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Supply of masks, eye shields, protective gowns increased

Supply of masks, eye shields, protective gowns increased

May 6, 2009
By Kurt Nesbitt Staff Writer

NEW ULM - Brown County officials took another precaution against the possibility of a H1N1 flu pandemic Tuesday morning.

The county board approved a request to buy more face masks, eye shields and gowns for the Public Health Department.

There were still no confirmed cases in Brown County as of Friday, although there is one confirmed case and another suspected case in the state. Both the Centers for Disease Control and the Minnesota Department of Health have said they expect more cases.

With that growth comes the need for protective equipment for public health staff, argued the Brown County Public Health Department Tuesday. The county presently has 2,300 masks stored, but Public Health anticipates that it might not have enough if H1N1 flu becomes widespread because protective equipment has to be thrown out after each client is seen.

The department asked the county board for permission to buy 1,500 additional masks, eye shields and 250 protective gowns at the price of $4,850 and approved it on a 5-0 vote.

Public Health Director Karen Moritz told the county board that she thinks "things look different than they did last Thursday."

Brown County Public Health made a search of its inventory and realized it would not have enough protective equipment in the event of a local outbreak.

Public health officials in Minnesota are monitoring the situation through hospitalized patients and through sites that regularly send in samples called "sentinel sites" in case the virus should change and become resistant to vaccines.

Moritz said officials won't consider school closings unless several cases are reported in an area.

She mentioned the Center for Disease Control is "bogged down with lab."

The number of cases in the U.S. has now grown into the 403, but only one has proven fatal. Mexico has 590 confirmed cases and 25 deaths from H1N1 flu, according to the World Health Organization.

In the event that Brown County does not need the extra equipment, the materials have a long life, Moritz told county commissioners. Brown County won't get them immediately but it will be put on a waiting list and should have the equipment within six to eight weeks.

Commissioner James Berg felt it was "a good investment" and moved approval of the request. Dove seconded it. The motion passed 5-0.

In other action, the county board:

Approved a Homeland Security grant that will create a feedlot database that, according to a request for board action, will provide modeling and locating of feedlots in emergency situations and allow for better management of feedlots in day-to-day use.

Approved a proposal to build five gas wells in the closed area of the county landfill to the board.

Accepted a $2,034 performance credit allocation from the Board of Water and Soil Resources and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, which is awarded in addition to the county's Natural Resources Block Grant allocation.

The county board gave permission 5-0 for employees to participate in the Heart of New Ulm initiative. Personnel Director Leah Crabtree said the screeners will come to county buildings and the screening will cost nothing because the county employs more than 50 people.

A bid for edge line rumble stripes on CSAHs 13, 27 and 29 was adopted 4-1 with Commissioner Deborah Dove casting the dissenting vote. One contractor, Diamond Surface, bid $71,283 for the project - 10.83 percent over the estimated cost, according to county documents



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