October 15, 2020 Thursday 9:00 am
The Bourbon County Commission met in open session for a special meeting to discuss COVID-19; present were the Commissioners and the County Clerk.
Also present were the following: Jason Silvers with the Fort Scott Tribune, Emergency Manager William Wallis, Alice Maffett with the Health Department, Michael Hoyt, Richard Goldstein, Bill Martin and Kevin Davidson.
Lynne briefly discussed an article in the Pittsburg Morning Sun, regarding Pittsburg’s Ascension Via Christi halting doing any non emergent or elective procedures due to an influx of cases in Crawford & Bourbon County, and a statement made by a Crawford County Commissioner regarding Bourbon County. Crawford County Commissioner Mr. Moody said “we’re allowing these other counties that are doing basically nothing to fill our hospitals, which takes away from our county constituents” he suggested a meeting with the other counties. Lynne said many regional hospitals are at or near capacity; Clifton said that wasn’t true for HCA system facilities in the KC area. Jeff said a level of warning is when a percentage of the population has COVID and another level of warning is the capacity of the hospitals. He said Ascension sent out a red flag since they were at capacity. Alice Maffett gave the statistics of the Bourbon County cases and hospital transfers to date… 5 transferred to Pittsburg, 4 to Wichita, 3 to Nevada, 1 to KC and 1 to Joplin. William Wallis said he didn’t think Bourbon County was overwhelming Via Christi, he said a plan needs to be put in place for future cases needing hospitalized. He suggested using the old Mercy building as a triage area to hold those patients; he said staffing for this could be an issue. William said they have a Corona virus task force in place and said they work closely with KDEM. William said that the EMS was told not to transport any patients to Pittsburg or Joplin hospitals. William has been providing PPE to nursing homes, emergency responders, and many others. Alice said there are currently 63 active COVID cases in Bourbon County and over 200 total cases. She said this volume of cases is a threshold that triggers precautions. USD234 (who has a mandatory mask policy) recently changed policy on students; if a student with a mask on comes in contact with a positive case, the school will allow them in the school. Alice was concerned that they could be placing students in the school in hopes that they don’t turn positive. Alice said that area nursing homes are monitoring their staff and residents for COVID, she said the problem now is the outbreak in the Correctional Center; she said it is difficult to keep up with contact tracing and said they have reached out to KDHE for help with contact tracing. Alice providing KDHE information regarding masks; masks are not meant to replace social distancing and good hand washing. She said some COVID cases will not have symptoms and said an infected person could spread the virus two days before symptoms appear. Some masks (some homemade masks) may not be able to filter smaller COVID virus droplets. Masks are recommended when social distancing at least 6’ isn’t possible and in a setting for 10 minutes or more. USD235 has an optional mask policy and has had minimal cases. Bill Martin said he had 8 correctional officers that tested positive for COVID; he said his departments will have overtime to cover the staff that are absent. He said not one Commissioner had reached out to him regarding the issues they are facing; Lynne said he was informed of the cases at the Correctional Center by the Health Department, he said to coordinate with William Wallis and the Commissioners and if they can help they will help. Alice said when she found out about the positive case there, she contacted the nurse at the jail and Alice said she suggested testing all of the staff there; Alice said she started doing the contact tracing to try to warn them ahead of the time. Jeff questioned how someone could volunteer to help Bill; Bill said they would need to pass a background check. William Wallis told Bill that the next step might be to transfer inmates and shut down, Bill said there wouldn’t be a place that would take infected inmates, so that wasn’t an option. It was suggested that the Sheriff’s department should write tickets for individuals not wearing masks; Bill said the Attorney General said that law enforcement didn’t have the authority to write such tickets. Michael Hoyt questioned the use of UV light at the Correctional Center. Richard Goldstein asked Alice how many of the 200 students that had previously been quarantined got sick; Alice said she didn’t know and said another nurse handled that situation based on State recommendations, Richard said zero students got sick, Alice said she felt putting those students in quarantine did protect them. Kayla Stewart (on the telephone) with the ER in Fort Scott, said all of the Crawford County schools were requiring masks, she said even if a person is wearing a mask and they are closer than 6’ there are ways to transmit the virus, she said the hospitals are filling up. She said this is a problem and said something has to change; she was concerned over a patient needing bed space that may not be available.
Lynne made a motion that Clifton Beth be allowed to respond to Mr. Moody, Jeff seconded and all approved.
Lynne said his take from the meeting was that Bourbon County is not a contributing factor to the overpopulated bed space at Via Christi and said that transporting patients to hospitals further away will affect the EMS department.
At 11:41, Lynne made a motion to adjourn, Jeff seconded and all approved.
THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
OF BOURBON COUNTY, KANSAS
(ss) Lynne Oharah, Chairman
(ss) Jeff Fischer, Commissioner
(ss) Clifton Beth, Commissioner
Kendell Mason, Bourbon County Clerk
November 10, 2020, Approved Date