• August 9, 2020

Health department staff doubled - Odessa American: Ector County

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Health department staff doubled

Commissioners OK initiative to help deal with COVID-19

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Posted: Tuesday, June 9, 2020 3:01 pm

Ector County commissioners Tuesday approved a big beefing-up of the county health department in an effort to push the COVID-19 pandemic into the category of unpleasant history.

Granting a request by Health Department Director Brandy Garcia and Dr. B.A. Jinadu, the local health authority who helps supervise the department, the court authorized them to hire 15 temporary data entry, case investigation and contact tracing workers to bolster the 15-person crew that’s already in place.

Commissioners said the initiative was also a good idea because they have till the end of the year to spend the $2.6 million the county was just awarded under the federal CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act.

Garcia reported that 20 new COVID-19 cases had been discovered since late last week, “15 confirmed and five probable.”

County Judge Debi Hays asked if some of those were with people who’d been traveling and Garcia said they had mostly been to places like Dallas, Austin, Houston and San Antonio.

“I think we need to get ahead of the curve,” said Precinct 2 Commissioner Eddy Shelton.

In other business, U.S. Census Bureau Partnership Specialist Charlene McBride of Midland said the 2020 count is in full swing with Ector County falling well short of the ideal.

McBride said 46.4 percent of Ector County citizens had filled out the form online at census.gov with 40 to 50 percent in Odessa and 30 to 40 percent in unincorporated West Odessa. Political redistricting data must be submitted by July 31.

Noting the pandemic had prompted the bureau to extend the deadline to Oct. 31, she said Texas is 40th among the states with a 55.5 percent self-response rate while the national average is 60.7 percent.

McBride said local Spanish radio stations have been pitching in to help, especially La Ley 104.7 FM, where Manager Ricky Ramos has approved two one-hour talk shows about encouraging participation.

The court also:

>> OK’d a $625,000 change order for work on the nine-mile-long West 42nd Street including the removal of asphalt and placement of an eight-inch flex base and a one-inch layer of “super pavement” to augment its longevity.

>> Approved a change order costing $121,883 for improvements on the five-mile-long West Pawpaw Street including the replacement of arched piped drainage and the installation of edge line rumble strips.

>> Approved paying $17,600 for unused compensatory time to employees at the county cemetery at 300 S. Dixie Blvd. with Cemetery Director Anna Marie Torres saying the department is two employees short of a full staff of six.

>> Appointed Gus Ortega to a two-year term on the board of PermiaCare, which was previously called the Permian Basin Community Centers.

>> Approved an $11,000 budget amendment for non-departmental health and welfare medical commitments.

>> OK’d a $16,000 budget amendment for road maintenance, improvement and construction.

>> Renewed governmental entity crime insurance and public entity employment-related liability coverage.

>> Tabled consideration of a law library contract with the LexisNexis Corp.

Odessa, TX

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