Rising Covid hospitalizations worry Johnson County supervisors

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IOWA CITY

Rising rates in hospitalizations for COVID-19 is making the Johnson County Board of Supervisors a bit nervous again.

Danielle Pettit-Majewski, Public Health Director, told the board during its work session June 1 that Johnson County was one of two Iowa counties placed in the “high risk” category by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The hospital admission rate for Covid patients in Johnson County has risen to 11.8%; a rate of 10% puts a county in the high risk category, according to the CDC. Inpatient bed use for confirmed Covid patients in Johnson County was 2.8%, as of Sunday.

A “high risk” community rating calls for masks to be worn inside at public places, but supervisors held back in calling for a mandate in county buildings, which was in place during previous high-risk periods.

“I don’t think there’s a big appetite from the public for this right now,” Supervisor Rod Sullivan said.

“I just wonder if we punt on the policy at this point if we’re going to be undermining our ability to bring it back in the fall, should need be,” said Supervisor Jon Green of Lone Tree.

Pettit-Majewski said projections call for Covid rates to increase in the fall.

The board also discussed updating its requirements for fireworks permits. An upcoming display that will occur July 2 at a property located on Dubuque Street NE in Iowa City precipitated the discussion because the display will happen in a densely populated neighborhood.

At its June 2 formal session, the board approved a contract renewal with Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield for more than 400 county employees. The Fiscal Year 2023 monthly rates are $878.40 for a single person and $2,437.48 for family. Employees will pay $32 a month for the single rate and $112 for family. The Sheriff’s Department staff is on a different plan with contributing rates set at $26.34 for singles and $121.86 for family.

The board approved a $95,000 contract with Astig Planning, LLC, to serve as the Historic Poor Farm manager in Fiscal Year 2023. The contract includes a termination clause because Astig founder and owner Vanessa Fixmer-Oraiz is a Democratic candidate for the Board of Supervisors.

The board issued proclamations on Gun Violence Awareness Day, June 3, and Pride Month, June, and honored Iowa State Sen. Joe Bolkcom (D), a former Johnson County Supervisor, for his three decades of public service work. Bolkcom, who is in his sixth term as a state senator, represents Hills and Iowa City in his district. He is not seeking reelection.

The board will hold its next formal meeting at 5:30 p.m. June 9. The meeting will include a number of zoning and platting requests.

Johnson County, Supervisors, Covid

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