By Emily Scarvie
(PORTLAND, Ore.) Hello Portlanders! Happy New Year's Eve! It's Friday, Dec. 31 - Here's your daily round up of all the news happening in the City of Roses.
After Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty was falsely implicated in a hit-and-run crash last March, an Internal Affairs investigation into the incident revealed Thursday that three Portland police officers leaked the information. Brian Hunzeker, who was the police union president at the time, resigned after the false allegations were made for a “serious, isolated mistake” related to the incident.
The Internal Affairs report found that Hunzeker leaked the information to The Oregonian, in part, as retaliation against Hardesty for her criticism of Portland police officers. Two other officers, Kerri Ottoman and Ken Le, were also named in the letter. Ottoman gave the information to Gabriel Johnson, a co-founder of the Coalition to Save Portland and Le leaked the information to a friend who works as an emergency dispatcher.
According to the report, the investigation did not find that race was a motivating factor for the leaks. Hardesty filed a $5 million lawsuit against Hunzeker, the Portland Police Union and one other officer last month.
Along with increased testing to keep COVID-19 cases down, local health officials are encouraging people to switch out their cloth mask for a surgical one if they haven’t already. The most effective masks are N-95 masks, surgical masks and masks with multiple layers.
“A surgical mask is going to be better than a cloth mask. A cloth mask on top of a surgical mask is still better, an n-95 mask would probably be the best, especially if you can get one that fits real snuggly,” Dr. Paul Cieslak, with the Oregon Health Authority, said. “Wear the best one that you have. Omicron is really crazy contagious, so the best mask you can get is the one that you should wear.”
On Thursday, the Oregon Health Authority reported 2,948 new confirmed or presumptive cases of COVID-19, bringing the state’s total reported cases to 421,263 since the beginning of the pandemic. The highly transmissible omicron variant is causing cases to spike and OHA announced this week that the state has ordered 6 million COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test kits, each containing two tests, amounting in 12 million at home tests.
The agency’s previous largest order was for around 1.46 million Abbott BinaxNOW rapid tests, of which 1.3 million have been distributed to community partners and K-12 schools.
OHA also released data detailing the vaccination status of those getting infected with COVID-19. From Dec. 19 to Dec. 23, 63.3% of positive cases were in unvaccinated people and 36.7% were breakthrough cases. To view OHA’s full report, click here.
TriMet and C-TRAN are offering free rides on New Year’s Eve in Portland and Vancouver, an annual tradition aimed at cutting down impaired driving.
“We want people to be able to enjoy themselves without worrying about how they’re getting home,” TriMet spokesperson Tyler Graf told KGW. “We want to make sure everyone gets home safely, make sure the roads are safe and pedestrians are safe.”
Starting at 8 p.m. on Friday, people can ride free on TriMet buses and MAX lines through around 3 a.m. C-TRAN in Vancouver is offering free rides starting at 6 p.m.