Commission gets update now on local COVID-19 numbers

Marion County Health Department Administrator Diedre Serene opened the meeting with an update on COVID-19 cases. She stated that there have been 24 cases with 11 active cases. Due to the large number of cases now facing Marion County, the Health Department will now be updating on Monday through Friday around 4. They will update the chart on the website.

After Serene explained that the health department is contact tracing as usual, Commissioner Dianne Novak asked her what that entailed. Serene explained that the health department contacts anyone the positive person has been in contact with for more than 10 minutes from two days before the start of their symptoms.

“Is that something that we came up here or is that something that comes from higher up?” asked Novak.

“That comes from higher up. That’s actually all over federal. The state does have contact tracers if counties need them. That’s something that we are planning to use Sherry as a contact tracer. What they do is once the nurse identifies the positive case, if she gets overwhelmed, the contact tracer can help with identifying with who they have been in contact with and help to monitor those contacts that were identifying,” said Serene.

Novak asked how that was done. Serene explained that there is a questionnaire that has the contact take their temperature daily and monitor themselves for any symptoms to contact their health care provider.

“Just hearing it today, the word that comes to my mind is surveillance. And I am just really concerned about that and how we divide that off. Tracking people. I just think that is another phase of the slipperier the slope of how we find out who they talk to when they talk to them and so forth. I don’t know. I’m just concerned,” said Novak.

“Well, this is what is is. We call it disease investigation and surveillance. That’s what disease epidemiology is. That’s what we do with any foodborne illness, other respiratory issues, measles and that’s how public health keeps the public safe,” explained Serene.

“Well, I don’t remember that when I was growing up,” said Novak.

Novak then went on to question Serene about how surgeons use masks in the operating room and other similar questions. After answering numerous questions, Serene brought the conversation back to the relevant topic for Marion County.

“We are trying to figure out what is the best to prevent the most hospitalization and death. That is the ultimate goal,” said Serene.

Serene said she would like to add a few nurses as needed during the pandemic to help her keep on top of all of the work. She would also like to increase the pay of her current nurse.

“What is your budget?” asked Commissioner Randy Dallke.

“The PRN (as needed) nurses would be covered under the COVID-19 money,” said Serene.

The commissioners voted 5-0 to add part-time nurses as needed through the pandemic.

Road & Bridge

County Engineer Brice Goebel shared that KDOT did approve the cost amount for 330th and Nighthawk which will allow for the funds to do all the repairs needed.

“Marion County got two big projects which is a pretty big kudos. It’s a good thing for Marion County as well as the people who drive those roads,” said Goebel.

Goebel followed up on the request from the week before from the commissioners for information on what is being done. Goebel stated that the program he has did not do what he thought it did so he could just make a spreadsheet to gather that information.

Becker encouraged Goebel to reach out to Morris County and ask them about a program they use to record their information. Goebel said that he would connect with them.

Novak asked Goebel to check out a road for an elderly couple at 330th and Old Mill. Goebel stated that he would.

Park & Lake

Lake Superintendent Isaac Hett updated the board on the bids for the damaged roofs from the hail storm in May. Eleven of the buildings out at the lake had damage.

The commissioners voted to go with Laurie Roofing with the bid of $17,700.

Hett stated that the patrol truck is currently at Arlie’s getting hail damage repaired. It should be repaired this week.

Hett informed the commissioners that the Lake Hall has been in use again but they have not been requiring masks. He asked if they should be since they have not been requiring 6 foot distance. County Attorney Brad Jantz stated that he could provide a waiver releasing the county from liability for parties using the Lake Hall who chose not to wear masks.

Hett gave an update on the blue-green algae. He stated that the lake has been under a warning now for three weeks. KDHE came out and tested the week of July 4, but have not been out otherwise.

“We’ve been having to go fill a jar (from KDHE) up, let it settle and then send the picture to KDHE as well as fill out a report,” said Hett. “The lake actually looks pretty good right now. This will be our third week now with the swimming area closed, but the boating and fishing and all is still open. The bloom has not been active but the cell count has been high enough to be a concern.”

In other business, the board:

n approved the hiring of an administrative assistant for the SPARK committee. The board also authorized the committee to move forward in their hiring of a firm they choose.

n met in executive session with County Attorney Brad Jantz, Planning, Zoning and Environmental Health Director Sharon Omstead and Attorney Pat Hughes in order to discuss potential litigation.

n the board discussed revisiting mandating masks but decided not to.

n heard from Gloria McDowell of SKEDD about CDBG applications for business owners who have lost money due to COVID-19.

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