County commissioners hear updates on virus

The Marion County Board of Commissioners meeting on Monday, March 23 opened with an update on COVID-19 from County Health Department Administrator Diedre Serene, Marion Dr. Don Hodson and Marion County Emergency Management Director Randy Frank.

Serene started off the meeting stating an emergency public health order that includes the following main points:

1. All large public gatherings of people in the County are prohibited. Large public gatherings are those with more than 10 people in attendance or anticipated to attend, both indoor and outdoor, except for governmental functions, judicial functions, and all deemed essential industries as defined by US Homeland Security.

2. Religious services, funerals, and memorial services, as defined by the Internal Revenue Service, are authorized to have more than 10 people in attendance but must ensure appropriate social distancing of at least six feet between non-cohabiting members.

3. All restaurants, dining facilities, bars, taverns, clubs, auditoriums, bowling alleys, fitness centers, swimming pools, and any public gathering locations or special events in Marion County, Kansas are hereby ordered closed to the public effective at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, March 24, 2020, until April 07, 2020, except that any such establishment may continue to provide carryout, drive-through, and delivery food and beverage services. In all areas, establishments must follow the guidance provided by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), federal, state, and local public health officials for social distancing and infection control measures.

4. This order may be supplanted or modified as required for the effective and efficient management and control of the Coronavirus epidemic in the County by further order or direction of the Marion County Board of Public Health or by the Marion County Local Health Officer.

“People need to be creative in the workplace in following social distancing,” said Serene. “Practice social distancing. Respect the order of not gathering with more than ten and practice good hand washing for at least 20 seconds.”

Dr. Hodson agreed and added his own advice.

“We are really trying to get people to take this physical distancing very seriously. When we look at the recent studying and evidence from China, we find that most people who passed it didn’t even know that they were ill. The problem is you can be perfectly fine. The person next to you could be perfectly fine and then you could be passing the virus and go pass it to an elderly person who could lose their life because of it. People need to understand that the distancing isn’t about them, but is about protecting the portions of the population who can’t withstand this disease,” said Dr. Hodson.

“If you have questions about the mandate or if you have traveled to any of the four states (California, New York, Washington and Florida) or the four counties in Colorado, please call the health department. It is a mandate that you go into quarantine if you have traveled to any of those places,” said Serene. “Remember, the schools were canceled for a reason so I would encourage that students limit their contact with others.”

Frank also shared an update.

“We are on multiple conference calls several times a day constantly trying to assess things. We are currently working on a plan to supplement our EMTs if we have to quarantine any of them,” said Frank. “To help clarify rumors going around regarding the military that is being seen, we are not in danger of martial law. That is not even being considered. They are delivering supplies for the hospitals and medical facilities.”

Commissioner Jonah Gehring, who is in quarantine and joined by online video, said that he noticed an update had been posted online over the weekend but not updated on a website.

“These mandates and updates can change day to day and even several times a day. Please continue to refer to the KDHE website for the most current information,” said Serene.

In other business, the council:

n heard that the Small Business Administration is working on setting up loans for small businesses and should soon pass something

n learned that the soil under the transfer station is contaminated causing issues with the rebuilding of it.

n heard from Josh Housman that Fort Riley and Hutchinson will no longer be taking recycling for cities due to the virus. The county will be able to take it to Stutzmans for the time being but it will cost significantly more. Commissioner Dianne Novak stated that they may need to take it to the landfill in order to save money.

n discussed the state of the roads and need for quality rock with the recent rains

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