OHA reports 2 new deaths, 435 cases

There are two new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 1,882, the Oregon Health Authority reported Monday.

The OHA reported 435 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19, bringing the state total to 138,587.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (1), Benton (4), Clackamas (46), Columbia (1), Coos (11), Crook (1), Deschutes (21), Douglas (12), Harney (1), Hood River (1), Jackson (25), Josephine (10), Lake (4), Lane (36), Lincoln (5), Linn (7), Marion (48), Morrow (1), Multnomah (105), Polk (6), Tillamook (1), Umatilla (20), Union (3), Wasco (6), Washington (50) and Yamhill (9).

Deschutes County has reported 5,212 cases and 40 deaths. As of Friday, the latest data available, the county has reported 2,849 active cases – that’s one in 69 residents; 2,249 patients have recovered.

Crook County has reported 662 cases and 13 deaths.

Jefferson County has reported 1,738 cases and 25 deaths.

St. Charles on Monday reported it had 24 COVID patients; one is in the ICU and on a ventilator.

It has distributed 12,502 vaccinations.

Vaccinations in Oregon

Today, OHA reported that 7,390 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry.

Of this total, 6,182 doses were administered on Jan. 24 and 1,208 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry on Jan. 24.

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).

Oregon has now administered a cumulative total of 308,051 first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

All vaccinations were administered by Oregon hospitals, long-term care facilities, emergency medical service (EMS) agencies, urgent care facilities and Local Public Health Authorities (LPHAs).

To date, 492,450 doses of vaccine 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 320, which is 10 more than yesterday.

There are 75 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is five fewer than yesterday.

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.

COCC awarded federal grant to boost manufacturing tech program

COCC is among a consortium of Oregon community colleges recently awarded a $5 million federal grant from the U.S. Dept. of Labor

The college will get $80,000 per year for four years, which it will use to support advanced manufacturing workforce development in Central Oregon.

COCC is the Central Oregon resource for the skills and knowledge employees need to succeed in a career in manufacturing,” said Michael Fisher, Dean of Instruction.

“Students learn in several key areas,” added Joe Huddleston, Manufacturing Technology Program Director. “These include welding, machine tool, CNC, metal fabrication, automation, machine learning, and real-time data.”

Late last year, Central Oregon Community College partnered with Mt. Hood Community College, the Higher Education Coordinating Commission and seven other Oregon community colleges to apply for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Strengthening Community College Training Grant.

This funding helps institutions address the skill development needs of employers and support workers in gaining skills to transition quickly from unemployment to employment.

“As the nation recovers from the coronavirus pandemic, community colleges are critical partners to train the American workforce and build a pipeline of workers in critical industries,” said Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training John Pallasch. “The Strengthening Community Colleges Training Grants will play an important role in helping workers to reskill as quickly as possible with industry-recognized credentials and accelerated pathways to degrees.”

Advanced manufacturing is a dynamic industry in Oregon that relies on community colleges to produce a skilled workforce.

Graduates from these program areas are employed in sectors ranging from renewable energy to aviation.

To meet the region’s workforce demands, COCC will invest its award funding in equipment and facilities on the College’s Redmond campus.

COCC will also work with regional manufacturing partners including the Bend-based CV International to provide integrated education and training (IET), short-term certifications and stackable credentials, as well as hands-on training including internships and apprenticeships.

“We fully support the core elements of this project and look forward to launching this initiative,” said Dale Riggs, Director of Engineering at CV International. “As an employer partner for this project, we will endeavor to provide paid internships and cooperative work experiences to COCC students and graduates. We will offer students exposure to and hands-on time with manufacturing. And qualified trainees will be interviewed as potential employees.”

“This award showcases community colleges’ unique ability to collaborate and forge key industry partnerships,” noted Dr. Laurie Chesley, President of COCC. “We’re committed to building the workforce Central Oregon needs, and to doing so quickly, affordably and effectively.”

Learn more about COCC’s Manufacturing Technology program.

