Local News That Matters

UPDATES: Health officials warn of increasing Covid cases

20 days ago

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Oregon House passes bill extending eviction moratorium on businesses

Ranch Records in downtown Salem is holding a going out of business sale after 38 years in business. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

The Oregon House passed a bill on Friday intended to keep businesses from closing their doors.

THE ISSUE: Bars, restaurants and other businesses are behind on rent. 

THE BILL: House Bill 2966

The bill aims to support small businesses most affected by the Covid pandemic. HB 2966 will extend the previous deadline of March 31 to September 30, 2021.

WHAT IT DOES:  Extends the deadline to pay back rent for non-residential spaces, which expired March 31, to Sept. 30.

WHY IT WAS PROPOSED: Federal relief funds are expected to start flowing into Oregon’s economy. Lawmakers wanted to prevent businesses from being evicted before then. 

HOW THE MARION/POLK DELEGATION VOTED: 

State Rep. Brian Clem, D-Salem: Yes

State Rep. Paul Evans, D-Monmouth: Excused 

State Rep. Raquel Moore-Green, R-Salem: Yes 

State Rep. Mike Nearman, R-Independence:  Excused

Sate Rep. Bill Post, R-Keizer: No 

State Rep. Teresa Alonso León, D-Woodburn: Yes

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT: The bill moves to the Senate for consideration.

-Jake Thomas

20 days ago

Covid hospitalizations, cases again on the rise as most Oregonians become eligible for shots

Agnes Tsai draws up a dose of the Pfizer vaccine during a COVID-19 vaccine clinic at the Oregon State Fairgrounds on Thursday, Jan. 28. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Oregon on Monday will open Covid vaccinations to anyone 16 and older who wants a shot.

But state and local health officials said they're seeing a rise in both new Covid cases and hospitalizations as Oregonians wait for their turn to get vaccinated, and cautioned it's too early to stop taking precautions against the virus.

"It's clear that this virus is persistent and it's stubborn. While we've flattened the curve again and again, Covid will not surrender," Gov. Kate Brown said in a news conference Friday.

Health officials said they've tied recent outbreaks to social gatherings where people are not wearing masks or physically distancing, including a multi-day karaoke party and an indoor concert.

After the number of people hospitalized with Covid declined in January and February, it's on the rise once again. said Dr. Dean Sidelinger, state epidemiologist. Hospitalizations have increased 26% over the first two weeks of April statewide.

In the mid-Willamette Valley, 34 people were hospitalized with Covid as of April 15, up from 15 a month ago.

The number of people with Covid in mid-Willamette Valley hospitals rose in late March and early April after declining in January and February (Screenshot on April 16, 2021 from Oregon Health Authority website)

Katrina Rothenberger, Marion County's public health division director, told county commissioners Wednesday that a majority of new cases locally are among people in their 20s and 30s.

For more information on scheduling a vaccine in the Salem area, check out Salem Reporter's guide to local vaccination.

-Rachel Alexander

20 days ago

Keizer man arrested, accused of firing shotgun in front of protest

The under-construction Salem Police Department headquarters on Tuesday, August 25.(Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Salem police have arrested a Keizer man who is accused of firing a shotgun into the air in front of group of 20 people protesting in front of the Salem Police station Thursday night.

Larry McFarland, 75, faces charges of unlawful weapon use and two counts of menacing, Salem police said in a news release.

The group was gathered to advocate for police abolition, according to Salem police and social media accounts of the event. They were chalking the sidewalk in front of the station with anti-police sentiments.

A man approached the group with the gun around 9 p.m. and said, “Which one of you (expletive) was doing (inaudible)?” Then, he fired a round into the air, according to video footage of the incident.

“This thing is loaded and it’s going to kill whoever (expletive),” he said.

“Drop the gun!” a person yells on the video. The man went behind an SUV.

Police were “monitoring the protest from a distance,” the release said, when they saw the man and yelled for him to drop the weapon.

He refused, got into his truck and left. Officers stopped the truck a few blocks north of the police station and pulled the driver over.

They arrested McFarland, the release said. No one was injured. McFarland was lodged at the Marion County Jail will be arraigned at 2:30 Friday. 

-Saphara Harrell

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