Southern Utah News Articles
Kane County COVID Task Force update - Dec. 17
Alan Alldredge, Kane County Emergency Services
Tracy Glover, Kane County Sheriff
Rob Van Dyke, Kane County Attorney
Lamont Smith, Kane County Commission
Rhonda Gant, Kane County HR Director
Camille Johnson Taylor, Kane County Office of Tourism
Dr. David Blodgett, Southwest Regional Health Department
Sherrie Pandya, Stuart Willoughby, Kane County Hospital and Ambulance
Jessie Staples, Alton Town
Megan Ramsay and Nick Hoyt, Kane County Dispatch and Correctional Facility
Robert Houston, Joe Decker, Tom Cram, Kanab City
Robert Caruso, Orderville Town
Scott Alvord, Utah Division of Emergency Management
Bart Battista, Best Friends Animal Society
Pat Horning, Big Water Fire Chief
Ben Dalton- Superintendent, Kane County School District
Craig Hansen, Kane County Senior Citizen Center
Devin Reed, Kane County IT Director
Pat Guerrero, Kanab Chamber of Commerce
Kasey Ramsay, Workforce Services
Lauren Willie, Red Cross
Chad Szymanski, Beehive Homes
Kory Young, Advantage Home Medical
Jeff Mosdell, Mosdell Mortuary
Welcomed everyone to the meeting and briefly discussed Kane County’s current status. Kane County is currently at 132 cases, which puts us third highest in the Southwest region. Our numbers have jumped rapidly in the last few weeks and hope that in a couple of weeks the numbers will drop off as fast when those cases are considered recovered.
Statewide and in our counties, we have peaked and are in a flat or decreasing pattern. We have dropped about 25 percent since the peak, which was November 20, before Thanksgiving. There has been an increase in cases since Thanksgiving, but we did not see the potential spike that everyone was worried about. He mentioned that the Governor would be making some changes today, primarily in how schools are responding to cases and testing protocols that will help to keep students in school more. Data is showing there is not a lot of transmission in schools.
Vaccines are beginning to roll out. The first vaccines have arrived in Utah at the bigger hospitals that can meet the cold storage requirements and they are also the hospitals that are dealing with highest numbers of COVID patients.
The state is still working on how the vaccine for the general population will be distributed when we get to that point, whether that is through the health department or through pharmacies and private businesses. He explained that there are seven companies that are manufacturing vaccines. They are different technologies, but all the vaccines will work efficiently. The Johnson & Johnson product will only require one shot, where the others are all a two-shot series.
The first ones out are showing a 94 percent or greater effectiveness. Quarantine rules for those that have been positive with COVID – there is a 90 day window where you don’t have to quarantine from an exposure.
The schools will start working on the new guidelines called “Test to Stay” that will help to keep kids in school after a potential exposure. The Christmas break will provide a two-week reset and hopefully students will be cautious over the holidays and school can resume with zero cases after the new year.
He was asked about the upcoming Cowboy Classic. Currently they will be able to distribute two tickets to each athlete to give to family to attend. If the state approves the request to allow 25 percent capacity, then that would allow about four tickets per athlete. Games will be streamed online, so anyone can watch.
Commissioner Smith will be done as a commissioner at the end of the year. Many on the call thanked him for his 30 or so years of service to Kane County as the Sheriff and a Commissioner.
Sherrie Pandya and Stuart Willoughby:
Kane County Hospital will most likely be receiving the Moderna vaccine because it does not have the extreme cold storage requirement. It will still be a week or two before they receive vaccines for their workers. They have been very fortunate that they have not had any employees who have been infected from a work-related exposure. Some have had family or outside exposures.
The hospital is still doing large numbers of tests, but the last few days they have seen a decrease in positive results, which is a good sign. The ambulance has been transporting some positive patients recently.
The Sheriff’s Office has seen a few positive cases among the staff, but has been very diligent about keeping it out of the inmate population.
The Sheriff’s Office has been able to acquire some tests and our resident nurse has been able to test staff and inmates as needed, which has helped to identify cases and exposures quickly.
Rob Van Dyke:
Updated the group on the orders and regulations that are in place. The Governor’s order has expired, and the health department order expires today, but it is expected that they will put a new one in place with some changes today.
He explained the rules associated with the Department of Commerce’s regulations with businesses, their enforcement actions, and the required responses.
Mayors and City
All are doing their best to keep their cities operational and employees safe. The smaller communities are seeing increases of cases.
Discussed the upcoming New Year’s Eve activity and the safety measures that will be in place for the event. There will be limited capacity, with COVID precautions.
Due to COVID, the annual Kanab and Kane County Economic Development Summit, called “Raising Kane,” has been cancelled for the first time in 10 years.
Explained the current Red Cross response efforts and protocols. They have been able to assist five Kanab residents who have been impacted by fires recently.
Beehive Homes is scheduled to get vaccine on Jan. 6 for his staff and residents. Hoping to get everyone vaccinated, so they can have some visitors. They have not had any cases in their facilities.
Advantage Home Medical has seen an increased need for oxygen-related products in the area.
Mosdell Mortuary is seeing and dealing with COVID-related deaths and encouraged everyone to be diligent and to stay safe.
Senior Citizen Center:
The Senior Center is closed as far as any seniors coming to the center. They are still doing home delivered meals for about 135 people each day. Doing some virtual meetings and exercise options with the seniors.
Follow up notes:
The state’s vaccination plan can be seen on the state’s coronavirus website, coronavirus.utah.gov. For timely information updates for our region, check Southwest Public Health’s website at swuhealth.org.
The next COVID-19 Task Force call will be on December 31, even though it is New Year’s Eve.