Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner said Wednesday the time since the COVID-19 pandemic began in March has been “a busy eight-months” as he briefed the Highland County Board of Commissioners on what his office has been doing to promote the health and safety of the community.
“We’re working on our case count updates, and with Monday’s numbers, we had 183 currently sick, which was slightly down from Friday,” he said. “Hopefully, that’s the start of a positive trend.”
He said the pop-up COVID-19 testing event last Friday at the Highland County Fairgrounds was a success, with 163 people participating.
“It looks like we’ve got 16 confirmed positives, and one more that the lab has marked as preliminary positive for a total of 17,” he said. “That will impact our numbers in the short term, but our hope is to catch these cases early so we can isolate and contact trace, then quarantine so we can prevent future spread.”
He said that his office was closely watching the overall hospitalization rates in southwest Ohio, adding that the number of those in the hospital was the highest it’s been since the pandemic began in March, and that those in intensive care were on the rise as well.
He also thanked the community for passage of the renewal levy that was on Tuesday’s ballot, saying that the health department worked closely with the board of elections to insure that everyone — even those that were COVID positive — could vote if they wanted to.
“We got a call from the governor’s office last week and they’re talking about this concept of a COVID Defense Team that they’d like to see in each county,” Warner said. “Our county essentially already has one, and we’ve been working really well with our community partners.”
Commission president Jeff Duncan said Gov. Mike DeWine’s video conference call essentially was to determine what Highland County had been doing in reaction to the pandemic.
“I think he was well-satisfied that we were doing all we could do here,” Duncan said.
Warner said that a drive-thru flu immunization clinic similar to one staged recently for county employees was being scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 24 at the Paint Creek Joint EMS Fire station on North East Street in Hillsboro.
“It’ll be open to the public, but we are asking people to preregister,” he said, “which is just a phone call to us so we can check insurance and get information in advance of the event so they can drive through faster.”
Also Wednesday, the commissioners entered into executive session for contract negotiations with the Fraternal Order of Police and business consultants Clemens, Nelson and Associates. After emerging from executive session, commissioner David Daniels announced that they would enter into the contract with the FOP.
According to the agreement, there is to be a 2-percent increase to all steps effective pay period 26 of calendar year 2020, with a 2-percent increase to all steps effective pay period 1 of calendar year 2021 and another 2-percent increase to all steps effective pay period 1 of calendar year 2022.
The agreement also specified that the parties agreed to a reopener on wages for calendar year 2023, with a lump sum payment of $1,000 on pay period 25 of calendar year 2020.
The three COVID-19 funding requests that were tabled during last week’s meeting were approved.
Highland County Board of DD requested $13,973 for incurred expenses for the time period August 2020 through October 2021.
Highland County Court in Greenfield requested $70,237 for laptop computers for court personnel for the continuation of court business in the event of working from home due to illness or quarantine. Judge Robert Judkins indicated in the request the desire to be able to communicate and litigate virtually in some cases, which commission vice president Terry Britton said would necessitate equipment upgrades in the court.
An additional request for $4,100 was submitted by the court for software upgrades since Britton said the court at present had no website and no online presence.
He said the request would allow the court to accept payments online, give direction for attorneys and defendants in an online docket and reduce the amount of in-person interaction and in-person court appearances.
In other matters, two contracts met with commission approval, one being a renewal for a security system at the Highland County Justice Center with Simplex Grinnell Fire & Security. The other was an update to an original contract with Stanley Covergent Security Solutions for the sheriff’s office, reflecting a change in the start date of the contract to Jan. 1, 2021.
“We want to recognize the folks that work out at the hospital,” Duncan said. “November is National Home Health Care Month and we usually have a proclamation for them and also for National Home Health Aid Week, which is Nov. 8 through 14.”
He said that due to the pandemic, he at least wanted his office to recognize their many contributions to the county.
Due to the observance of Veterans Day on Wednesday, Nov. 11, Duncan said next week’s commissioners meeting would be moved to Tuesday, Nov. 10 at 9 a.m.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.