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City health chief reviews self-quarantine issue

SALEM — Residents showing symptoms of the Coronavirus need to self-quarantine and after they get tested, remain in quarantine until the test results come back, a city health official said.

“That’s what we want people to do,” Salem Health Commissioner Alanna Stainbrook said.

Stainbrook commented about the state of COVID-19 in the area during the city health district board meeting Wednesday.

“We do have a surge of COVID-19 right now,” she said, adding it’s not from congregate settings such as nursing homes or the prison.

It’s community spread between family members and friends, parents and children. Once it gets in a home, she said everybody seems to get it. She mentioned a recent wedding where a lot of people ended up testing positive, including the bride and groom.

Board member Judy Sicilia had asked about attitudes environmental director Alan Masters was facing while investigating mask-wearing complaints. Stainbrook said he doesn’t usually have any issues. If workers in a business aren’t wearing masks, he asks to see their policy which must be place outlining the reason against wearing masks. She said a concerned citizen sent a letter to the Ohio Department of Health regarding Walmart and said the city gets a lot of complaints out there. Some people aren’t wearing masks or they’re not wearing them properly. The business has signs up telling people to wear masks, but they’re not going to approach a customer who isn’t wearing one.

She said they received word earlier in the day about a positive case in which the person first had symptoms Oct. 4, but didn’t get tested right away. If a person doesn’t isolate after getting symptoms and while waiting for test results, they could be exposing anyone they come into contact with. Some people aren’t getting tested, either. Testing sites in Salem include the hospital and Rite Aid, but she said a few spots, like Family Practice, have the rapid test and have been good about telling the health department about positive results.

Besides dealing with COVID-related complaints, she said Masters has been busy dealing with two big issues: a problem property on Oak Street and some people feeding skunks.

People aren’t permitted to relocate skunks and some people who were feeding them in a neighborhood have been asked to cease and desist. On Oak Street, there’s a problem with an odor from dog feces in a kennel on the porch, along with other concerns both inside and outside the house. A cost of $2,500 was quoted to clean the place up, but Stainbrook said the people don’t have the money to do that and aren’t able to do it themselves. She’s reluctant to have volunteers go there. She said they’ll be told not to put their light on for trick or treat. Neighbors are angry with what’s going on and want it to be handled.

The health department is trying to work with them, but they need to find somebody to clean it up, she said.

In other business, Stainbrook reported their new phone system was being installed today at a cost of $3,459, funded with COVID-19 funding. The existing phone system isn’t allowing anyone to leave messages, which can be a problem during a pandemic.

The board agreed to allow her to contract with MedPro to dispose of sharps at a cost of $32 per month. The first invoice will be higher due to having four containers stored up. The charge would be $70 per container, but they’re receiving a deal of 50 percent off, so the first bill will be $172, reflecting the first month and the cost of the four containers with a discount. Each month moving forward will be $32 per month.

The board also authorized Stainbrook to sign contracts with Pastor Hery Salamanca and Sister Rene Weeks as interpreters to help with contact tracing and other areas where an interpreter may be needed with the Guatemalan community. Each will receive $875 per month for their services through Dec. 31. Both have been volunteering their services, but health officials thought they should receive some type of payment, which will come from the COVID grant. An attempt will be made to get more grant funding for next year.

The board approved the purchase of temperature sensors for the refrigerators that can be checked via an app on Stainbrook’s phone or the nurse’s phone at a cost of $595 for three and $195 for each additional refrigerator or freezer.

More detailed information has been requested by the state for the accreditation application related to 42 measures. The state wanted the work done by Nov. 11, but an extension was granted until February.

Lynle Hayes, who’s doing a lot of work on accreditation, said a lot of it was caused by the state not elaborating enough or being clear enough about what was being requested.

mgreier@att.net

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