With 39 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, Douglas County appears to be headed toward the “extreme risk” category.
The state determines the risk levels for each county every two weeks. Douglas County has been in the lower “high risk” level since Jan. 1.
Douglas County spokesperson Tamara Howell said the state’s two-week risk level count period runs 14 days from Feb. 7 at 12:01 am through this Saturday at midnight, and the number of new cases over that time period is already at 251 with four days to go.
According to the metrics currently used by the state, counties must remain below 200 cases per 100,000 people over designated two-week periods. For Douglas County, that means not rising above 224 cases.
The state will announce on Tuesday which counties will be moved into new risk categories. If the county does move to extreme risk, that would happen Feb. 26 and runs for 14 days.
Bars and restaurants would once again be closed to indoor dining, and gyms larger than 500 square feet would be limited to six clients at a time and smaller gyms to one client at a time.
Douglas County Commissioner Tim Freeman, who heads up the county’s COVID-19 response, said the impact of moving to “extreme risk” will be felt by businesses like restaurants and gyms rather than churches, schools and long-term care facilities.
“Those places where we’re seeing the cases are not impacted by the closures. There’s some irony in that,” Freeman said.
Freeman said that illustrates the problem of a one-size-fits-all state metric.
“We’ve said all along allowing local decision making and local choices we could tailor whatever precautions that needed to be made specific to our community. It would have more effect on lowering the case count, but we’re not allowed to do that,” Freeman said.
He said it’s hard seeing the numbers rise over the past week and a half.
“We as a community, as a county have done extremely well for a year. We’ve had some of the lowest case counts in the nation for the better part of a year here in Douglas County,” Freeman said.
He attributed those low case counts to people making small, meaningful choices every day.
“Certainly something has changed over the last week or so,” he said.
He doesn’t know what changed, but people are tired of the pandemic and some people, including some elected officials and health care providers, are making comments that contradict COVID-19 precautions.
“There’s a ton of information out there that people are trying to pick through to decide what’s best for them,” he said.
He said the county has always believed giving people the most accurate, current information with the best recommendations and asking them to do the right thing is the right strategy.
“We’re going to continue to do that,” he said.
The county reported no new deaths Tuesday.
Fourteen county residents are hospitalized with the illness, nine locally and five out of the area.
The Douglas Public Health Network is currently supporting 239 people with the illness who are in isolation and another 558 people who have been in contact with an infected person and are in quarantine. That’s a total of 797 people.
The Oregon Health Authority reported 411 new cases and one new death Tuesday.
Jennifer Singleton spent several hours Tuesday in a canopy tent in the old Kmart parking lot collecting signatures and hearing stories from people who want to keep the name Indians as Roseburg High School’s mascot.
Around 3 p.m., she had about 100 letters from people who wanted to keep the mascot.
“Please do not end this longstanding tradition of respect, honor, gratitude, and understanding with our community partners of Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians,” a pre-written letter of support said. “If local historical education of our current and future students is necessary, please educate, and do not eradicate the INDIANS.”
There were pre-written letters available, but some supporters took the time to write additional comments on the back.
Roseburg High School alumnus Sony Provencal started the letter writing campaign to keep the mascot.
“The community wants to keep the identity in relation to our community partners of the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians,” Provencal wrote in an email. “We collectively are a Tribe. They have always supported us and we support them.”
The Singletons live in Glide, but attend school in Roseburg and are proud to call themselves Indians. Nash Singleton, a Roseburg High School junior, signed a letter in support of keeping the mascot.
“We moved in to be Indians,” he said. “Since we were four of five years old we wanted to wrestle for Steve (Lander). The name has to do with who we are as a team. We wrestle for our tribe, we wrestle for the Indians.”
Jeff Traviss, a Roseburg High School alumnus, said, “I grew up with it. The tribe OK’d it. It’s been around for a long time.”
Traviss said he comes from a long line of Roseburg High School graduates.
The mascot came under fire again this summer when Roseburg High School alumnus Jessica Bascom started an online petition to remove the mascot due to its racist nature. That petition has gathered more than 6,000 signatures.
Bascom is an enrolled member of the Klamath Tribe who also has Creek and Cherokee heritage. She says she does not feel honored by the mascot in her petition.
The school board reached an agreement with the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians in 2017 to keep the mascot, with an agreement to review the contract every three years.
“There are over 500 federally recognized tribes and I don’t think the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians should have the final say in this important issue,” Bascom wrote in her petition. “Roseburg, you can do better. The time is now.”
