KWSO News for 3/26/20

The COVID-19 Pandemic continues to show more positive tests in Oregon. As of 9am Wednesday morning, there were 266 positive cases in Oregon and a total of 10 deaths, with zero positive tests in Warm Springs, 5 individuals have been tested with 3 of those tests returning as negative and 2 tests pending results. The Warm Springs Health and Wellness Center has started screening people before entry into the facility, if you are showing any symptoms, you are directed to a medical assessment and treatment area, if you are coming for pharmacy, lab or not ill with fever, cough or breathing difficulty, you will be sent to a separate area.  The Tribal Government is gearing up for closure starting on Monday March 30th and lasting for two weeks.

The Warm Springs Police department has a new Police Chief. William Elliott was brought in in early March and worked with the tribes in the 80’s as a Special agent of the BIA. He served in the military and was among the forces in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom, the War on Terrorism. Chief Elliott has worked with the U.S. Border Patrol, Klamath County and as Public Safety Director of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Indian Reservation. Police Chief Elliott grew up in California and is an enrolled member of the Kiowa, Native people of the Great Plains.

Oregon’s ability to test for COVID-19 is ramping up. A shipment of testing swabs, combined with new testing capacity at Oregon hospitals, will allow thousands of additional tests to be performed across the state this week. Testing for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, is important because it allows health officials to know who should be isolated to prevent further spread. On Wednesday Governor Kate Brown said testing will give officials a better understanding of how much hospital capacity will be needed. “As we’re ramping up testing capacity – and there’s roughly, will be an additional 1000 tests per day over the next few days – we are going to see obviously more COVID-19 positive tests.” The lack of availability of testing supplies has been a major bottleneck nation-wide. And unless the flow of supplies continues, Oregon’s capacity to test could fall off again by next week. As of Wednesday, Oregon had tested more than 5-thousand 7-hundred people for the virus.

Oregon taxpayers now have more time to submit their taxes. Gov. Kate Brown announced Wednesday the deadline for personal income taxes in the state is being pushed from April 15th to July 15th. That matches a similar move by the federal government last week. The governor says the later deadline gives taxpayers more stability during the coronavirus pandemic. Some officials worry that the move could deprive the state of money it needs for a relief package. Corporations and others required to make quarterly tax payments will still need to file by the April deadline. Taxes weren’t the only deadline extended as the Oregonian/OregonLive reported that the Transportation department announced the normal deadline of March 31st removal of studded tires has been extended to May 1st. The state cited “limited business hours” and social distance practices as the primary reason to grant the extension.

Looking forward to a time when the coronavirus hopefully wanes, sports fans in Washington will have a new option to put more skin in the game. Washington governor Jay Inslee has signed a bill passed by the legislature to legalize sports betting. Wagering however, will only be allowed on the premises of tribal casinos. (That’s a much more limited approach than Oregon has taken.)  Rebecca Kaldor directs the Washington Indian Gaming Association.  “Rebecca Kaldor: “I think how tribes will operate their sportsbook will differ from property to property. I think we’ll see a range of everything from a full blown sports lounge to individual kiosks.”  Kaldor says the addition of sports betting could help tribes recover better economically after having to shut down their casinos temporarily. She predicted the first legal sports bets in Washington won’t be placed until well into the latter half of this year, though. Some regulatory negotiations and renovations have to happen first.

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