Crews recover body of Oregon woman swept away in mudslide

Sheriff’s deputies and firefighters on Saturday recovered the body of an Oregon woman whose vehicle was swept away in a deep mudslide during a winter storm last week, authorities said.

Jennifer Camus Moore, a registered nurse from Warrendale, Oregon, was driving in the Columbia River Gorge near the small community of Dodson when her SUV was buried under about 15 feet (4.6 meters) of mud, rock and trees.

The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office said road crews used front loaders, dump trucks and other heavy equipment to clear the edges of the debris field as they tried to locate her in the wet, unstable mud.

A private contractor, Concrete GPR, helped verify the location of her vehicle on Saturday morning by using a high-powered metal detector. Crews dug a path to the vehicle with front-loaders.

“It’s not the outcome everyone would have hoped for,” Sgt. Steve Dangler said in a news release, “but at least at this point, it brings closure to the family and allows them to begin the grieving process.”

Biden reverses Trump ban on transgender people in military

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden signed an order Monday reversing a Trump-era Pentagon policy that largely barred transgender individuals from serving in the military.

The new order, which Biden signed in the Oval Office during a meeting with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, overturns a ban ordered by President Donald Trump in a tweet during his first year in office. It immediately prohibits any service member from being forced out of the military on the basis of gender identity.

The decision comes as Biden plans to turn his attention to equity issues that he believes continue to shadow nearly all aspects of American life.

Ahead of his inauguration, Biden’s transition team circulated a memo saying Biden planned to use his first full week as president “to advance equity and support communities of color and other underserved communities.”

As he signed the order on Monday, Biden said, “What I’m doing is enabling all qualified Americans to serve their country in uniform.”

“America is stronger, at home and around the world, when it is inclusive.

The military is no exception,” the order says. “Allowing all qualified Americans to serve their country in uniform is better for the military and better for the country because an inclusive force is a more effective force. Simply put, it’s the right thing to do and is in our national interest.”

The order directs the departments of Defense and Homeland Security to take steps to implement the order for the military and the Coast Guard.

And it says they must reexamine the records of service members who were discharged or denied reenlistment due to gender identity issues under the previous policy.

19-year-old arrested in Sunriver after Bend robbery, attempted robbery

Bend Police arrested a 19-year-old on Saturday after he allegedly robbed a convenience store and tried to rob a check-cashing business.

Sgt. Tommy Russell said employees at Cash Connection in Bend called 911 around 3:15 p.m. to report a suspicious man had come into the store and asked the cashier for money.

The man left without any money.

The employee gave police a partial license plate and full description of the man and his vehicle – a silver Dodge van. Police were able to identify the suspect as Levi Church.

About an hour later, a clerk from the Expressway Market & Gas Station on Reed Market Road called 911 to report a robbery.

The clerk said he knew the suspect as Levi Church and he had left with an undisclosed amount of money.

Russell said no weapons were seen during either incident.

An APB was issued for Church and a Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office deputy spotted the van in the Sunriver Circle K parking lot around 5 p.m.

The deputy, along with Sunriver Police, contacted Church outside the van and arrested him.

A search of the van revealed cash believed to be from the previous robbery, Russell said.

Church was taken to the Deschutes County Jail booked on multiple charges, including first-degree theft and menacing and attempted robbery.

 

 

California lifts virus stay-at-home orders, curfew statewide

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California lifted regional stay-at-home orders across the state Monday in response to improving coronavirus conditions, returning the state to a system of county-by-county restrictions, state health officials announced.

The order had been in place in the San Francisco Bay Area, San Joaquin Valley and Southern California, covering the majority of the state’s counties.

The change will allow businesses such as restaurants to resume outdoor operations in many areas, though local officials could choose to continue stricter rules.

The state is also lifting a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew.

“Together, we changed our activities knowing our short-term sacrifices would lead to longer-term gains. COVID-19 is still here and still deadly, so our work is not over, but it’s important to recognize our collective actions saved lives and we are turning a critical corner,” Dr. Tomas Aragon, the state’s public health director, said in a statement.

Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to address the public later Monday.

