PPE requests slow, county plans for recovery, re-opening

Board of Supervisors
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     As state COVID-19 restrictions are loosened up, Jones County Emergency Management Coordinator Brenda Leonard said the requests for PPE resources have started to slow down a bit.

     She gave an update to the Board of Supervisors during their April 28 meeting.

     However, there is still a need for PPE gowns, and Leonard said she is looking into having them made versus the disposable ones.

     She said the state public health department is asking counties to conserve PPE due to a shortage so there is enough for the frontline workers versus the general population.

     With people donating many items to frontline workers right now, Leonard also received 18 cases of Girl Scout cookies that were given to Jones County first responders.

     With some hope in the air and a few businesses in Jones County slowly opening their doors, Leonard said her role has shifted a bit to recovery on the backside of the pandemic.

     “How can we can help businesses and residents in the county?” she offered.

     EMA is also working with Public Health, JETS and Senior Dining on food distribution. She said they’ve received 30 requests for food already.

     As Jones Regional Medical Center starts to offer essential elective surgeries again, per the Governor’s recommendations, Leonard said it’s also important to have enough PPE on hand for those instances as well.

     Lenna Lovaas, Public Health, said as of April 28 there were 20 confirmed positive cases in Jones County; six active and 12 probable cases. Nine had recovered.

     She also explained the Governor’s new proclamation that loosens social distancing guidelines in 77 of the state’s 99 counties, including Jones County. “Businesses can open to limited capacity,” she said.

     Supervisor Wayne Manternach asked whether Public Health was going to contact businesses and explain the new limitations as they’re allowed to open the public. Lovaas said they were issuing a press release, as well as a Q&A on social media.

     Linn County Public Health would be the one to contact businesses, as well as Paula Hart with Jones County Environmental Health.

     County Auditor Janine Sulzner informed the board that the $44,000 Iowa Economic Alliance food distribution grant wants the county to reconsider use of the program. The board was awarded the grant, which does not require a match, but previously chose to turn it down due to the required paperwork and follow-up. Leonard found another source of money to get food in residents’ hands. Sulzner explained the county could go ahead with the program and deal with the follow-up paperwork at a later time.

     “I’d consider using the money,” she said.

     With more information on the matter to come, the board will take action at their next meeting.

     Amy Picray, County Treasurer, inquired about the possibility of scheduling department head meetings to discuss if, when, and how county offices/departments would slowly open up to the public.

     “It doesn’t hurt to have a plan,” said Supervisor Joe Oswald.

     Leonard warned everyone that Region 6, which includes Jones County, is still at a level 9 (from a level 10) in terms of COVID-19 cases, and suggested continuing to restrict people in the courthouse. “Not until we’re on the decline,” she said. “I agree with having a plan, that’s why we’re looking at recovery already to get things in place. But I don’t suggest we open up.”

     Picray agreed, saying her office, especially, was not ready for the mass public. But she wanted to get a feel for what opening might look like.

     Supervisor Ned Rohwedder felt that each department head could make that determination for their own offices.

     “But I would prefer a conversation with the courthouse as a whole,” reiterated Picray. “And Brenda and Jenna’s opinions, too.”


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