Pennington County Evaluates Response to COVID-19


Pennington County Commissioners held a special meeting Thursday (4-2-2020) morning to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic and how the various departments were coping with the situation.


This meeting was unique in that it was available on the remote video conferencing service, Zoom. This format was offered to keep the public meeting to a minimum capacity and promote social distancing. Several department heads and one commissioner took advantage of the online format.


Most of the comments from department heads were similar in that there had been a few technical problems but most felt the process of working from home had gone well.  Participation in the work at-home program varied anywhere from 26 employees at Pennington County Social Services down to 1 employee at the County Shop where the nature of their work presented few opportunities to work from home.


Emergency Manager Erik Beitel presented to the commissioners that he has been working with county and city agencies along with some businesses to help find personal protective equipment and develop good procedures to handle the COVID-19 pandemic. Beitel also told Thief River Falls Radio that local banks could help with many of the emergency small business loans currently offered.


Public Health Director, Kayla Jore, reported that of the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Minnesota, 3 of the patients had been children from ages 4 months to 5 years old. All three were doing fine. Jore also said that the youngest person to die so far from COVID-19, in Minnesota, was 58 years old.


There have been complaints received about people breaking the rules on social distancing to include pay dates and other close socialization. Some of these connections would seem normal, or even healthy just a few weeks ago however now these same activities could easily spread the coronavirus. Jore had contacted area school Superintendents with Minnesota Department of Health  guidelines which school officials


Dave Casanova-Pennington COunty Jail Administrator reported one case of COVID-19 had been confirmed at the correction facility at Moose Lake and one in Redwing juvenile facility. Pennington County has face shields and N95 masks for staff and a plan to handle any COVID-19 infections should they occur.


The Department of motor vehicle remains closed to the public. Drivers license expirations have been extended 2 months by the Governor’s executive order.


Pennington County Commissioners plan to resume their regular schedule for meetings. Their next meeting will be April 14th. 


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