The decision comes with improving trends in the rate of infections, hospitalizations and intensive care unit capacity as well as vaccinations.

Newsom imposed the stay-at-home order in December as coronavirus cases worsened.

Under the system, a multi-county region had to shut down most businesses and order people to stay home if ICU capacity dropped below 15%. An 11-county Northern California region was never under the order.

The Greater Sacramento Region exited the order last week. The state makes the decisions based on four-week projections showing ICU capacity improving, but officials have not disclosed the data behind the forecasts.

▶️ BLP schools, students make final preparations for Monday return to class

By BROOKE SNAVELY
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS

Kindergarten through 3rd-grade students return to in person classes next week in Bend-La Pine Schools.

This week those students spent a day in their schools orienting to new operating and safety protocols.

We spoke with one principal about how preparations for Monday are going.

“At Bend-La Pine Schools we are excited to welcome students back into classrooms,” according to a video posted on Bend-La Pine Schools’ social media platforms.

Since early September, Bend-La Pine teachers, office staff, custodians, and nutrition service workers have been preparing for when students would return.

For Kindergarten through 3rd-grade students, that day is Monday.

“As students arrive by bus, car, foot, or bike, they will follow new protocols and safety practices.”

This week, K-3 students spent a day in school learning about precautions they must take to resume in-person instruction during the pandemic.

Lava Ridge Elementary Principal Gary DeFrang says orientation has gone well.

“Kids are quick to learn. We have a wonderful teaching staff here who have right away helped them understand the importance of wearing masks, social distancing,” said Gary DeFrang, Principal at Lava Ridge Elementary. “Things have gone really well. The spirit and the energy of the kids have been fantastic and it’s wonderful to have them back in school.”

As students arrive, staff will direct them where to go, either heading to class through the main entrance or straight to their classroom through exterior doors.

A staff member will greet students and do visual checks for wellness.

Remember to keep students home who are ill or have any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever of 100.4 or higher/chills
  • Coughing or shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea

Visitors and volunteers may not enter school buildings at this time. Families who make prior arrangements may enter the main office.

Some school times have been adjusted to accommodate transportation requirements. Check with your school to find out if it has adjusted its start and dismissal times.

Once inside, students and staff will follow arrows to keep distanced as they walk the halls.

Every classroom has been measured and desks have been placed to ensure physical distancing between students.

Sharing of materials is discouraged.

“We have increased cleaning throughout the day and are instituting deep cleaning at the end of each day for all high touch surfaces. Additionally, maintenance teams have worked to increase ventilation throughout school buildings. School HVAC system bring in fresh air an hour before school starts and throughout the day. Classroom air is filtered through medical-grade MERV – 13 filters 6 to 7 times hourly.”

Meals continue at school. Students can receive free breakfast and lunch every day or can bring their food to school.

Students will eat outside whenever the weather permits.

Each school has a plan for eating. In some schools, students will eat on a rotating schedule in the cafeteria. In other schools, students will eat in the classroom.

Water fountains have been turned off, but students can refill their water bottles at filling stations.

Students will continue to enjoy outdoor recess and play time throughout the day. Students will stay in their cohort groups and the playground areas will be split into zones.

“Starting Monday, all K-3 students will be here 5 days a week for full schools,” DeFrang said. “Next week then starts an orientation for our 4th and 5th graders where they’ll come back to school one of four days.”

4th and 5th graders return to full-time instruction on Feb. 1st in a hybrid learning arrangement of 2 days in-person and 3 days remote.

6th through 12 graders will also learn through a hybrid model… returning full-time Feb 8th.

“Masks will be worn indoors and out. Families are encouraged to practice wearing masks at home so students feel comfortable and confident wearing them throughout the day.”

Principal Defang says most Lava Ridge students plan to resume in-person instruction.

Some are opting for Comprehensive Distance Learning but he doesn’t know how many.

Redmond St. Charles staff outbreak linked to COVID-positive patient exposure

An outbreak among staff at St. Charles in Redmond originated from prolonged exposure to a COVID-positive patient who initially tested negative twice, according to a statement from the hospital.

