Portland, OR

Portland Daily Round Up: COVID-related absences cause closures at 3 Portland schools, I-84 reopens after landslide

Emily Scarvie

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By Emily Scarvie

(PORTLAND, Ore.) Hello Portlanders! It's Friday, Jan. 7 - Here's your daily round up of all the news happening in the City of Roses.

1. COVID-related absences cause closures at 3 Portland-area schools

Three Portland-area schools closed their campuses on Friday to prepare for temporary distance learning due to a high number of COVID-related absences among students and staff. Cleveland and McDaniel high schools, in the Portland Public Schools, will transition to distance learning starting Monday and go through at least Jan. 14. The district reported 431 staff absences, 175 of which were unable to be filled by substitutes.

Prescott Elementary School, in the Parkrose School District, sent out an alert Thursday evening announcing the Friday closure, citing “excessive staff and student absences,” as well as lack of available substitute teachers.

2. I-84 reopens, road conditions remain 'volatile' in several areas

After a landslide closed nearly 50 miles of I-84 on Thursday between Troutdale and Hood River, the freeway is now completely reopened, but officials are predicting additional, smaller landslides on Friday. Much of Oregon and southwest Washington are expected to flood due to heavy rain and snow and several roadways have already closed as of Friday morning.

A portion of Highway 47 in Columbia County is closed after a stretch of road near Mist Junction was swept away with rushing water. Bridge Avenue is closed in both directions at the intersection with Lower Columbia River Highway. All lanes of the Old Historic Highway are closed 7 miles west of Ainsworth State Park due to a landslide.

“Highway conditions remain volatile with precipitation continuing and temperatures dropping below freezing in many parts of the state,” the Oregon Department of Transportation said.

To check road conditions, visit TripCheck.com.

3. Healthcare workers urging Oregonians to avoid ER for COVID tests

With COVID-19 cases continuing to surge due to the highly transmissible omicron variant, emergency room nurses and doctors are urging Oregonians to avoid showing up to the ER to get tested. Health care workers are reporting an uptick in patients coming in for a COVID test with very mild or no symptoms, and unless someone needs care immediately, they’ll likely be waiting for several hours.

“Unfortunately, that is not the best use of emergency room resources because we are really trying to focus on those patients who are having significant symptoms and have emergencies,” Emergency physician Dr. Dan Bissell, with Legacy Health, told KGW.

According to health care workers, on top of the strain this puts on doctors and nurses, the wait times for all patients increase, sometimes up to 10 hours or more. Anyone with worsening COVID symptoms, including shortness of breath, low blood oxygen levels or the inability to keep liquids down should see their primary care doctor or come to the ER.

“We always want to remind the community that the ER is always there for any emergency that you may have and it is a safe place to come to get care, even in the midst of another COVID surge,” Bissell said. “We want to make sure that people are getting the care they need for things like strokes, heart attacks, belly pains and other things that are still happening despite the pandemic.”

4. West side of OSU's Reser Stadium imploded for renovation project

The west side of Oregon State University’s Reser Stadium was imploded Friday morning, as part of a $153 million renovation project, called Completing Reser. The project includes construction of the new west side of the stadium, a welcome center for prospective students and a wellness clinic for OSU students, employees and community members.

Completing Reser is being funded by more than $90 million in philanthropy, and by revenues from football stadium activities. The project is scheduled to be completed before the 2023 football season.

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