▶️ Bend Fire & Rescue reiterates safety efforts after 2 firefighters contract COVID


First responders with Bend Fire and Rescue wear masks to every call they respond to, according to Trish Connolly, the fire department’s public information officer.

If first responders are responding to a patient they suspect may have COVID based on reported symptoms, they suit up in Tyvek suits, masks, face shields and gloves.

“When we get dispatched to a call, the notes will alert us to the kind and level of protective equipment we need to wear,” Connolly said. “Typically we have a face mask and glasses. If we have a breathing call or other symptoms that indicate COVID-19, then it’s a Tyvek suit.”

But sometimes crews will work with a person who doesn’t have obvious signs of the disease or didn’t report their symptoms accurately.

First responders don’t wear full protective suits on every call because they don’t want to waste PPE.

“Even with all the precautions we take and wearing our personal protective equipment, it’s not fail-safe,” Connolly said. “Sometimes crews do get exposed.”

Connolly said that’s how a first responder contracted COVID last week. He and another first responder, who was sickened by a vacation, are the first Bend firefighters to test positive since the pandemic began.

Connolly said her agency doesn’t plan to change their protocol moving forward, because there really isn’t anything more they can do beyond the precautions they’re currently taking.

“Anybody who enters our profession realizes the level of risk we always take on any call we go on, whether there’s a pandemic or not a pandemic,” Connolly said.

Sunday demonstrations in Portland described as peaceful

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Police reported another night of peaceful protests Sunday in downtown Portland, Oregon, with no interaction between officers and protesters.

Sunday’s demonstrations spilled out into the streets near Lownsdale Square park downtown causing traffic for several hours, but by midnight a majority of the crowd had left the area.

Thursday and Friday’s protests, which attracted more than 1,000 people, were also peaceful.

76 Salmonella cases in Oregon linked to red onions

State health officials are warning people not to eat onions from Thomson International Inc. of Bakersfield, California, after 76 people in Oregon got sick with Salmonella. Eighteen of the cases have been hospitalized.

According to the Oregon Health Authority Public Health Division, the Oregon cases are part of an outbreak that has sickened more than 400 people across 40 states and parts of Canada.

Red onions are likely the source, but Thomson will be recalling all kinds of onions that could have been cross-contaminated.

400 to 500 cases of Salmonella are reported in Oregon each year. Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps one to seven days after being exposed. The illness usually lasts four to seven days.

Most people recover without treatment but some people have severe infections. Young children, older adults and people with weak immune systems are more likely to develop a severe illness.

Salmonella can spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other body sites and, in rare cases, can be deadly.

▶️ OSHA warns against fake officials threatening fines


In a now-deleted Facebook post, a Prineville resident claimed someone from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration threatened to ticket a Bi-Mart customer for not wearing a mask while suffering an asthma attack.

Oregon OSHA says the post is not true, and many steps would be taken before even considering an on-site inspection.

“If you’re a business and you have customers or visitors who would be coming into your establishment, it’s our expectation that you do engage that person,” Aaron Corvin, public information officer for OSHA, said.

OSHA tells businesses that it’s not just enough to post a sign when it comes to requiring face coverings.

But if one isn’t worn, that person will not be fined by OSHA. That’s a rumor Corvin said is ridiculous.

“We don’t issue on-the-spot tickets, we don’t issue them to individuals, so it’s just not part of what we do,” Corvin said.

Oregon OSHA has also received reports of people posing as compliance officers and fining others in public for not wearing a face covering.

Corvin said don’t fall for it and learn to recognize an OSHA official.

“A compliance officer is going to introduce themselves,” Corvin said. “They’ll show their credentials. We’re going to establish who we are.”

To verify compliance officer credentials, call Oregon OSHA at 503-378-3272.

▶️ Human-caused fires in Central Oregon have doubled compared to last summer


Fire weather warnings and watches have expired, but crews are still responding to fires that started during lightning storms earlier this week.

The number of human-caused fires has more than doubled compared to last summer.

Crews are making progress on the Day Basin fire southeast of John Day, according to Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch.

