Deschutes Co. surpasses 1K COVID cases; OHA reports 3 more deaths statewide

COVID-19 has claimed three more lives in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 608, the Oregon Health Authority reported Wednesday.

The OHA reported 390 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19 bringing the state total to 38,160.

The new confirmed and presumptive COVID-19 cases reported today are in the following counties: Benton (3), Clackamas (27), Clatsop (1), Columbia (1), Coos (3), Crook (2), Deschutes (7), Douglas (8), Jackson (28), Jefferson (2), Josephine (2), Klamath (2), Lane (60), Lincoln (2), Linn (5), Malheur (11), Marion (63), Multnomah (88), Polk (4), Umatilla (14), Wallowa (1), Washington (51), and Yamhill (5).

Deschutes County has reported 1,003 cases and 13 deaths; 864 patients have recovered as of Tuesday, the latest data available.

Crook County has reported 73 cases and one death.

Jefferson County has reported 591 cases and eight deaths.

St. Charles reported Wednesday it has three COVID patients and none are in the ICU.


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 26 cases since Sunday.

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

▶️ Deschutes Co. Health awaits federal guidance on COVID vaccine


The Trump administration released documents Wednesday outlining a strategy to deliver COVID 19 vaccines to the American people.

The distribution strategy proposes to deliver a safe and effective vaccine beginning in January.

According to Health and Human Services Director Alex Azar, Operation Warp Speed has spent months laying the groundwork to distribute a COVID 19 vaccine as soon as one meets the Food & Drug Administration’s requirements.

But those plans have yet to trickle down to the local level.

The Deschutes County Health Department has yet to receive guidelines for how the earliest doses of COVID 19 vaccine are to be distributed and to whom.

“We don’t know that at this time,” said Morgan Emerson, Deschutes County Emergency Preparedness Coordinator. “We’ll work closely with our partner agencies and Oregon Health Authority on how to roll that out.”

However, the national plan call for initial doses to be prioritized based on models developed by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

“I don’t know whether that will be a local decision or a state decision,” Emerson said. “At the end of the day, we’ll work closely with Oregon Health Authority on determining vaccine information when we have that available.”

According to HHS, detailed planning is ongoing to ensure rapid distribution of a vaccine as soon as one is approved and the CDC recommends who should receive initial doses.

Once these decisions are made, the McKesson Corporation, which distributed a vaccine during the H1N1 pandemic in 2009, will ship COVID 19 vaccinations to administration sites with logistical support from the Department of Defense.

“We are constantly thinking about preparedness locally whether that’s for flu season, fire season or things like measles or COVID,” Emerson said. “Right now we are working on strong partnerships with our local pharmacies and clinics, as well as strengthening our internal staff capacity for vaccines. ”

Operation Warp Speed’s vaccine distribution process calls for the earliest vaccines to go to priority groups; delivery of vaccines beyond brick and mortar facilities; tracking to match supply with demand and traceability to ensure recipients get a second dose.

State unemployment rate falls in August as employers slowly add back jobs lost to COVID

Oregon’s jobless rate dropped to 7.7% in August, down from 10.4% in July, according to the state Employment Office.

The unemployment rate was more than double last year’s rate of 3.6% in August 2019.

Meanwhile, the U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 8.4% in August from 10.2% in July.

Oregon’s total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 11,300 jobs in August, following a revised gain of 17,700 jobs in July.

Over the past four months, employers added back 41% of the jobs that were cut in March and April.

Over-the-month job gains in August were largest in leisure and hospitality (+4,200 jobs); retail trade (+3,300); construction (+3,200); and government (+3,000).

Two industries cut a substantial number of jobs in August: wholesale trade (-1,400 jobs) and health care and social assistance (-1,400).

Leisure and hospitality—which includes restaurants, drinking establishments, hotels, and recreational industries—has added back the most jobs of any of the major industries over the past four months.

Despite adding 63,200 jobs during the past four months, leisure and hospitality is only a little over halfway back to its February 2020 peak employment level, prior to the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Retail trade has bounced back closer to its recent peak employment level. It added 16,100 jobs over the past four months, which was nearly three-quarters of the jobs lost earlier in the year.

