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One person shot dead in Portland following clashes between pro-Trump supporters, counterprotesters

PORTLAND, Ore. — One person was shot dead on a Portland street Saturday night during a series of confrontations between supporters of President Donald Trump, who moved in a 600-vehicle caravan through downtown, and counterprotesters who met them on their route. The groups clashed in a replay of scenes unfolding in this riverside city and other American communities.

Police were investigating the shooting, which happened at about 8:45 p.m., as a homicide, the Portland Police Bureau confirmed in a statement early Sunday. Police did not release information about a potential suspect.

“This violence is completely unacceptable, and we are working diligently to find and apprehend the individual or individuals responsible,” Police Chief Chuck Lovell said.

A man was seen with a gunshot wound lying motionless on the ground in the downtown area where the opposing groups had clashed, and where mace had been deployed. He was wearing a hat that said “Patriot Prayer,” the name of a far-right group organized in 2016 to bring pro-Trump rallies to liberal bastions, including Portland, where the group is based. The stated aim of Patriot Prayer is to “liberate the conservatives on the West Coast.”

Its leader, Joey Gibson, was swarmed later Saturday night as he was chased through the streets, following the fatal episode involving the man wearing the insignia of his organization. “All I can do is verify that he was a good friend and a supporter of Patriot Prayer,” Gibson confirmed in an email to The Washington Post. He said he would be making an additional statement later Sunday or on Monday.

Trump, in a barrage of tweets early Sunday, seized on the killing as a cudgel against the Democratic mayor of Portland, Ted Wheeler, and as a case for his re-election pitch of “law and order.” He also heaped praise on the pro-Trump activists who had descended on Portland, calling them “GREAT PATRIOTS!”

It remained unclear what exactly precipitated the fatal shooting, as Trump supporters shot paintballs and pepper spray from their trucks and activists burned Trump flags and lobbed rocks and other projectiles at the moving vehicles.

“Portland Police officers heard sounds of gunfire from the area of Southeast 3rd Avenue and Southwest Alder Street,” the Portland Police Bureau said in a statement. “They responded and located a victim with a gunshot wound to the chest. Medical responded and determined that the victim was deceased.”

Police and emergency medical vehicles surrounded the shooting victim moments after he was hit. That in turn amplified tensions among protesters as police attempted to secure the area in a busy part of the riot-stricken city.

The fatal shooting came as a bookend to a turbulent week, which opened Aug. 23 when police in Kenosha, Wis., shot a Black man, Jacob Blake, multiple times in the back. The encounter spurred renewed protests against racial discrimination and police violence. In the ensuing turmoil, militia groups flocked to the city, and a 17-year-old, Kyle Rittenhouse, was charged in the fatal shooting of two protesters there.

Protests against police brutality have become a regular fixture in some cities, including Portland, since the death in police custody of George Floyd in May. The turmoil has come in the midst of an explosive election season, during which Trump has exploited urban unrest to amplify his message of “law and order,” and the demonstrations have assumed partisan overtones.

Earlier on Saturday in downtown Portland, skirmishes between pro-Trump rallygoers and Black Lives Matter supporters left multiple people injured. The sparring groups threw punches at one another and hurled debris among vehicles. Some broke into open fighting in the streets. Trump supporters in trucks were at one point blocked in by Black Lives Matter activists and began exiting their vehicles, precipitating the violence.

Blood was streaming down the face of one Trump supporter who had challenged an activist to a fight.

Tony Bartell, 26, of Vancouver, Wash., said one of the Trump rallygoers punched him after jumping out of a vehicle. Bartell had photographed his license plate, agitating a man.

“While he’s in my face and I’m recording him, someone else comes up behind me and smacks my phone on the ground,” he said. He said he was hit in the face and shaken up.

Earlier on Saturday, activists met Trump supporters, some of them armed, who were waving flags and driving pickups on a highway on-ramp leading to Interstate 5.

