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HC Board of Health to discuss county fair with Fair Board

The Henry County Board of Health discussed potential recommendations for the county fair at their monthly meeting on Thursday. (Union file photo)
The Henry County Board of Health discussed potential recommendations for the county fair at their monthly meeting on Thursday. (Union file photo)

MT. PLEASANT — The Henry County Board of Health plan to discuss potential plans for the County Fair with members of the Fair Board.

At their meeting on Thursday, Board of Health President Mary Liechty noted the Fair Board was hoping for guidance on how to move forward and any recommendations on sanitization practices and guidelines, should there be a possibility for the event to be held. Currently, the fair is planned for July 15-20.

Board member Dr. Tom Bainbridge said “there is risk” with holding the event but it could be beneficial in seeing how numbers and cases play out in the coming weeks before making a final decision.

“It might be OK to let people say, if things continue to go OK, we could plan to go ahead with it and maybe put some limitations on it, but with the understanding that if there is a surge [in cases], then we might change our recommendation and cancel it,” Bainbridge said.

Liechty added the Fair Board seemed to be making a lot of considerations on how to potentially spread out across the grounds to follow social distancing guidelines and have plans to include things like hand sanitizer stations as further steps for mitigation.

“It might be a way to promote some of the things we are wanting them to continue to do with all of this,” Liechty said.

Public Health Director, Shelley Van Dorin, also commented that the situation is changing so rapidly, things may look very different in a month’s time.

Board member Lois Roth said she felt she didn’t “see any feasible way” to avoid crowds or enforce guidelines at an open public event like the fair.

“Personally, I think we’re asking for trouble since we know that some of the counties that have opened have had a surge since they’ve opened. I guess I would much rather be cautious,” Roth added.

Liechty suggested another alternative which would see the fair continue to hold the 4-H activities while canceling other scheduled events that draw crowds. Ultimately, the board decided to set up a separate meeting with the Fair Board to discuss further details before making a final recommendation.

During the meeting, the board also received a coronavirus update from Van Dorin. Currently the county has 49 positive cases and remains at one death. Van Dorin explained the Iowa Department of Public Health will be conducting free serology testing for health care workers and would like to see everyone at the Public Health Department’s office be tested for the virus’ antibodies.

With serology testing, it has been confirmed that about 13% of Iowans have the antibodies, Van Dorin reported.

In response to a question about testing, Van Dorin noted IDPH leads the testing and decides who will be tested. The department is recommending the test for all health care workers, Van Dorin confirmed.

“We thought we had an outbreak at Park Place. We had a positive patient and so we worked with the Iowa Department of Public Health and they came in and did a PCR test, or the swab, for everybody. And for all the staff, they also did a serology test. So it’s directed from them. They’re trying to get a few more serology tests done, just to kind of see how many people are really immune,” Van Dorin said. The public health director added that “all the people at Park Place tested negative,” and did not have antibodies.

During the meeting, Van Dorin also discusses budget items with the board. The board approved the hiring of a part-time homemaker for the department at $15.30 an hour.

Van Dorin also explained the department did not receive the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant this year. Van Dorin said she believes the current pandemic had a role in less entities receiving grants this year. She added the department received a score of 89 out of 100 and would be able to have $60,000 carry over “with no cost extension” from the previous year. The department is also actively applying for other grants.