The third industry to add back more than half of its jobs lost, while also rebounding by more than 10,000 jobs, was health care and social assistance.

This industry, despite a 1,400-job loss in August, added 18,000 jobs over the past four months, regaining nearly two-thirds of its March and April job losses.

Not all industries have rebounded with substantial job growth over the past four months.

In August, the following industries remained near their low point for the year: manufacturing; government; information; and professional and business services.

Oregon COVID-19 Update: 122 new cases; 1 new death

The Oregon Health Authority on Wednesday reported 122 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19, bringing the statewide total past 6,000.

One new death brings that total to 183 while 6,218 have contracted the disease.

Union County, which had reported 218 new cases over the last two days, saw only two new cases on Wednesday bringing its total to 242.

Deschutes County reported two new cases, bringing its total to 139; 128 of those patients have recovered.

Jefferson and Crook counties reported no new cases, leaving those totals at 69 and nine respectively.

More than 178,000 Oregonians have tested negative for the disease.

Oregon-COVID-19-Daily-Update (18)

OHA Releases Weekly Report

Today, OHA released its COVID-19 Weekly Report, which outlines data and trends on outbreaks and other epidemiological information collected over the last week. This week’s report shows that during the week from Monday, June 8, through Sunday, June 14, OHA recorded 898 new cases of COVID-19 infection, a 44% increase from the previous week. In addition, 16 Oregonians were reported to have died, compared with10 deaths in the preceding week. In that same week, the number of COVID-19 tests* reported (24,708) increased substantially (35%) compared to the preceding week while the percentage of tests positive remained approximately the same (3.1% vs. 3.0% during preceding week).

In this week’s report there are several new figures (1, and 4 through 7) which shed light on additional trends. These depict weekly trends in reported COVID-19 cases by epidemiologic link to other known cases, age, sex, race, and ethnicity.

New outbreak reported

An outbreak of 20 cases of COVID-19 has been reported at Teeny Foods in Multnomah County. The case count includes all persons linked to the outbreak, which may include household members and other close contacts to an employee. The outbreak investigation started on June 8, but the initial case count was below the threshold for public disclosure.

State and county public health officials are working with this business to address the outbreak and protect the health of workers.

Medicaid Enrollment Report posted

This week, the Oregon Health Authority has begun posting a weekly Medicaid enrollment report. The report, which will be posted on Tuesdays on OHA’s COVID-19 page, lists the increase in Medicaid enrollment over the previous week, as well as the total increase since the COVID-19 emergency declaration March 8. This week’s snapshot shows that as of June 15, 2020, there are 1,149,620 members enrolled in Oregon Health Plan, an increase of 3,990 members over the past week (0.35%) and 70,007 members since the emergency declaration (6.48%). Please note that the chart marks snapshots of enrollment actuals produced every week. This data is preliminary and represents a point in time measurement of enrollment. It does not include retroactive eligibility changes. OHP data is finalized 90 days after the month ends to allow for retroactive enrollments.


▶️ Brown’s pause on reopening plans won’t impact Central Oregon


Gov. Kate Brown announced Thursday that she won’t approve any plans to reopen for at least a week.

“The noticeable increase in COVID-19 infections over the past week are certainly cause for concern,” Brown said.

But local officials say the announcement will have no real, direct impact on Central Oregon.

With Deschutes County already in Phase 2, Bend City Manager Eric King says nothing will change.

“There really hasn’t been any criteria that would take us back,” King said.

However, there are concerns about an influx of tourists bringing the novel coronavirus to central Oregon.

King says that, while people will inevitably come to visit, overall tourism is down with hotel occupancy over Memorial Day weekend at 65%, down 30%  from this time last year.

“There isn’t much happening this summer with concerts and events and other things, so some of those main attractions that would draw folks to this area are just not there,” King said.

Deschutes county is working on its own plans to educate tourists.

