Public Health discourages large, local gatherings

Board of Supervisors
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     The Jones County Supervisors, Public Health and Emergency Management had an in-depth conversation during their July 21 meeting regarding the appropriateness of large/mass gatherings.

     The Midwest Hillclimbers sought approval from the board for their September semi-annual hillclimb event in Anamosa. It was noted they expected to see close to 800 people. Their event application from last year estimated 1,500 to 1,800 spectators.

     Public Health Coordinator Jenna Lovaas said noting the high risk of spreading COVID-19 person to person and the increase of cases locally, JCPH recommends the event not take place this year.

     If the supervisors approved of the gathering, public health would require the names and phone numbers of everyone in attendance to assist in contact tracing should someone test positive who attended the hillclimb.

     “Masks would also be suggested for everyone, as well as social distancing and hand washing/sanitizing stations,” added Lovaas. She said any food that was served had to be pre-packaged.

     JCPH Community Health Specialist Jess Wiedenhoff commented that they’re struggling to keep up with almost 30 cases locally with contact tracing, 800 people would be a problem.

     “I’d hate to think how we would attempt to handle several hundred people,” she said, “or if we’d have access to that many tests.”

     Supervisor Jon Zirkelbach said with people locally being out and about, he could see how an event like this would snowball.

     “We’re giving some guidelines to anyone who has a large gathering,” offered Wiedenhoff. “But this applies to everybody.”

     The board approved recommending the Hillclimb organizers suspend their September event due to the current public health situation in Jones County.

     “Anything to reduce the risk (of the spread of COVID-19),” said Lovaas, in agreement. “They’d be bringing people here from other states.”

     “The risk is not worth the reward,” said Supervisor Wayne Manternach.

     Along the same lines of having a mass gathering, the board did approve a fireworks permit for Chad Cleppe and Borst Bros. Construction for an event on Aug. 1 near Olin. The event expects about 200 people.

     The board said the organizers had to adhere to the current COVID-19 CDC guidelines, and can’t exceed 200 people.

     “There is a lot of room to social distance during the fireworks,” noted Supervisor Ned Rohwedder, who was in contact with the event site, Lulu’s Landing.

     Manternach and Zirkelbach, asked that with the increase in cases should the board consider denying fireworks permits for the time being.

     The approval from here on out will include a list of CDC recommendations and guidelines event organizers must follow.

In other county business:

     The board approved a Shared Liability 28E Agreement with the East Central Iowa Workforce Development Area.

     The board approved amending the Aug. 20, 2019 contract with Kluesner Construction to add a quarter of a mile of River Road in Monticello to the seal coat project list. The cost associated with the amendment is $14,024.

     The board approved a 28E agreement with Camp Courageous for the installation of a pedestrian tunnel under 190th Street.

     Eric Grove, county engineer in training, said Camp funded and hired contractors to construct the project on their own. Camp will also provide future maintenance of the tunnel/culvert.

     In terms of traffic coming and going from Pictured Rocks, Camp is providing access from their newly acquired property (formerly Pictured Rocks Methodist Camp).

     The board set a public hearing on Tuesday, Aug. 11 at 9:15 a.m. for a re-zoning request at 13276 Circle Dr. in Anamosa from R-Residential to C2-Highway Commercial. The owner has plans to erect a billboard to advertise his Bobcat rental business.

     Planning and Zoning Commission approved the re-zoning agreement with conditions.


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