Local News That Matters

UPDATES: Salem unemployment rate up, first time in a year

February 3, 2022 at 4:28pm

Data digest: Covid by the numbers for Feb. 3, 2022

The Oregon Health Authority's Covid hospitalization dashboard for the mid-Willamette region on Feb. 3, 2022.

As Covid hospitalizations remain high due to the omicron variant, Salem Reporter is again publishing case and hospitalization information daily. Here’s our report for Thursday, Feb. 3. 

Total Salem Hospital patients with Covid: 112 as of Thursday morning, a decrease of two from Wednesday.   

Of those, 11 are in the intensive care unit, and two are on ventilators.

Sixty-four of those in the hospital are not vaccinated against Covid, and 48 are vaccinated.

Salem Health does not consistently report the number of patients who have received a booster vaccine dose because of the difficulty tracking whether patients are eligible for a booster in real time, spokeswoman Lisa Wood said. The vaccinated patient count includes any patient who has received at least two doses of a Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Total Salem Hospital bed occupancy: 515 patients; the hospital is licensed for 494 beds.

Total people hospitalized with Covid in Region 2 (Marion, Polk, Yamhill, Linn, Benton, Lincoln counties): 198. Of those, 26 are in the intensive care unit and five are on ventilators.

Total Region 2 hospital bed occupancy: 75 of 82 staffed ICU beds and 525 of 539 non-ICU beds in use. 

New Covid cases reported in Marion County: 629

New Covid cases reported in Polk County: 110

New Covid deaths reported: 18 in Oregon

-Rachel Alexander

February 3, 2022 at 12:27pm

A new micro shelter village is coming to Northeast Center Street

Volunteer Linda I'Anson works on assembling the inside of a pallet shelter on Tuesday, April 13, 2021. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

The city of Salem plans to open a new micro shelter village at 1280 Center St. N.E. in May, according to a Thursday announcement.

"Village of Hope" was the city’s first micro shelter location on 2640 Portland Rd. N.E. but the location needs to clear out by May because a property deed requirement doesn’t allow shelter at the site for more than 18 months. 

The Center Street location was chosen because it’s near social services and provides parking space, the announcement said.

It will have 40 micro shelters that can fit 80 people.

The city will lease the location for two years and homeless service provider Church at the Park will manage it.

On Jan. 24, the council approved $200,000 to start up the location and another $192,000 for a month and a half of operations.

Previous coverage: Salem council approves funding, potential locations for new micro shelter village

-Saphara Harrell

February 3, 2022 at 10:51am

UPDATE: St. Paul firefighter dies after Thursday explosion, sheriff's office says

Austin Smith (Courtesy/Marion County Sheriff's Office)

UPDATE: A St. Paul firefighter died Thursday from injuries suffered in an explosion after responding to a barn fire in rural Marion County.

Austin Smith, 30 of St. Paul, was taken by Lifeflight to a Portland area hospital. "Tragically, he did not survive his injuries," according to a news release updated Thursday afternoon.

Smith, a volunteer firefighter for the St. Paul Fire District since 2015, leaves behind his wife and extended family in the St. Paul area.

The Marion County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon State Police and Oregon Office of the State Fire Marshal are investigating the incident and determining whether it is safe for investigators to enter the scene. They haven't yet determined the cause of the fire.

The sheriff's office in the news release that no additional information was available.

“This is a tragic loss for our community and family. We are all heartbroken over this loss," said St. Paul Fire District Chief Bryan Lee in the news release, "We appreciate the support from the community and public safety partners during this difficult time.”

Original story below:

A St. Paul firefighter was critically injured in an explosion after responding to a fire early Thursday morning, a Marion County Sheriff's Office news release said Thursday morning.

A 911 caller at 4:08 a.m. reported seeing a building on fire on Northeast Champoeg Creek Lane near McKay Road. When St. Paul Fire District crews arrived they found a large large barn on fire, the release said.

Firefighters reported that an explosion happened during the fire, critically injuring one firefighter who was flown by Life Flight to a local hospital.

The cause of the fire hasn't yet been determined, the news release said.

Crews from the Aurora Fire District, Mt. Angel Fire District, Woodburn Fire District, Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue, Canby Fire District, Dayton Fire Department and Hubbard Fire District also responded to the incident.

Investigators from the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon State Police and Oregon Office of State Fire Marshal were called to the scene to investigate.

-Ardeshir Tabrizian

February 3, 2022 at 10:18am

Salem’s December unemployment rate sees first increase in almost a year, preliminary data shows

Early figures show Salem’s unemployment rate rose slightly in December for the first time in nearly a year.

The city’s unemployment rate grew from 3.3% in November to 3.5% in December, according to preliminary Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

The last time Salem’s unemployment rate increased was in January 2021, when it rose from 5.8% the prior month to 6.7%. That figure has declined each month since.

The number of unemployed people grew from around 7,000 in November to around 7,400 in December.

Oregon Employment Department data showed Salem's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate, which doesn't include impacts from seasonal patterns, has continued its steady decline from 5.8% in May 2021 to 4% in December. The rate was 4.2% in November.

The seasonally adjusted number of unemployed people in Salem has steadily fallen from 12,250 in April to 8,440 in December, according to state data. During the same month last year, 11,750 Salem residents were unemployed.

-Ardeshir Tabrizian