KWSO News for 4/30/20

As the Coronavirus Pandemic continues, there have been 179 tests administered in Warm Springs with 118 negative, 53 pending and 8 positive tests. Yesterday’s report has the Warm Springs Health and Wellness Center urging the community to continue to follow established protocols for COVID-19. If you have symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, please call the Nurse Triage Hotline at 541-553-5512 before coming to the clinic. If you have tested and it returned negative, they are asking that you quarantine yourself for 14 days and monitor yourself for the symptoms of COVID-19. The number of known deaths from the coronavirus in Oregon topped 100 on Wednesday. The Oregon Health Authority reported 61 new cases of the coronavirus and two deaths, bringing the total known death toll to 101. Of almost 55,000 people tested, 2,446 results were positive. A spokesman said all those who died in the state from the coronavirus had underlying health conditions. Almost 60% had cardiovascular disease. The second-highest underlying medical condition was a neurological or neurodevelopmental issue. Other underlying conditions included diabetes, lung disease, kidney disease, compromised immune systems; and liver disease. Take precautions when you leave home, wear a mask, carry hand sanitizer or dis-infectant wipes with you and follow the social distancing guidelines.

Conditions are pointing towards a bad wildfire year in southwestern Oregon and northwestern California. For the first time in decades the 2020 wildfire season will start about a month early, on May 1st. Jefferson Public Radio’s Erik Neumann has more. “So far this year there have been more than 30 wildfires caused by open burning, according to the Oregon Department of Forestry. On top of that, the long-range weather forecast calls for above average temperatures and below average precipitation. Those factors led the department’s Southwest Oregon District to announce that fire season will officially start on Friday – about a month earlier than normal. Brian Ballou is a spokesperson with the district. Ballou: If you’re ever going to be cautious about wildfire and you really want to have that goal for not starting one, this is the year to do that. We don’t need any more fire starts than what mother nature may bring us. The Southwest Oregon District covers 1.8 million acres of land in Jackson and Josephine Counties. Conditions aren’t looking much better in northwestern California. The United States Drought Monitor currently lists Del Norte, Siskiyou and Trinity Counties in extreme drought, along with portions of Jackson, Josephine and Curry Counties in Oregon. I’m Erik Neumann reporting.”

Local officials in rural counties across Southern Oregon and Northern California are requesting that governors allow them to open non-essential businesses. JPR’s April Ehrlich reports. “Jackson, Josephine, and Douglas county commissioners are among those in Southern Oregon who are considering sending letters to their governor. In Northern California, officials in Shasta, Siskiyou, and Tehama counties are doing the same. They say they’re ready to reopen non-essential businesses, like small retail shops and possibly beauty salons. Oregon Governor Kate Brown had issued rules for when rural counties could reopen — for instance, their hospitals have to have sufficient protective equipment like masks available. Jackson County fits the bill, according to medical director Jim Shames. I think we’ve followed the governor’s guidelines. We’ve been blessed by being somewhat rural. And we’ve had very few cases identified in the last few weeks. Shames says when reopening does happen, it will be a slow process, one that county officials are still working out. While the county doesn’t require everyone to wear face masks — as some California counties do — Shames recommends everyone to wear one when they’re out. I’m April Ehrlich reporting”

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has ordered state agencies to plan for nearly $2 billion dollars in budget cuts over the next year. That’s a response to the toll that COVID-19 is likely to have on Oregon taxes. Dirk VanderHart reports.“There’s no doubt Oregon will have far less money than it expected for the current two-year budget. The question is how much less. While clarity won’t be available for weeks, officials believe the state could see a hit of two or even three billion dollars. And that might well mean significant budget cuts. To begin bracing for impact, Brown ordered all agencies to submit plans to chop their general fund spending by almost 9 percent. The state says that could cover a worst-case scenario budget shortfall. Even if the requested cuts aren’t required, they help the state plan for a downturn. In the meantime, Brown has ordered a partial hiring freeze. Some state departments are furloughing workers or planning layoffs. Dirk VanderHart, OPB”

Facing steep budget shortfalls, the state of Oregon has taken its first steps in furloughing workers in order to save money, among the few states in America to do so to date. A state economist predicted that Oregon’s leaders will have to grapple with balancing limited revenues with increased need for programs to help Oregonians impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Oregon’s labor commissioner announced that managers in the agency she directs, the Bureau of Labor and Industries, must take one unpaid furlough day per month, through June 2021. No other state agency in Oregon has announced it is furloughing workers.

For those who prefer to listen to your KWSO News Broadcast…Press Play Below: