County considers appointment-only re-opening

Board of Supervisors
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     Department heads of various county offices and departments met last week to discuss how to safely re-open the Jones County Courthouse and other county buildings amid coronavirus.

     Emergency Management Coordinator Brenda Leonard informed the board of supervisors during their May 12 meeting that Madison County was doing a soft opening of its courthouse to county residents only.

     Leonard handed out a brochure detailing phase one of opening the county, with no timeline or dates associated with the opening.

     “We need input from everyone whether they’re ready to go now,” suggested Supervisor Ned Rohwedder of the individual county departments.

     County Treasurer Amy Picray and Auditor Janine Sulzner suggested another department head meeting is needed before facilities open to the public.

     Leonard said the Recorder and Auditor’s offices have been open by appointment only thus far.

     “We need everyone in agreement,” said Sulzner, “not just one office. All offices will need to start taking appointments.”

     Picray said her office would need a few days once they are fully staffed before bringing the public in. The supervisors asked her to look into whether the Treasurer’s Office could restrict services to just county residents for the time being.

     “The DOT encourages customers to do things remotely versus coming to our office,” said Picray. “But they don’t want our first question to people to be ‘what county do you live in?’”

     Aside from discussing opening the county, Leonard said she continues to get phone call requests from people concerning PPE. Recently, the calls have come from funeral homes and dentist offices.

     “They can purchase KN95 masks through me, but not N95,” she offered.

     Leonard did order 50 face shields and 100 KN95 masks to have on hand, with the possibility of ordering more. FEMA is also sending two shipments of PPE for long-term care facilities such as gloves, gowns, masks, and face shields.

     Public Health Director Jenna Lovaas reported that, as of May 12, there have been 34 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Jones County; 14 cases remain active. There were 15 probable cases that Public Health was still following.

     She shared that IDPH (Iowa Department of Public Health) issued new criteria concerning the virus.

     People with symptoms of COVID-19 should continue to self-isolate, regardless of whether they were tested or not, until after the following have happened:

     • They have had no fever for at least 72 hours (that is three full days of no fever without the use of medicine that reduces fevers).

     • Their other symptoms have improved (cough or shortness of breath).

     • At least 10 days have passed since their symptoms first appeared.

     Those who have tested positive for COVID-19 but do not experience symptoms should self-isolate until:

     • At least 10 days have passed since the date of the first positive test.

     • They continue to have no symptoms (cough or shortness of breath) since the test.

     Leonard informed the board that she’s been getting calls about food distribution once the schools cease their to-go meals in mid-May.

     “I’m amazed at the numbers they’ve been feeding,” she said of the three school districts in Jones County. “But there’s no funding to push school lunches farther.”

     Supervisor Wayne Manternach asked about summer food programs. Leonard said she wasn’t sure which schools were offering that considering the public can’t enter the school buildings right now.

     Sulzner said she was appointed to a state task force to begin discussions about opening court systems within county courthouses.

     In terms of absentee ballots for the June 2 primary, her office has issued over 2,500 absentees. Before now, the highest count was at 400.

     She expected PPE for the primary precinct sites to be delivered last week.


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