Local News That Matters

UPDATES: Western Christian School closes for a week after 12 Covid cases

September 28, 2021 at 4:16pm

Data digest: Covid by the numbers for Sept. 28, 2021

Salem Hospital on Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Salem Reporter is keeping you informed of the latest Covid numbers. Here’s our report for Tuesday, Sept. 28.

New Covid cases reported in Marion County: 118

New Covid cases reported in Polk County: 31

Total Salem Hospital patients with Covid: 90 as of Tuesday morning, a decrease of four from Monday. Of those, 28 are in the intensive care unit, and 16 are on ventilators. 

Seventy-one of those in the hospital are not vaccinated against Covid.

Total Salem Hospital bed occupancy: 473 of 494 licensed beds in use

Total people hospitalized with Covid in Region 2 (Marion, Polk, Yamhill, Linn, Benton, Lincoln counties): 149, a decrease of one from Monday. Of those, 39 are in the intensive care unit and 19 are on ventilators.

Total Region 2 hospital bed occupancy: 82 of 95 staffed ICU beds and 597 of 666 non-ICU beds in use. 

New Covid deaths reported: 41

The weekend’s reported deaths included two Marion County residents. They are: 

An 86-year-old woman who tested positive on Sept. 12 and died on Sept. 22 at Salem Hospital. 

A 64-year-old woman who tested positive on Aug. 27 and died on Sept. 22 at Salem Hospital. Both had underlying conditions.

No Polk County deaths were reported. 

New Covid vaccines in Oregon: 4,810 new Covid doses on Sept. 27, including 1,309 first doses, 1,024 second doses and 109 third doses.

Salem Reporter is now including the number of people getting a third dose of the vaccine as booster shots become more widely available. 

Source: Oregon Health Authority, Salem Health

-Saphara Harrell

September 28, 2021 at 4:07pm

AGENDA: Marion County commissioners meet to consider replacing 19 sheriff's office vehicles

Colm Willis, Marion County commissioner, sits in on a homeless alliance executive meeting video conference on May 5, 2020. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

The Marion County Board of Commissioners meets Wednesday to change who's held at the Marion County Jail, consider buying SUVs and pickup trucks for the Marion County Sheriff's Office and a contract with the State Department of Corrections to receive corrections funds.


The commissioners will consider approving a resolution making changes to the board's capacity management plan for the county jail, including a new scoring criteria for people in custody. Under the new criteria, those with felony charges or convictions of "person crimes," like assault or kidnapping are more likely to be held in jail.

Commissioners will consider approving a $4.5 million price agreement with Texas-based contractor Dell Marketing L.P. to license Microsoft 365 for county employees to improve the county's email and calendaring system.

Commissioners will consider a one-time purchase of about $671,000 to Withnell Dodge in Salem for 15 Dodge Durangos and four Dodge Ram 1500 pickups for the Marion County Sheriff's Office to replace 19 vehicles.

The commissioners also will consider approving more than $27.5 million in funding from the state corrections department for expenses until June 30, 2023, related to Marion County Community Corrections supervision and services.

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

-Ardeshir Tabrizian

September 28, 2021 at 1:00pm

Oregon's food stamp benefits increase permanently in October

The state Department of Human Services (Courtesy/State of Oregon)

Oregonians who receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps, will get a permanent, additional $36 per month on average along with their regular benefits starting Oct. 1.

The increased benefits came as part of federal changes to the Thrifty Food Plan, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture uses to estimate the cost of a healthy diet, according to the department’s website.

Most SNAP recipients in the state will also continue receiving additional emergency benefits in October, the Oregon Department of Human Services wrote in a Tuesday news release.

SNAP, a federal program administered by Oregon DHS, provides food assistance to around 1 million low-income people and families in Oregon.

Every month since March 2020, the federal government has approved emergency allotments to give SNAP recipients additional support during the Covid pandemic.

Around 408,000 SNAP households in October will receive around $64 million in extra food benefits added to their SNAP benefits, the news release said.

Emergency food benefits will be available to current SNAP households on Oct. 12, and new SNAP households will receive them Oct. 29 or Nov. 2. The benefits will be issued directly to SNAP recipients’ benefit cards and they will not have to take any action to receive them.

“We are grateful to have the opportunity to increase regular SNAP benefits and to provide additional emergency benefits to most SNAP households in Oregon,” Dan Haun, director of Oregon DHS’s Self-Sufficiency Program wrote in the news release. 

Haun encouraged Oregonians struggling to meet basic needs due to the Covid pandemic to contact the nonprofit call line 211 and the Oregon Food Bank for support. People can reach 211 by dialing the number or texting their zip code to 898-211. They can also learn about government programs and community resources for older adults and people with disabilities by contacting Aging and Disability Resource Connection of Oregon at 1-955-673-2372.

-Ardeshir Tabrizian

September 28, 2021 at 9:58am

Western Christian School closes for a week after 12 Covid cases

Al Stefan, superintendent of Western Christian School, stands inside the main hallway on June 1, 2021 (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

A private school in west Salem has shut down classes for a week after a total of 12 students and employees tested positive for Covid.

Western Christian School superintendent Al Stefan said he made the decision Sunday because of both the number of cases and the difficulty finding substitute teachers to cover classes.

“We had quite a few cases in different pockets of our school," Stefan said.

The school closure is the first Salem Reporter is aware of in the Salem area since classes began this fall. No schools in the Salem-Keizer School District have shut down due to Covid, though one kindergarten class at Chapman Hill Elementary School moved online for a week after a student tested positive for Covid.

Western Christian has about 370 students and serves grades K-12.

Stefan said he wasn't asked to close the school by Polk County's public health department, but thought it was the best thing to do because of the contagiousness of the Delta variant and the difficulty in determining where people got sick with the virus so widespread.

“It’s really hard to trace it to where they got it. We think maybe there’s a couple that got it here at school," he said. “There’s no way for us to really figure that out. We just knew we had too many cases at once so it’s like, let’s just give everyone a breather."

Stefan said the school requires masks and follows other state guidelines for preventing the spread of Covid, including keeping kids at least three feet apart when possible.

“This Delta variant, it’s a lot different than last year," he said.

Stefan said the school would likely add a make-up week at the end of the year.

-Rachel Alexander