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County nurse fears some not staying home

Confidential site uses cell phone pings to track people’s movements

Staff writer

County health nurse Diedre Serene told commissioners Monday that despite three confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the county as of Sunday some residents were not following the governor’s orders.

“I have my doubts that some people are complying with the stay at home order, but I would hope they would,” Serene said.

Serene said Epitrax, a confidential website consulted by public health officials that uses cell phone pings to track people’s movements, previously rated the county a C for its residents’ cooperation with social distancing. On Sunday, the website gave the county an F, on Monday a D, and on Tuesday back up to a C.

Serene said she’s glad to see people are doing a better job of staying put than they were a few days ago.

Medical providers in the county have done 33 COVID-19 tests, with 30 test results negative.

Health providers in the county are sending COVID-19 tests to a laboratory in Arizona,

Serene said. The providers are required to report positive test results to either the county health department or Kansas Department of Health and Environment within four hours.

KDHE contacted Serene Sunday with the third positive test result and investigation of the person’s contacts began immediately.

The locations of people who test positive are not being released, Serene said.

“We have a lot of people ask where they are,” Serene said. “If you are a close contact, you will be notified.”

When someone tests positive, they must remain in isolation for seven days from the first onset of symptoms or until they are fever-free for 72 hours, whichever is longer.

Their close contacts must be in quarantine for 14 days after their last contact to see if they develop symptoms.

“If they do develop any symptoms, they are to notify their provider,” Serene said.

Serene said so far everyone who has seen a provider to be checked for the virus has had a fever thermometer at home, but she wants to see if the health department can get thermometers for people who don’t already have one.

“If we have to get creative, we’ll get creative,” Serene said.

Commission chairman Jonah Gehring said it might be good if people going to the grocery store could leave their children home.

“It’s kind of hard to do that,” Gehring said.

Serene said common seasonal ailments such as influenza and the common cold are still going around, and cause similar symptoms.

Marion County Park and Lake director Isaac Hett said he talked to a few out-of-county residents who came to the lake over the weekend, and they understood about a “county resident only” policy commissioners enacted a week ago.

People who rent trailer lots at the lake have asked if they have to pay lot rent when they cannot use their trailers. Commissioners decided rent will be paid as usual.

Hett said he’s been in contact with the trailer group through social media, and they aren’t upset about the lake being limited to county residents because they weren’t planning to come until late May.

However, the annual bluegrass festival at the lake will likely be canceled.

Although Gehring suggested the event be postponed instead of canceled, Hett said bands are on board with cancelation.

Commissioner Randy Dallke said he’d be in favor of canceling the festival.

“The whole country leans toward getting rid of this COVID-19 thing,” Dallke said.

Commissioners set April 13 for further discussion of the bluegrass festival.

Commissioners might discontinue the county’s recycling program over the rates charged by a Hutchinson recycling center. The county earlier took recyclables to Ft. Riley, which took the materials at no charge, but Ft. Riley stopped recycling because of COVID-19. The Hutchinson recycling center charges $98.50 a ton. Recycling will be discussed again April 20.

In a split vote with commissioner Dianne Novak opposed, commissioners decided on an employee Blue Cross Blue Shield plan that would cost the county $154,052 more a year than the current plan but increase maximum out-of-pocket limits for employees. Novak wanted a plan that would cost $34,458 more and increase deductibles between $1,000 and $2,000 more while increasing co-pays from 20% to 50%.

Last modified April 9, 2020

 

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