Portland, OR

Portland Daily Round Up: OHA extends mask rule in schools, PBOT report shows 'dramatic increase' in traffic deaths

Emily Scarvie

(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

By Emily Scarvie

(PORTLAND, Ore.) Hello Portlanders! It's Thursday, Feb. 3 - Here's your daily round up of all the news happening in the City of Roses.

1. Oregon Health Authority implements permanent masking requirement in schools

The Oregon Health Authority has implemented permanent masking requirements in school settings, replacing a temporary rule that was set to expire on Jan. 28. Officials have required mask-wearing in schools as one mitigation strategy to limit the spread of COVID-19 and keep kids in school.

OHA said any repeal of the rules will depend on the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths, transmission data, vaccination rates and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC continues to recommend “universal indoor masking” in schools, regardless of vaccination status.

Health officials heard from Oregonians last month about the potential mandate, with many speaking out against the requirements and asking that it be left up to local school districts. One school district, the Alsea School District in Benton County, has decided to ignore the state’s masking requirement, causing some of the district’s federal funding to be pulled.

2. PBOT report finds 70% of pedestrians killed in traffic incidents last year were homeless

According to the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s Vision Zero Traffic Crash Report, released Wednesday, Portland had more traffic deaths in 2021 than any year since 1990, with 63 recorded traffic deaths across the city. That’s up from 54 in 2020, and well above the average of 46 traffic deaths between 2017-2020.

The bureau’s report makes note of a “dramatic increase” in the number of pedestrians killed in traffic crashes. Pedestrians accounted for 27 of the traffic deaths record, 70% of which were homeless, a trend the report calls an “alarming pattern.”

Traffic deaths on Portland’s state highways have increased since the COVID-19 pandemic began. According to PBOT, many of last year’s incidents remain under investigation, but “speed and impairment” continue to be contributing factors. The report also notes that 60% of the deaths in the last five years have occurred on streets in Portland’s “High Crash Network.”

So far in 2022, 10 people have been killed in traffic incidents. To read PBOT’s full report, click here.

3. Gov. Kate Brown scheduled to give final State of the State address Thursday

Gov. Kate Brown is set to give her State of the State address to the Oregon State Legislature on Thursday at noon. Brown is expected to outline her legislative agenda and priorities for her final year as governor.

On Tuesday, Oregon lawmakers started the 2022 legislative session, where they’re considering more than 100 bill proposals. Floor sessions will be held in-person and the public is able to attend, but all committees for the 2022 session will be held virtually due to the surge in COVID-19 cases.

4. Lan Su Chinese Garden hosting Lunar New Year events through Feb. 15

Feb. 1 marked the beginning of the Lunar New Year and the Lan Su Chinese Garden in downtown Portland is kicking off a two-week celebration this week. The garden is hosting a slew of events this year, including lantern viewing, Chinese calligraphy, Lion dance and more. The community is invited to join in on the celebrations.

For a full schedule of the Lan Su Chinese Garden’s Lunar New Year events, click here.

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