“The patient—who had underlying health conditions that at times made it difficult to wear a mask—was admitted to St. Charles Redmond on Dec. 31 and was initially tested twice for COVID-19,” according to a statement late Friday. “Because both tests resulted negative, St. Charles caregivers continued to wear droplet precaution personal protective equipment (PPE).”

“Droplet precaution PPE” is a traditional surgical mask and protective eyewear.

A third test on the patient Jan. 6th revealed the positive result.

To date, one patient and 33 St. Charles caregivers at the Redmond hospital have tested positive for COVID-19. 

Because the health system began its vaccination campaign Dec. 21, none of the 33 caregivers at the Redmond hospital were fully vaccinated, according to the release.

An investigation with Deschutes County Health Services and the hospital’s Infection Prevention team revealed the caregivers’ PPE was “overwhelmed by prolonged exposure to the highly-symptomatic COVID-positive patient.”

“The important learning from this outbreak is that negative COVID-19 test results are not foolproof,” said Dr. Jeff Absalon, St. Charles’ chief physician executive. “In spite of negative test results, if a patient is highly symptomatic, we will need to treat them as if they are COVID-19 positive and aerosolizing, in which case the higher level of PPE is required.” 

Evidence suggests that COVID-19 tests are most accurate five to seven days after exposure. 

The virus incubates up to 14 days, taking time to build up in a person’s system, according to the statement.

The St. Charles Infection Prevention team on Friday expected to complete its outreach to patients who may have been at risk of exposure due to the timing of their stay at the Redmond hospital.

All current inpatients at the Redmond hospital have been informed that none of them were exposed. 

“We have a strong contact tracing system in place for caregivers that is working to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” Absalon said. “In the meantime, it’s important to stress that we feel confident our Redmond hospital is a safe place to receive care.” 

 The health system has also instituted some changes at the Redmond hospital, including: 

·         Offering COVID-19 testing to all St. Charles Redmond hospital-based caregivers  

·         Asking caregivers to stay home and get tested if they have any symptoms of COVID-19, no matter how mild 

·         Increasing air exchanges to six times per hour 

·         Increasing air filtration to more than the CDC recommendation (+90% filtration at .3 microns) 

·         Instructing caregivers in direct patient care roles to use N95 respirators and eye protection throughout their shift while the outbreak is ongoing 

·         Adding hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies to more locations throughout the facility 

·         Asking caregivers to eat in the cafeteria or on the outside patio rather than in break rooms 

·         Adding maximum capacity signage to all break rooms and conference rooms to ensure physical distancing can be maintained 

·         Temporarily limiting visitors to a higher degree than before  

 “This sort of situation isn’t any one person’s fault,” Absalon said. “Everyone is working hard to maintain a safe environment, and as an organization we continue to learn and adjust to improve safety for all.” 

OHA reports 22 new COVID deaths; 877 cases statewide

There are 22 new COVID-19 related deaths in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 1,865, the Oregon Health Authority reported Friday.

Oregon Health Authority reported 877 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 136,839.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Baker (1), Benton (24), Clackamas (71), Clatsop (8), Columbia (15), Coos (10), Crook (14), Curry (1), Deschutes (28), Douglas (18), Grant (4), Hood River (5), Jackson (33), Jefferson (9), Josephine (15), Klamath (17), Lake (3), Lane (90), Lincoln (5), Linn (9), Malheur (11), Marion (101), Morrow (7), Multnomah (136), Polk (24), Umatilla (52), Union (9), Wallowa (1), Wasco (3), Washington (138) and Yamhill (15).

Deschutes County has reported 5,131 cases and 40 deaths.

The county currently has 2,880 active cases – that’s one in 68 residents; 2,190 patients have recovered as of Thursday, the latest data available.

Crook County has reported 645 cases and 11 deaths.

Jefferson County has reported 1,727 and 25 deaths.

St. Charles on Thursday reported 18 COVID patients; two in the ICU and one on a ventilator.

The hospital reported it has administered 8,942 COVID vaccines.

