Local News That Matters

UPDATES: Salem to treat Willamette Slough for invasive plant

3 months ago

Data digest: Covid by the numbers for Sept. 10, 2021

Salem Hospital (Caleb Wolf/Special to Salem Reporter)

With Covid cases and hospitalizations climbing in Oregon, Salem Reporter is keeping you informed of the latest numbers. Here’s our report for Friday, Sept. 10.

New Covid cases reported in Marion County: 201

New Covid cases reported in Polk County: 67

Total Salem Hospital patients with Covid: 107 as of Friday morning, a decrease of four from Thursday. Of those, 20 are in the intensive care unit, and 15 are on ventilators. Ninety of those in the hospital are not vaccinated against Covid.

Total Salem Hospital bed occupancy: 474 of 494 licensed beds in use

Total people hospitalized with Covid in Region 2 (Marion, Polk, Yamhill, Linn, Benton, Lincoln counties): 196, a decrease of 12 from Thursday. Of those, 39 are in the intensive care unit and 20 are on ventilators.

Total Region 2 hospital bed occupancy: 100 of 104 staffed ICU beds and 700 of 715 non-ICU beds in use. 

New Covid deaths reported: 20

OHA had not published demographic information on Thursday’s reported deaths by 3 p.m. 

The Oregon Health Authority reported deaths from Wednesday included two Marion County residents. 

-An 83-year-old man who tested positive on Aug. 28 and died on Sept. 7 at Salem Hospital. He had underlying conditions.

-A 45-year-old woman who tested positive on July 25 and died on Sept. 7 at Salem Hospital. She had underlying conditions.

New Covid vaccines in Oregon: 4,144 new Covid vaccine doses administered on Sept. 9, including at least 2,466 first doses. 

Source: Oregon Health Authority, Salem Health

-Saphara Harrell

3 months ago

Oregon employers report more hard-to-fill jobs with few applicants

Oregon Employment Department. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

As the number of job openings in Oregon spiked to a record high this spring, so did the number of hard-to-fill vacancies lacking applicants.

Job vacancies reached 98,000 in spring 2021, the most ever recorded in the state’s history, according to a Wednesday economic update issued by the Oregon Employment Department.

Around 6,000 to 8,000 hard-to-fill job openings ­– around 25% – had a lack of applicants in summer 2020 and winter 2021, the employment department said. Between April and June, around 34,000 of them – nearly half ­– had too few or no applicants.

In a survey of private employers throughout Oregon, the employment department found the most common challenges in filling job openings ­– a lack of applicants or qualified candidates – remained consistent before and during the pandemic.

Employers cited Covid-related reasons as the main challenge for filling jobs only 10 to 20% of the time between summer 2020 and spring 2021, the department said. Those that reported Covid as their main challenge cited the virus, relatively high unemployment benefits or both.

In summer 2020, employers reported generous unemployment insurance benefits were the biggest barrier to filling 7% of hard-to-fill vacancies. That figure has since grown to 14%.

Employers in the leisure and hospitality industry reported the most hard-to-fill vacancies related to the pandemic, while jobs with the most non-Covid related vacancies were personal care aides, retail salespeople and restaurant cooks.

"It seems like the sheer volume of hiring taking place in recent months has had the biggest impact on businesses’ challenges finding workers,” the statement read.

The employment department said research points to factors besides enhanced unemployment benefits as hiring barriers. Among 26 states that withdrew from federal pandemic unemployment assistance in June and July, seven out of eight workers didn’t return to work after their Covid-related benefits ended for other reasons, including a lack of in-person school or available child care slots, health concerns such as the Delta variant surge, workers relocating or changing industries, and workers retiring.

The department estimated 81,000 Oregonians no longer qualify for unemployment insurance benefits after last week. Around 11,000 people in the state who were receiving pandemic emergency unemployment compensation have a deferred claim, meaning they can continue receiving regular unemployment insurance benefits without the additional weekly $300 previously offered through federal pandemic unemployment compensation.

The department partnered with WorkSource Oregon on a statewide Back To Work campaign for Sept. 15 to help people find jobs and businesses to find employees, coordinating job fairs and hiring events in 24 locations throughout the state, according to the statement.

-Ardeshir Tabrizian

3 months ago

Salem to treat Willamette Slough for invasive plant

The city of Salem is treating the Willamette Slough for an invasive water plant and is advising people to steer clear of the slough Sept. 13 to 17, 2021. (Courtesy/city of Salem)

The city of Salem is asking visitors to Minto Brown Island Park not to access the Willamette Slough as they spray herbicide to get rid of an invasive water plant, Ludwigia.

A contractor will be spraying herbicide from canoes and the shore from Sept. 13-17. Treatment will start near the slough mouth and move south. The city said majority of the work to be completed Monday and Tuesday.

People are advised to steer clear of the slough to limit exposure to herbicide. Treated plants will show signs of a blue-green dye.

Ludwigia, also called Uruguayan water primrose, forms dense mats in slow-moving backwater channels, oxbow lakes, and sloughs. The yellow-flowered plant has the potential to choke entire waterways, severely restricting recreational access, degrading water quality and creating an environment that is unfriendly to native fish and wildlife, the city said on its website.

Salem is working with Willamette Riverkeeper to reduce the amount of Ludwigia where they will only need to pull it out by hand, not using herbicide.

This is the second of three years of treatment in the slough and the city said the impact is already noticeable.

The Willamette Slough will undergo its third and final year of treatment in the summer of 2022. 

-Saphara Harrell