“Right now, we’re working on getting more signage up to welcome our visitors with the fact that they may not be in their home, but they’re in our home and please, use your best judgment,” Deschutes County Commissioner Patti Adair said.

But the big fear may lie with business owner worried we could go back to phase one.

“They’re worried because they have three months of income to make up,” said Katy Brooks, CEO of the Bend Chamber of Commerce. “Not every one of them got a federal or state loan. If we have to go backwards that far someday would just be a bad day.”

Bend Mayor Sally Russell is urging residents to support local businesses and use caution to help us remain in Phase 2.

“It’s important as you go into different kinds of businesses to take your face coverings,” Russell said. “That’s going to be the only way that we stay open in Phase II. We’re going to stay open in Phase II, let’s make sure we do.”

Culver woman charged with murder after body found in fridge

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office arrested a Culver woman on Thursday in connection with the death of a person whose body was found in Madras, according to a post on the agency’s Facebook page.

According to Sheriff Jim Adkins, a body was found in a refrigerator at the corner of SW Bear Drive and Highway 361 on May 7.

After a month-long investigation, 36-year-old Charina Jeanette Owen was arrested for second-degree murder, felon in possession of a firearm, unlawful use of a weapon and second-degree abuse of a corpse, Adkins said.

Owen is expected to appear in Jefferson County Circuit Court Friday, June 5 at 11:30 a.m.



▶️ Gun sales skyrocketing across nation, Central Oregon


Gun sales and accompanying FBI background checks spiked last month as the nation weathered the coronavirus and riots broke out in major cities over the death of George Floyd.

Already this year, the FBI has recorded 15 million background checks, putting the country on pace to break all previous records of new gun purchases.

More than three million firearms background checks were conducted in May, the third-highest numbers since the federal firearms background system was established 22 years ago.

In the month of March, more than 3.7 million people had background investigations conducted. Many believe those gun sales are connected to current events.

“Everybody is getting scared and they want to protect themselves. A lot of first time gun buyers,” said Scott Wyke, owner of Hammer Down Firearms on northeast Butler Market Road in Bend.

Wyke says sales at his gun store have increased nearly 300% in the past two months.

He says all types of firearms are selling: handguns, long guns, shotguns.

“We did run really low at one time. We had about one hundred fifty 9mm handguns at one point. We got down to 12.”

“What are you going to do next? I think training is always the right answer,” said local outdoor expert Gary Lewis.

Lewis encourages people who purchase their first firearm to get formal training on how to safely handle and use the gun.

“I think everybody that uses a gun should commit to training at least once a year.”

An interesting subset of the current national trend of increasing gun sales are the number of applications for concealed handgun licenses: those numbers plummeted here in Deschutes County primarily due to closure of the sheriff’s office to walk-in traffic.

However, the number of people who are renewing their existing concealed handgun licenses has remained steady or crept slightly up.

▶️ Health officials worry as large crowds gather for protests

A crowd of more than 700 gathered in Bend on Saturday.

More than 1,000 showed up on Tuesday.

Young and old. Shoulder to shoulder. Standing together in protest.

And while it was outside and many in the throngs of people rallying against police violence were wearing masks, health officials say large gatherings like that still pose a risk of transmitting the coronavirus.

“I can’t predict the future, but we know that with multi-household gatherings if people aren’t taking proper precautions, can have the potential for increased spread of COVID-19,” said Morgan Emerson with Deschutes County Public Health.

Emerson said the county public health department isn’t responsible for enforcing rules during a gathering, continued education is important.

And as Central Oregon counties apply for Phase 2 of reopening, Emerson says, it’s more important than ever to follow public health measures.

“I know that for a lot of us this is message fatigue, and we’ve heard these messages time and again,” Emerson said. “But in the absence of a vaccine or reliable treatment, this is our best solution to lean into our new normal but also protect the public’s health.”


No organized events, but Fish for Free Weekend still set for June 6-7

SALEM, Ore.—Fish for free in Oregon is set for this weekend.

No fishing licenses or tags (including a Combined Angling Tag or Columbia River Basin Endorsement or Two-Rod Validation) are required to fish, crab or clam in Oregon that weekend.