The Black Lives Matter activists initially blocked traffic onto the highway as some yelled “Just go home!” and “Don’t come to our city!” Others urged restraint, yelling, “Don’t give them a reason!” They apparently were trying to ensure a vehicle would not charge into the activists.

A small fight broke out at the head of the on-ramp before police arrived moments later and separated the groups, which had gathered earlier in the day at a shopping center just outside Portland. Police were seen making multiple arrests.

The truck-driving Trump supporters, some armed, planned to follow a highway route around the city, according to a route map posted on social media.

The groups were separated after skirmishes broke out, and they began hurling obscenities at each other from opposite sides of the highway.


Business
Boat dealers experiencing smooth sailing in 2020

Riley Brothers, the 73-year-old president of Charleston Marine, slowly scanned the 10,000-square-foot showroom that’s the epicenter of his business. He paused only briefly to take a mental inventory of a room that included only one boat along with a handful of desks and tables.

“This room was full when we started this season,” he said.

Translation: The boating business has been good. For some dealers, it’s actually been great.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has stymied — if not shuttered — some businesses, a few have actually experienced hefty growth. That includes boat sales, a niche industry that’s expanding in popularity as the population seeks forms of controllable (i.e., non-coronavirus friendly) recreation.

According to a report compiled by the equity research arm of Baird, an international financial services company, marine retailers turned in record sales totals through July. Of the 91 retailers contributing to the report, 89% reported growth in June when compared to the same month in 2019. Those numbers dipped only slightly in July, as 84% said sales were up from the previous year.

Those numbers are also reflected in the number of boat registrations both nationally and locally.

Statistical Surveys, Inc., a research firm that services the marine, recreational vehicle and powersports industries, among others, tracked data from 22 states. That data shows boat registrations in those states had gone up more than 44% year-over-year — including a 73% jump in ski and wake boat registrations in July. Pontoon boats, which Brothers noted as being his most popular item, had a 53.3% increase in July.

The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources said there has been a surge in attendance for online boater education courses that are required to operate a motorboat or personal watercraft in the state. However, the state Department of Motor Vehicles said there hasn’t been a noticeable increase in boat registrations. Exact totals for 2020 won’t be available until January, but the number of registered motorboats in the state has increased every year since 2017. Manually operated vessels are not required to be registered in the state.

That established trend, when paired with growing sales totals, has Brothers, industry analysts and other retailers saying the biggest challenge going forward is a simple one: to keep supply on par with demand nationally as well as in the Mountain State.

Production for 2020 was based on forecasts that didn’t consider the affects of COVID-19. Indeed, the pandemic initially hindered the marine industry, with the traditional start to the boat-selling season (late-February and early March) being pushed back. That includes Charleston Marine, which was closed from March 20 until May 21.

Sales exploded as businesses began to reopen in various states, the weather warmed and stay-at-home orders were rescinded. One dealer who was cited in the Baird report said, “I thought it would settle after June and July ended up being fantastic. If we would have had more inventory, we could have doubled what we did [in sales].”

Industry experts predict boat sales will continue deeper into the year than usual. Along with that will be the strain on the supply chain.

According to Illinois-based boatmaker Brunswick, which produces such brands as Bayliner, Quicksilver and Sea Ray, expectations are that it will be “well into 2021 or potentially later” before supply channels are fully restocked.

Brothers, however, doesn’t really consider it to be a missed opportunity. At least not when it comes to the current selling season.

After all, his Charleston-based company has already made its year, ensuring a business that began in 1990 will be open for business in 2021. He’ll make adjustments to his plan for next year as he does following each business cycle, and that might include adding a few more offerings to the inventory.

Otherwise, he said, it’ll be business as normal — or at least as normal as things can be nowadays.

“I didn’t have a lot of inventory on order; a lot of boat dealers did and it’s turned out well for them,” Brothers said. “But I’m at a different stage. I’ve been doing this for 40 years, I’m ready to not do so much.

