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Marengo EMA Director addresses coronavirus at commission meeting

Marengo County EMA Director Kevin McKinney discussed the coronavirus and possible government responses that the Marengo County Commission can make should the need arise at a March 10 meeting.

He said that there have been no cases of COVID-19 in Alabama, though 19 individuals are under investigation at the time of press. That number dropped significantly from 100 suspected cases with 81 being cleared. Ten Alabamians are included among the 3,500 passengers and crew members on the Grand Princess cruise ship.

McKinney said the government response could include working from home, implementing employee best practices and preparing for limitations in the workforce.

He also said that the most local concern revolves around healthcare officials and first responders who could be “offline” while under evaluation if they treat someone who later tests positive for the virus.

McKinney said that if that happens enough times then “We’re going to have to be borrowing from other counties and other uninfected areas.”

He also estimated the virus would continue at its peak for another three to six months. He said if voluntary isolation were to occur, there would be monitoring by public health officials such as those with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Marengo County EMA will continue monitoring the virus.

McKinney also brought forward two bills co-sponsored by the Alabama EMS Association and the Association of County Commissions of Alabama making their way through the Alabama legislature. The first bill would enact a statewide notification system utilizing a single vendor and will cover the costs for all participating counties. The second bill would set guidelines for identifying safer place shelters throughout the state. “This would allow us to offer many more locations for people to go to,” he said.

Other actions taken by the commission include:

• hearing Aubrey Patterson’s complaints of Red Oak Road after his wife’s vehicle was damaged after being stuck on the road. The damage was estimated to be $640, and the county insurance denied his claim. Commission Chairman Freddie Armstead said the commission could not go against the claim denial but the commission would look into resolving his concerns.

• hearing Hal Cain with the magazine “Business Alabama.” Cain said the magazine will be doing a feature on several counties including Marengo County in an upcoming issue and asked the commission to place an ad in the magazine. The commission agreed to advertise.

• approving the grand jury report.

• tabling the Department of Human Resources board appointment for district 5 until the next meeting.

• hearing Probate Judge Laurie Hall’s departmental report. A runoff election will be held on March 31.

• entering executive session.

• approving revisions to the Tax Abatement Resolution for Alabama Pellets, LLC.

The commission meets every second Tuesday of the month at 9 a.m. in the Marengo County Courthouse. The public is invited to attend.

(This article originally appeared in the Wednesday, March 11 issue of the Demopolis Times.)