Board of Supervisors discuss COVID-19 mitigation plans, occupancy limits for meeting spaces
While the Story County Board of Supervisors accepted the county Board of Health’s COVID-19 mitigation recommendations on Tuesday, the supervisors are unable to enforce the recommendations throughout the county because they can’t supersede Iowa’s coronavirus public health emergency proclamation that has been signed and extended by Gov. Kim Reynolds, a supervisor said.
“We think the Board of Health has done a great job at pointing out some issues, and we accepted their recommendation and recommended that everyone look at it,” board chair Linda Murken told Tribune. “But we can’t put them in an ordinance or anything like that at this point.”
The month of June has seen the rate of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the county rise.
The Board of Health last week released the finalized version of its mitigation recommendations to reduce the spread of the virus throughout the county, calling for all businesses to require all staff members to wear face covers.
Additionally, the board called for hosts of large social or religious gatherings to ensure attendees adhere to social distancing guidelines and wear face coverings, teachers and day care staff to wear face coverings and stagger lunchtimes, and for Iowa State University to enforce mitigation principles for students and staff on campus and when using mass transit.
Reynolds on June 25 extended Iowa’s public health emergency proclamation that was set to expire that night. The proclamation keeps in place 6-foot social distancing requirements for businesses and organizations that are hubs for gatherings and activities. The latest proclamation is in effect until 11:59 p.m. on July 25, unless canceled or modified beforehand.
According to state law, local government bodies cannot adopt policy that conflicts with public health emergency declarations from the state.
“For county government, for our buildings, we have required that our employees wear face coverings and adhere to social distancing,” Murken said. “So we have addressed a lot of those recommendations, as well as CDC guidelines, in the matters that are in our control.”
County buildings, such as the Story County Administration Building, are still closed to the public. The supervisors have designed a reopening plan around a 14-day downward trajectory in cases in the county. The approach includes plans to install safety measures and procedures to protect county employees and residents as well as plans to evaluate any unforeseen trends that would discourage a formal reopening of the county.
“We are continuing to keep an eye on the numbers, much like everyone is,” Murken said. “Over the last two days, the numbers have looked a little better than have been over the past few weeks, so we’re are just monitoring it every day.”
The board also discussed occupancy limits for its public meeting rooms on Tuesday.
Based on social distancing regulations, the facilities staff recommended 11 people or less for the supervisors’ second-floor meeting room and the assessor’s room, and 17 people or less for the public meeting room.
For the Story County Human Services Center in Ames, staff recommended 24 people or less in the multipurpose room and a total of 48 people or less in the multipurpose room in McFarland Park.