By Emily Scarvie
(PORTLAND, Ore.) Hello Portlanders! It's Friday, Jan. 21 - Here's your daily round up of all the news happening in the City of Roses.
After Oregon reported more than 10,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, health officials are expected to speak Friday at 11 a.m. on the state’s pandemic response. OHA also reported eight new COVID-related deaths and 981 hospitalizations on Thursday.
According to Peter Graven, director of Oregon Health & Sciences University Office of Advanced Analytics, Oregonian’s are “flattening the sharp upward curve of hospitalizations” by cutting back on indoor gatherings, wearing masks and taking other actions that help limit the spread of COVID-19.
To watch Friday’s briefing, click here.
The Oregon Health Authority held a public hearing on Thursday to discuss a proposed permanent indoor mask mandate. If implemented, OHA could reverse the mandate whenever it’s no longer necessary, but it wouldn’t have to be extended every 180 days.
Hundreds of Oregonians attended the hearing, many in opposition of the proposal. Some expressed concern that OHA would be slow to reverse the mandate if it was made permanent. A group of protestors also gathered outside of OHA’s Portland office during the meeting.
OHA said it understands people are tired of mask-wearing, but it’s still necessary to slow the spread of the virus.
“We continue to see daily case rates near 10,000 and rapid daily increases in hospital census of patients with COVID-19 at a time our hospitals are at capacity,” OHA said. “We are looking at what conditions on the ground need to look like in the pandemic – particularly rates of hospitalizations – for us to begin relaxing the mask requirement. We know there is an offramp for this requirement down the road, but we’re just not there yet.”
Officials will hold another public hearing on Monday to discuss a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for educators and other school staff, mask requirements in schools and a vaccine mandate for healthcare workers.
On Thursday, the Multnomah County Joint Office of Homeless Services issued a statement calling out the posting of fake camp removal notices around the Portland area that feature the Multnomah County symbol. According to the agency, they do not post notices for camps to vacate and any official notice would come from the city of Portland.
Denis Theriault, a spokesperson for the Joint Office of Homeless Services, said he’s concerned the fake notices will impact a well-developed process that includes outreach workers and legal protections for people living on the streets. He said while he understands why someone might post something like this, it does more harm than good.
“There’s things moving along, but going and targeting folks and sowing confusion and more trauma, isn’t going to help those folks, it isn’t going to make things better,” Theriault told KATU. “I know folks are impatient, and I wish more folks were impatient because they were concerned about the well-being of their neighbors outside versus their comfort in what they’re seeing.”
After a hit-and-run crash in southeast Portland on Thursday night left one person dead and another critically injured, police said the suspects fled the scene on foot. Officers discovered two cars on Southeast McLoughlin and Holgate boulevards around 11:30 p.m. In one car, a person was found deceased and another was taken to the hospital, according to police. No one was in the other car and witnesses said multiple people ran off before officers arrived on the scene.
McLoughlin Boulevard was temporarily closed between the Ross Island Bridge and Milwaukie Avenue for an investigation. Police are still looking for the suspects.