With Iowa having more than 100 cases of COVID-19, but none in Page County, Page County Board of Supervisors approved a disaster declaration for the county during their teleconference meeting Tuesday, March 24.
The disaster states how the global spread of the virus has disrupted government services and threatens county residents; the county has the authority to use emergency funds from available sources and will utilize the state when needed.
On Tuesday, March 17, supervisors agreed to limit courthouse access by leaving dropboxes outside the courthouse for residents to leave information. The boxes are emptied and processed daily. The county makes certain arrangements for the exchange information related to the purchasing or selling of real estate.
The courthouse status is why supervisors used a teleconference for their meeting, and allowed by state law. County officials do not have a timeline for how long the conference call meetings will last.
Since the limited access, county officials said the response has been positive.
“It’s an understanding public,” said Treasurer Angie Dow. She noted how popular the drop boxes have been and suggested making them permanent after the virus threat ends. She also noted how more people have used the mail to get information to her office.
“Things have gone well,” Dow said.
Recorder Brenda Esaias also noted the popularity of the drop box and mail with her department.
Auditor Melissa Wellhausen said plans are still in place for the June 2 primary and the state is considering allowing more time only for those ballots to be mailed.
Page County Public Health Administrator Jessica Erdman said as of Monday, March 23, Iowa had 105 confirmed cases. Adair and Pottawattamie counties were the closest locations of cases to Page County. Erdman said Page County residents are being tested, but declined any further details.
“Governor Reynolds is not looking at shelter-in-place but is strongly urging people to go ahead and take necessary steps to protect themselves. Stay at home, especially if ill,” Erdman said.
Shelter-in-place is when people are confined to their home and only leave for necessary item, like groceries and health care. Some cities and states have enacted that measure. Reynolds is having daily updates at 2:30 p.m.
County Emergency Management Coordinator Kris Grebert said he has contacted providers of personal protection equipment to further supply hospitals in Clarinda, Shenandoah, sheriff’s office and Coin’s emergency service which includes an ambulance. Coin can respond to medical calls without the backup of Clarinda or Shenandoah.
He was told providers are prioritizing hospitals more than any other entity.
“Our county is working hard under these difficult conditions,” said supervisor Chuck Morris.
Supervisors approved paid sick leave rules related to the virus effective March 25. All employees are eligible for emergency paid sick leave except employees designated as essential staff. Essential staff includes sheriff department, emergency management, 911 dispatchers and public health.
Those will only be allowed to take emergency paid sick leave if they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and are seeking a medical diagnosis or are caring for a person who is subject to quarantine or isolation.
The policy is scheduled to end Dec. 31.
In other county news:
At the suggestion by supervisors, County Engineer J.D. King will further discuss the needs for gravel roads with rock supplier Schildberg Construction of Greenfield which submitted the only bid. Although the bid was not approved, King said he will ask Schildberg if the rock can be crushed to a smaller size than what was suggested.