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Health department concerned about continued spread of COVID-19

Newest cases are community spread, of unknown origin

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Lawrence County Commissioners there were discussions on purchasing equipment, insurance and COVID-19.

Lawrence County Health Department director Georgia Dillon said the department has been very busy because they are seeing more cases and don’t know where people are contracting COVID-19.

“We have had about 26 cases (of COVID-19) and there are multiple contacts associated with those,” she said. “We are seeing more of a community spread. A lot of the numbers last month were related to long-term care facilities in the area. But now we are seeing a lot of community spread with unknown sources of where they have come in contact with a positive individual.”

She said there was a large outbreak in the past two weeks after a funeral with an extensive number of contacts and tracing that needed to be done.

“We are still monitoring all those,” Dillon said.

She added the health department is working with all the school superintendents to keep the numbers and the spread down.

“They have been very helpful,” Dillon said. “We can’t do it without their assistance and they have been a pleasure to work with and are very cooperative.”

The schools report any positive cases to the health department.

“We are watching that very closely and I think so far, we are doing a very good job of preventing spread in the schools,” she said.

A daily update on the COVID-19 cases are posted on both the health department and the commissioners Facebook pages.

Sheriff Jeff Lawless talked with the commissioners in an effort to replace some of the department’s cruisers.

“This office is in dire need of cruisers,” he said. “Most of those on the road are Crown Vics and they are absolutely worn out. I understand that this year has been horrible for everything involved, but we continue to rack up mile after mile on these old cars.”

According to Car and Driver magazine, the last Ford Crown Victoria Interceptor was produced on Sept. 15, 2011.

Lawless said they need six new cruisers and he could put together proposals for some replacement vehicles “if that is something is possible. I do understand that it is the end of the year and a lot of budget things need to be finalized to get through the end of the year.”

The commissioners had been working on getting new cruisers until the pandemic hit, but paused the effort to examine the county’s revenues. Lawless was asked to submit a proposal for the commissioners to consider.

Commissioner Holliday said that at a recent state board meeting that some of the new cruisers are equipped with COVID-19 prevention measures and some counties are using federal CARES Act funds to get those vehicles.

“So, if we take a real hard look at that, it may be to the county’s benefit to capitalize on some of that,” she said.

He also spoke about purchasing a body scanner for the jail. The Tek84 Intercept is a booth-sized body scanner that uses a low level of X-rays to detect foreign objects, such as illicit drugs, in a person and then the prisoner can be taken to the hospital for it to be removed. Scioto County is one of the few Southern Ohio that uses one of the devices.

“The price of it is quite high,” Lawless said. “It’s $169,000 for this piece of equipment.”

He said he would submit a proposal for future review.

“It could save a life down the road with the drug use problem we have,” Lawless said.

Carol Conway, an insurance broker, met with the county commissioners for a yearly review.

She said last year, the county switched to MetLife because the previous insurance company had a very high renewal rate.

“This year, not a whole lot happening,” Conway said. “From the good standpoint, last year we when we went with MetLife, we did lock in two year rates for all lines of coverage, except for dental.”

She said because of COVID-19 and low use of the dental plan, there won’t be the increase in insurance rates for 2021.

The Lawrence County Commissioners meet at 9 a.m. on Tuesdays and the meetings are available for viewing on the commissioners’ Facebook page.