• April 2, 2020

Court weighs COVID-19 reports - Odessa American: Ector County

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Court weighs COVID-19 reports

Panel doesn’t declare a disaster in absence of local cases

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Posted: Tuesday, March 24, 2020 3:05 pm

Ector County commissioners Tuesday morning heard a series of reports from county officials about the COVID-19 pandemic and said afterward that they were satisfied with the actions that had been taken.

Noting that no cases had been discovered in the county, the court declined to follow suit with the cities of Odessa and Midland and most of the rest of the United States and declare a local disaster.

The 67-minute meeting was livestreamed on the county’s web page, but the audio was so garbled it was unintelligible.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Eddy Shelton said afterward that reports were taken from Sheriff Mike Griffis, Senior Centers Director Donna Greaves and Emergency Manager Ricky George with Griffis saying he had shut down the detention center’s lobby just south of Odessa off the west side of U.S. 385 and had stopped the visitations of inmates except for consultations with their lawyers.

Having faced a May 26 runoff with former city councilman Mike Gardner, Shelton noted that Gov. Greg Abbott had moved the Republican primary runoff to July 14 with no Democrat in the race.

Reporting that there’d been no COVID-19 cases at the jail, Griffis said the facility was “fully stocked with plenty of masks, gloves and aprons” hopefully to thwart the virus if any comes in.

Greaves had closed the senior centers on the north, south and west sides of town at 1225 Adams Ave., 900 S. Dixie Blvd. and 2265 W. Sycamore Drive, but she said word had quickly spread about the continuing meals provision program at the North Side Senior Center and that 56 people had come by Monday to carry out meals or had called to have them delivered.

Greaves said people may call 432-337-5281 to get on the list for their meals to be delivered the next day or they may come by the north side center between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. to pick up. “We haven’t added up the numbers yet, but I think we’ll be over 60 today,” Greaves said early Tuesday afternoon.

“Our goal is to provide at least one nutritious meal a day to our seniors 60 and older. We’re still trying to maintain that here.”

Shelton said George told the court he had established an emergency operations center at UTPB. “We’re taking all the necessary precautions and putting staffing in place to handle any more orders from the state or federal authorities and any cases or issues that come up,” the commissioner said.

Precinct 3 Commissioner Dale Childers said Monday that he and Judge Debi Hays had consulted with Health Department Director Brandy Garcia and others to ascertain if a local disaster should be declared and a county-wide emergency operations center established.

Childers said an EOC “would be spread out in several locations.”

“We have structured an organizational chart to meet all the U.S. Centers for Disease Control guidelines,” Childers said. “It’s an ever-changing atmosphere that we’re living in right now and we are not sure what will come out of it.”

Precinct 4 Commissioner Armando Rodriguez took part in the 10 a.m. Tuesday meeting, but wasn’t visible on the livestream because he was out of sight on the right, having brought a chair to distance himself from other court members in deference to the pandemic.

In other business, Hays and the commissioners renewed an immunization contract with the Texas Department of State Health Services and OK’d Griffis’ proposals to hire nurses and part-time nurses for the jail and approve assigning deputies certified by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards to fill open positions at the jail.

The court invoked an emergency to approve four personnel requests from the health department: enacting a job description for the nursing administrator, promoting the public health nurse to nursing administrator, OK’ing a job description for the water quality specialist and promoting the inspector to sanitarian. 

Efforts were unsuccessful to contact a health department spokesman to identify the new nursing administrator, the water quality specialist and the new sanitarian. Shelton explained that the moves had to be declared emergencies because they were unbudgeted.

The court also:

>> Appropriated $6,500 to the elections fund for postage.

>> Spent $23,000 for improvements and construction for the jail expansion.

>> Approved the county’s comprehensive annual financial report.

>> Held a public hearing and approved the Republic Services landfill company’s tax-exempt bond financing.

>> Accepted $2,500 from Jamie Tisdale and the Wilson’s Corner convenience store for environmental enforcement.

>> Accepted the donation of a model 2002 two-horse trailer from former Sheriff Mark Donaldson for the sheriff’s office.

>> Added the Humane Society of Odessa to the jurors’ donation fund list.

>> OK’d enrolling county employees in the Texas Association of Counties’ cybersecurity course.

>> Renewed the Federal Aviation Administration’s lease at Schleymeyer Field airport.

>> Approved an interlocal cooperation agreement for the Teen Court Program with ECISD and the City of Odessa.

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