Disaster declaration extended 14 days by commissioners

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The Fayette County Commissioners Court approved extending the declaration of local disaster due to the coronavirus pandemic for an additional 14 days during the meeting held on Thursday, April 9.

During public comments, Emergency Management Coordinator Craig Moreau updated the Court about the coronavirus situation in the county. He said that every nursing home employee has N95 masks, adding that keeping the nursing home residents safe is a big worry. Moreau said that a drive-thru coronavirus testing site has opened at the Fayette County Fairgrounds in La Grange. Moreau said that five patients with coronavirus in the county had been to a hospital as of this meeting.

County Inspector Clint Sternadel provided an update on the EMS Headquarters and Station One project. Sternadel said that a global agreement needs to be signed with the bonding company. This agreement states in writing what the bonding company is liable for going forward, as well as what the bonding company will warranty, etc. The Commissioners Court approved allowing the county judge to sign the global agreement after it undergoes review by the county attorney’s office.

EMS Director Sharon Muzny reported that 13 EMS employees had been exposed to known positive patients having the coronavirus, and an additional six had been exposed at least once to a person who is awaiting testing. Muzny said these 19 employees represent 65 percent of her full-time staff.

“So we are holding our breath, hoping that none of our employees become symptomatic,” Muzny said. “Our employees did have proper gear on when they made contact with these patients.”

Muzny said that according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) guidelines, those employees are considered at low risk due to them wearing the proper gear. She said four to six weeks ago, the CDC had guidelines which required healthcare providers such as EMS personnel to quarantine themselves after possible exposure for 14 days. Muzny said those guidelines have now changed, where her employees can continue to work unless they show signs of the virus.

“Hopefully, they will never become symptomatic,” Muzny said. “You can imagine, with the amount of people that have been exposed, there’s fear and anxiety among our staff. I’m not going to lie about that. They’re worried that they’re going to be carrying this home to their families as well.”

Muzny also spoke of how her employees are creating unique products to keep the ambulances and the crews safe during this time. They have come up with ways to place protective coverings over patients who are suspected to have or have the coronavirus, as well as using a car painter to decontaminate an ambulance within a few minutes.

County Judge Joe Weber added at this point that he appreciates the HIPPA laws.

“But it is important to me that the first responders in this county know where the cases are in this county,” Judge Weber said.

Moreau said that this concern was spoken “loudly” to the state investigative team, and he gave credit to school nurses who are working to track patients in the county.

Discussion during Muzny’s report turned to the EMS financial report. Precinct 1 Commissioner Jason McBroom and Muzny discussed the ins and outs of the report at length, which McBroom had obtained from Ambulance Medical Billing (AMB). McBroom questioned Muzny as to a previous concern she raised with AMB presenting possibly inaccurate information within the reports. McBroom said that he didn’t think email was the right way to communicate with AMB.

“When they [AMB] will not return my calls, I don’t know what else to do,” Muzny said.

Judge Weber said the county will work through this situation.

“Right now don’t let this become too much of a distraction,” Judge Weber said.

Assistant County Attorney Blake Watson said he wouldn’t have a problem with the county attorney’s office contacting AMB to “ease the tension.”

During his monthly report, Sternadel remarked upon the significant increase in septic permits issued by the County during March, which was 29 compared to 16 in February. He attributed this to the fact that people are staying at home and noticing lingering septic problems. The Court acknowledged the

The Court acknowledged the purchase of 12 additional certified poll books for the Fayette County

Elections Office to use in future elections. This will be paid for by the elections contract fund, which is a fund into which monies go when other entities contract with the Fayette County Elections Office to handle their elections.

This new version of certified poll books is required by the Texas Secretary of State. ES&S will replace the Elections Office current version (16 units) at no cost, which will give the Elections Office a total of 28 certified new version poll books.

Upon the request of Watson, the item regarding approving and signing an interlocal agreement between the County, the City of Flatonia and Flatonia ISD for the mutually-beneficial exchange of materials and road and bridge equipment was tabled by the Commissioners Court.

The Court also:

• approved two applications for a permit to lay a temporary water line in the rights-of-way of Bell Settlement Road and Fischer Road in Precinct 1, submitted by Ironroc Energy Partners;

• accepted two bids on two separate pieces of property not sold at the Sheriff’s sale in La Grange ISD;

• approved the agreement with Dewitt, Poth & Son for supplies and maintenance for the Fayette County auditor copier; • approved the payment of cur

• approved the payment of current bills and expenses. The meeting, held in the District

The meeting, held in the District Courtroom of the Fayette County Courthouse, began at 9:01 a.m. and adjourned at 10:06 a.m.