Summit County Council Member Says They're Bracing For COVID-19 Impacts
Summit County Council Member Glenn Wright says the county is planning for whatever contingencies result—medical or economic—from the COVID-19 crisis.
In his recent visit with KPCW. Wright said that they are trying to mitigate the spread of the virus.
“If we hear about the projections that we’re getting from a lot of learned experts on this, COVID-19 could affect a third to a half of the population eventually. If it does that, it will completely overwhelm our health care. And the mitigation process that CDC’s talking about—Dr. Fauci has been on national media about this numerous times. We need to slow down the spread so that all of these patients don’t hit our hospitals and health care systems at the same time. I mean, even if we slow them down, it’s gonna greatly stress our health-care systems.”
In the meantime, he said that the entire community needs to follow the common-sense measures recommended from the CDC, such as washing hands frequently and not touching your face.
Wright said they are also looking at ways to continue county services. With a limited Health Department staff, the County Manager is looking at ways to reconfigure their duties. Wright said another issue could be absenteeism for the county staff.
“If, as some of these experts say, we could eventually have a third to a half of the population sick—presumably, they won’t all be at one time. But we’ll have much higher absentee rates than we do now. So how do we deal with those things? What services do we cut back on? I think we’ll be going, trying to get people to do as much tele-working as possible. But most of our activities have to do with direct contact with the public. So those people have to be there. Really the key activities that we can’t do without are public safety—sheriff, fire department. How are those departments going to be affected by absenteeism? It’s hard to say right now.”
They may also change the way they hold Council meetings, though those don’t often involve a mass gathering of people.
“We’re investigating going to electronic meetings. Will that happen in the future? We haven’t set out a date to make that decision yet. (Leslie) But I don’t think you’re able to stream your meetings, so is that then an official—(Wright) That’s something we’re gonna have to investigate. We’ve asked out IT department to start investigating how that can be done.”
Financially, the county could also be impacted by severe decreases in tourism. The Council has asked Chief Financial Officer Matt Leavitt to look at contingencies.
Wright said they will deal with whatever happens. But nobody knows what will happen.
“Right now, nobody knows. This pandemic may slack off a little bit over the summer. It may kick up again in the winter. I think the key thing is we have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. If it slacks off in the summer and doesn’t re-appear, life is good. If it doesn’t slack off at all, that’s probably the worst-case scenario, then we’re gonna have to make some decisions relatively quickly, in the next month or two.”
Summit County Council Member Glenn Wright.