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Douglas County passes 2,000 case mark, reports 50th death from COVID-19

Douglas County reached two grim milestones Tuesday in the COVID-19 pandemic.

It passed 2,000 cases and reported its 50th death from COVID-19.

The Douglas County COVID-19 Response Team reported 35 new cases Tuesday. That comes close to the county’s daily record of 38 new cases, set Nov. 21. The second highest total, posted Nov. 24, was 36 new cases. Tuesday’s cases tied with Jan. 1’s count for the third highest number of new cases.

The spike in cases is due to an outbreak at a local care facility, the response team said. It did not name the facility.

In all, the county has now had 2,027 cases since the start of the pandemic.

The 50th person to die of the illness was a 73-year-old man who was diagnosed with COVID-19 and died Wednesday.

Ten county residents are currently hospitalized with the illness, seven locally and three out of the area.

The response team announced it was notified by the state Monday that it will remain in the high-risk category for another two weeks, from Feb. 12 to 25.

That risk level allows all businesses to remain open, with some restrictions and limitations on the number of customers who can be served at a time.

Most of the counties across the state remain in the more restrictive extreme level, but 10 counties that had been at the extreme level will join Douglas County in the high risk level Feb. 12.

As of that date, 14 counties will be labeled extreme risk, 11 high risk, three moderate risk and eight rural counties are labeled lower risk.

Among the counties remaining in extreme risk are most of the counties surrounding Douglas, including Lane, Coos, Jackson and Josephine counties. Klamath County will move from extreme to high risk.

“While we managed to stay in the high risk level, our positive case count, especially today is still very concerning. Over the past two weeks, we reported 200 new COVID cases,” the response team said in a press release.

Seniors 80 or older are currently eligible for a vaccine, but must schedule an appointment to get one. County health officials said seniors should plan to call the places where they get their regular health care to set up an appointment for a vaccination.

If your doctor or health care clinic isn’t offering vaccinations, pharmacies are another option for scheduling an appointment. But many places don’t have vaccines yet.

Readers told The News-Review on Monday that some health care organizations and pharmacies weren’t yet ready to schedule appointments Monday for vaccines they haven’t received. Other readers were able to schedule appointments a month out.

Aviva Health, one of the providers that has signed on to be a vaccinator under the county’s senior vaccination plan, said in a press release it is developing plans for COVID-19 vaccination appointments and events and will begin contacting eligible patients and scheduling them once the plans are completed.

The response team said there are many more seniors who need and want a vaccine than there are available doses at this point.

This week, the county expected to receive 700 doses, but there are 7,200 residents in the eligible pool of seniors 80 and over.

The federal supply of vaccines remains limited. The federal government sends vaccines to each state. The state determines how many vaccines are sent to each county, and determines what groups are eligible to receive them at any given time.

Seniors are being added to the eligibility list in stages based on age. Seniors 75 and over become eligible Feb. 15. Seniors 70 and over become eligible Feb. 22. Seniors 65 and over become eligible Mar. 1.

The Oregon Health Authority estimates that most seniors who want a vaccine will be able to get first shots in the two shot sequence sometime between now and early April.

Roseburg Public Schools announced two additional COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, with a student at Winchester Elementary School and a student at Melrose Elementary School testing positive for the virus.

The Oregon Health Authority reported 529 new cases and seven new deaths statewide Tuesday.

Statewide, 588,749 vaccinations have been given, 6,981 of them in Douglas County.

Roseburg Cinema is back

It’s baaaaaaack!

No, that’s not a line from a horror movie, but rather the good news many movie aficionados are saying with joy as the Roseburg Cinema has reopened after months of having its doors shuttered.

The cinema, at 1750 NW Hughwood Drive, opened on Friday and showed movies through the weekend. That Friday through Sunday schedule will continue for the foreseeable future, said Daryn McLennan, vice president of operations.

“We’ll just continue to evaluate the schedule as we move forward,” McLennan said.

Movies shown this past weekend included “The Little Things,” “Wonder Woman 1984,” and “The Croods: A New Age.”

A couple of new movies will be swapped in next weekend, McLennan said, including “Monster Hunter.”