Although no licenses or tags are required, all other fishing regulations apply including closures, bag limits and size restrictions. See the Oregon Sport Fishing Regulations to find out more and remember to check for any in season regulation changes at

June’s Free Fishing Weekend is usually a special one for ODFW staff and fishing groups that host events all over the state, bringing all the gear newcomers need to try fishing.

Unfortunately, due to concerns and restrictions related to COVID-19, ODFW is not hosting or sponsoring any events this year.

A number of waterbodies are being stocked in advance of Free Fishing Weekend as in past years. (Due to concerns about crowding where fish are stocked, ODFW is not currently providing its trout stocking schedule or announcing which waterbodies are stocked.) Hatchery trout are a great fish for beginners and there are plenty of tips at including a video series about How to fish for trout. Beginners can also consider warmwater fishing, which is a good opportunity during summer.

Nonresidents can also fish for free June 6-7, but there are still special restrictions on the coast. Currently, clamming is closed to nonresidents coastwide. Crabbing is open to nonresidents along most of the Coast but is closed to nonresidents in the Columbia River and in ocean areas north of Cape Falcon (nonresidents may crab in bays and estuaries north of Cape Falcon e.g. Necanium River estuary).

Both residents and nonresidents should follow ongoing precautions in place due the virus:

  • Check for access before you go. Many spots have reopened to public access but some may still be closed. Remember even if fishing is open, the boat ramp or park where you want to go might be closed. ODFW does not control access to land or facilities it doesn’t manage, so check with the land manager or facility owner where you want to go about what’s open before you leave home.
  • Stay home if you are sick.
  • Stick close to home. Don’t travel far to hunt, fish, clam or crab.
  • Be prepared. Restrooms and other facilities may be more limited. Bring your own soap, water, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, food, etc.
  • Avoid crowds. Go someplace else if your destination looks crowded.
  • Practice social distancing. Keep six feet between you and anyone who doesn’t live in your immediate household, including while on a boat or at a fish cleaning station.
  • Wash your hands often. Keep up on personal hygiene and bring your own water, soap, and hand sanitizer with you.
  • Pack out what you pack in. Take any garbage with you, including disposable gloves and masks.

If you are planning to crab or clam, remember to call the ODA Shellfish safety hotline at 1-800-448-2474​ or check ODA’s Recreational Shellfish page beforehand. The Oregon Department of Agriculture regularly tests shellfish and closes areas when naturally occurring biotoxins get to levels that make crabs and clams unsafe to eat.

▶️ Rally amplifies a united voice against violence


No justice, no peace. 

That’s what more than 1,000 people chanted today in Downtown Bend during a peaceful protest in support of the Black Lives Matter movement against police brutality.

Protester Maxwell Friedman says, “They want to bring us down, they want to show us that we’re violent. We are not. We are not thugs. We are protesting an unjust system.”

Protesters also included former police officer Doyle Smith, who says he wants nothing more than equality.

“Being a cop in L.A. for a career, I saw a lot of inequality,” Smith said. “And I’m not trying to play the hero, but I hope a lot of cops stand up … stand away from just using violence to solve something.”

While the protest was peaceful, many in attendance did express their frustration.

Protester Ryan Cooper says, “People are getting shot every day in the streets, and it’s important to change now before things get out of hand and change for the worst.”

However some say the fight doesn’t end, it only begins with a protest.

“It’s not about, you know, just standing on the corner with signs and stuff like that,” former police commander Clifford Evelyn said. “You know, they’ve got to get to the polls, they’ve got to vote, we’ve got to get the right people in office. And the thing that these young people got to understand is that the people that’s doing all this are public servants. They work for us.”

Protester Ashley Smart hopes that nationwide protests bring enough awareness to make a change.

“It’s really really sad what’s going on right now, and I don’t think that it’s okay for this to still be happening,” Smart said. “We need a revolution.”

According to Bend Police, only one person was cited for careless driving for nearly striking a person in a crosswalk.

Otherwise, drivers were very patient with the protesters.