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Coronavirus hot topic at county meeting

Session live-streamed for first time

LOCK HAVEN — It was something new for the Clinton County commissioners, their staff and the public, as the three commissioners sat six feet apart at a table in the Garden Building while staff and public watched and listened from their offices or homes.

It seemed to work out well as the commissioners life-streamed the 30-minute Monday morning work session, giving an update on what’s happening in the county, including the coronavirus, which has closed all county offices to the public.

Besides comments from the commissioners on the COVID-19 sweeping the state and nation, there were several questions from onlookers at home.

Commissioner Miles Kessinger responded to a question about coronavirus testing in Clinton County, even though there have not yet been any cases reported here.

“It is available if you get notice from your doctor… if you have symptoms and are pre-screened by a physician, you can get the test,” Kessinger said. He said there are two testing sites, one at Geisinger Medical Center offices in Avis and the other at UPMC Lock Haven Hospital.

In response to another question, Kessinger said the county’s prison is no longer accepting ICE transfers into the local facililty, and inmates and staff at the Clinton County Correctional Facility are taking precautions from the virus.

“We just signed a purchase order for more medical supplies… 50,000 rubber gloves and other medical supplies,” Kessinger said, adding that the prison does not currently have a full coplement of hired nurses, but the medical contractor is supplementing nursing staff as the county continues to search for a full complement.

Continuing to talk about the coronavirus, Commissioner Angela Harding said the newly formed Community Emergency Coalition, which includes leaders of Clinton County, has been meeting by conference call each week.

“I beg you… please stop moving around. Go shopping but with a list as one person. I know you are getting bored, but moving around is not the anwer. We need to take this seriously. Take precautions and protect each other,” she said.

Commissioner Jeff Snyder said,” we’re trying so hard to try and stay ahead of this serious thing. With everyone’s cooperation, we will get through this together.”

But Kessinger’s words struck the hardest.

“Look at the map… we’re dead center in Pennsylvania. We’re an island surrounded by them. It’s not if or when it’s gonna happen. It could already be here… some have symtoms and can spread it,” he said urging everyone “to act like you have it and don’t want to give it.”

Clinton County Emergency Management Director Bill Frantz reported that the county continues to work with state agencies and the Department of Health. He noted that the local hospital has been receiving supplies. Asked if there have been any people tested in the county, Frantz replied, “Yes, but that is private information.”

Further, Frantz said his office is looking at the “influx” of out-of-county residents into camps or second homes in the county. Residents from areas with relatively few cases have expressed concern that people from “hot spots” might travel to those areas, Frantz said. That information is being gathered to forward to the state, he said.

In other business, Snyder gave an update on the leaking water pipe from a neighboring building that flooded the basement of the Garden Building last week.

He said large dehumifiers are being used to dry out the basemtn and a company is coming to clean the ductwork. He noted four HVAC united put in in 1997 were damaged by the water that covered them.

“We’re looking at moving them to the first floor so they are no longer in danger. The second and third floors of the building were not affected… those units are on the roof,” Snyder said. Meanwhile, Snyder said a skeleton crew of employees is working in the building.

As far as a schedule of meetings for the week, Chief Clerk Jann Myers reported, “Most everything has been canceled.” She said April’s Prison Board meeting has been cancelled for the foreseeable future unless something comes up, noting that the board meeting in the prison is too small to meet “distancing” recommendations. If necessary to meet, she said the meeting would be moved, perhaps to the Piper Building.

The commissioners will next meet for their regular voting meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday. It will be live-streamed also. And the commissioners will continue on a bi-weekly meeting schedule, meeting on Mondays and Thursdays every other week.

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