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 https://myodfw.com/recreation-report/fishing-report/

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 MyODFW.com 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.

Big Sky Bike Park project on hold amid COVID budget constraints

After several years of planning, the expansion of Bend’s Big Sky Park is now on hold thanks to budget constraints tied to the COVID crisis.

Bend Parks and Rec’s $4 million project called for a new Hamby Road driveway and parking area, improved walking trails, and a new bike park with a cyclocross course, BMX track and singletrack trails.

Expansion of the dog park was completed last year.

Brian Hudspeth, development manager for BPRD, said the district expects a significant drop in revenue in the next fiscal year.

“It’s not that the district doesn’t want to do it; we’re really excited about it. It’s a neat project. We’ve spent a lot of time and effort to get to where we are right now,” he said. “We were really excited and then, no one could’ve predicted what happened. Due to those circumstances, it’s prudent, I think that we hold on to that money.”

The proposal wasn’t without some controversy as neighbors were concerned about noise from events expected to take place at the expanded park.

But Deschutes County Commissioners approved the plans in January 2019. Construction bids were expected in February 2020 and work was to begin later this year.

Hudspeth said he’s hopeful the project can move forward next year.


▶️ Bend City Council to Consider Limiting Days for Downtown Events

By Anyssa Bohanan
Central Oregon Daily

Oktoberfest, Summer Fest, Bite of Bend – all hugely popular events in downtown Bend. And just a few of the events some downtown business owners say put a strain on their bottom line.

Listening to concerns from businesses, the Bend City Council is considering limiting the number of days events can take place in downtown.

The executive director of the Downtown Bend Business Association on Wednesday night presented to the City Council his group’s concerns about the economic and cultural impact downtown events have.

Downtown Bend hosts nearly a dozen events in the summer months alone.

Deedee Cochran, who has worked in the area for nearly two decades, says those events create a negative financial impact on businesses like hers in one of Bend’s busiest areas.

“The Economic Improvement District is a tax that all of the building owners pay that are inside the core district,” said Deedee Chochran, a buyer for NW Home Interiors. “The EID fee is what is paying for the beautification of downtown Bend, and that’s the flower pots, that’s the removal of snow in the winter, it’s cleaning up the sidewalks, and when we have these events there’s no money from the event organizers that go back to the downtown bend association that helps pay for the cleanup or the impact that these festivals have on our downtown.”

Ray Solley, Executive Director of the Tower Theater, considers downtown to be the “base camp” of Central Oregon, and he’s concerned about how the culture of the area is being affected.

“The city, downtown Bend, is its own event. In many ways you go to downtown Bend because you want to experience it not because you want to experience something that’s been added to it or grafted on or dropped into the middle of a street closure,” Solley said. “This is not at all about ‘Downtown should have no events!” It should have as many events as we possibly can but I think we have to think about what those events are and that they play to the strength of downtown Bend which is its unique layout, it’s unique boutiques, it’s non-franchised businesses.”

As a long-time Bend resident and creator of multiple festivals that take place in Central Oregon, Cameron Clark says the events are an integral part of bringing the community together.

“We’re an events town, and some of that happens on streets that get closed, some of that happens, some of it now happens in private venues,” said Clark, owner of C3 Events. “But it happens in all these places so that all different segments of this community get to have the arts as a part of a device to raise them up and feel connected.”

At Wednesday night’s council meeting, several downtown business owners and employees expressed concerns over the impact days-long events can have on the area.

The Downtown Bend Business Association suggested limiting the number of days festivals and races can take place in downtown, because businesses see decreased sales during events that close down multiple streets.

“If you come here in July or October, it’s busy. We’re sold out during those months. And when these festivals come, they take my customers that are walking around on these streets and they take them away because they come and they can’t park here, and it’s for three days,” Chochran said.

Some businesses say that, ultimately, they’d like to have a say in future events that are allowed in the downtown area.

“It’s not necessarily fair to have one type of business benefit from a festival. It needs to be something that creates viability for all of the businesses downtown,” Chochran said.

Said Solley, “We may have to get to a point where we say, ‘What is downtown’s strength and what does it do really well everyday and do more of those and find ways to create more of what we do best as opposed to ‘Oh let’s stop what we do, bring in another project or event and see if that will do as well as what we’ve just now stopped doing.”

Regardless of what changes may take place in the future, Clark says communication is key.

“All these events that have institutional legs that have mattered in this community that have made real community happen in this town, healthy, family oriented arts, presentations happen are because collaboration has happened instead of confrontation and conflict,” he said.

The council said they will create a subcommittee in November to consider the issue and limiting the number of days streets can be closed for future events.

Image courtesy Downtown Bend Business Association