Local News That Matters

UPDATES: Oregon vaccine expansion threatened by lack of federal stockpile

January 15, 2021 at 2:13pm

Oregon will roll back vaccination schedule for seniors, starting with people 80+ on Feb. 8

Gov. Kate Brown announces new state restrictions in a news conference in Portland on Thursday, March 12. (Jonathan House/Pamplin Media)

Oregon's seniors will have to wait at least two more weeks for a Covid vaccine, Gov. Kate Brown announced Friday, with vaccines beginning Feb. 8 for those 80 and older.

The news comes after state leaders learned Jan. 14 that an expected increase in vaccine shipments from the federal government was not coming. Brown said earlier this week Oregon would begin vaccinating seniors and teachers Jan. 23 after the state was told federal agencies would release vaccines they had been holding in reserve.

Last night, Brown said she learned that the federal government did not have vaccines in reserve, forcing the state to adjust its plans. She placed the blame for the delay on the Trump administration.

“Their empty promises are literally playing with people’s lives. So may Oregon seniors have spent the past year separated from their children and their grandchildren," Brown said.

Brown said teachers and school employees would be able to receive a vaccine starting the week of Jan. 25, with some counties beginning earlier.

The governor's Friday afternoon press conference is available live on YouTube.

January 15, 2021 at 1:43pm

Artists in Marion, Polk counties receive relief funding for lost pandemic income

Art covers the walls as the Salem Art Association prepares for the opening of its annual Young Artists Showcase on March 7, 2020 (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

A Salem comedian, poet, conductor and painter are among the Oregon artists receiving pandemic relief money through the Oregon Arts Commission.

Seventeen Marion and Polk county artists were selected for grants between $1,000 and $5,000 through the Artist Relief Program, which was created to replace income professional artists have lost in the past year because of canceled exhibits, rehearsals, teaching opportunities and performances. Thirteen Marion County artists received $24,100 in relief, and four Polk County artists received a total of $4,000.

They're among 640 Oregon artists statewide who received a total of $1.25 million through the program, according to a news release from the arts commission. They were selected from 1,158 applicants statewide, with winners chosen by a commission.

Funding for the program was provided by the Oregon Community Foundation and the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation.

A complete list of artists receiving grants is available on the arts commission website.

January 15, 2021 at 10:06am

Oregon plan to vaccinate seniors, teachers in jeopardy after feds say there's no vaccine reserve

Lane Hawkes, emergency room nurse, receives a Covid vaccine at Salem Hospital on Dec. 17 (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

Oregon's plan to begin vaccinating seniors and educators next week could be in jeopardy after federal authorities told Gov. Kate Brown the state will not be receiving additional Covid vaccine doses as expected next week.

Brown announced plans earlier this week to expand vaccination to those groups after receiving word the federal government would release additional vaccine doses in its reserve to states. But Friday morning, Brown said she'd learned there was no remaining federal reserve from General Gustave Perna, who's leading the federal vaccine rollout effort for the Department of Defense.

"This is a deception on a national scale. Oregon’s seniors, teachers, and all of us were depending on the promise of Oregon’s share of the federal reserve of vaccines being released to us," Brown said in a statement.

Brown said Oregonians 65 and older, as well as K-12 educators and school employees, child care providers and preschool workers would be eligible for vaccines starting Jan. 23. That group, which includes over 800,000 Oregonians, would be a significant expansion from the current guidelines, which include health care workers, nursing home residents and first responders.

It's unclear if those plans will change with fewer vaccine doses now expected.

Pat Allen, director of the Oregon Health Authority, wrote a letter asking Department of Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to explain the lack of reserve vaccines.

"If true, this is extremely disturbing, and puts our plans to expand eligibility at grave risk. Those plans were made on the basis of reliance on your statement about “releasing the entire supply” you have in reserve. If this information is accurate, we will be unable to begin vaccinating our vulnerable seniors on January 23rd as planned," Allen wrote.

Brown is holding a press conference Friday afternoon at 2 p.m. to share more information about vaccine planning.

January 15, 2021 at 9:17am

Oregon's U.S. attorney asks for threat tips ahead of planned protests in Salem

Oregon State Police rush out of the Oregon State Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, . (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

U.S. Attorney Billy Williams on Friday put out a call for citizens to help federal law enforcement officials learn about “real or potential threats of violence at any upcoming demonstrations or events throughout the state.”

Williams made the call as local, state and federal officials in Oregon and across the U.S. issue extraordinary warnings about domestic violence following the recent insurrection at the Capitol in Washington.

"Like most Americans, I watched in disgust and anger as radical insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol in a shocking display of political violence,” Williams said in his statement. “The threat of similar political violence around the country and here in Oregon remains.”

Law enforcement officials are concerned about potential protests over the weekend and through Inauguration Day next Wednesday, when Joe Biden will be sworn in as president.

Williams said those with information about potential terrorism in Oregon could call the FBI in Portland at 503-221-4181.

January 15, 2021 at 7:56am

Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments gets new leader

Scott Dadson, the new executive director of the Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments. (Courtesy/Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments)

Scott Dadson has been picked to lead a consortium of local governments in the mid-Willamette Valley following a nationwide search for a new executive director. On Thursday, the board of directors for the Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments announced Dadson would replace Sean O’Day, who left the job last February.

Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments is a voluntary association of 43 local governments that includes Marion and Polk counties as well as Salem. It provides intergovernmental communication, studies of regional issues and other functions.

Before coming to the council, Dadson had extensive experience in city government in Virginia and the Carolinas. Most recently, he served as the executive director of the Isothermal Regional Commission, another regional government based in North Carolina.

“I am very honored to have been selected and to be joining the COG team in serving the Mid-Willamette Valley,” Dadson said in a statement. “I am passionate about public service and learning organizations. I am excited to have the opportunity to work with the Mid-Willamette Valley COG Board of Directors, its member governments and our regional partners in finding solutions to pressing issues and creating opportunities for success for all concerned. The Mid-Willamette Valley is a beautiful place and I am looking forward to working with everyone.”