The Morrison County Board’s meetings will be going virtual, beginning this week.
The commissioners made the decision to move their meetings online during a Tuesday virtual planning session.
“When we made the decision to continue meeting in person, we had a much different case rate (of COVID-19) than we do now,” said County Administrator Deb Gruber.
The Board agreed that, due to rising numbers of COVID-19 throughout Morrison County — and Minnesota as a whole — it would be in the best interest of everyone’s safety if meetings were changed to a virtual format. The Board will now meet via Microsoft Teams. Meetings will be available for the public to view live on the Morrison County website.
Residents will also still be able to visit the Board Room in the lower level of the Morrison County Government Center to watch meetings live.
“I love to go to board meetings, but given my wife’s situation, I wouldn’t mind going online for 30 days,” said Commissioner Randy Winscher. “I’d be all for two to four weeks on Zoom, or whatever.”
“I concur with Mr. Winscher 100%,” said Commissioner Jeffrey Jelinski. “I also would say that it’s time that, as a board, we start practicing what we preach. I look at other boards and all of them have everyone sitting far apart and are masked up. I think going remotely would be the best thing right now.”
Regular meetings of the Morrison County Board are held at 9 a.m. every other Tuesday. Commissioners meet for a planning session at 8:30 a.m. on the Tuesdays in between.
Public Health Director Brad Vold gave the Board an update on COVID-19 in the county.
Cases in Morrison County continue to rise. As of Thursday, there were 668 active cases in Morrison County — more than twice what the number of just one week earlier. That total brings the county’s total to 1,895 since the beginning of the pandemic, with a case rate of more than 201 infected per 10,000 people.
“Do we put the number of how many people tested last week versus how many tested this week?” Jelinski asked. “I’ve had two people ask me that just in the past few days.”
Vold said statistics on how many people have tested lag about four weeks behind. The number to be concerned about, he said, was the positivity rate.
In a separate interview with the Morrison County Record, CHI St. Gabriel’s Hospital President and CFO Steve Smith said the positivity rate at the hospital had risen to about 35%.
“If that rate goes up, that’s when it becomes more serious,” Vold said.
Vold also reported that Morrison County Public Health is trying to help a couple of long-term care facilities recruit volunteers to aid in alleviating staffing concerns. As the virus spreads, both residents and facility staff are dealing with illnesses. Volunteers must have CNA training.
“Staffing is still a challenge in terms of COVID,” Vold said.
Board of Commissioners Briefs:
In other business Tuesday, the Morrison County Board of Commissioners:
• Gave Public Health Director Brad Vold permission to move forward in recruiting for two open public health positions;
• Heard an update on cities and townships which have given unused CARES Act money to the county, as is required by law; and
• Was updated by Vold that anyone can now request a saliva test for COVID-19 at no cost. To request an at-home test, visit learn.vaulthealth.com/state-of-minnesota.
The next meeting of the Board of Commissioners is 9 am. Tuesday in the Board Room at the Morrison County Government Center.