by Richard Uhlhorn
At yesterday’s Leadership Response Team meeting, there were several items of interest for the Lake Chelan Valley community.
Sgt. Kent Sisson – Emergency Management, stated that the emergency management team is currently getting its PPE orders turned around. “Our staff is getting that turned around for agencies in dire need for PPEs (Personal Protection Equipment). We have a little stockpile left and are getting regular shipments in.” Gowns are becoming an issue. One vendor promised 4.5 million disposable gowns, but had to cancel because the raw material wasn’t available to produce them.
Sisson stated that the team is working on the reimbursement process for any public entity that is registered on the public assistance side. Fire Districts and School Districts need to register before the Drop Dead day. Even if your organization doesn’t use the system you are at least registered.
Barry Kling – Chelan-Douglas County Health District, stated that the area is fortunate because the critical care cases have not materialized. “Social Distancing is working,” he said. “It is working better than we hoped.” However, he stated that any loosening of the Stay At Home edict should not happen until more testing can be done on the public at large.
The State is testing health workers and first responders first. “It’s not that we need 50 percent more testing, we need 500 to 1000 percent more,” said Kling.
Kling also said the agency is working with Chelan County Commissioner Doug England on worker housing guidelines.
Regarding agricultural issues, Jim Colbert – Chelan Fruit, joined the team for the first time on Thursday and stated that they are battling Coronavirus and attempting to keep Chelan Fruit’s 650 employees safe. “We have reduced our workforce on the lines, expanded our lunch rooms and offered masks,” said Colbert.
Colbert also stated that Chelan Fruit does not transport employees, but that some of the co-ops mitigation procedures are a struggle. “How do you get five employees from climbing in to a car,” he asked.
His biggest concern for the shed is the addition of 900 people for the upcoming Cherry season. “Cherry packing is very challenging for us,” said Colbert. Cherries are a fresh product that needs to ship to the market immediately.
Chelan Ranger Kari Grover-Weir
Kari Grover-Weir asked how long the temporary influx of workers is. Colbert replied that all packer shippers work two 10-hour shifts per day. He added that it is a cross section of workers. “We have kids out of college working the cherries as a summer job.” He also stated that Chelan Fresh is just one of six packing sheds fighting over the same labor pool.
Superintendent Barry DePaoli
Superintendents Barry DePaoli and Matt Charlton said both of the District’s employees are working remotely. Depaoli also lauded the kitchen staff who are busy putting out meals for students to pick up. “We have served 4,996 meals,” said DePaoli.
Regarding the seniors, both DePaoli and Charlton said it was a difficult time for them and plans are in the works to celebrate them, however, DePaoli said they are still hoping to be able to hold a traditional graduation. Charlton replied that Manson is looking at ways to make graduation special for their seniors.
With regards to on-line teaching, DePaoli said, “Right now we have about 70 percent of our students engaged. We are going into a full court press to find out where the other 30 percent are. Some of them are working.”
Manson Superintendent Matt Carlton
Charlton said Manson Schools has ordered 30 hotspots from T-Mobile for students who don’t have an Internet connection.
Kari Grover Weir – Chelan District Ranger, told the team that its developed recreational sites are closed, but that the trails are open. “You just have to park along side the road,” said Weir. She reiterated that the District has shut down prescribed burning for Spring. The District’s employees are also working remotely and no employees have tested positive for the virus. “We are working on operational procedures for our seasonal employees,” said Weir. By May the Entiat and Chelan Districts will have full force hotshots on board.
HDCA director Erin McCardle
Erin McCardle – HCDA, said a number of businesses have applied for financial help, but no more applications are being accepted because funding has run out. She stated that representative Mike Steele is working hard with the SBA and the governor to get another round of financing available.
She said businesses are concerned about how long they can stay closed before they have to permanently close their doors. “We should have a pretty good view of what our businesses will look like in a month or two.”
EMS Director Ray Eickmeyer
EMS Director Ray Eickmeyer stated that the hospital and clinic are doing well. “The hospital is getting more PPEs. We’ve had a lot of people in the community giving masks and shield,” said Eickmeyer. He also reported that the hospital has emptied its third floor to be ready for any surge in cases. “We are ready to take on more patients. We are seeing increased amount of people with symptoms,” said Eickmeyer. However they are all being taken care of at their homes. “We don’t want to discourage people from seeking health care,” he said.
Eickmeyer also stated that the hospital is going to be launching a survey via telephone to all of its patients to find out if they have any symptoms at all. “This should show us some hot spots that we can give to CDCH.” They will be making those calls once a week to make sure they have everything they need.
Manuel Navarro – Columbia Valley Community Health, stated that they are in pretty good shape. “We are not in dire straights for anything. Business is steady.” As of Thursday morning, CVCH had tested 150 people with 14 testing positive. “We are focusing on agriculture worker camps,” he said.
CVCH is assuming a responsibility for contact tracing with all patients. This program starts with an individual and works out to all of his contacts he/she have been in contact with.
Sgt. Chris Foreman – Chelan Detachment
Sgt. Chris Foreman – Chelan Detachment, said that he didn’t have much to report. “There hasn’t been any real up tick with complaint calls from last week,” said Foreman. “We have had some confusion on our waterways and boating. Boating is allowed… fishing is closed. Doesn’t make much sense, but we are going with the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife.”
Fire Chief Arnold Baker – Manson Fire District
Fire Chief Arnold Baker – Manson Fire District stated that they were available and healthy. Fire Chief Mike Asher – Entiat stated that the case count in Entiat is extremely good. “We’ve had no aid calls last week.” Fire Chief Mark Donnell said Chelan7 has seen fewer EMS responses but an up tick in fire responses. “We had 23 fire calls since March. This fire season is going to be busier than a normal season”
Mayor Bob Goedde – City of Chelan
Mayor Bob Goedde – City of Chelan, proclaimed that Chelan was a hotspot for Coronavirus, claiming that percentage wise, Chelan has more cases than Wenatchee and/or East Wenatchee.
Goedde has released his Declaration of Emergency and is trying to figure out how to get Governor Inslee to recognize that people are not staying home but are driving back and forth from the Westside to their second homes with no concern about the residents in the Valley. “We’ve got a problem over here,” he stated.
The Leadership Response Team meets via teleconferencing every Thursday afternoon at 1 p.m. for agency updates on the Coronavirus situation.