County “High” Virus Level; Gas Prices Dropping; Pumpkin Giveaway Changes; Energy Relief Funds Available

County “High” Virus Level

The entire month of October has one of increasing numbers in coronavirus cases across Lane County.  Lane County Public Health has been managing a system to indicate the level of risk to the community using several factors to establish an alert level system.  The system takes into account the number of cases, changes in Oregon Health Authority public health mandates, testing, contact tracing and health care capacity as well as inventory levels on critical supplies needed to manage the spread of the virus.  Lane County is currently at a high level of risk for the spread of the virus and that shows in the daily numbers released by Lane County Public Health.  In yesterday’s report another 39 cases were confirmed bringing the countywide total to 2,182, although there were no new cases to report for the 97439 zip code.  There were also no new deaths to report.  Across the state there were 346 new cases reported yesterday and six more deaths.  The state’s total number of cases has exceeded the 40,000 mark at 40,136 with a total of 633 deaths attributed to the virus.

Gas Prices Dropping

It should come as no surprise that the demand for gasoline has fallen over the last month.  Marie Dodds with AAA Oregon says demand is pushing prices slower even as refineries begin the switch to winter blend fuels.  Oregon is one of only a handful of states to actually see a decline in prices from the drop in demand.  Around the state prices in average have dropped 2 cents a gallon for regular, but here in Florence the drop averaged 6 cents a gallon with the average price for regular at $2.30 a gallon.  Dodds says that the coronavirus pandemic is having an effect on travel and that prices should continue their downward trend through the end of the year.

Pumpkin Giveaway Changes

Tomorrow is the 32nd annual Great Pumpkin Giveaway with the addition of the moniker “Drive-thru”.  With mandates from the county and state health agencies Halloween has been severely impacted and many activities that are traditional for the Florence Area have come to a stop.  Churches are not having their trunk or treat events and the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with the city of Florence has cancelled the Old Town tradition of handing out candy.  Coast Radio and Pumpkin giveaway host, Florence True Value had initially planned on cancelling their annual event, but decided it could be done using social distancing and contactless delivery of the pumpkins and candy to the children of the community.  This year the giveaway will be done in parade style with parents being asked to bring their kids in their vehicles.  Cars will line up along Quince Street and down 6th street to the Saw Shop parking lot where they will be directed to go to the pumpkin stations where volunteers from Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue will hand out a pumpkin and a bag of candy for each child under 18 in the vehicle.  It will begin sharply at 4 pm tomorrow and vehicles can begin lining up at 3:45.

Energy Relief Funds Available

Lane County has announced that they have been the recipient of 1.5 million dollars in relief funds that will go directly to households that have been financially impacted by COVID-19.  Qualifying households can receive a one-time payment of up to $1500 which is dependent on the needs of the  household.  The payments can be applied to energy related utilities and customers do not have to be past due on payments in order to receive a relief check.  More information and phone numbers to call for assistance can be found at the Lane County website, or by calling Central Lincoln PUD.