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.”

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.

Trump gives permit to ranchers whose case led to occupation

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The U.S. Bureau of Land Management in the final days of the Trump administration has issued a grazing permit to Oregon ranchers whose imprisonment sparked the armed takeover of a federal wildlife refuge.

Oregon Public Broadcasting reports that Interior Secretary David Bernhardt restored Dwight and Steven Hammond’s grazing permit, which lasts for 10 years.

The Hammonds had it revoked after a jury convicted them in 2012 for arson on public lands.

The men went to prison, served time and were released, but the U.S. Department of Justice later ordered them back to prison to finish the mandatory minimum five-year sentence.

That kicked off the 41-day armed occupation of the national wildlife refuge.

Amazon offers pop-up clinic as Washington tries to speed vaccines

SEATTLE (AP) — On the anniversary of the first confirmed COVID-19 case in the United States, Amazon said Thursday it will host a one-day vaccination drive in Seattle this weekend to inoculate as many as 2,000 people.

The tech giant, which has also offered its help to the new Biden administration as it tries to speed vaccine rollouts nationwide, said it would partner with Virginia Mason Medical Center on the effort Sunday.

Meanwhile, Washington state health officials are plowing ahead with plans to open four mass vaccination sites next week, despite logistical concerns that include questions about vaccine supply.

2 injured in small plane crash in southwestern Oregon

MEDFORD, Ore. (AP) — Two men were hurt when a small aircraft crashed in southwestern Oregon.

The Mail Tribune reports the two men were being treated Thursday for non-life-threatening injuries, according to Jackson County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Mike Moran.

Both men are believed to be in their 20s, and one has serious injuries, he said. Their names haven’t been released.

The incident was first reported at 11:48 a.m. Thursday as a small Piper Cub-like aircraft appeared to be making an emergency landing in Eagle Point.

State of the State: Brown looks back at Oregon’s crises and ahead to goals

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Nearly a year after the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown delivered her annual State of the State speech on Thursday.

During the 45-minute speech Brown reflected on the challenges Oregonians have faced in the last year — the pandemic, protests and wildfires — and outlined her goals for the future, focusing on racial equity, ensuring children return to school, mitigating wildfire danger and expanding health care access.

In the speech, which is usually presented to a joint session of the Oregon Legislature but instead was held virtually due to the pandemic and pre-recorded, Brown defended her approach to the pandemic.

The governor’s statewide COVID-19 safety measures, which have included closing schools and businesses, requiring masks and closing restaurants for inside dining, have been described as the strictest in the nation.

Brown compared the state’s efforts to slow the spread of the virus to a marathon.

“In a short race, like the 100-meter dash, you run as hard as you can for a short period of time,” Brown said. “In a marathon, you have to play the long game.”

The governor added that when it comes to the pandemic Oregonians are “faring better than most of the country.”

“Because we were cautious, because we listened to experts, because we wore masks and limited our gatherings, because we enforced health and safety rules in businesses, we as Oregonians will finish this marathon and we will finish strong.”

The Oregon Health authority reported Thursday that the number of COVID-19 cases in the state since the start of the pandemic surpassed 135,000. The death toll is 1,843.

During the governor’s speech, the Democrat also identified specific goals for the future, one of the main focuses is racial equity.

Oregon made national headlines in 2020 as nightly racial justice protests, following the killing of George Floyd, were held in Portland. Many of the protests ended with clouds of tear gas and clashing with police.

“The first step to creating opportunity is recognizing that racism is endemic to our systems, impacting every part of our culture and our economy,” Brown said. “I’m committed to ensuring that the world we build as we emerge from this last year is a more equitable one.”

Brown also highlighted proposals that may be introduced during the 2021 legislative session, including increasing the state’s firefighting resources, expanding broadband access in rural communities and increasing health care funding, expanding the automatic voter registration system.

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott stepping down at end of June

(AP) – Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott is stepping down at the end of June, ending an 11-year tenure in which the conference landed a transformational billion dollar television deal but struggled to keep up with some of its Power Five peers when it came to revenue and exposure.

The Pac-12 announced that the 56-year-old Scott and university presidents who make up the league’s executive committee mutual agreed that he would not seek contract.

Scott’s current deal was set to expire June 2022, but instead he will finish out this academic year to assist with the transition to his successor.

Scott told AP the decision came quickly after a routine meeting with the Pac-12′s executive committee last week to discuss his next contract.

Hospital association: ‘Concerns’ about Inslee vaccine plan

SEATTLE (AP) — While the state struggles to bolster its vaccination distribution efforts, the Washington Department of Health on Tuesday began reporting its most updated vaccination numbers on its online COVID-19 data dashboard.

The dashboard, launched months ago, updates Washingtonians every day on the state’s latest number of COVID-19 cases, deaths, hospitalizations, tests and other information.

