|5/29/2020 11:59:00 AM|
County Board debriefed on Covid related operations
The County Board meeting May 20 was mostly a time for catching up...the commissioners were seated several feet apart in the Government Center Board Room, where they heard from a Public Health Administrator on virus-related activities, the County Engineer had an update on the construction season, the Environmental Services Director spoke of projects in the works and the County Administrator got some feedback on measures to re-open the Government Center, at the same time reminding the Board this is still “a long ways away.”
Administrator Chase Burnham explained the re-opening plan has at least three stages. The government center now is officially closed; but the state courts on the top floor continue to function-- so the physical building is open with security. Department heads are overseeing office re-arrangements to create work space distance for when employees return to being on-site. Essential staff are making appointments but additional guidance is being developed to ensure they will be safely doing their jobs.
The next stage, whenever that comes, calls for safety glass at all public contact counters, which the Board approved a quote last week to install.
On speaker phone, Courtney Wehrenberg, Public Health, told the Board the county hotline is getting lots of calls and questions; including about the June 1 turning of the dial, with the Governor having announced opening for places like half-capacity restaurant service, fitness centers and salons in Minnesota.
The local coronavirus testing capacity is slowly building, she said, after a rocky start based on concerns over quantities of supplies and prioritizing their usage.
Wehrenberg said the county residents who are in quarantine circumstances are able to arrange for help with food delivery, medical products, prescriptions, chores, etc. in a system that the county, Family Pathways and Blue Cross Blue Shield are supporting. While there has been no positive covid-19 presence confirmed in any of the larger Long Term Care facilities in Chisago County, Wehrenberg said Ecumen in North Branch has developed a “partitioned care area.” This is meant for Long Term Care residents of Ecumen. Should there be people with positive test results or exposed to covid-19, who don’t need hospitalization, but need to be segregated from others in the facility that’s what this wing is for, she explained.
County Board Chair Ben Montzka made a point of thanking Public Health and the county Emergency Management departments for their great work. At the time of the Board meeting there was still one county death attributed to covid-19 with 38 cases in the county.
County Engineer Joe Triplett reported the legislature ended the session with no bonding bill, which the county was watching closely. Triplett is “still trying to keep momentum going” on state aid for future improvements for Highway 8.
The contractor for the Highway 8 round-about at Center City is enjoying pretty decent weather and work is on-track for completion by July 4, Triplett reported.
In other areas:
~ Expect a two-week Hwy 95 closure related to the the round-about project in east-North Branch soon.
~ The Swedish Immigrant Regional Trail work is scheduled to be done this fall, Environmental Services Director Kurt Schneider told the Board. Permits for new housing are down by about three compared to last year-- and overall construction is running close to what was projected.
Schneider reminded the Board about pending action June 3 on the short term rental ordinance. (See sidebar story.)
~ The commissioners approved the right of way request for the section of the Sunrise Prairie Trail, where a short length of trail is being adjusted in Wyoming City.(See graphic.)
The Board continues to remind citizens to continue to use the public comment area, on www.chisagocounty.us to submit input on topics.
“Public Microphone” on the agenda is not active due to the public not being allowed in the Board Room under existing state executive order prohibiting large groups.
And, you may e mail comments directly to your commissioner. Last week, Commissioner Chris DuBose commented that he’d received about 27 electronic messages sent to his e mail address, supporting the channel bog-clearing being done at North Center and North Lindstrom.
The staff is working on the most sensible way to hold a verbal public hearing again with the public in attendance, might require people taking a number and maintaining social distance while waiting to speak.