Polk County Administrator Vince Netherland gave the board a brief update pertaining to COVID-19 numbers in Polk County at their June meeting. 

He said as of June 16, there had been 2780 negative tests. “The number of tests are going up in the county and 34 have been confirmed.”

He reiterated that one Polk County resident has died and one patient is hospitalized.

Netherland said, “Nationally the positive testing rate has been as high as 13 percent and currently it is between 5 and 8 percent of anybody tested. In Polk County, the average is between 1.8 and 3.2 percent. So, because we were limited on tests you had to have significant symptoms in most cases to be tested. Of those the rate was between 1.8-3.2 positive.”

That is a relatively low rate and said a “hats off” should be given to people for maintaining social distancing and practicing good habits.

He said the previous day the County had started a re-entry plan for normal activities in Polk County government buildings. 

“We had many people who were working remotely as we had shut down some offices. Now all offices are open with at least one or two staff in each. We are still doing some things to make sure our employees and visitors are safe,” said Netherland.

The staff request residents make all appointments in advance. He said the front desk in the lobby remains.

“We are still restricting the building to outside meetings and groups, simply because our janitorial staff is really working hard and we need to make sure people are not wandering through the building so we need to limit that outside access,” he said.

He said plexiglass and windows have been installed and social distancing is always encouraged. 

Netherland said, “We will continue some working remotely. What we found, quite frankly, is that some jobs are actually preformed better when they are not here, so we are using this as an opportunity to learn.”

He said in terms of funding, the County has a Payroll Protection Program loan awarded to Golden Age Manor in the amount of $973,000. “This is a loan that is 100 percent forgivable if we use it appropriately. It is used for payroll for up to 24 weeks,” he said. He credited Chad Roberts, the Division Director for General Government, and Dana Reese and Janet Mabry of Amery’s Golden Age Manor, for applying for it quickly.

Netherland said the county has spent in the $90,000-$100,000 on COVID related expenses. He expects they will be completely reimbursed. He said, “FEMA has just announced that we can now submit expenses to them and we expect we will be reimbursed before the end of the year.”

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