“We would’ve had a lot more boats in here if I were younger and still building. But I’m not building things right now. I’m cruising.”


News
WV virus death toll rises to 213

HUNTINGTON — A 89-year-old man from Kanawha County is the 213th virus-related death for West Virginia, according to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.

As of 10 a.m. Sunday, DHHR reports there have been 430,940 total confirmatory laboratory results received for COVID-19, with 10,110 total cases and 213 deaths.

“As we honor the life of this gentleman, we must continue to do our part to slow the growth of this virus in West Virginia,” said Bill J. Crouch, DHHR cabinet secretary. “Our thoughts go out to all who are grieving during this time.”

Cases per county are: Barbour (33), Berkeley (798), Boone (139), Braxton (9), Brooke (88), Cabell (530), Calhoun (9), Clay (26), Doddridge (6), Fayette (268), Gilmer (18), Grant (139), Greenbrier (106), Hampshire (92), Hancock (122), Hardy (73), Harrison (265), Jackson (201), Jefferson (355), Kanawha (1,393), Lewis (32), Lincoln (115), Logan (479), Marion (217), Marshall (133), Mason (102), McDowell (70), Mercer (297), Mineral (144), Mingo (236), Monongalia (1,113), Monroe (117), Morgan (37), Nicholas (52), Ohio (290), Pendleton (44), Pleasants (15), Pocahontas (42), Preston (140), Putnam (278), Raleigh (356), Randolph (223), Ritchie (5), Roane (29), Summers (19), Taylor (105), Tucker (11), Tyler (15), Upshur (43), Wayne (248), Webster (7), Wetzel (46), Wirt (9), Wood (305), Wyoming (66).

The Cabell-Huntington Health Department reported 207 active cases Sunday.

In Ohio, the Lawrence County Health Department reported two new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday. The county has reported a total of 460 cases, with 353 out of isolation. Six people are hospitalized (one of which is a re-admission).

Statewide, there were 122,262 cases as of 2 p.m. Sunday, with 4,128 deaths.

In Kentucky, 462 new cases were reported Sunday, for a total of 48,032. The new cases included 79 children 18 and younger, with 13 of those being 5 years old or younger. There were also nine new deaths reported, for a total of 930.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a total of 5,934,824 cases of COVID-19 across the U.S. on Sunday. There have been 182,149 deaths related to the virus.


News
top story
HIV threat looms behind COVID-19 pandemic

The battle against the coronavirus is sapping the resources of those on the front lines of the fight against HIV.

As of Aug. 13, state health officials said, there have been 72 confirmed cases of HIV in West Virginia this year, almost half the record-breaking total of 146 last year, led by HIV clusters in Cabell and Kanawha counties.

“COVID-19 has really set us back. We’re going to need to spend a long time regaining a lot of the ground we’ve lost in the past few months,” said Dr. Michael Kilkenny, medical director at the Cabell-Huntington Health Department. “Compared to [2019], while we had remarkably controlled our HIV outbreak last year, we never actually stopped it. There was always going to be a certain level going forward we were working on stopping, and we’re going to have to get back to that level in years to come.”

Cabell reported 69 cases last year and has reported 17 this year as of July 31, per DHHR. Kanawha has reported 20 cases so far compared to 28 last year.

Almost all of this year’s cases — 16 out of 17 in Cabell and 18 out of 20 in Kanawha — are linked to intravenous drug use, a trend that did not begin until 2018.

Up to then, nearly all cases of HIV in the state were linked to male-to-male sexual contact. The average number of cases reported annually in West Virginia was 77, slightly more than half last year’s record total.

Health experts say drug use is up across the state and nationwide. State Office of Drug Control Policy officials say that in recent months emergency calls and emergency room visits related to overdoses have increased.

