The Wright County Board of Commissioners met in emergency session this morning (Friday, March 20) to make official what the county leadership has been working on this week with the rapid response to the COVID-19 coronavirus.
The meeting began with Wright County Board Chair Christine Husom reading a statement for the public.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has definitely impacted most people around the world,” Husom said. “It’s disruptive and distressing to large numbers of people. The United States has taken bold steps to flatten the curve to slow the spread of the virus. In Minnesota, state, county and local jurisdictions have joined in that effort. At our Tuesday, March 17 board meeting, we declared a state of emergency in Wright County. Wednesday, we had a Committee of the Whole (meeting) to review the Continuity of Operations Plan – COOP plan – and determined that it was prudent for the health and safety of our employees to release as many staff home to work as possible. Yesterday, we had a Committee of the Whole to review our COOP and we will be acting on those minutes. I would like to thank everyone in our county. I’m grateful that we have such a robust Public Health and Emergency Management system and divisions. It has been very proactive gathering information and sharing it with us. Information is on our website. (I also thank) the administrative department, all of our department heads, managers and supervisor staff. I’m just really impressed. We have these plans in place for a reason – hoping we’ll never use them, but knowing that when something like this happens, to rely on what we have in place is really helpful.”
The board then reviewed the minutes of the March 19 Committee of the Whole meeting, where departments heads had gathered the discuss options available to have as many county employees as possible with the ability to work remotely to work off-site to accomplish that objective.
To the end, the board approved five recommendations that came out of that meeting. They are:
Extend the current employee compensation plan through Saturday, April 4 which allows employees to work from home.
Department heads will provide an estimate of the number of employees who will not be physically able to return to work after April 4 due to impacts of COVID-19.
Place agenda items for the Health & Human Services Committee scheduled for Monday, March 23 to the Tuesday, March 24 county board agenda.
Schedule a Committee of the Whole meeting regarding COVID-19 strategies for 10 a.m. Thursday, March 26.
Determine how many employees have no access to a computer or the internet at their homes.
In addition, the county got some good news from the Minnesota Department of Health with the awarding of $147,695 in grant funds to be used for COVID-19 response duties. Although it was estimated that the projected cost to combat the disease is going to be a figure closer to $400,000 by the time all is said and done, there are going to be other revenue streams at the state and federal level that will be available to help cover those costs.
The board is looking to be as transparent as possible with residents during these challenging times and will continue to inform the public through its website to keep those impacted by COVID-19 informed as to what is going on at the county level to help lessen the impact in Wright County.
For those who may be unaware, all Wright County Board meetings, which typically start at 9 a.m. on Tuesdays, are live-streamed on a YouTube channel. Access to the live streaming and archived board meetings can be obtained on the homepage of the county website in the “County Board Video” tab on the left side of the page.