County commission okays CARES Act work

 


Wahkiakum County commissioners on Tuesday approved a budget for spending a large portion of their federal CARES Act funding to address issues arising from the covid-19 pandemic.

Commissioners had planned to approve a formal request to the state Department of Health asking that the county be moved to Phase 3 restrictions for covid-19, However, DOH application timing led the board to adjourn the meeting to Wednesday morning (as The Eagle went to press) for approval and later submission to DOH.

The county received $250,000 in CARES Act funds, and the budget topped $238,000. Much will go to equipment and furnishings for county offices and employees so that they and customers can interact safely when the courthouse reopens to the public.

A $35,000 appropriation went to the Wahkiakum School District to support a summer meals program.

Chris Bischoff, director of county Health and Human Services, discussed Gov. Jay Inslee's new mandate that employees interacting with the public or each other must wear masks while working effective next Monday.

Because a previous program, "Stay Home," has expired, the governor has issued a new program, "Safe Start." All program guidelines hadn't yet been released, Bischoff said.

"They're trying to hit moving targets," said Commissioner Gene Strong.

"I'm as frustrated as anyone," Bischoff said, "but it's an ongoing situation, and there isn't a blueprint (for dealing with the new strain of virus). I understand their challenge."

Dian Cooper, executive director of the Cowlitz Family Practice Clinic, said staff at the organization's clinic in Cathlamet are developing plans for expanded services when guidelines allow.


In response to a question from Commissioner Mike Backman, Cooper said the clinic would be able to administer virus testing to people heading to Alaska for summer work and needing tests for flights. However, she said the process their testing lab uses gets results in five days, and Backman said airlines require a three-day, 72-hour turnaround.

Cooper said she would see if some testing could use the PeaceHealth lab and get quicker results.

"Let me work on that today and get back to you guys," she said.

 

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