On Tuesday evening, vaccination data was added to the list.

As of Monday night, 294,386 doses had been given, with a seven-day average of 14,064 per day.

The state’s goal is to reach 45,000 vaccine doses per day, Gov. Jay Inslee said Monday, promising to add new vaccination sites, mobilize thousands of workers and make everyone 65 and over immediately eligible.

But The Seattle Times reports there is pushback from the health community to Inslee’s plan for meeting the new goal. Instead of waiting for vaccines to arrive before making appointments, providers should operate on the assumption that more supplies are coming and cancel appointments if necessary, Inslee said.

“We have really serious concerns about this idea,” said Washington State Hospital Association CEO Cassie Sauer at a briefing with several other hospital leaders.

Nurses would be pulled away from other work for vaccinations that might not happen. And, Sauer said, “I believe the public outrage at having a vaccine appointment scheduled and then canceled will be extreme and will really undermine the confidence in our vaccine delivery system.”

Oregon congressional delegation welcomes President Biden

Oregon’s U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley released the following statement today following the historic inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris:

“In the midst of one of the darkest winters in American history, today is cause for celebration and resolve. Today, our nation begins the hard work of turning the page on a dark chapter marked by racism, division, and incivility, as we set out to write a new one of hope, freedom, and equality for all.

“It won’t be easy. First and foremost, we must face and defeat a devastating pandemic that has already claimed 400,000 American lives and robbed millions of their livelihoods. But we must also reckon with deeper and more long-lasting forces that have shaped everything about our lives and our politics, up to and including the current pandemic.

“For decades, powerful special interests have done everything in their power to rig our economy and our society in their favor. They’ve flooded Washington with dark money, and stoked fears and pitted groups of Americans against each other in order to protect themselves. Their project has done real, lasting damage to the fabric of our republic, and it’s on each of us to do our part to restore it.

“I have every confidence that President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are well equipped to lead that charge with the skill, compassion, and determination it will require. And I am fully committed to doing all that I can to ensure that the Senate is a strong partner to their efforts—from tackling the coronavirus pandemic and the climate crisis, to passing the For the People Act and reinvigorating our democracy, to addressing directly our national shame of racism and discrimination and ensuring that every hardworking American has a roof over their head and food on their table. Let’s get to work.”

Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden and GOP Rep. Cliff Bentz issued these tweets.

Brown eager to work with Biden, a ‘competent and trustworthy partner’

Gov. Kate Brown issued a statement Wednesday welcoming a historic “new chapter” for America following the inauguration of President Joe Biden.

“We have waited a long time to have a strong, competent and trustworthy partner we can work with at the federal level — and now more than ever, we need that federal leadership to help states beat COVID-19, once and for all,” she said in a statement. “As we still face what could be the darkest days of the pandemic, President Biden has laid out a strong vision and clear plan, based on science, for how the federal government will help the American people, and governors across the country — starting with the announcement of a much-needed $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package.”

Her full statement is below:

“Today marks a new chapter for our country as we welcome President Joseph R. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to the White House. It is an especially extraordinary moment for our nation to celebrate the historic swearing-in of our first female, Black and Asian Vice President — and the incredibly diverse Cabinet that President Biden has nominated. Our government should be reflective of the people it represents, and now Americans across the country will see themselves in the people holding leadership positions.

“We have waited a long time to have a strong, competent and trustworthy partner we can work with at the federal level — and now more than ever, we need that federal leadership to help states beat COVID-19, once and for all. As we still face what could be the darkest days of the pandemic, President Biden has laid out a strong vision and clear plan, based on science, for how the federal government will help the American people, and governors across the country — starting with the announcement of a much-needed $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. I look forward to working with the President, Vice President and Congress on getting this ground-breaking package across the finish line.

“I also look forward to working with the new Congress on their For the People Act, which would establish Vote-By-Mail and Automatic Voter Registration nationally.

“Election after election, here in Oregon, we set the example for our country. Our 30-year-old Vote-by-Mail system took a turn on the national stage as states across the country shifted to voting by mail, and voting early, to enable people to vote safely and securely.

“Now, the work begins to make that permanent. I am so very proud that Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley and Senator Amy Klobuchar have crafted this comprehensive legislation, which will be the first bill taken up by the new Congress. If passed, this bill will require the reforms we started in Oregon to be adopted by every state in the country. Automatic Voter Registration and Vote-By-Mail should be available to every citizen in this country.

“I hope that all of you will join me in supporting the passage of the For the People Act in the Senate. Because, the right to vote is fundamental — and it is sacred.

“While there are many challenges ahead, on this historic day I remain hopeful. We are determined as ever to rise, rebuild, and reinvent a more just and equitable country.”