In the Health and Human Services, Lea Salas, said the office doors have a notice stating if you have a cold, cough, or feel sick you must call the front desk, and you aren’t allowed in, but can be helped over the phone. If they don’t have symptoms they can come in and are required to use hand sanitizer. Salas stated they are monitoring who is here each day, and currently put in an order for laptops because all clinical staff is over 65 and will need to work from home. She said most of the clinical staff are calling clients so services can still move forward. Salas reported that most transports have been cancelled, as most of their drivers are over 65. She stated other than that things are running pretty smoothly, have a plan in place and are flexible with how they move forward.
During the Forest Service update, Sierraville District Ranger Quentin Youngblood stated as of last week and after a number of conference calls, doors are locked with a placard of information and if you answer no to questions asked you can call the front desk and they will let you in, adding they are still open for business just doing an initial screening to visitors. He said a lot of folks are now working from home.
DISCUSSION AND DIRECTION on Library Services Agreement with Plumas County was had during the Sierra County Board of Supervisors’ meeting held by teleconference on Tuesday, March 17th. Sierra County Planning Director Tim Beals led the discussion, he stated Plumas County suggested the agreement be effective July 1, 2020, which has been tentatively agreed upon.
Sierra County has agreed to take on human resource and employee related services, which include supervision of paid staff and includes payroll. The two counties can deal with IT issues as they see fit. Compensation was a big deal, but Beals hopes it’s now clear. There may be other funding streams available with grants. Any up and down on revenue is understood and can happen year to year. 2.8% of the Plumas County Librarian’s salary is committed to Sierra County for a total of $4,000. 3.7% of select services amounts to $2,200 and committed 5.5% to overhead of costs, which is $7,600. Beals said the only issue is the benefit side of the salary. Sierra County Auditor, Van Maddox had anticipated something like this and they money has already been put it into the budget. Supervisor Sharon Dryden appreciated all the work Beals and Maddox have done. Her concern is the supervision of those employees. She stated if we take on the employees, who is going to write these job descriptions, and what department is going to oversee these employees, adding we don’t run libraries. Dryden said she did talk to Superintendent of Schools James Berardi who has a school librarian and will be the county librarian in the summer. She wondered if the school district could oversee the employees, and they could run literacy programs, and summer reading programs. Maddox thought that would be quite advantageous to the County to have someone who knows something about running libraries. Beals requested no action be taken and to wait until the second meeting in April for final approval. The item was approved by consensus unanimously with the absence of Supervisor Peter Huebner, who was absent the entire meeting.
A PUBLIC HEALTH CORONAVIRUS PRESENTATION was held as a timed item during the Sierra County Board of Supervisors’ teleconference meeting, March 17th. Sierra County Public Health Nurse, Shanna Anseth said the good news was so far no positive cases of Coronavirus in Sierra County. She explained the typical process that our body goes through when we have virus is to form antibodies. COV19 is a new virus that no one has antibodies for so everyone can get it. Anseth said they are trying to slow the rate of infection so health care systems do not get overwhelmed, and messaging has been more focused on prevention. Testing is not available in Sierra County at this time and they do not expect that to change. Local health care providers can collect the samples. Testing must be done in a controlled laboratory in San Diego and they receive results in 3-5 days. At this time they have not sent anyone in for testing. Supervisor Sharon Dryden asked what about the people that go to the clinic. Are you monitoring those people and does the health department get those numbers? Anseth stated that is a gap. They do not have to notify the health department. No testing of Sierra County residents has been done that they know of. Anseth said currently there are 425 positive cases in California and 8 deaths.
Emergency Preparedness Outreach Coordinator, Letina Vanetti, stated they have been ramping up since January 20th. On March 3rd they decided the volume and intensity had reached a level to activate the ICS system (Incident Command System). She explained the ICS as a tool that is a structure on how you would manage the incident. Vanetti stated yesterday they went from a Level 1 to a Level 2, as the world seems to changing on a daily basis, and they are looking at a lot of closures and economic impact.
Supervisor Jim Beard asked about costs for testing. Vanetti said it’s a sample collection for testing and there are no fees, but the problem is there’s a limited supply. The health department is not set up to collect samples for testing. They will send patients to the clinic to have the collection done.
Health and Human Services Director Vickie Clark stated they are working with all stakeholders to get out accurate messaging to try and maintain some of the panic and fears and working to do messaging on social media.
Dryden attended a Disaster Preparedness meeting at Loyalton Senior Center recently and stated they are ramping up on how to continue providing services to our most vulnerable population, our seniors. The decision has been made to transition from congregate meals to take home meals only and once snow is gone looking at curbside takeout and if they are able to offer meals on weekends too. Costs are a $3 suggested donation for seniors and $6 for the public 60 years and under.
Clark said they are looking at what the essential functions are and looking at some ways to repurpose staff to other duties. She felt there is a lot of resiliency in Sierra County and people are pretty good at being prepared, as seen from the power outages. She is currently putting a plan together to do some outreach to the vulnerable population who may need it. Supervisor Lee Adams remarked that having groups congregate now is silly and was happy the Loyalton Senior Center is being proactive.
Adams wanted to hear from the Health Department what actions they wanted to see from the Board. Clark said they have signage they can share with other departments, feels there should be a ban on out of county travel, allowing people to telecommute from home. They are taking roll call every day, and tracking who’s home sick. They are trying to limit dealing with the public as little as possible and tracking who comes in. Adams stated they need to operate under the premise that everyone is potentially a carrier. He said if you can do things over the phone there’s no need to come in. If we all stay safe, that’s the result of being over-reactionary. He felt one case would paralyze this county.
AN URGENT ITEM was added to the Sierra County Board of Supervisors’ agenda on Tuesday, March 17th to give the Board permission to do an emergency proclamation. County Counsel David Prentice stated he felt they have reached a point where the Governor may put the entire state on lockdown. He said there’s no downside to making a proclamation of emergency. Emergency police powers come in to play with a proclamation of emergency to prevent evictions and cutoff utilities due to non-payment, though he stated that a lot of utility companies are indicating they won’t cutoff services for lack of payment due to this crisis. He said the Governor is leaving local orders up to the County at this point, but added that may change tomorrow. Supervisor Lee Adams stated 40 counties have proclamations right now, including neighboring Nevada County. Supervisor Paul Roen said special funding through the legislators was authorized that morning for $500,000,000 for this issue. Prentice stated the federal government is looking at $80 billion. Sierra County Planning Director Tim Beals was concerned with the exact wording on a local proclamation, stating it is critical as you can twist yourself up when trying to obtain funding. Roen received word from a school principal during the meeting that schools were closing until April 13th. He said this magnified the need to take action that day. Adams felt the sooner they did the proclamation the better as a consistent policy was needed throughout the county. Prentice stated once they approved the proclamation, it would be on each agenda so they could continue to make necessary changes. A proclamation of local emergency was passed unanimously effective immediately and a continuation of this meeting will be held Friday, March 20th at 1 p.m. through teleconference for Chairman Beard to sign and discuss any possible changes.