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County Will Apply For Phase 2 On August 24

Rebecca Austin Director of Lincoln County Public Health reported the county has 395 cases and 9 deaths. She said as a community we are doing much better and stronger in serving the latinex population. They have been putting out videos in English and Spanish. She added the county will continue to work with long term care facilities. Commissioners Hall and Hunt thanked the public health employees. Austin reported that the county went from doing about four to five hundred tests per week and have now fallen back a bit due to some shortages of testing supplies and delays in getting tests back.

County Council Wayne Belmont reported that Lincoln County last Thursday was removed from the Governor's watch list. He said this shows that the county is heading in the right direction and has been told that application for phase 2 is doable. Phase two would require lower hospitalizations, increase in contact tracers. He said over the last 7-days the county has to be below 5% for new cases, Lincoln County is at 22% and and the number of cases that are not linked to a known source cannot exceed 30% and the county is at 45%.

Belmont went through a graph that showed what the differences were between phase one and phase 2. Venues, events and things like bowling, movie theaters and pools and entertainment facilities would be allowed to open with precautions. Rebecca Austin told commissioners that the things that would open in phase 2, such as spas, swimming pools and bowling alleys creates some concern as there would be more people that would not be able to social distance. She said she would like to wait and see if the trend becomes more consistent. She said the county has had days with no cases and then days with four or more.

Commissioner Jacobson pointed out that in the coming weeks it is possible that the Governor will put some sort of travel restrictions in place and right now no one knows what that will look like. She said it is detrimental to go back and forth between phases. Commissioner Hall said she was in support of submitting and application requesting an opening for possibly three weeks. She added that opening to phase 2 could help with the emotional fabric of the community.

Commissioner Hunt said he would like to keep the county in phase 1. He is concerned that many of the cases in the county are community acquired. He said allowing a few more weeks to see what happens and if our numbers will continue to go down. He said he is looking out for the little guy, the workers, the Latinex and people of color who may not have access to grants and programs that the businesses are able to access and not the workers, who now are not getting that extra through unemployment. "We have nothing to loose by being patient another couple of weeks."

Jacobson said she would be comfortable putting in an application now, but picking a date several weeks out and if we see an uptick, we could stop the application before it goes into affect. That would give us enough time to get feedback from the state and to get some clarity on travel restrictions. Commissioner Hall made a motion to authorize staff to submit an application for Lincoln County to enter phase 2 three weeks from now on August 24th. Commissioners Hall and Jacobson approved the motion and Commissioner Hunt voted no.

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