It is believed to have started by lightning Tuesday night when more than 100 lightning-caused fires broke out. Most of the fires were held at less than a quarter of an acre.

The Day Basin fire is now 25% contained at 41 acres.

The other large incident in Central Oregon is the Pucker Hill Fire about 12 miles northeast of Millican in the Maury Mountain foothills.

The Pucker Hill Fire has grown from 30 to more than 270 acres since it was reported Tuesday night.

It is burning through juniper, grass and shrubs near the McCormack Ranch southeast of Prineville. So far no structures have been threatened or damaged.

Prineville District BLM helicopters, engines and crews are responding along with the Brothers-Hampton Rural Fire Protection Association to help private property owners control it. They are battling high heat, low humidity and rugged terrain.

To date, 47 lightning-caused fires have burned about 300 acres in the Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch area.

At the same time, the 157 human-caused fires in Central Oregon thus far this summer have scorched more than 2,700 acres of land.

A lot of that went up in flames during three fires on July 5, July 8 and July 18 near La Pine that were believed to be arson.

There has also been human-caused fires uncomfortably close to town including one next to Trader Joe’s in Bend on July 13, and another on July 29 near the Riverhouse Convention Center.

On public lands, all fires outside designated metal campfire rings are banned at this time, including charcoal barbecues and fireworks.

Right now the only place campfires are allowed is in metal fire rings at developed campsites. Even in a designated fire ring: don’t head out until it’s dead out.

Trash piling up on roads as COVID prevents clean-up teams from working

Trash is piling up along Central Oregon highways and ODOT is asking the public to step up.

Pandemic restrictions have prevented litter clean-up teams from working since spring.

ODOT’s Peter Murphy said inmate work crews aren’t able to work along the side of the road due to current COVID restrictions.

Teams of young people typically hired to work from mid-June to mid-August aren’t working either.

“That’s a really important part of what we do here because our maintenance crews are busy doing other kinds of things,” Murphy said. “So we offer employment opportunities for kids to come aboard during the summer and do the litter patrol. We just can’t do it this year because it’s too cramped quarters and COVID has interrupted everything like that.”

Murphy said the Adopt-A-Highway program helps, but they need more volunteers willing to pick up trash.

The public has a role to play by properly disposing of garbage so it doesn’t pile up along the road.


▶️ Trail Angels: Local teens’ uncommon wilderness skills save injured Portland man

It was a backpacking trip teenage siblings Shiloh and Marah Binder and their good friend Caden Bolic had been looking forward to for months.

The plan: hike 200 miles of the Oregon Pacific Crest Trail over 2-weeks and finish up at Elk Lake.

But 150 miles into the trip their plans took a dramatic turn.

Now the three local teenagers are being called heroes after helping save the life of a man severely injured and stranded in the Mount Jefferson wilderness.

Central Oregon Daily’s Eric Lindstrom has more.

▶️ Districts, teachers planning for online learning; promise a better experience


Hopes for a normal school year are diminishing by the day, and some Central Oregon school districts are coming to terms with the fact that face-to-face interactions may not happen anytime soon.

“It’s feeling more and more like we’ll be with most districts in the state and starting in a distance learning format,” Bend-La Pine Schools interim Superintendent Lora Nordquist said.

COVID has forced school districts like Bend-La Pine Schools to create a multitude of plans for in-person, distance or hybrid learning for students.

“We’ve had planning for all contingencies,” said Nordquist. “So it’s not like we have to start over again, but sort of rearranging some of the urgency and priorities.”

Nordquist says, they had hoped to have elementary school students, especially K-3rd grade in the classrooms full time.

“What the state did was have an exception for K-3, that is not as strict,” said Nordquist. “They definitely learn best in three dimensions.”

But as the start of the school year rapidly approaches, Nordquist couldn’t say whether students, K -3 or otherwise, would be able to do so.

“We don’t know for certain,” said Nordquist. “We have challenging metrics ahead of us.”

Deschutes County would need to cut its weekly COVID cases significantly to meet those exceptions.

