Logan County Health Commissioner Dr. Boyd Hoddinott reported at the Wednesday afternoon board of health teleconference meeting that the closing of many area establishments and school districts, along with stay-at-home orders during the past month, have been measurably effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the local community.
Currently, he is looking at plans to determine when and how to gradually lift restrictions so that life can continue and businesses can return to function again in the upcoming weeks or months. He said he has consulted with the Ohio Department of Health’s legal department, and will be meeting with the Logan County Commissioners and leaders of the local municipalities, along with county leaders from the adjacent counties, to develop a method for how to move forward when the time is right.
As of Wednesday, Logan County was reporting five confirmed novel coronavirus cases, but that figure includes two individuals who have since recovered from the illness, health district officials said. The first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the county was reported March 22.
“We have been very fortunate that we do not have an epidemic in our county,” Dr. Hoddinott said. “I’m not saying it couldn’t come here, but the precautions we are taking have been effective in reducing the spread.
“We’re working on a plan to gradually be able to open the county back up, but we will have a wait a little bit.
“When businesses are re-opened, we will have to make sure that they are still protecting their employees and protecting the public and using social distancing. Wearing face masks will still be encouraged.”
Board member Dr. Grant Varian, Mary Rutan Hospital medical director, urged an abundance of caution before easing any restrictions currently in place.
“I think that it could flare here; we have a ways to go before we are out of this,” he said.
Dr. Varian also related that “the sacrifices we’re making are really working,” highlighting Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton’s new model report released Tuesday showing improvements to the number of individuals effected by COVID-19.
Also during the meeting, members approved application for the state’s Coronavirus Response Grant, with $39,645 allotted to Logan County by the state. Deputy Health Director Donna Peachey said she will be submitting the grant application this week and she expects quick approval.
The grant would provide for staff salaries, overtime pay and supplies related to the coronavirus response.
In addition, the board accepted two community contributions to assist during the COVID-19 emergency.
The Bellefontaine Rotary Club has provided $1,965.90 for PPE supplies to be purchased by the health district. Those materials will then be distributed on an as-needed basis to local medical providers, LCHD officials said.
In addition, the board approved an agreement for Ohio Hi-Point Career Center to utilize its 3-D printer technology to make face shields for donation to the health district. The LCHD then will distribute the face shields in the county on a similar basis.
During the nursing report, Nursing Director Kelly Reaver also expressed gratitude to the board and the agency staff for their diligent efforts
“I appreciate the proactiveness of our board, and I am so grateful for the accountability and the passion of our staff for their long hours of dedicated work during this time,” she said.
While she noted that the Narcan training program has temporarily suspended in-person trainings, individuals are encouraged to call Kelli Parr at 651-6204 to learn more about how to participate in an online training.
In addition, the health district is still encouraging families of children ages birth to age 3 who meet income eligibility requirements to apply for the Early Childhood Safety Initiative, a limited time state grant program offered by the LCHD.
Upon the successful completion of an educational session focusing on health and safety, families receive up to $200 worth of approved safety items for free, such as pack and plays, cribs, crib mattresses, high chairs, strollers, baby gates and baby monitors.
So far, 25 families have completed the program, which now has moved to online and over-the-phone education. Call the health district at 651-6186 to set up a session.
In other action, the board:
• approved the 2021 Logan County Health District preliminary budget, with revenues totaling $1,744,318 and expenses totaling $1,757,821;
• accepted a bid of $12,500 from lowest bidder J.C.’s Backhoe to perform septic work at the property of Sherry VonDerhuvel, 12922 W. State Route 47, Quincy paid for through the agency’s receipt of the Ohio EPA’s Water Pollution Control Loan Fund;
• approved a motion to allow employee comp time balances to increase past the previous maximum allowed through the end of the year or at the end of the state of emergency declaration;
• adopted the Logan County Families First Coronavirus Response Act, effective April 1, which provides for various provisions for employees through the end of the year or at the end of the state of emergency declaration; and
• formally approved the Logan County Health Commissioner’s March 15 declaration to close bowling alleys, movie theaters and indoor skating rinks during the COVID-19 pandemic, which proceeded the statewide order by one day.
The next meeting is 1 p.m. Wednesday, May 13.