Listen: Wasco County Commission special meeting on COVID-19

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Wasco County Commissioners held a special meeting Wednesday morning April 29 with only one topic on the agenda – what’s happening with the pandemic, and what will it take to start relaxing restrictions. Joining the commissioners were administrators of the North Central Public Health District and of Mid-Columbia Medical Center. As of the meeting yesterday, Wasco County had 13 confirmed cases of COVID -19, and tragically, one death. Sherman County had one case and no deaths, and Gilliam County had no case.The meeting was full of vital information, including that Mid-Columbia Medical Center will be able to start a small volume of elective surgeries tomorrow, Friday, May 1. 

MCMC President and CEO Dennis Knox also announced clinic in Maupin would also be opening Friday. “We are participating with the Deschutes Rim Clinic, effectively by this Friday,” he said. “We’re gonna be providers through the telemedicine program initially to cover the clinic to make sure it’s operable and treating the citizens of Maupin.”

Knox and Chief Clinical Officer Don Wenzler explained how the number of procedures MCMC will be allowed to do was calculated, under the governor’s relaxation guidelines:
“We’re allowed, if you will, 50 percent of our volume, based on last May of 2019 figures. Then we’ll reassess and open in a larger way as we monitor PPE and test kit usage.”
They said state guidelines required the hospital to have a 14-day supply of PPE on hand and that MCMC had a 30-day supply. They also said that they now have an adequate supply of test kits now, but that they couldn’t be sure when they could get more
“We ordered a bunch of kits and the vendor actually called us and said ‘We had a whole container ship full of kits that came over the ocean from China,” he said, “and when it docked in the US, all those kits were commandeered by the government. So our own, our private supply chains are being interrupted at this point, which is, we can’t count on once we order something, it will show up at our door.”
Other medical offices will be reopening, as well as dentists, that is, those that have adequate supplies. North Central Public Health District medical officer Dr. Mimi McDonell explained
“Think of our poor dentists,” she said. “I mean, one of the things you really can’t do telehealth with, and they have a need, and they have been, uh in fact, many of the dentists were very generous, donating their PPE, and now their supplies are gone, or very minimal”
Maupin Mayor Lynn Ewing asked when the Deschutes could be opened up again to rafting and fishing as the season is just beginning and so many businesses there depend on the tourist trade. He compared it to migrant workers being allowed to come and harvest cherries, since the governor did not shut down agriculture. North Central Public Health Director Teri Talhoffer had this reply:
“I saw Mayor Ewing’s comment that it’s the same as cherry season, ” she said. “You know The Dalles is bigger than Maupin. So when you bring all the migrant workers into The Dalles, they go to camps, they’re isolated. They stay there for the course of the season. When you bring people into Maupin for rafting season, etc., you bring them in for a weekend, after weekend, after weekend, all summer long. New people bringing the possibility of new COVID. I just think it’s something we need to be thoughtful and think through. Economic impact? Yes, it’s probably very similar to cherry season. The way that the dollars are earned is different, and the way that the people will move through the county and through the community is different.”

To hear the full meeting, which had lots of information, click on the grey podcast bar below:

1 Comment

  1. You people dont think…
    Migrants go out into the public …to stores etc.

    So if they can come in then open the the area in a whole.

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