School Board Backs HYAK Proposal; COVID-19 Update; Risk Level Move Expected

School Board Backs HYAK Proposal

The Siuslaw School board approved a proposal to extend a letter of credit to local broadband and fiber internet provider HYAK.  Recently the federal government allocated 9.2 billion dollars to build up the national digital reach in rural communities, a portion which HYAK will be accessing to begin to build the infrastructure that will enhance and create a rural network for the Siuslaw Region.  The school board’s letter of credit will help to jump start the program with funds extended out over a three year period.  Funding for the project would be reimbursed by the federal government soon after the completion of the project.  Left to complete now is a contractual agreement between HYAK and the school board.  Chief Operations Officer Neil Ecker says that approximately 1200 homes could have the option of connecting to the network upon completion of the project.  Ecker says they expect to have 40% of the project built out in 3 years with over 80 miles of fiber internet being deployed.

COVID-19 Update

It was the one number that state health officials did not want to see.  Yesterday the Oregon Health Authority reported 319 individuals were now in Oregon hospitals.  That number along with rising cases across the state prompted the governor to cancel the one week waiting period for counties and move to directly raising risk levels to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.  Lane County’s numbers have fallen in the past two days, but the total cumulative number is still to high to avoid a move to an Extreme Level of Risk.  Cases in Lane County are currently reported at 109.34 per 100 thousand residents a number that was as low as 19.7 just one month ago.  Although the state metric table shows Lane County as having 214.8 cases per 100k for the week ending April 24.   Lane County has reported 15 individuals in county hospitals.  Cases across the state continue to be high in the 20-39 age group, this despite the state reporting an average 7 day vaccination rate of more than 34 thousand doses per day.

Risk Level Move Expected

There were no new cases reported for the Florence area yesterday, however Florence and the rest of the county will learn its fate today from the Oregon Health Authority and Oregon OSHA.  With high hospitalization numbers and a case rate over 100 per 100 thousand people it is likely that the county will move to Extreme Risk on Friday causing the shut down of indoor dining and the closing of entertainment venues.  Florence area businesses are struggling as the heavy tourist season approaches.  Traffic has been heavy along the coast, particularly during the weekend.  That traffic is expected to continue despite rising COVID-19 numbers across the state.