Local News That Matters

UPDATES: With Covid surging, Marion and Polk counties moved back into extreme risk categories

April 27, 2021 at 2:18pm

AGENDA: Marion County commissioners meet Wednesday

The Marion County Board of Commissioners meets Wednesday to consider adding money to a contract, appointing people to an advisory committee and approving a yearly grant.


The commissioners will consider approving an amendment to a contract which would add $135,780 for for environmental monitoring and reporting services for Marion County's disposal and landfill facilities through June 30, 2022. The total contract would be $849,694.

They will consider a resolution approving the 21-22 County Assessment Function Funding Assistance grant which helps pay for personnel and other costs incurred from assessing and collecting property taxes. The county is requesting $7.3 million from the state Department of Revenue.

Commissioners will also consider appointing Beth Hill, Rebecca Hill, and Daniel Atsbaha to the Marion County Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Advisory Committee with terms ending December 31, 2024. 

Meeting details: The commissioners meet at 9 a.m. Wednesday in the Senator Hearing Room at 555 Court Street N.E. The meeting is streamed live on YouTube

-Saphara Harrell

April 27, 2021 at 1:41pm

Bridgeway reopens residential treatment for problem gambling

Tim Murphy, CEO of Bridgeway Recovery Services, points out photos of several of the organization's facilities on Wednesday, April 22. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Bridgeway Recovery Services on Monday reopened its problem gambling residential treatment home, the Santiam House, after a more than yearlong closure due to Covid.

In a news release, Bridgeway said the reopening was prompted by the Covid vaccine and “the high need for residential-level treatment for those struggling with gambling.”

All prospective residents must show a negative Covid test result before being admitted to the Santiam House. The house will have no more than five people (it can accommodate eight) and rigorous cleaning protocols are in place, Bridgeway said.

Problem gambling treatment is free in Oregon. For more information, contact Bridgeway Recovery Services or the 24-hour problem gambling help line at 1-877-MY-LIMIT.

-Saphara Harrell

April 27, 2021 at 12:33pm

Confluence LGBT Chorus seeks new board members

Confluence: The Willamette Valley LGBT Chorus, a Salem-based choir, is seeking applicants for its board of directors.

The chorus was formed in 2000 and has about 50 members who have mostly remained active during the pandemic even with live performances shuttered, said Sam Sappington, a board member and nominating committee chair. He said the group remains in good financial standing.

One and two-year board terms are available starting July 1. People with experience serving on community nonprofit boards are preferred. Anyone interested should send a letter to Sappington at [email protected] by midnight Saturday, May 1. More information about the chorus is available on their website.

-Rachel Alexander

April 27, 2021 at 11:50am

With Covid surging, Marion and Polk counties moved back into extreme risk categories

Signs on the window at Taproot Lounge and Cafe advertise takeout options while the restaurant is closed to indoor seating due to state restrictions, on Thursday, Dec. 10. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

With rising Covid cases putting strains on the state’s hospital capacity, Marion and Polk counties will return to stringent pandemic restrictions that haven’t been in place since winter. 

Beginning Friday, April 30, restaurants will no longer be able to offer indoor dining, outdoor social gatherings will be limited to six people instead of eight, and churches will have to cut capacity. Gyms and movie theaters 500 square feet or larger will only be allowed to have only six customers at a time. 

Gov. Kate Brown on Tuesday announced that 15 counties, including Marion and Polk, would move into the “extreme risk” category that comes with heightened restrictions. Counties will remain in that category for a maximum of three weeks, according to a press statement. 

The move came after the state met two triggers: hospitalizations of Covid-positive patients exceeded 300 and the seven-day total of Covid patients rose by above 15%. The governor had earlier held off enacting more severe restrictions but introduced the triggers in her risk framework to prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed. 

On Monday, both those thresholds were met with 319 Covid-positive patients occupying hospital beds statewide and the seven-day total of Covid-positive patients rising by 37.4%. 

“If we don’t act now, doctors, nurses, hospitals, and other health care providers in Oregon will be stretched to their limits treating severe cases of COVID-19,” said Brown in a statement. “Today’s announcement will save lives and help stop COVID-19 hospitalizations from spiking even higher. With new COVID-19 variants widespread in so many of our communities, it will take all of us working together to bring this back under control.”

That comes in addition to rising case rates in Marion and Polk counties. In Marion County, the case rate rose to 299 per 100,000 people between April 11 through April 24. That’s up from 204 cases per 100,000 from the previous reporting period and 137 per 100,000 the period before. 

Polk County saw its rate rise to 215.8 per 100,000 people for the most recent reporting period. That's an increase from 200 per 100,000 in the previous period and the 191.7 per 100,000 before that. 

Brown also said she’s working with the Oregon Legislature on a $20 million small business relief package for businesses located in counties with the extreme risk designation. 

Additionally, the governor will be evaluating Covid data every week, instead of every two weeks, to evaluate risk levels. The next possible update to risk levels will be announced on Tuesday, May 4, and take effect on Friday, May 7. 

-Jake Thomas