Mar 24, 2020 4:30 PM

Harvey County closes facilities, funds relief efforts

Posted Mar 24, 2020 4:30 PM

NEWTON, Kan. — The Harvey County Commission announced at its March 24 meeting that it will direct financial aid to two local organizations to begin to address community needs related to COVID-19.

“We won’t know the full effects of COVID-19 on our communities for a long time, but we know we need to provide relief now, not later,” said Harvey County Commission Chair Randy Hague.

The Commission committed $25,000 to the Newton Ministerial Alliance, which oversees the Harvest of Love food pantry. This funding will go toward acquiring food, baby care and other sustenance products to distribute to those in need throughout the county.

Commissioners provided another $50,000 to the Central Kansas Community Foundation for a community relief fund. The CKCF will allocate funding to charitable organizations in Harvey County that are anticipated to see an increase in demand for services.

The County will use general fund reserves to contribute to the organizations.

The Commission also announced it will temporarily close County facilities to the public beginning March 25, a move to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19.

There has not been a confirmed case of COVID-19 in Harvey County. However, the Commission made the decision in a proactive effort.

“Public health starts at the local level,” said Harvey County Administrator Anthony Swartzendruber. “We can still provide essential services, including emergency response, while also doing our part to limit potential exposures for our staff and in the community.”

County staff will continue to report to their job sites. They will be available to help residents with requests by phone, email or online. Some staff will rotate shifts. Essential operations such as health, emergency communications and the sheriff’s office will remain fully staffed.

The County will detail specific changes to department operations later in the week.

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Mar 24, 2020 4:30 PM
Baldetti gives report on COVID-19 to Commission

HUTCHINSON, Kan. — Reno County Commissioners got an update from health Department Director Nick Baldetti regarding the COVID-19 outbreak.

Baldetti reported that as of Tuesday there are still two presumptive positive cases in the county. He said that 50 tests are currently out with about half coming back negative. Baldetti noted that those numbers will change as the number of people who were around exposed patients are starting to show symptoms.

As far as the two patients go, the first patient who is a woman over the age of 60 is still at home and is still doing well. Baldetti noted that this person contracted the virus in Israel. Her contact history is extensive with Baldetti noting that it is over 40 persons. Baldetti says those contacts are being asked to self-quarantine.   The second patient who is a male over 40 is in intensive care at Hutchinson Regional Medical Center but is in stable condition.

Baldetti stated that they are working to find a good balance between keeping people safe and keeping businesses open and people working. Commissioner Ron Sellers said that he has heard from many businesses that they want to stay open. Sellers offered to the public that they re-intensify their self distancing efforts and take it upon themselves to adhere to gathering regulations.

Baldetti said that if the county works together they can get through this and if they act as individuals the county as a whole will fail. Baldetti says that for the most part people are self-isolating as asked. He said there are a small number of individuals who aren't. District Attorney Keith Schroeder is working on language that would allow the county health department to force quarantine an individual who refuses to adhere to requests to go into quarantine.

Sellers asked County Counselor Joe O'Sullivan to draw up language regarding a stay at home ordinance.