Vaccinations in Oregon

Today, OHA reported that 16,763 new doses of COVID-19 vaccinations were added to the state immunization registry.

Of this total, 12,341 vaccine doses were administered on Jan. 21 and 4,422 were administered on previous days but were entered into the vaccine registry on Jan. 21.

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).

Oregon has now administered a cumulative total of 270,453 first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

All vaccinations were administered by Oregon hospitals, long-term care facilities, emergency medical service (EMS) agencies, urgent care facilities and Local Public Health Authorities (LPHAs).

To date, 487,700 doses of vaccine 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 317, which is 12 fewer than yesterday. There are 79 COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit (ICU) beds, which is eight fewer than yesterday.

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.

New quarantine guidelines for fully immunized people

People who have been fully immunized and have let at least 14 days pass following their last dose of the vaccine are no longer required to quarantine if they have had close contact with someone with COVID-19.

Those who are fully immunized should still monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19 during the 14 days after exposure, and if symptoms develop, they should isolate and seek testing.

Persons who have been fully vaccinated should continue to follow measures to protect themselves and others, including maintaining six feet of physical distance, avoiding crowds, washing hands often and wearing a mask.

Please see OHA’s updated COVID-19 Investigative Guidelines.

 

 

 

▶️ Mission to Mars: The significance of Jezero Crater

By SCOTT ELNES
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS

The Nile River Delta. Considered one of the cradles of civilization.

The Mississippi Delta. Considered one of the cradles of the blues.

Could the delta at the Jezero Crater, the landing site for the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover be the cradle of life on Mars?

We’re gonna find out.

Created when a large object struck Mars nearly 4 billion years ago – yes, that’s billion with a “B” – Jezero Crater has, according to Ken Williford, the Deputy Project Scientist for Mars 2020, strong evidence that it once contained liquid water.

“So how do we know that? There’s a river flowing in, an ancient river channel flowing in, that’s obvious from orbit to the northwest corner of the crater. And then right inside the crater rim there’s a beautiful Delta fan.”

So what exactly is a Delta?

Deltas are formed when sediments that are carried through actively moving water like rivers encounter stagnant bodies of water like lakes and oceans.

The sudden loss of energy deposits the sediments which then build up over time into islands, then wetlands and eventually fertile farm lands. A great place to start looking for microbial life.

Ah, but there are even more exciting reasons to explore Jezero Crater.

“And then on the other side of the crater, there’s an outflow channel. So there’s an ancient River channel flowing out. So not only was there a lake in Jezero crater, but for some period of time it operated as an open system with water flowing in, and water flowing out.”

So the presence of liquid water, the delta fan and the fact that it was an active open system all add up into a potential site for all kinds of ancient life.

But don’t be thinking we’re going to find anything with four legs. The expectation is if we find anything at all, it will be tiny, fossils showing evidence of microbial life that wouldn’t even be visible to the human eye.

But once Perseverance has fully investigated Jezero Crater, it’s ability to navigate difficult terrain means the mission could still continue.

“But then, if we’re lucky enough to have a working Rover and all the resources we need, we can climb onto the crater rim and start to explore the first habitable environments potentially in the Jezero system, that would have formed at the moment of impact or soon after impact, when all that energy was dumped into that that ancient Martian crust there that might have had water in cracks inside of it.

So you put all that energy into the system and set up what are called “impact generated hydrothermal systems”. So the water starts to circulate, you have some warm environments, so

could some of those environments have existed in creator rim? So we will explore that after exploring the lake, and then get outside of Jezero crater and start to get further afield into these much more mysterious, potentially much older rocks that are out there.”

Now most of the samples that could contain evidence of life are going to be put into tubes for later collection and eventually being sent to Earth where our laboratories are much better equipped to find that evidence. We’ll talk more about that in an upcoming episode.

But join me next week when I’ll tell you about one of the coolest parts of the mission for me.

A drone called Ingenuity that has been strapped to the belly of Perseverance and if all goes well, will perform the first flight ever taken by humans on another planet.