KWSO News for Fri., Jul. 30, 2021

The Warm Springs community COVID-19 Update today reported no new cases of COVID-19 from 20 tests conducted Wednesday, July 28, 2021 at the Health & Wellness Center.  There are currently 5 people with active COVID-19 and 3 close contacts receiving daily monitoring. There is an upswing in COVID-19 cases mostly for unvaccinated individuals.  The main thing you can do to protect from getting COVID-19 is to be vaccinated.

Fire officials expressed concern but not surprise over an increase in fire activity on the Bootleg Fire, just a day after welcome rain fell on parts of the nation’s largest wildfire. Fire Behavior Specialist Chris Moore said it is unusual it is to see fire flare-ups so quickly after a wetting rain. Fire activity increased as the warm day dried out the fire faster and wind gusts were stronger than expected. It’s currently burning about 413,000 acres 28 miles northeast of Klamath Falls. It’s 53% contained. The northwest corner remains the most active area. Dozers and hand crews are working together to close the line around that portion of the perimeter.

Drought tightened its grip on Oregon and the West Coast this week as “critically dry conditions persisted across northern California and the Northwest,” according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Not a square inch of Oregon is free from drought, and nearly the entire state – 93.67% – qualifies as Severe Drought or worse. The percentage of Oregon experiencing more severe Extreme Drought jumped up from 56% last week to over 71% this week .And the worst category – Exceptional Drought – now applies to almost a quarter of the state.

Oregonians could lose more than $70 million in weekly employment benefits after Labor Day, when some federal pandemic aid programs expire and the state stops paying a $300 weekly unemployment bonus. The state has now reopened nearly all of its WorkSource job search assistance offices and noted that employers are hiring at a nearly unprecedented rate

As expected, late thunderstorms with lightning caused several wildfire incidents across Central Oregon beginning at just after 4 p.m. this evening. Fires were reported near Black Butte, south of La Pine State Park and several in the Phil’s Trail, Tumalo Creek, and Skyliner’s Road northwest of Bend before 5 p.m. Initial attack resources were prepped for the anticipated lightning and crews were deployed to reported fires quickly. By 5:30 p.m. the fires at Phil’s Trail, Tumalo Creek, and Black Butte were all reported to be 0.1 of an acre.

Oregonians can pump their own gas today. With the current and forecasted heat in Oregon, the Office of the State Fire Marshal is suspending their enforcement of the regulations that prohibit the self-serve of gasoline at retail gasoline service stations. Governor Brown’s Office approved the suspension of the regulations. The suspension is in place for 24 hours, until 11:59 pm on Friday, July 30th.

The state of Oregon will require students and staff in K-12 schools to wear masks indoors come fall. Governor Kate Brown’s announcement Thursday follows this week’s updated national mask guidance in schools and a spike in COVID-19 cases in Oregon, due to the highly transmissible delta variant. In a statement from the Oregon Department of Education officials say they are working to create a rule requiring face coverings in all indoor school settings — both public and private — for all individuals two years and older. This includes students, staff, contractors, volunteers and visitors. Officials say the rule will take effect upon adoption, but the exact date is unclear.