Portland, OR

Portland Daily Round Up: Gov. agency releases 40K+ state workers' vaccination status, third victim of July 4 fire dies

Emily Scarvie

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By Emily Scarvie

(PORTLAND, Ore.) Hello Portlanders! It's Tuesday, Oct. 19 - Here's your daily round up of all the news happening in the City of Roses.

1. Oregon government agency accidentally releases vaccination status of 40,000+ employees to media outlet

Oregon Department of Administrative Services External Relations Director Adam Crawford accidentally released the vaccination status of over 40,000 state employees in an email to The Oregonian and another media outlet on Monday. The spreadsheet, which was supposed to show the latest vaccination and vaccine exemption rates for each state agency, contained the vaccination status by name for all executive branch employees, including whether or not they received an exemption, if the exemption was still being processed or if they hadn’t submitted any information. Crawford said the data release was a mistake on his part.

According to Ben Morris, a spokesperson for SEIU 503, the data release violates an agreement the state signed with the union in September that required individuals’ vaccination information to be kept confidential. Morris told The Oregonian that even “more concerning is that one of the main things that we heard from members who were vaccine hesitant is they were concerned about their privacy in this situation. This is a breach of trust at the worst possible time.”

The Oregonian reported that the state agencies with the lowest vaccination rates include the Oregon State Police (74%), the Department of Corrections (70%) and the Forestry Department (65%). The publication said it will not be publishing the full dataset online.

2. 26-year-old woman third to die from July 4 apartment fire in NE Portland

After being trapped in an apartment fire and suffering severe burns to more than 65% of her body, a 26-year-old woman has died. Kelsi Edmonds is the third person to have died from injuries sustained in the Heidi Manor apartment complex fire on July 4. She had been at the Oregon Burn Center at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center after jumping 30 feet to escape the fire. Two of her roommates, 31-year-old Seth Robert Thompson and 31-year-old Robert William Gremillion, also died due to the blaze. After waking up around 3:30 a.m. to smoke and people yelling, Thompson and Edmonds jumped from the apartment. Thompson died shortly after and Gremillion died inside the apartment. Edmonds died last Thursday after having undergone over a dozen surgeries.

According to friends and family, Edmonds had regained consciousness two weeks before her death and was able to talk with them. Her family, the families of her two roommates and her fourth roommate, Jonathan Kinney, have all filed a lawsuit against the owner of the complex, the property manager and a garbage company for alleged negligence. According to fire investigators, it’s suspected that fireworks in a plastic dumpster on the west side of the building ignited the fire.

3. Historic building in Overlook neighborhood will focus on history, culture of Portland's Black community

Portland Parks and Recreation said this week that a historic building in the Overlook neighborhood in north Portland will be used to honor the history and culture of Portland’s Black community. The Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center, built in 1910 and used as a firehouse until 1959, was established as a space to be focused on Black culture in 1982 by the city’s first Black commissioner and parks’ director, Charles Jordan. The building was managed by a nonprofit until 2010 and then given back to the city. The parks bureau was put in charge of coming up with a community plan for the building in 2018.

Funding for the center will come from the 2020 Parks Local Option Levy and money from the American Rescue Plan will be used to create a grant program to support Black artists.

4. University of Oregon sees rise in COVID-19 cases with fall term start

In the first few weeks of fall term, the University of Oregon is seeing COVID-19 cases increase among students and staff. According to The Register-Guard, cases began rising the week of Sept. 13, two weeks before the start of the term. Cases jumped to 57 during the week of Oct. 4 and 56 cases were reported last week. Nearly 76% of cases reported in the first two weeks of the term were students living off campus.

According to the University of Oregon, over 96.3% of students and 95.3% of staff are vaccinated against COVID-19.

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