By Emily Scarvie
(PORTLAND, Ore.) Hello Portlanders! It's Thursday, Dec. 23 - Here's your daily round up of all the news happening in the City of Roses.
As the holiday weekend nears and Oregon prepares for an omicron surge, demand for COVID-19 tests has skyrocketed in the Portland area. On Wednesday, dozens of people waited outside the Oregon Convention Center, which has been converted into a testing site run by Curative. Curative has partnered with the Oregon Health Authority to provide 22 testing sites across the state in the coming weeks.
According to Blake Lackey, Curative’s senior director of operations, testing at their Oregon sites has doubled in the last few days. He said people looking to get a test at one of Curative’s sites should make an appointment through their website. The sites take walk-ups but wait times may be longer.
OHA has recently expanded holiday hours at several vaccination sites, including the former K-Mart building on Northwest Burnside Road in Gresham. The site is now open on Dec. 23 and 26, when it had originally planned to be closed.
Portland police arrested a man accused of the attempted kidnapping of a 6-year-old boy in the Pearl District last week after someone recognized him and called 911 on Wednesday. Erick Alexander, 30, was arrested and booked into the Multnomah County Jail on second-degree kidnapping and another unrelated warrant. Police have linked Alexander to four other similar instances across Portland.
The initial incident occurred last Tuesday near The Fields Park when a man attempted to kidnap a 6-year-old boy while he was walking with his father. According to investigators, the same suspect is believed to have followed a mother pushing her baby in a stroller 30 minutes before that incident. A third incident was reported in the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood last Wednesday, when a man matching the suspect’s description grabbed a 10-year-old boy by the arm.
The fast-spreading omicron variant is already causing some Portland-area venues to cancel shows and events. The Return of the Jinkx and DeLa Holiday Show at the Newark Theatre in downtown Portland, as well as a trade show at the Oregon Convention Center, have already been canceled.
Philip Mason-Joyner, Clackamas County Health’s public health director, said it’s good that event organizers are reassessing health and safety protocols and reevaluating plans. He encourages the public to do the same when it comes to upcoming holiday events.
“Keeping your gathering small is great,” he said. “To have good communication with one another, be open and honest about how you’re feeling, if someone doesn’t feel well, stay home, that’s critical."
While many people are off work for the holidays, employees at the Humane Society for Southwest Washington are spending Christmas Day with the animals. The shelter is closed to the public on big holidays and the workers use the quiet time to treat the animals to extra snacks, food and walks.
“A lot of the younger animals are getting the time to run outside in the snow if it’s snowing outside, or play with cat treats, catnip, treats like that,” Michelle Reeves, the cat team supervisor, told KOIN. “Sometimes we sit and read a book with them and hang out.”
Anyone interested in welcoming a new pet into the family this holiday season can check out HSSW’s adoption page.