Local News That Matters

UPDATES: Mask rules loosened, but not eliminated, for Salem-Keizer summer programs

4 months ago

One person shot in northeast Salem

Salem police closed 17th St Northeast between Kay and Kansas streets to investigate a shooting on July 1, 2021 (Courtesy/Marion Polk Crime Traffic and Severe Weather Alerts)

Salem police are investigating a Thursday evening shooting near Englewood Park that left one person hospitalized in critical condition.

Police received the report of a shooting near the intersection of 17th Street Northeast and Nebraska Avenue Northeast around 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Salem Police Department spokesman Lt. Treven Upkes said.

Police found one victim who had been shot. That person was taken to a hospital, Upkes said.

Upkes said no suspects are in custody but police do not believe there is a danger to the public. Any witnesses or individuals with information are asked to call the Salem police tips line at 503-588-8477.

17th Street is closed from Kay to Kansas Avenue, and Nebraska Avenue is closed from 16th to 18th Street as detectives process the scene. Upkes said the street closures would end around 9 p.m. Thursday.

4 months ago

At least a dozen people believed to have died from heat wave in Marion and Polk counties

People stand in the shade of the Marion Street Bridge in Wallace Marine Park while others cool off in the Willamette River on Saturday, June 26, 2021. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

At least a dozen people in Marion and Polk counties are believed to have died from heat-related causes as the region saw record-breaking temperatures early this week, most of them unsheltered or without air conditioning.

The Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office on Thursday released a list of suspected heat-related deaths across the state, which now includes 79 Oregonians. A 38-year-old Polk County man was added to the list.

That’s up from 63 suspected heat-related deaths reported statewide Wednesday.

In a statement, the Marion County Medical Examiner's Office said they're investigating 11 deaths suspected to be heat-related, all men, ranging in age from 37 to 74. Nine Marion County residents are included in the state's total.

"In all cases, further testing is needed due to multiple complicating comorbid factors such as substance use and underlying medical conditions. In many cases these decedents were unhoused or in environments with no air conditioning available to them," the statement said.

Police separately reported two deaths of unsheltered people in Salem during the heat wave, but could not confirm causes of death or whether they were included in state or local counts of heat-related deaths.

Salem police reported 38-year-old Derek Bayless was found dead in Wallace Marine Park, which is in Polk County, on June 30.

Lt. Treven Upkes, Salem police spokesman, said police couldn’t confirm Bayless was the same person who was on the state medical examiner’s list, because it only gave information on county, gender and age.

On Monday around 8 p.m., Oregon State Police responded to a report of a man found unresponsive in a tent under the Market Street overpass near Interstate 5 in Salem. Police haven’t released his name and said they're waiting until relatives have been notified.

The county medical examiner's office said their count included 7 deaths in Salem, 2 deaths in Keizer, and 2 deaths in Woodburn.

The office did not include suspected drownings in its total of heat-related deaths. A 37-year-old Salem man, Nasiruddin Shaik, was found dead in the Willamette River Wednesday after going missing while swimming over the weekend.

-Rachel Alexander and Saphara Harrell

4 months ago

Evictions could cost Oregon billions, report says

Oregon could be forced to spend billions on social services to care for tens of thousands of people predicted to be left without a home as the state's pandemic eviction moratorium has ended, according to a report published this week Portland State University’s Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative.

As many as 125,400 Oregon households have little or no confidence they’ll be able to pay next month’s rent, according to the center’s analysis of the latest Census Household Pulse survey.  

That means Oregon could spend $720 million to $4.7 billion to respond to evictions, the report said.

An eviction moratorium which had been in place since last April ended on Wednesday.

Under an amendment to Senate Bill 278, tenants who are unable to pay July or August rent wouldn’t be evicted for 60 days if they provide proof to their landlord that they’ve applied for rental assistance through Oregon Housing and Community Services

The report used data from emergency shelters, inpatient and emergency medical services, child welfare, and juvenile justice services to estimate the downstream costs of evictions using a calculator developed by University of Arizona College of Law.

“The calculation once again shows the scale of the crisis Oregon could face without additional eviction interventions,” a news release states.

The report noted a disproportionate number of the households are likely renters of color. The center’s survey last fall showed that 35% of renters were behind on rent, a figure that jumps to 56% for people of color.

-Saphara Harrell

4 months ago

Mask rules remain in place for Salem-Keizer summer programs

Fourth grade student Apollo Lorenzoni works at his desk on the first day back to in-person school for fourth and fifth grade students at Myers Elementary School on Wednesday, March 17, 2021. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown lifted nearly all of the state's pandemic restrictions Wednesday, but masks are still required indoors in most situations for students and educators during summer programs run by the Salem-Keizer School District.

District leaders said Wednesday school employees no longer need to wear masks when they're working in buildings but not in "direct contact" with a student. That means a school office worker answering phones over the summer can do so unmasked, but a teacher helping students with summer school assignments inside a classroom would still be required to wear a face covering.

Direct contact means being within three feet of a student for at least 15 minutes under district guidelines, spokeswoman Emily Hicks said.

Students are still required to wear face masks indoors and on school buses, the district said.

District students and employees have been allowed to go maskless outdoors since May 25, when state and federal authorities announced changes to masking guidelines.

Brown said June 25 that as part of Oregon's reopening, decisions about school health protocols and Covid precautions would revert to the local level, with the Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Department of Education offering recommendations, rather than rules. Schools are expected to resume full-time, in-person classes five days per week.

An updated set of state school guidelines "strongly advise(s)" requiring masks for students in kindergarten and up, noting that face coverings and vaccination remain the best tools to prevent the spread of Covid. There is no currently approved Covid vaccine for children under 12.

-Rachel Alexander