Movie production has come to a virtual standstill due to COVID-19 concerns, and the dearth of new movies is one reason the Roseburg Cinema didn’t reopen sooner, McLennan said.

“We kind of ran the gamut last fall with all the old movies, so we kind of felt like, ‘Let’s wait to see the schedule over next couple of months,’” he said. “We feel like we’re in that zone now, so we opened up on Friday.”

The cinema closed in mid-March due to gathering restrictions instituted across Oregon because of COVID-19. It reopened mid-June after three months of closed doors. But that reopening was short-lived.

Because Hollywood had basically stopped making movies due to the coronavirus, the cinema was forced to rely on running classics, like “Wizard of Oz,” “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” “Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

At the end of December and early into this year, when many other businesses were reopening at least partially, Roseburg Cinema remained closed. Back then, McLennan said the theater was in a holding pattern for the time being.

“The big concern is we don’t want to open just to get closed down again,” he said at the time. “It just doesn’t make sense to open up for two weeks and then close the biz again.”

The reopening doesn’t mean business is back to usual; the theater is still under space and seating restrictions. The theater is blocking off every other row and only selling 25% of the available seats for any particular showing.

That means the bigger auditorium, which can seat 300 people, will only have 35 or so for any showing now, McLennan said. Smaller theaters will now have about a dozen people for any single movie, he said. The VIP room will also be open for select showings.

The cinema announced the reopening on Facebook: “To all of our valued guests — we are so pleased to be one of only three cinemas in Oregon that are currently open. It has been such a pleasure to welcome you back to the cinema this weekend.”

Judging by comments on its Facebook page, the reopening has been a hit with movie fans.

“We were sooo happy to be the 1st ones through the door yesterday!” one fan wrote. “Kids saw ‘The Croods,’ we saw ‘News of the World’ and really enjoyed it! We missed you!”

Some of the movies are showing simultaneously on HBO Max and other streaming services. McLennan said that will likely continue for a couple of months before movies are shown in theaters first.

Ticket prices range from $7.25 for a child to $12 for an adult watching a 3D movie in the evening. For more information go to Roseburgcinemas.com.

Report: Hidden costs of looming Oregon evictions could top $1 billion

Recent estimates show Oregon renters could owe up to a staggering $378 million in back rent as the pandemic and widespread unemployment rage on. But researchers say this is a small fraction of the cost to Oregon if leaders don’t act to avert the evictions of the estimated 89,000 households that have fallen behind on rent.

A report out Tuesday by Portland State University’s Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative put downstream costs of the mass evictions predicted to occur in Oregon once the eviction moratorium expires in June at as high as $3.3 billion.

The authors of the report arrived at the figure using estimates of households that owe back rent, which were derived from a U.S. Census Bureau survey and a cost-of-eviction calculator devised by the University of Arizona. The calculator takes into account some of the major costs associated with eviction, including emergency shelter, medical care, and child welfare services.

According to the calculations, Oregon could spend anywhere between $1 billion and $3.3 billion responding to the aftermath of mass evictions if the state does not act to provide eviction support before the moratorium expires in June. Homeless shelter costs alone could range from roughly $530,000 to nearly $2 billion.

The report’s authors warn they are likely underestimating the state’s financial burden. The cost-of-eviction calculator they used does not take into account future impacts to educational achievement, the cost of building new shelters, or the added health care costs that would come with the increased risk of COVID-19 if 90,000 households were evicted, for example

“They’re enormous and they’re also probably an understatement,” Lisa Bates, associate professor and Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative researcher, said of the cost estimates. “There are a number of other impacts of experiencing eviction and houselessness that are even more difficult to capture. For example, thinking about small kids, we know their whole life course is affected by experiencing houselessness.”

Bates said the burdens will fall disproportionately hard on communities of color. According to recent estimates, Bates said, about 40% of households at risk of eviction are Black, Indigenous, or people of color. Just over half are households with children living in them.

To avoid a flood of evictions, the report’s authors recommend local and state leaders create policies to prevent evictions, such as establishing a reasonable repayment time to make up backlogged rent, expanding emergency rent assistance programs, and increasing access to landlord-tenant mediation.

Oregon’s eviction moratorium is set to end on June 30.