KWSO News for 3/31/20

As of Monday Morning, there were over 600 positive cases of COVID-19 in the state of Oregon with almost 13 thousand tests being administered and 16 deaths. In Central Oregon, there remain no confirmed cases in Crook or Jefferson Counties. Deschutes County has 25 positive cases with Wasco County confirming 5 people tested positive. Using data that has been collected since this coronavirus pandemic began and figuring in when social distancing measures were taken, there is an estimate that Oregon will likely see a peak for hospital needs at the start of May. If strict social distancing remains in place – our state should be able to accommodate COVID-19 patients, based on theory. Confronted with a lack of protective equipment, health care workers treating coronavirus patients are reusing masks that are supposed to be used once and then discarded and are even making their own — and more are getting infected. Twelve staffers at Oregon Health and Science University have tested positive for COVID-19.

Now that Oregon schools will be closed at least through April 28, many are concerned about a major aspect of school—testing. As KLCC’s Elizabeth Gabriel reports from Eugene, many statewide and national tests have been cancelled this year due to public closures. “The Oregon Department of Education announced they have cancelled statewide summative assessments in English language arts and math, and the Essential Skills test. ODE is expected to announce revised graduation requirements in the coming days. IB testing has been cancelled. Depending on what students registered for, they will receive a diploma or course certificate for their work. AP tests will not be held in-person. Students will instead take an online test. Organizations offering the national SAT and ACT assessments are working to reschedule tests for June. [I’m Elizabeth Gabriel, reporting in Eugene.”

A barrel racing event in Redmond over the weekend had some officials saying it should have never happened while the Event Manager said they went to major lengths to follow the Governor’s directed guidelines. As reported by, Deschutes County Sheriff Shane Nelson, said they stress education and will use enforcement, in terms of citations, only as a last resort. Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel stated that he agrees with Nelson on stressing education first, not enforcement, but also said that the people attending this event were in violation of the Governor’s executive order limiting travel. Austin Hogue’s family owns the Electric 3H Arena and said he is dismayed by such criticism. Hogue cited that people can still go to stores and their security isn’t close to as strong as there was during this event. He stated that if officials had come in and asked them to end their event, they would have done so.

There’ll be more water for fish in the Klamath River — for the next few years, at least. Federal water managers have come to an agreement with the Yurok Tribe and a group representing commercial fishermen. Jefferson Public Radio’s Liam Moriarty explains.  “Last year, low water flows in the Klamath River led to a disease outbreak and a subsequent fish die-off. Amy Cordalis is general counsel for the Yurok Tribe. She notes the tribe has declared fisheries disasters for the past three seasons. CORDALIS CUT2: The returning salmon runs every year are getting smaller and smaller. And that’s having lasting impacts, not only on our tribal community, but also on ocean fisheries.” (:11) The Yurok and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations sued the Bureau of Reclamation. They said the Bureau’s plan to manage the federal Klamath irrigation project was leading to deadly river conditions for protected fish. The Bureau acknowledged its plan was based on flawed data and agreed to an interim plan that sends more water downriver, while it develops a new long-term plan based on better science … Meanwhile, Klamath irrigators say they’re relieved the agreement leaves more water for farms and ranches than the lawsuit initially asked for. I’m Liam Moriarty reporting”

Unemployment claims in Central Oregon have spiked because of the Coronavirus outbreak and has seen plenty of frustration among community members wanting to file their claims. According to, a Bend woman who declined to be identified said her daughter works as a pizza delivery driver in Bend and due to her hours being cut due to the pandemic, had said they were on hold with the State Employment Department for about four hours. Other Central Oregonians have reported that they get busy signals and continue to call and have also been unable to file their claims online. Gail Krumenauer with the Oregon Employment Department said people calling multiple times in a day might be contributing to the backlog. She encourages people to file online as that frees up the phone lines for those who are unable to access the internet. She also said she doesn’t know how long people should expect to wait to receive their benefits, but they have doubled and are working on tripling the staff to meet the demand.

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