By Emily Scarvie
(PORTLAND, Ore.) Hello Portlanders! It's Thursday, Jan. 6 - Here's your daily round up of all the news happening in the City of Roses.
The Oregon Health Authority reported Wednesday that the state set a third-consecutive single-day record for new COVID-19 cases, with 6,203 new confirmed or presumptive cases recorded in 34 of Oregon’s 35 counties. The new report brings the state’s total case count to 441,648 since the beginning of the pandemic. Nine counties recorded triple-digit cases.
While the omicron variant appears to lack in severity when compared to the delta variant, health officials worry that its high transmissibility could overwhelm an already taxed hospital system. Across Oregon, only 5% (33) of adult ICU beds and 6% (226) of adult non-ICU beds remain available.
OHA reported nine new COVID-19-related deaths on Wednesday, bringing the state’s total death toll to 5,719.
A year after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, Oregon leaders are reflecting on their experiences that day. Senator Jeff Merkley, who was at the U.S. Capitol, posted his reflection on Twitter, writing in part, “I heard the violent mob storming the Capitol. I saw the fear and pain in the eyes of my colleagues and Senate staff on that day and in the year since the insurrection… In the days that followed, I learned of the lives that were tragically lost, and mourned for everything that was taken from our nation.”
Rep. Suzanne Bonamici was also in the Capitol that day and reflected on her experience, writing, “I will always remember what it was like to be at the Capitol that day. And I will always remember that just hours after that attack, my colleagues and I retuned to do our jobs and certify the free and fair election of our next President.”
Senator Ron Wyden wrote on Twitter, “As our country commemorates the anniversary of that attack, we must remember this was not an isolated incident. It was the violent manifestation of the ongoing Republican effort to end free and fair elections in the United States of America.”
As the omicron variant continues to cause a surge in cases, more teachers within Portland Public Schools are being forced to isolate or quarantine, and often there aren’t substitutes to fill in those gaps, leaving the district scrambling to find people to cover, including other teachers and administrators.
“We haven’t had all year enough substitute educators to fill in for the absences we were already having,” Elizabeth Thiel, president of the Portland Association of Teachers, told FOX 12. “So educators are being asked to fill in during their planning time. ELL, English language teachers, who help students learn English as an additional language, they’re subbing instead of teaching English Language Learners.”
As of Jan. 5, there were 30 staff members in isolation and 13 quarantined due to an off-campus exposure, according to PPS’ COVID-19 dashboard.
Following a landslide between Hood River and Cascade Locks, as well as dangerous driving conditions, I-84 is closed from Troutdale to Hood River. The Hood River County Sheriff’s Office also reported downed trees and power lines in the county. According to WSDOT, SR-14 is also closed to large commercial vehicles between Washougal and White Salmon.
Western Oregon and southwest Washington are currently under a Flood Watch due to forecasted rain and melted snow runoff. Local waterways are expected to rise toward flood stage.