Local News That Matters

UPDATES: State Capitol taking new security precautions

January 13, 2022 at 3:53pm

Data digest: Covid by the numbers for Jan. 13, 2022

Blaine Williams of 1st Battalion, 186th Infantry Regiment of the Oregon National Guard, helps health care technician Heather Smith change patient bedding at Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg in August 2021. (Maj. W. Chris Clyne, Oregon National Guard)

As Covid hospitalizations continue to rise again due to the omicron variant, Salem Reporter is again publishing case and hospitalization information daily. Here’s our report for Thursday, Jan. 13. 

Total Salem Hospital patients with Covid: 76 as of Thursday morning, no change from Wednesday.   

Of those, seven are in the intensive care unit, and four are on ventilators. 

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

Total Salem Hospital bed occupancy: 519 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): 117. Of those, 16 are in the intensive care unit and five are on ventilators.

Total Region 2 hospital bed occupancy: 84 of 85 staffed ICU beds and 543 of 559 non-ICU beds in use. 

New Covid cases reported in Marion County: 862

New Covid cases reported in Polk County: 220

New Covid deaths reported: 25 in Oregon

-Saphara Harrell

January 13, 2022 at 2:08pm

Oregonians can earn a little more and still qualify for food stamps, child care help

A USDA food box distributed in Salem (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

About 18,000 more Oregon families now qualify for state help with food and child care expenses.

The Oregon Department of Human Services on Thursday announced they increased the income limits for families to receive supplemental nutritional assistance, also known as SNAP or food stamps, and daycare subsidies from the state for working parents.

As of Jan. 1, both programs now allow families to earn up to 200% of the federal poverty limit to qualify. The previous limit was 185% of federal poverty.

That means people earning up to $2,147 a month, or $3,660 for a family of three, are eligible for both programs. The previous limits were $1,986 a month for an individual or $3,386 for a family of three. 

“It’s encouraging to see child care prioritized with other critical benefits to support Oregon families,” said Oregon Early Learning System Director Alyssa Chatterjee in a statement. “This change will help more families access child care at a pivotal time – one that’s brought uncertainty and challenges.” 

Oregonians can apply for these programs, as well as other state benefits, online at ONE.Oregon.gov, over-the-phone at 800-699-9075​, or in-person at a local ​office, though local offices may have reduced hours or be closed due to the pandemic. People seeking an in-person appointment are encouraged to call ahead.

-Rachel Alexander

January 13, 2022 at 10:10am

State Capitol security to install metal detectors, start checking visitors for weapons

Oregon State Capitol (Caleb Wolf/Special to Salem Reporter)

New safety measures intended to keep guns and weapons outside of the Oregon Capitol building will take effect Jan. 27.

Anyone entering the building will have to pass through a metal detector, and bags and other items will either go through an X-ray machine or “visual bag search,” according to a press release issued Wednesday by the offices of Senate President Peter Courtney and House Speaker Tina Kotek.

Security at the building’s entrances will check for weapons, “similar to security practices at county courthouses throughout the state,” the press release said.

The precautions come after the Legislature in 2021 passed a bill prohibiting firearms and dangerous weapons in public buildings, including the Capitol, and court facilities. 

According to data from the National Conference of State Legislatures, Oregon will become the 34th U.S. state to use metal detectors at state capitol entrances, 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