Local News That Matters

UPDATES: School board considers Howard Street charter renewal

January 10, 2022 at 5:10pm

Data digest: Covid by the numbers for Jan. 10, 2022

A screengrab of the Covid hospitalizations in region two, which includes Benton, Lincoln, Linn, Yamhill, Marion and Polk counties.

As Covid hospitalizations continue to rise again due to the omicron variant, Salem Reporter is again publishing hospitalization and case information daily. Here’s our report for Monday, Jan. 10.

Total Salem Hospital patients with Covid: 84 as of Monday morning, an increase of 12 from Sunday.   

Of those, 10 are in the intensive care unit, and three are on ventilators. 

Forty-nine of those in the hospital are not vaccinated against Covid.

Total Salem Hospital bed occupancy: 516 patients; the hospital is licensed for 494 beds

Salem Hospital is able to expand care beyond licensed bed capacity through waivers tied to the federal emergency declaration. 

Total people hospitalized with Covid in Region 2 (Marion, Polk, Yamhill, Linn, Benton, Lincoln counties): 126. Of those, 24 are in the intensive care unit and six are on ventilators.

Total Region 2 hospital bed occupancy: 81 of 86 staffed ICU beds and 545 of 557 non-ICU beds in use. 

New Covid cases reported in Marion County: 1,366

New Covid cases reported in Polk County: 267

New Covid deaths reported: 18 in Oregon

-Saphara Harrell

January 10, 2022 at 2:59pm

Committees will be virtual for 2022 legislative session due to recent Covid surge

(Saphara Harrell/Salem Reporter)

All committee meetings will be held virtually for the 2022 Legislative session, Senate President Peter Courtney and House Speaker Tina Kotek announced Monday, but the Oregon Capitol will remain open to the public.

The move came after infectious disease doctors at Oregon Health & Sciences University and public health experts provided input, and as Covid cases are surging in Oregon, according to a press release.

The upcoming legislative session is slated to begin Feb. 1. The 2021 session was held mostly virtually, and the public was barred from the state capitol building and only able to attend virtually.

“We are committed to ensuring the legislative process is accessible and safe during the upcoming session,” a joint statement from Courtney and Kotek said. “The recent wave of cases and hospitalizations due to the Omicron variant is concerning. After conversations with OHSU infectious disease doctors, we decided to move our committees to a virtual format.” 

For the 2022 session, the public will be able to enter the capitol building during normal business hours. All employees who can work remotely must do so during the session to reduce the risk of spreading Covid in the building, the press release said.

Committee meetings will be live-streamed on the Oregon Legislature's website. People can submit written testimony or sign up for video or phone testimony.

Masks are required in the Capitol building, and people should stay at home when sick, maintain 6 feet of distance and avoid large gatherings, the press release said.

Due to construction at the capitol, including at the front steps and State Street entrances, visitors should use the North ADA entrances to go into the building.

-Ardeshir Tabrizian

January 10, 2022 at 11:23am

AGENDA: School board considers Howard Street charter renewal, parent proclamation

The Salem-Keizer School Board on Tuesday will consider renewing the charter agreement for Howard Street Charter School, a middle school in downtown Salem with about 200 students.


Howard Street opened in 1997 and is currently operating under a five-year contract with the district which expires June 30, 2022. If the board renews the charter agreement, district leaders will negotiate a new contract with the school which will ultimately need school board approval.

Board members will vote on a contract for Robert Silva to serve as the district's chief operations officer, replacing Mike Wolfe, who retired in late 2021. Silva was previously the director of technology and information services and joined the district in January 2015.

The board will also consider a proclamation declaring the month of January "Parent and Guardian Engagement in Education Month."

The board will discuss, but not yet vote on, two requests from the city of Salem to approve property tax exemptions for apartment buildings under the city's multifamily unit tax incentive program. The first is the City Center Apartments, a 157-unit development at 420 Center St. N.E., and the second is a two-unit development at 227 and 229 Commercial St. S.E.

The board is scheduled to vote on both exemptions at its Feb. 8 meeting. In December, the board for the first time voted against a tax exemption requested by the city for a housing development at 990 Broadway St N.E., with a majority of board members saying they didn't believe the exemption would support more affordable housing in Salem.

To participate: The board meets Tuesday at 6 p.m. virtually. Members of the public can watch the meeting live on YouTube using the links below, or on CC:Media, channel 21.

English: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGa6ge4bloo

Spanish: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQ8MnLZiym8

The board will take live public comment for 45 minutes during the meeting, and comments can also be submitted in writing. Sign-ups are open until 4 p.m. Monday using the form here.

-Rachel Alexander