PRIMGHAR—The coronavirus pandemic has become a regular topic of discussion for the O’Brien County Board of Supervisors.

Board members received an update on the COVID-19 outbreak from county emergency management agency coordinator Jared Johnson on Tuesday, April 7.

Two supervisors attended the Primghar meeting in person while the other three participated electronically due to concerns about the disease.

“At this point in time, we’re still at three confirmed cases in O’Brien County,” Johnson said. “O’Brien County Public Health staff are working with the individuals that have been impacted by COVID-19 to monitor their health status. They do that on a daily basis.”

He noted he and county public health staff members continue to keep track of confirmed coronavirus cases in the county.

“We’ve been putting together a press release each time there’s a new confirmed COVID-19 case and we’ve been sending that out once it is ready,” Johnson said.

He shared information he learned as part of a webinar he participated in on Monday, April 6.

“You guys may start to hear about what’s called a regional medical coordination center to help with information gathering,” Johnson said.

“The state is looking at putting together these regional medical coordination centers based on the service area structure,” he said.

O’Brien County is the fiscal agent for Service Area 3A, a regional health-care coalition that also covers Clay, Dickinson, Emmet, Lyon, Osceola, Palo Alto and Sioux counties.

Service Area 3A works closely with Service Area 3B, which covers Cherokee, Ida, Monona, Plymouth and Woodbury counties.

“They’re looking at combining Service Area 3 and Service Area 7 to establish a regional medical coordination center that will help with gathering data from the hospitals and long-term care facilities,” Johnson said.

Service Area 7 covers Buena Vista, Calhoun, Hamilton, Humboldt, Pocahontas, Sac and Webster counties.

“That data will kind of be put together in a packet and then sent to the local EMA coordinators for review,” Johnson said. “The goal is just to help streamline the process for gathering information in case we do see a surge of patients.”

Sioux City is where the headquarters for the regional medical coordination center is located for Service Areas 3A, 3B and 7.

There are six regional medical coordination centers located throughout the state.

The plan is for the regional medical coordination centers to have staff members from their respective service areas and the Iowa Department of Public Health.

“There’ll be coordination with Homeland Security and also with the National Guard,” Johnson said. “They’ll be looking at bed availability and gathering other data just to help during this event.”

From what he has seen, some predictions for Iowa say the state potentially could hit its peak for confirmed coronavirus cases in two-three weeks.

“We’ve also seen some models that show the peak may not occur until the end of May or possibly the first week of June,” Johnson said. “To be honest with you, there are lots of unknowns right now over what may occur.

“Our goal is to continue to promote prevention and continue to promote social distancing, washing your hands,” he said. “If you’re feeling sick, please stay home. We’re trying to continue to get that information out to the public to help prevent additional cases from occurring in our area.”

In related business, the supervisors approved increasing the county EMA’s Visa credit card limit from $5,000 to $10,000 for the next several months.

“I greatly appreciate that,” Johnson said. “That’s going to help me out.”

“Do you feel that the $10,000 is sufficient?” supervisor Sherri Bootsma asked.

“At this point in time, I do feel like it’s sufficient,” Johnson said. “To be honest with you, it is nice having that just in case if we would have something else going on — a different type of disaster — having those extra funds to quickly be able to purchase items is nice.”