Jobless claims soar in Oregon from COVID-19 layoffs
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Jobless claims are soaring in Oregon as the state nears the end of its first week under Gov. Kate Brown’s stay-at-home order due to the coronavirus outbreak. The Oregon Department of Employment said Thursday that since March 15, the state has received 76,500 initial unemployment claims. That compares to 4,900 claims the week of March 8, before the economic devastation of the new coronavirus took hold. Hospitality and leisure jobs made up about half the 22,800 claims processed in the last week. Deschutes Brewery, an iconic craft brewery, also says this week it will layoff 300 employees and close its pubs and tasting rooms.
Virus outbreak hurts initiative drives in Oregon
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The coronavirus outbreak is affecting initiative signature drives and may lead to this year having the lowest number of such measures in decades. Oregon Public Broadcasting reports that initiatives dealing with subjects as gun control, clean energy and highway tolls now appear increasingly unlikely to make the ballot. At this point, just two initiative campaigns appear positioned to get enough signatures by the July 2 deadline to qualify for the ballot — both of which revolve around easing drug laws. Each needs 112,020 valid signatures from registered voters.
PUBLIC INDECENCY ARREST
Police arrest man accused of exposing himself to children
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Police have arrested a man on suspicion of exposing himself to three girls. The Portland Police Bureau says 20 year-old Hassan Abdullahi was arrested Thursday and booked into the Multnomah County Jail on a public indecency charge. Officers responded March 9 to a report of a man lingering near Robert Gray Middle School. The caller said he saw the man walk down a path and then saw three girls head in the same direction. The witness took a photo as the man came running back and drove away. Police say the man was waiting in the bushes with his genitals exposed and asked the girls about taking a picture. Police say the girls screamed and the man ran off.
OFFICER SHOOTS MAN-JUSTIFIED
District Attorney: Cop shooting of man with tire iron lawful
SPRINGFIELD, Ore. (AP) — Lane County District Attorney Patty Perlow says a man killed by police in a Springfield store parking lot earlier this month charged at the officer with a tire iron. KEZI-TV reports that Perlow ruled the shooting justified. Perlow says witnesses saw 32-year-old Chase Brooks damaging vehicles in the parking lot outside a Best Buy store and called 911. Officers Eric Pardee and Anthony DelCastillo responded just after 3:30 p.m. March 14. Perlow said Pardee attempted to deescalate the situation, but Brooks moved to attack him. Pardee ordered him to stop, and Brooks did not, which is when Pardee shot at Brooks three times, hitting him in the heart and a lung.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-TESTING PAUSE
Supply shortage halts coronavirus testing at Salem clinics
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Salem Health has temporarily stopped coronavirus testing in three of its clinics and hospital emergency room because of a supply shortage. Salem Health said Wednesday evening that the medical group began outpatient testing for COVID-19 on March 16. Officials said in a news release that they must now preserve their kits and supplies for hospitalized patients. The Oregonian/OregonLive reports the state’s emergency stockpile is quickly running out. The state has given out 100% of the gowns, 95% of the face shields and more than 80% of the N-95 respirators it had saved in state warehouses.
Brown slams Trump administration over mask production woes
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Gov. Kate Brown is slamming the Trump administration for its failure to provide companies that want to make respirator masks and ventilators with a guarantee of liability protection. Brown said Wednesday that Oregon companies have the capability to start making respirator masks immediately but are hesitant to do so because they could face liability issues without federal action. Brown called on federal authorities to take immediate action and said failure to do so will cost lives. She says the federal government is telling states to buy supplies on the open market and now states are competing for critical items.
Rural America watches pandemic erupt in cities as fear grows
DUFUR, Ore. (AP) — The pandemic’s toll in big cities like New York, Seattle and San Francisco has dominated headlines, but large swaths of rural America are also deeply affected. Tiny towns tucked into Oregon’s windswept plains or on Alaska’s arctic tundra might not have a single case of the new coronavirus yet, but these small communities are still wary. They fear the spread of the disease to areas with scarce medical resources, the social isolation that comes when the only diner in town closes its doors and the economic free fall that’s hitting hard in places where jobs were already hard to come by.
CAMPUS SHOOTING VICTIM-HONORED
Slain North Carolina college student awarded Medal of Honor
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A college student who died tackling a gunman at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte has been posthumously awarded one of the nation’s highest civilian honors. Riley Howell was honored with a Congressional Medal of Honor Society Citizen Award at wreath-laying ceremony live-streamed from the Arlington National Cemetery on Wednesday. The 21-year-old was shot eight times while taking down the gunman last year. His parents said it’s unfair that he had to risk his life. Natalie Howell told The Charlotte Observer that she feels “conflicted” but decided to accept the honor on behalf of all ”the people who have also needlessly lost their lives to gun violence.”