KWSO News for 3/30/20

The COVID-19 Pandemic has seen its numbers jump over the weekend here in Oregon. Since Friday, the number of positive cases, as of 8am Sunday Morning, were reported at 548. No cases were reported in Jefferson County or in Warm Springs. The number of deaths has gone up to 13. Statewide there is a Stay at Home Order, where Governor Brown wants everyone to stay home to help slow the spread of the Coronavirus. The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Tribal Council issued a letter last week encouraging residents to stay home and save lives, and to only go out for essential needs, such as food, medications and health supplies. Beginning today, the Tribes will be shut down for two weeks. You can visit KWSO’s Website for a link to what’s open and closed during the shutdown in today’s News at

New Basin Distillery, located in Madras, heard the calls for more sanitizer products and turned their operation from spirits to sanitizing solutions during the COVID-19 Pandemic. According to The Madras Pioneer, the distillery had just won an award for their Wild Will Wheat Whiskey 100 and less than a week later, the same equipment used to make the whiskey was distilling cleaning spray and hand cleaning lotion instead. Co-Owner Rick Molitor said they were worried the Stay-at Home order would halt operations for them, but newly implemented distancing rules in place, including the option to honk in the parking lot, the distillery can keep up the work. They are producing about 70 gallons of sanitizer per day and are trying to get the cleaners into the hands of people who need them.

Evictions and foreclosures could soon be put on hold in Oregon, as the state wrestles with the spread of COVID-19. As OPB’s Dirk VanderHart reports, those are just some of the proposals lawmakers are expected to take up in an upcoming special session. “Lawmakers on a coronavirus committee came up with 15 ideas for how the state can urgently respond to the pandemic. They include millions of dollars to help prop up small businesses, and to help Oregonians pay their rent. The state’s also considering making it easier to build homeless shelters, and to help residents pay for food. There are also provisions to help hospitals deliver needed care in the crisis. One thing lawmakers aren’t recommending: delaying a new tax on businesses that took effect in January. That’s a move business groups throughout Oregon had wanted to see. Gov. Kate Brown has yet to announce a date for the special session. It could occur as early as next week. I’m Dirk VanderHart, reporting”

Plans to tear down four hydroelectric dams in rugged country along the Oregon-California border to save salmon are generating excitement from environmentalists and tribes, and fear and anger among those who want the dams to stay. The $450 million project would be the largest dam demolition in U.S. history. It would reshape vast stretches of the Klamath River and could bring salmon back to spawning habitat that has been blocked to fish for more than a century. Project backers say federal regulators could vote this spring to transfer the dams’ hydroelectric licenses from the current operator to a nonprofit formed to oversee the demolition.

Some environmental groups are complaining about the teleconference format for gathering public comments on a federal government proposal to save salmon runs on the Columbia River system. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the government decided to hold teleconferences, rather than in-person public hearings, on its new proposal to remove four dams on the Snake River to save the fish. Critics say the teleconferences allow for far fewer comments than traditional public hearings. Environmentalists want the Army Corps of Engineers to double the comment period to 90 days and hold more hearings. But a spokeswoman for the Army Corps Northwestern Division in Portland, Oregon says people at this point should plan on the comment period ending on April 13 as planned.

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