“It’s feeling more and more like we’ll be with most districts in the state and starting in a distance learning format.”
Bend-La Pine Schools interim Superintendent Lora Nordquist

The Redmond School District was unavailable for comment today but sent this letter to parents Tuesday afternoon asking them to stay tuned for more information as they work to interpret Gov. Brown’s new health metrics.

Jefferson County School District Superintendent Ken Parshall said they’re focusing on a comprehensive distance-learning program for the fall.

He said staff would be better prepared than in the fall and will provide more resources to families including more hot spots and lap tops.

Everyone will work on the same platform as well, he said, possibly Google Classrom.

“Educators want to know what’s going to happen just like everybody else,” said Sarah Barclay, president of the Bend Education Association teachers union. “They need time to plan, they need time to prepare.”

Barclay says that while teachers want to be back with their students for face to face learning, it’s a mixed bag of emotions.

“There are some that feel safe and believe we need to get back in our classrooms now, and there are members out there that believe we should not be back until we have 14 days of no cases in Deschutes County,” she said.

But, Barclay says, they’ve been planning diligently for any and all scenarios, and online learning this fall won’t be like it was in the spring.

“In the spring, that was emergency learning, we did that overnight,” said Barclay. “We worked all summer to create a better plan for students if we need to go online.”

Though the wait can feel agonizing for some, answers, Bend-La Pine says, are coming.

“We’re looking at the data, and we’ll know by the beginning of next week what the school year will look like,” Nordquist said.

▶️ Hotel numbers down in Bend; trails and rivers busier with locals this summer


Earlier this month, the Bend City Manager issued an advisory discouraging vacation travel here to slow the spread of coronavirus.

But are people staying away? Anecdotally, the town appears as busy as ever.

New data suggest there are fewer vacationers in town, while more locals taking staycations to appear to be filling in the gap.

Hotels in Bend were at about 70% of capacity the fourth week of July according to Visit Bend, the destination marketing agency that normally promotes tourism but has been discouraging it since early this year.

Hotels were busier in June than July–and both months were well below last year–suggesting that maybe some visitors are staying away.

However, there are notable peaks of hotel occupancy over weekends, followed by steep drops in occupancy during the week.

What hasn’t changed is people enjoy visiting Bend.

“I do feel safe here,” said Bretton Beach from Colton, Oregon. He is in town for a wedding. “What is it, Wednesday? There’s not too many people out and it’s very nice.”

But some of the crowd is local.

“It’s a little less busy. A lot less people rafting, floating down the river,” said Dan Guilfoy, Bend. “The surf wave is nice and safe because they are only allowing eight guys out at a time.”

The Bend Parks & Recreation District has three trail counters around the whitewater park.

They recorded a spike of 7,000 floaters on the 4th of July; and 17,000 people passed through that three day weekend.

The whitewater park trail count numbers indicate the first part of summer has been as busy as previous summers and appear to confirm weekend spikes in hotel occupancy.

“Sometimes it feels when we come down here it’s more crowded than I would expect but, overall, I think less crowded,” said Ashley South, who was enjoying the sandy beach at McKay Park.

“Certainly less this year than previous,” added Mark South.

“We pulled in about two days ago. We have felt very safe. People are so kind,” said Clint Dupin of San Ramon, California. “Every restaurant or place that we visit, they uphold the restrictions and they make certain that people are safe in every area.”

With hotel numbers lagging from last year, the crowded rivers and trails appear to be busy with your neighbors, not necessarily tourists, exploring their own backyard.

Bend’s Banana Republic donates $100,000 worth of clothes to COCC

Bend’s Banana Republic donated more than $100,000 in clothes to Central Oregon Community College’s “Clothing Connection” service. 

The store filled around 60 boxes with clothes to help students dress for interviews, worksites, field placements and school, according to Angie Cole, an instructor for COCC’s early childhood education program.

The program makes the donated items available at COCC’s career fair and its early childhood education conference.

“This, of course, goes far beyond what we’ve ever been able to offer,” Cole said. “It will help so many students find their path to success. We are so excited about this great resource for students.”

Leaders of the program hope to extend the service to the Redmond, Madras and Prineville campuses.