County gets details on local COVID-19 effort

Finney County Emergency Management and Finney County Health Department updated the county commission on their COVID-19 efforts at Monday’s regular meeting.

Stephen Green, Finney County Emergency Management director, said his department and the Emergency Operations Center have been keeping in daily contact with the Kansas Department of Emergency Management.

“We have two conference calls a day ... that’s seven days a week,” he said. “We are communicating with them, we’re communicating with our Southwest Regional Emergency Management representative as well.”

Personal protective equipment continues to be a struggle, but they have received deliveries from the state and those have been disseminated as needed, Green said.

Local vendors have also volunteered and donated supplies, Green said.

Emergency management has also identified there might be some food stockpile shortages at food banks.

“So we've reached out to the United Way to identify what their contingency is, how long could they support if we had to activate some food banks, things of that nature,” he said. “They've responded back with their various network of volunteer organizations and whatnot, and they've confirmed that they've got a 30-day supply. We had to position ourselves to start supporting local communities from a food bank perspective.”

Green said emergency management has also started to put together a team to deal with some of the FEMA particulars as it pertains to some cost recovery once the COVID-19 situation is done so they can be ready to send in the documentation and paperwork.

“We're expanding a lot of our resources, not just our physical resources but our financial resources,” he said. “We have an opportunity to capture some of that, and we want to be ahead of the game.”

Health department director Colleen Dree said the drive-thru testing center opened Monday.

As of Monday morning, there were 20 appointments reserved and the afternoon was filling up, Drees reported.

“It’s definitely a tremendous need in our community,” she said.

It is open by appointment only, if people come there without an appointment they will be directed off of the property and will be given a COVID-19 hotline card, which they should call and follow their instructions to see if an appointment needs to be made.

The hotline is manned 24/7, and the testing center is open from 9 a.m. to 4:20 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Also at the meeting, a memorandum of understanding between the county and USD 457 was approved.

County administrator Robert Reece said the memorandum allows the county to utilize some of the school districts nurses for volunteer purposes through the testing process.

Three are working so far, Reece said.

“They are still employees of the school district, but in essence it’s allowing them to work underneath their coverage, but under our protocol for this event,” he said. “I anticipate that we will try to work out the same process with the college as well.”

In other business:

• The commission approved a bid of $551,473.17 by B&H paving for the 2020 sealing project. The project will seal approximately 40 miles of road on Holcomb Lane, Parallel Road, E. Plymel Road, River Road and Beefland Road.

• County Engineer John Ellermann said they are still trying to get right of way properties for the Farmland Road project.

• The commission approved its first loan applicant for the Community Development Block Grant Emergency Loan Fund. Rosies Helping Hands will receive $35,000.