Local News That Matters

UPDATES: New weekly unemployment benefits to increase 7%

June 8, 2022 at 4:46pm

Elementary schoolers awarded for art showing human-powered transportation

A collage of winning artwork by Salem elementary school students in the 2nd annual Salem-Keizer Safe Routes to School art contest.

Thirteen Salem elementary school students were recently recognized for their art depicting "human-powered" transportation.

The students are winners in the second annual art contest put on by Salem-Keizer Safe Routes to School, a project of the Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments which aims to make it easier and safer for students to walk, bike, skate or ride scooters to school.

A total of 115 students from 16 local elementary schools submitted art to the contest, according to a news release.

The winning students are:

-Autumn, age 10, Swegle Elementary School

-Nancy, age 10, Yoshikai Elementary School

-Zoey, age 10, McKinley Elementary School

-Aviad, age 9, McKinley Elementary School

-Lily, age 10, Hayesville Elementary School

-Gabriel, age 8, Hallman Elementary School

-Esmeralda, age 10, Bush Elementary School

-Esteban, age 9, Auburn Elementary School

-Maddox, age 6, Wright Elementary School

-Seihakmunny, age 11, Swegle Elementary School

-Tafari, age 10, Miller Elementary School

-Kimberly, age 10, Miller Elementary School

-Stella, age 9, McKinley Elementary School

"The art contest is one of many projects aimed at encouraging multi-modal transportation options for trips to and from school and other community destinations. Winners receive custom-embroidered backpacks, and all participants receive safety-themed prizes," the release said.

-Rachel Alexander

June 8, 2022 at 12:44pm

Researchers find Covid associated with higher prevalence of mental health problems

(Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

Researchers have found that patients with Covid had a higher risk of suffering a mental health disorder up to a year after the initial infection compared with people who came down with other respiratory infections.

The findings, published in the medical journal World Psychiatry, compared mental health diagnoses for 46,610 Covid patients nationwide with those for the same number of people who had other respiratory infections.

None of the patients had a previous history of a mental health illness. They found a relatively low incidence among Covid patients – 3.8% – but that was higher than the 3% of people who contracted influenza or another respiratory infection: 3%.

“The 0.8% difference amounts to about a 25% increased relative risk,” according to a release from Oregon State University.

An OSU doctoral student took part in the research along with scientists from California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Texas and Italy.

The findings largely mirror those in other research, OSU said.

The research looked at two time periods – 21 to 120 days after a Covid diagnosis and 120 to 365 days afterwards – and considered anxiety and mood disorders like depression. They found a “significant increase” in risk for anxiety disorders, the release said.

The results show the need for patients and health care providers to be more proactive in addressing mental health concerns following a Covid infection, said co-author Lauren Chan, a doctorate student in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences.

“For people that have had Covid, if you’re feeling anxiety, if you’re seeing some changes in how you’re going through life from a psychiatric standpoint, it’s totally appropriate for you to seek some help,” Chan said. “And if you’re a care provider, you need to be on the proactive side and start to screen for those psychiatric conditions and then follow up with those patients.”

Chan recommended that providers call Covid patients two weeks after their diagnosis for a mental health check-in.

“There could certainly be people who are struggling with new things like this, and they need that additional support or push to seek some help,” she said. “I don’t want to say that every single person who gets Covid is going to have this type of problem, but if you start to have concern for yourself or a family member, it’s not unheard of. You should definitely seek care for yourself or others around you.”

The research comes at a time when mental health providers are already grappling with an increase in demand, specialists say.

Up to one-third of people who get Covid develop long Covid. A patient has long Covid when symptoms persist a month or more after the initial Covid diagnosis. Experts at Oregon Health & Science University, which has a multidisciplinary long Covid program, estimate that as many as 230,000 people in Oregon have developed the disease out of about 775,000 Covid cases statewide since 2020. 

The disease particularly affects women between 35 and 69, minority communities and people with chronic conditions like diabetes.

Symptoms can be debilitating, including fatigue, memory and problem-solving problems, joint and muscle pain, sleep troubles and headaches. The disease can drag on, too, sometimes taking more than a year for recovery.

The research does not address long Covid but the paper’s lead author, Ben Coleman from a genomics research center at the University of Connecticut, is working on a follow-up to assess the association between symptoms of long Covid and mental illness.

-Lynne Terry, Oregon Capital Chronicle

June 8, 2022 at 12:10pm

New minimum, maximum weekly unemployment benefits to increase 7% in Oregon

(Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Oregonians who file claims for unemployment insurance starting July 3 will see their minimum and maximum weekly benefit amounts increase by about 7%, the state Employment Department announced Wednesday.

The agency is required under state law to recalculate the minimum and maximum amounts annually for regular unemployment insurance benefits.

The minimum benefit reflects 15% of the average weekly wage earned by Oregonians, while the maximum is 64% of the average weekly wage.

The 7% increase is due to growth in the state's average weekly wage in 2021, according to a news release.

Starting July 3, the minimum weekly benefit for new regular unemployment insurance claims will increase by $12, from $171 per week to $183. The maximum benefit will increase by $50, from $733 per week to $783.

People who file new claims before then will continue receiving their previous weekly benefit amount.

During the most recent quarter, 15% of those with regular unemployment insurance received the minimum amount, with 20% receiving the maximum.

-Ardeshir Tabrizian