Bannock, Nez Perce, and Yakama.

In July 2019, the Oregon legislature earmarked $7.8 million in Oregon Lottery funds for water infrastructure repairs on the reservation.

But due to a sharp decline in gambling revenues resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, state officials reduced support.

In July, 2020, Oregon’s emergency board unanimously approved $3.58 million from state reserves to start addressing the water crisis. The fund must be spent by the end of 2020, offering just a fraction of repairs needed, estimated near $200 million.

“The water crisis prompts not only health concerns among Warm Springs community members, but creates a deep-seated anxiety about the viability of building a life on the reservation. Would you buy or construct a new home in a place where you had to boil your water before you drank it? Would you start a business in a place without a safe, reliable water system?” asked Chris Watson, executive director for the Warm Springs Community Action Team—a non-profit community development organization located on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation.

“Warm Springs community members have to think about these kinds of things when deciding on their futures. Until this problem is solved, they’ll continue to live with these concerns, and to feel uncertain and anxious about the future of their community. And Oregonians must do all they can to help restore access and infrastructure for reliable, clean water,” Watson added.

“While most of us in Central Oregon take our water supply for granted, the Warm Springs community currently cannot,” said Brad Chalfant founding director of Deschutes Land Trust. “That’s why we have joined together with some of the Northwest’s leading conservation groups to partner with the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Tribal community activists, and leaders at the state and federal level to help return reliable and safe water access to the people of Warm Springs.”

Launched this October after a series of early fall partner conversations, the Chúush: Water for Warm Spring Campaign’s goals are two-fold: strengthen available financial resources to meet immediate, emergency health needs and advocate for policy solutions needed to help the people of Warm Springs restore their access and infrastructure for clean water.

To date, The Chúush Fund has raised roughly $500,000 in response to ongoing community water needs.

The fund was approved by the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Tribal Council by resolution and a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Tribe and MRG Foundation.

The MRG Foundation transfers the total amount in the fund to the Tribe each month.

▶️ Tire changeover season looms, but some places already booked into late Nov.

By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS

Snow over the weekend prompted the seasonal rush on tire shops as drivers begin switching to winter tires.

Tire stores that accept reservations are already booked out days and, in some instances, weeks in advance.

“You can see the phones start ringing when the snow starts flying,” said Travis Cook, owner of Goodyear Auto Care on South Highway 97 in Bend. “Once it starts flying, you know it’s going to get busy especially those first few nights when it freezes and it’s slippery out on the roads. Makes it crazy.”

Tire shops are slammed right now and will be busier after November 1st when studded tires are legal for use.

“Call in advance, schedule an appointment. Make sure you give us enough notice. It can be a day or two. It can be a week out, depending on time of year and the weather,” Cook said. “Call in over the phone. We schedule appointments. We book it for a certain time. We usually tell people a half hour to 45 minutes to get it done.”

Les Schwab Tires encourages online reservations for its winter tire changeover services, but don’t expect it to be too soon.

Attempts to book online with Les Schwab showed the earliest possible dates of:

S. HWY 97: Nov. 20 (one appt.)
Hunnell Road: Nov. 25
Franklin Ave.: Nov. 23
Redmond: Nov. 23
Sisters: Nov. 10th (one appt.)
Prineville: Nov. 4 (some appts are available ahead of the changeover date of Nov. 1)

Due to the coronavirus, Discount Tire has a drive-up check-in station and limits the number of customers in its showroom.

That leaves many customers waiting in the parking lot, which is where we encountered Mike Setzer.

I’ve only waited for maybe 20 minutes. They are going to get it in there soon,” Setzer said. “The volume that they are doing here is amazing. I got told this morning they had 100 appointments.”

Other tire stores are first-come-first-serve.

You leave your car and pick it up when it’s ready, sometimes hours later.

“I’ve been doing this for 28 years,” Cook said. “From what it was back then, we used to have people just walk in, no problem. Now it’s like, schedule it out as best you can. We have limited parking too, so that makes it difficult.”

Folks who don’t have appointments and try walking in during the winter tire changeover season could get lucky and be taken care of in as little as 40 minutes.

But the average wait time is four hours.

OHA reports 339 new COVID cases, 2 deaths

COVID-19 has claimed two more lives in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 655, the Oregon Health Authority reported Monday.

The OHA reported 339 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19, bringing the state total to 42,436.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported Monday are in the following counties: Benton (1), Clackamas (41), Clatsop (1), Columbia (7), Coos (8), Crook (2), Deschutes (10), Douglas (1), Jackson (15), Josephine (1), Klamath (1), Lake (2), Lane (37), Linn (7), Malheur (2), Marion (40), Multnomah (90), Polk (4), Sherman (1), Umatilla (5), Union (1), Washington (56), and Yamhill (6).

