Leadership Response Team worried about packing shed workers


by Richard Uhlhorn

“We are concerned that this is going
to be the spark that ignites that.”
Dr. Butler

Laura Schmidt, Columbia Valley Community Health and a member of the Leadership Response Team updated the team with a serious concern. Her concern is that the packing sheds are not requiring social distancing for their workers. They apparently are also transporting workers in buses to Wal-Mart for grocery shopping. “They are utilizing vans and buses packed with workers multiple times a week,” she said. She added that Manson growers said they were going to shut down, but are still up and running. “That’s kind of my big concern right now,” said Schmidt.

Mike Steele, Chamber Director replied to her concern. “They don’t have a way of social distancing. They don’t have the resources to act appropriately.” He also said the health department has been in contact with the sheds.

Chelan/Douglas County Health District released the number of positive test in the county and two of those were from Chelan, and one of those two individuals allegedly works at a local packing plant. “As far as our community, these are big hot spots,” said Schmidt. Dr. Butler stated that the positive “we have is an employee of a packing shed. We are concerned that this is going to be the spark that ignites that. It is appropriate that we follow through.”

Getting the word of the seriousness of this crisis in Spanish was also discussed. “We need to come up with a plan for the community.” Some grocery stores are limiting how many people are allowed in and Schmidt wondered if Wal-Mart had looked at that policy.

“How can we work with the packing sheds to keep them (workers) safe,” asked Schmidt. Barry Kling of the Chelan/Douglas County Health District said that it may be simple enough to have a conversation with them. “I think it might make sense to take a crack at that, unless you have already done that.” He went on to say that they should try to get voluntary compliance

Wade Ferris, Chelan City Administrator said that the City had a complaint about Gebbers Farms. Mayor Goedde said, “If it is still going on, we need to remind them.

Schmidt said, “They are still required by the Governor to follow the order. It doesn’t mean they don’t have to act in a responsible way.”

EMS Director Ray Eickmeyer said that the valley is holding steady. “Most tests have come back negative,” Eickmeyer. “Our people are doing a good job. We are working on follow-ups on patients.”

Eickmeyer stated that they have enough surgical masks to get them to July 1st. He said there is a lot of misinformation about masks. He added that even surgical masks doesn’t protect. “The only good thing about homemade masks is that they offer some protection. There are so many variables,” he said. Material used is one of them. “We know that a mask from a manufacturer is better than nothing.”

Dr. Butler said the individual that returned positive on Thursday is not hospitalized, but is in home quarantine.

Sgt. Kent Sisson, Emergency Management, stated that they have a lot going on at Chelan County Sheriff’s Office.

“The National Guard has arrived at the Toyota Center and will be going out to other communities. The Guard will be helping with supplies and logistics.

“We’ve been putting out a lot of small fires,” said Sisson. He stated that there is redundancy on ordering medical supplies. “The Department of Health is reaching out individually (to facilities) and it has created a Firestorm. Why are we being asked twice.”

Rich Magneson added that he is in the process of writing an email to DOH to try and streamline the process. “We will keep you posted on that.”

Sisson added that was just one of things they are trying to get clarification of. The Emergency Management operation is also helping CDCH get personnel from Wenatchee Valley College to help out. “These are individuals with medical or EMT experience and are willing to help out,” said Sisson.

Dr. Butler said that CVCH can test about 20 people per day and that Confluence Health has begun testing again also.

Fire Chief Mark Donnell asked what the turnaround time is. Butler replied that nothing comes back within 48 hours. “It is difficult to get testing.” CVCH is collaborating with the hospital which also had the ability to test. “They run their tests through Quest Diagnostics and it takes four or five days for the results.”

Kling added that better tests are on the way and thinks there will be quicker results. “We think we are at a point where we will see a spike. There is lots going on with community outreach education. What you are doing up there (Chelan) is good and it is really helpful.”

Chelan Ranger Kari Grover-Wier asked about a steep climb to the peak. “When do you guys think this will peak,” she asked. Kling replied that he would rather see a lower flatter curve to a peak than a rapid peak in cases. “I am really hoping it will take longer. My crystal ball hasn’t been very clear lately.” He feels that it will be a couple of weeks before they will know.

Kari Weir said that the Wenatchee/Okanogan National Forest has closed its campgrounds, snoparks, and trailheads. “We are trying to avoid a concentration of people,” said Weir. “The Forest is not closed.” The District has delayed seasonal employees until the end of April and is conducting no prescribed burning.

Erin McCardle, HCDA executive director, said that a number of business owners were on a call with Employment Security on Wednesday afternoon. “It was very informative,” said McCardle. The downtown businesses were trying to figure out how to take out a small business loan and the unemployment picture. “That’s what Mike (Steele) and I have been focused on.”

Debbie Conwell, Manson Chamber of Commerce, said it is hard for business owners. “We are reaching the (peak) season quickly. They want to know when they can start advertising.”

Schmidt asked about a list of businesses offering takeout. McCardle mentioned the Lake Chelan Chamber’s Virtual page (www.lakechelan.com/virtual) and Lake Chelan Now’s page (https://lakechelannow.com/coronavirus-updates/social-distancing/).

Mayor Goedde informed the team that he would be meeting with Wal-Mart on Friday to make sure of social spacing is being enforced.

City Administrator stated that the City is working with a skeleton crew, but that Public works would be doing some striping because of the lack of downtown traffic.

Fire Chief Arnold Baker said the Manson Fire District is just holding on tight and keeping all services available to the community.

The next Leadership Response Team meeting will take place next Thursday, April 9, beginning at 1 p.m.



Author: allthingslakechelan

I have been a journalist, photojournalist and reporter in the Lake Chelan Valley since 1988; first with the Wenatchee World, then 15 years at the Lake Chelan Mirror and another 12 years at GoLakeChelan. Currently, I am semi-retired but can't give up the media gig which is why I started All Things Lake Chelan blog. I also have two social media platforms; allthingslakechelan/facebook and lakechelansportsandrecration/facebook. I am also a professional photographer with many credits with major outlets around the world.

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