2nd new COVID case is confirmed after mask order is overturned
A second new COVID-19 case was confirmed Monday after county commissioners rejected a governor’s order that people wear masks in public.
Late Monday afternoon health administrator Diedre Serene disclosed that a woman age 45 to 54 had been placed in isolation after a laboratory confirmed she had the virus.
The newest victim is the county’s 13th COVID-19 patient. The county’s 12th patient, also in the 45-to-54 age bracket, was identified Thursday, less than two hours after commissioners nullified Governor Laura Kelly’s order to wear masks.
Monitored radio transmissions indicate that the latest patient may be a 47-year-old Peabody resident who had been sick for a week with chest pains, shortness of breath, and a fever.
Before commissioners met Thursday, she was taken by Marion ambulance from the 200 block of N. Maple St. in Peabody to Newton Medical Center.
Another case may be coming. Early Monday morning, using code words reserved for possible COVID-19 cases, dispatchers sent Hillsboro and Peabody ambulances to near 140th and Jade Rds. for an unresponsive 89-year-old woman with difficulty breathing. She was taken to Newton Med by Hillsboro ambulance.
In overruling the governor’s order Thursday, commissioners used a law requiring that they consult with local public health officials, certify that the order was not necessary in the county, and document results of their investigation.
No document was approved at a special meeting Thursday afternoon. Instead, commissioners authorized chairman Jonah Gehring to work with county counselor Brad Jantz, who was not present, on a resolution that Gehring would be authorized to sign on behalf of the commissioners.
Health department consultant Don Hodson, a longtime Marion County physician and the county’s coroner, was succinct in opposing the commission’s action Thursday.
“I just say that it’s not a commission decision; it’s a board of health decision,” Hodson said. “I agree with the governor on this. That’s all I have to say.”
Serene, however, had indicated before the meeting that she might favor a less-stringent order.
Commissioners agreed that the resolution still should recommend social distancing, hand washing, and other health recommendations.
When commissioners reviewed the completed resolution Monday, commissioner Dianne Novak called it “harsh.”
Before the state lifted stay-at-home orders imposed in April, the county had only 5 confirmed and 2 probable cases of the virus. The numbers didn’t start rising again until stay-at-home orders were lifted.
Contacts of the latest patients are being traced and will be put in quarantine, Serene said.
The number of active cases in the county is two, she said.
Health officials continue to emphasize that residents should remain at least six feet away from anyone not residing in the same residence. They also should frequently and thoroughly wash their hands, sanitize frequently touched surfaces, stay home when sick, and always wear a face covering when in public.