Portland, OR

Portland Daily Round Up: OHA says omicron variant may already be in Oregon, Tigard HS students stage walk out over video

Emily Scarvie

(Pierre Crom/Getty Images)

By Emily Scarvie

(PORTLAND, Ore.) Hello Portlanders! It's Thursday, Dec. 2 - Here's your daily round up of all the news happening in the City of Roses.

1. Local health officials say COVID-19 omicron variant could already be in Oregon

As of this week, the omicron variant of COVID-19, first detected in South Africa, is in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the identification of the variant in San Francisco on Wednesday.

Despite this being the first official case, it’s possible that the omicron variant is already in Oregon and just hasn’t been detected yet. Local health officials have voiced concern about the variant’s presence and are watching the situation closely.

“I think one thing that we do know is, it seems to be more transmissible because in South Africa, where it was discovered, it appears to have outcompeted delta, so that’s concerning,” Dr. Paul Cieslak, the medical director for communicable diseases and immunizations with OHA, told KATU. “It’s possible that it’s already here, and some of our laboratories are capable, even now, of probably even detecting it.”

2. Students at Tigard High School stage walk out after video circulates of students using racial slurs

After a video was shared over the weekend that appeared to show Tigard High School students using racial slurs, students walked out of school on Wednesday in protest of the video. According to students at the school, the use of racial slurs is something that happens to them daily. Those protesting are calling for equal rights for all students.

“We are absolutely all about student empowerment and student voice. We follow the law, and the law is clear. Students do not shed their constitutional rights at the front door. This is their opportunity to demonstrate through civil disobedience and their voice and how it’s impacted them,” Tigard-Tualatin School District Superintendent Sue Rieke-Smith, who attended the walk out, told FOX 12.

According to Rieke-Smith, the school district is working to investigate the video but couldn’t specify what the consequences would be for the students involved.

3. Oregon's longest serving congressman, Peter DeFazio, announces retirement

Rep. Peter DeFazio, Oregon’s longest-serving congressman, announced Wednesday that he will not seek re-election in 2022, leaving Oregon’s District 4 seat open. DeFazio is currently the chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and has served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 36 years.

During a Wednesday press conference, DeFazio said he’d recently had back surgery and some other minor health issues and noted that the frequent flights were becoming increasingly difficult. He said he hopes to focus on his health and wellbeing and spend more time with his family in retirement.

4. Portland musician, teacher scores first Grammy nomination for 'Best Children's Album'

A Portland musician and music teacher, who works at the Ivy School and founded the 1 World Chorus, has scored his first Grammy nomination this year for “Best Children’s Album” for his work on “All One Tribe,” released on Juneteenth.

“’All One Tribe’ is an album that represents 26 different Black artists that came together that all do music for families,” Aaron Nigel Smith told KGW. “The accolades and the recognition, that’s great and it helps feed the ego primarily if I’m honest. But the work is really what it’s about, and I get a lot of joy out of watching the evolution of a youth that started in my class.”

Smith has released nine albums in the children’s music genre and has performed on six continents throughout his career. He now works primarily in the education space, teaching music and movement, as well as multimedia production. 1 World Chorus, founded by Smith, provides underserved youth with access to quality arts enrichment training.

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