Statewide, the test positivity rate last week was 6.2%, up from 5.7% the week before.

Crook County has reported 109 cases and two deaths.

Deschutes County has reported 1,132 cases and 13 deaths; 947 patients have recovered as of Friday, the latest data available.

Jefferson County has reported 604 cases and nine deaths.

St. Charles reported Thursday it has seven COVID patients; one is in the ICU and on a ventilator.

SCHOOL METRIC WATCH:

Each day we will be posting the Sunday-Saturday running tally of COVID cases in Deschutes County* as they relate to the weekly metrics many are watching for kids to return to school.

Counties need to have 30 or fewer cases per 100,000 people to bring kids back in grades K-3. With about 200,000 residents, Deschutes County’s target number is 60 or fewer total cases.

So far this week, Deschutes County has reported 23 confirmed and presumptive cases since Sunday.

* The final weekly tally reported by the OHA may differ based on a variety of factors.

Coronavirus deaths are rising again in the US, as feared

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Deaths per day from the coronavirus in the U.S. are on the rise again, just as health experts had feared, and cases are climbing in nearly every state, despite assurances from President Donald Trump over the weekend that “we’re rounding the turn, we’re doing great.”

With Election Day just over a week away, average deaths per day across the country are up 10% over the past two weeks, from 721 to nearly 794 as of Sunday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Confirmed infections per day are rising in 47 states, and deaths are up in 34.

Health experts had warned that it was only a matter of time before deaths turned upward, given the record-breaking surge in cases engulfing the country.

Deaths are a lagging indicator — that is, it generally takes a few weeks for people to sicken and die from the coronavirus.

Michael Osterholm, a University of Minnesota expert on infectious diseases who warned over the summer of a fall surge, said what’s happening now is a confluence of three factors: “pandemic fatigue” among people who are weary of hunkering down and are venturing out more; “pandemic anger” among those are don’t believe the scourge is a real threat; and cold weather, which is forcing more Americans indoors, where the virus can spread more easily.

“When you put those three together, we shouldn’t be surprised what we’re seeing,” Osterholm said.

The virus is blamed for more than 8.6 million confirmed infections and over 225,000 deaths in the U.S., the highest such totals anywhere in the world.

Deaths are still well below the U.S. peak of over 2,200 per day in late April. But experts are warning of a grim fall and winter, with a widely cited model from the University of Washington projecting about 386,000 dead by Feb. 1.

A vaccine is unlikely to become widely available until mid-2021.

60,000 in Southern California to evacuate after blaze grows

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A fast-moving wildfire forced evacuations for 60,000 people in Southern California on Monday as powerful winds across the state prompted power to be cut to hundreds of thousands to prevent utility equipment from sparking new blazes.

The smoky fire exploded in size to 2,000 acres within a few hours of breaking out shortly after dawn in Orange County, south of Los Angeles. Strong gusts pushed flames along brushy ridges in Silverado Canyon toward homes in the city of Irvine, home to about 280,000 people.

Kelsey Brewer and her three roommates decided to leave their townhouse before the evacuation order came in. The question was where to go in the pandemic. They decided on the home of her girlfriend’s mother, who has ample space and lives alone.

“We literally talked about it this morning,” Brewer said, adding that she feels lucky to have a safe place to go. “We can only imagine how screwed everyone else feels. There’s nowhere you can go to feel safe.”

The cause of the fire wasn’t immediately known.

More than 300,000 power customers — estimated at about 1 million people — were in the dark in the northern part of the state as officials issued warnings for what could be the strongest winds in California this year. About 5,000 customers lost power Monday in Southern California.

Firefighting crews that had been at the ready overnight quickly contained small blazes that broke out Sunday in Northern California’s Sonoma and Shasta counties. The causes were under investigation.

North of San Francisco, a Mount St. Helena weather station recorded a hurricane-force gust of 89 mph (143 kph) late Sunday and sustained winds of 76 mph (122 kph). Some Sierra Nevada peaks registered gusts well over 100 mph (161 mph).

Legislators consider ways to increase Idaho air travel

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Lawmakers in Idaho have considered ways to increase air travel in the state as flights have been reduced or eliminated in recent years, stunting economic growth.

Horizon Air stopped direct flights from the Lewiston airport to Boise two years ago and discontinued flights to Boise from Pocatello in 2006 and from Idaho Falls in 2010, Boise State Public Radio reported.

Lawmakers have argued that communities with fewer travel options are less attractive to businesses and people planning to relocate, so they hired a consultant to figure out how to lure airlines back or increase existing flights.

Mead & Hunt Project Manager Jeffrey Hartz told the committee Wednesday that there would need to be a financial incentive for the airlines to make any plan work.

“It could be a minimum revenue guarantee, it could be a capacity purchase type of agreement like the state of Wyoming has done. It could be more direct subsidy type of aspects,” he said.