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Commissioners receive COVID updates

By Steve Ranson Nevada News Group

The Churchill County Commission received updates on the coronavirus pandemic at Thursday’s meeting and how it’s affecting the community.

County Manager Jim Barbee said the county has been working with both the school district and city of Fallon to use facilities as sites for children whose parents are working. He said the county is looking at available room at the Northside Early Learning Center and the City County Gym at Venturacci Park to advise parents their children are in good hands.

These temporary facilities would be used until a community center is constructed at the Churchill County Fairgrounds. Churchill County received CARES Act funding that provides economic assistance for workers and families and small businesses as well as preserving jobs for American industries.

“We’re also looking at putting together teacher aide positions,” Barbee said, adding one aide would be responsible for about 40 children.

Barbee said children would be group depending on their virtual learning classes. He said half the time, the children would be completing their lessons, and the rest of the time, they would be involved with recreational activities. He said the county has received confirmations for about 150 children.

“This is not really out of consistency with what we have done in the past,” he said. 

Barbee said the commission’s focus is help residents return to the workforce, which, in turn, helps the local economy.

Social Services Director Shannon Ernst gave the commissioners an update on COVID testing. From May 7 to August 5, she said the county has administered 1,990 tests. She said the county is still providing testing, but residents need to pre-register. Results, she said, usually come back in five to seven days. Ernst said the viral testing checks for a current infection.

For testing, she said people may call 775-423-6695, press option 2 and leave a message.

According to Ernst, the county’s goal is to test 260 people each week, and that includes any results from Banner Churchill Community Hospital..

Ernst told commissioners she constantly checks the county’s daily list of testing, and part of her job is to ensure out-of-area residents who test in Churchill County are counted in their home towns. Ernst said in working with Naval Air Station Fallon, if a deployed sailor, for example, tests positive for the coronavirus, then the sailor’s information does not become part of Churchill County’s statistics.

Ernst said discrepancies also exist between state and local reporting until she determines if a person who tests positive and recovers is a local or out-of-area resident. She said the state will not change a person’s residence status until she verifies the home of record.

Commission Chairman Pete Olsen said he appreciates Ernst’s diligence by keeping the numbers accurate. If she didn’t, Olsen said the county’s numbers would be higher, possibly resulting in the shutdown of businesses.

Commissioners also took action on the following items:

• Approved a Zone Change Application filed by Charles and Annette Webb for property located at 9425 Marshall Drive.

• Accepted a Letter of Conditions for a USDA-RD loan, a Letter of Intent to Meet Conditions, a Request for Obligation of Funds and any other forms required by USDA for the Sand Creek Redundant Well Project.

• Approved of the Newlands Park and Liberty Pond Lease Agreement with the University of Nevada, Reno for a 25-year term.

• Appointed Zack Bunyard to the Planning Agenda Commission to fill an unexpired term through Dec. 31, 2021.

• Approved of a Sub-Award from United Way of Northern Nevada Emergency Food and Shelter Program to Churchill County Social Services.

• Approved $25,100 from State of Nevada, Housing Division, for Emergency Solution funds to Social Services for Emergency Shelter, Case Management and Outreach Services to literally .

• Approved funding from the State of Nevada, Housing Division. Welfare Set-Aside Grant Program to Social Services for $10,535.40 for Fiscal Year 2021.

• Approved funding from the State of Nevada, Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health to Social Services to Social Services in support of the COVID-19 response for the period of August 2020 to November 2020.

• Approved funding totaling $34,269 from the United States Development Administration, Rural Development.

• Approved the Fiscal Year 2020-2021 fixed monthly payment of $31,497.66 for the Ad Valorem Tax apportionment for the Coalition for Senior Citizens.

• Approved of a step increase for County Manager Jim Barbee, effective retroactively to May 21, 2020.

• Transferred funds to the Churchill County Road Department.

• Approved Resolution 15-2020 regarding assignment of a Deputy Attorney General to prosecute a conflict case.

• Approved of a job description and assignment of pay grade for a community health nurse, and approval to hire for the community health nurse and office specialist.