Those in support of keeping the mascot thought the discussion had finished when the local tribe signed off on the name, but the school board decided to restart the discussion surrounding a possible retirement of the mascot.
The board of directors for Roseburg Public Schools asked the community to provide feedback on the possibility of retiring the mascot via an online form at www.roseburg.k12.or.us. The board also asked people to list their affiliation with the school, name and email address. People can also send a letter to the school board at 1419 NW Valley View Drive in Roseburg.
Superintendent Jared Cordon said the online feedback form, which opened Monday morning, had seen 212 responses by Monday night and as of 12:41 p.m. Tuesday the number of responses had grown to 339.
The online form and letters must be received by Feb. 22, as the school board will be discussing its results during the Feb. 24 regular meeting.
Singleton said she’s asking people to fill out the school district’s survey, but is also asking people to share their stories through the letter writing effort.
“I just want everyone to be heard,” Jennifer Singleton said. “All voices need to be heard.”
Provencal added that she wants community members, former students, current students and constituents to sign and promise to be positive representatives of Native America with the intent of prolonging the community’s cultural acceptance of the tribe.
“The term ‘Indian’ is federally recognized. There is not any ill disposition with the term, as a community, we have studied, sweat, bled, and cried to earn the title of Roseburg Indians,” Provencal wrote. “We merely want to be able to stand together in a unified community that honor our ancestors.”
Provencal said those in favor of keeping the mascot “see Native America as an identity. We share in the historic struggles and hope to best honor and bridge a continued relationship with our local tribal partners.”
She added that retiring the mascot would be “erasing history, eliminating a community cultural base and sadly the future of our children.”
Those in favor of keeping the mascot can continue to sign letters of support each day this week from noon to 5:30 p.m. in the old Kmart parking lot.
Provencal will be dropping the letters off at the school district before the Feb. 22 deadline.
A Sutherlin man is in the Douglas County Jail accused of multiple thefts in Roseburg during December and January.
Geoffrey Michael Shorey, 29, is implicated in four individual theft cases from both businesses and individuals between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2.
Shorey was taken into custody after video surveillance and eyewitness accounts linked him to the thefts at Sportsman’s Warehouse on Northwest Stewart Parkway, Costco on Northeast Stephens Street and the DC Farmers Co-op on Northeast Stephens Street.
The first reported theft occurred at Costco on Dec. 23, according to court documents. Shorey is alleged to have stolen a backpack and then put other items inside the backpack before leaving the store. Among those items were bluetooth speakers, a package of batteries, a home security camera kit and a booster used to jump-start cars.
Investigators learned that Shorey had left in a silver 4-door Mercury Milan with no license plates, and that the temporary tag taped in the back window belonged to a 2003 A4 Audi.
Three days later, a man reported seeing someone take a chainsaw out of the back of a pickup and load it in the back seat of the silver Mercury Milan in the parking lot of the DC Farmers Co-Op. The eyewitness took a picture of the car as it was leaving, and it appeared to match the car suspected in the Costco theft.
On Dec. 29, Roseburg police received a report of a theft at Sportsman’s Warehouse from Dec. 23. During that investigation, the suspect was reportedly visibly concealing items in his pockets before leaving the store and entering the silver Mercury Milan. Minutes later, the same man went back into the store, reportedly placed more items in his pockets and returned to the car. The total estimated loss of the stolen items was nearly $1,300.
Another theft at Sportsman’s Warehouse was reported on Jan. 2 in which a toolbox was allegedly stolen from the bed of a pickup in the parking lot. The reporting officer indicated that an eyewitness saw a man take the toolbox from the truck and get into a “light-colored” sedan with temporary plates.
The eyewitness followed the Mercury onto Interstate 5 northbound, and the driver reportedly tossed the toolbox out the window before continuing north toward Sutherlin. The toolbox was recovered and returned to its owner.
A Roseburg officer contacted Shorey on Friday at his Sutherlin home, and Shorey reportedly admitted to the thefts from Sportsman’s Warehouse as well as the chainsaw, claiming he sold the stolen property to “random people” to “feed his drug addiction.”
Shorey was convicted of first- or second-degree theft in four separated cases in Jackson, Josephine, Douglas and Lane counties between June 2018 and September 2018. Shorey was sentenced to a total of 20 months in the Oregon Department of Corrections, followed by 12 months of post-prison supervision.