Marion Co. Health Department clears the air

Marion County Health Department Administrator Diedre Serene gave several updates last week.

“Gov. Kelly has outlined these plans and put dates in, but people need to know that it won’t be any earlier than those dates. For example, phase two is scheduled to begin on May 18, but if we aren’t ready, we won’t start then,” said Serene. “As a county, we can’t move ahead of the state, but we can always make plans stricter. The state may move up to phase two, but if we are having an outbreak, we will wait longer, even if the state moves up.”

She explains that this doesn’t change anything as far as following safety measures.

“It’s up to individuals to follow guidelines. Stay home when you are sick. Practice social-distancing,” said Serene.

Serene also explained why we are now showing a higher number of 6 cases than we were previously.

“If you look on the chart, one of the cases between April 2 and 4 says “probable”. This is because we were short on tests then, and one of our positive cases had a contact who probably would have tested positive, but we did not use a test up to test them. We simply treated them as if they did have the virus and began their isolation for the last day of the contamination period of the positive case. So we are isolating those cases that are probable and quarantining those who we know are positive. KDHE was not counting those cases then but they are now counting them and marking them as probable. I just want to explain that so people know that we have been transparent.”

As far as restaurants, Serene explained that she issued an order about self-serve salad bars and self-serve buffets needing to wait for a further phase since there is so much cross-contamination that happens. The convenience stores now have self serve fountain drinks and coffee except for one place that serves coffee out of a carafe that has to be touched. There are also no refill options. All cups must be new at this time.

“Please be aware that the health department is not the enforcing agency. We usually try to contact the facility to explain the orders and see if we can work out some kind of agreement. If there continues to be an issue, then we will contact the law enforcement agency in that community. It is not up to us,” said Serene.

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