“We are taking every opportunity we can to reach people in need, but we know COVID-19 has caused less opportunity for people to reach treatment for drug use and addiction,” said Angie Settle, CEO of West Virginia HealthRight, a free clinic in Charleston. “Looking at overdose rates and if there’s less access to treatment and people are still using, well of course, if we have more people with substance use disorder, of course there are going to be more [HIV cases] tied to that.”

Some rehabilitation centers limited intakes amid the pandemic. While telehealth efforts lead to an increase in call-in therapy and support groups, the services haven’t been accessible to all, and, Settle said, can be less effective than in-person support for people in recovery.

“Seeing your support system, having a routine, all that’s been broken,” Settle said. “Services are adapting, but there are gaps, certainly.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classifies half of West Virginia’s counties in the top 220 most vulnerable counties in the nation for significant increases in HIV tied to intravenous drug use.

“These are all parts of the same problem. We can’t only treat HIV, we need to look at the entirety of the situation, and that means treating substance use disorder and the factors that cause it, as well,” said Dr. Sherri Young, health officer at the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department.

HIV testing has decreased at both agencies amid the pandemic, Kilkenny and Young said.

Shutdowns because of the pandemic cut off outreach that health departments and organizations like HealthRight use to identify HIV cases and connect patients to care. The added stress of COVID-19 response also meant that resources in some cases are spread too thin to adequately confront other health issues still facing communities.

“It’s clear that we have finite resources and COVID-19 is a resource-consuming disease,” Kilkenny said. “One illness is not better than another, or more valued in treatment than another. These are two deadly diseases and we’re in a very bad position of trying to allocate resources at two threats at once, and we’re having limited success.”

Last year, the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department formed an HIV Task Force composed of care providers and nonprofits who work directly with people experiencing homelessness and those suffering from substance use disorder.

The task force hasn’t met since February. Task force members are regularly communicating, but such initiatives as mobile HIV testing have stalled, Young said.

“It’s something we want to do, but we need to figure out how to do safely,” Young said. “We don’t want to expose someone getting tested to COVID-19, and we’re working on figuring out a way to maybe join those two initiatives.”

HIV testing is still available in both Kanawha and Cabell, but many people haven’t sought it amid the pandemic. Settle said people were nervous about going to health offices, where they might be exposed to COVID-19. Clinic visits and traffic has increased recently but still lags normal levels, Settle said.

Nothing replaces personal interaction in treatment, Young said.

“Previously when we would go out and hold testing events, you have people really fearful of HIV and really fearful of their results,” Young said. “To hold their hand, share a story while they wait for the results, just talking to them — a personal connection is made. If you lose them outside of that 10 minutes they’re waiting, or don’t have that connection with them in the first place, it’s harder to reconnect and certainly harder to get them to care.”

Keeping people in care after a diagnosis is difficult, said Christine Teague, program director at Charleston Area Medical Center’s Ryan White Program.

“It’s our biggest challenge in HIV care right now, that engagement and retention piece. We exist to take care of the most vulnerable and most challenged populations, and we have the wraparound support services to do that,” Teague said. “Ninety percent of what we do is dealing with the social services aspect of it — the housing, the homelessness, the poverty issues. The other 10%, the medical side, that’s the easy piece.”

While the unintended consequences of the pandemic are impossible to ignore, Kilkenny said, he’s also noticed “an unintended benefit.”

As evictions slowed in Cabell during the pandemic and fewer people worried about being displaced from homes, treatment and health care became a priority.

“We really saw the public health improve for a lot of our poorest people during that time, and it was not necessarily in ways that we could measure with disease, but just in that stability and that ability to take care of other things,” Kilkenny said. “What we’ve learned from homelessness is that it’s very destabilizing. You cannot launch without a launch pad. You cannot achieve anything but your next meal and next place of shelter if you don’t have those. The true importance of us really tackling homelessness as a social and public health problem, it was an unintended benefit to see how important that is in many ways.”