Local health, county officials discuss COVID-19 vaccine; demand exceeds supply

By Laura Schiermeier, Staff Writer
Posted 1/27/21

VIENNA — At one of last week’s county commission meeting, Presiding Commissioner Victor Stratman said he had a recent conversation with the director of the Phelps-Maries County Health …

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Local health, county officials discuss COVID-19 vaccine; demand exceeds supply

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VIENNA — At one of last week’s county commission meeting, Presiding Commissioner Victor Stratman said he had a recent conversation with the director of the Phelps-Maries County Health Department about the Covid-19 coronavirus vaccination program for this area.

Health Department Director Ashley Wann told him they are having difficulty getting the vaccine and she does not know when it will be available. 

Nationwide coronavirus deaths reached 400,000 and coronavirus deaths were riding in nearly two-thirds of the states in a winter surge, the Associated Press reported. John Hopkins University reported the United States has the highest recorded death toll of any country in the world. The vaccination rollout has been slow as 31.2 million does of vaccine were distributed, but only about 10 million people have received at least one dose.

In Missouri, the governor announced the Missouri National Guard will be assisting in establishing vaccination sites across the state. A vaccination team will be assigned to each of Missouri’s nine Highway Patrol regions. These sites will have the capability of providing up to 2,500 doses per day, per team. Details about dates and locations have not been finalized.

There have been vaccination events in the area, such as one in Poplar Bluff on Jan. 22 hosted by the National Guard that locals would have to drive to. A drive thru vaccination clinic on Jan. 23 at Phelps Health quickly filled up all of the available slots. Currently the demand for the vaccine is greater than the supply. 

Stratman said the best suggestions Wann had amid the uncertainty when health providers will receive the vaccine, is to get on the list at a local pharmacy or to contact their general practitioner. Sinks Pharmacy has a list of people who want to receive the Covid-19 vaccination. It is not known when the pharmacies might received the vaccination shots. 

Many health care providers and residents and staff of nursing homes have received their first round of the Covid-19 vaccinations. It takes two shots. Stratman said he asked Wann how long the Covid-19 vaccination would be good for and she said they are unsure. A booster may be required in about a year. There is still a lot of unknowns. 

For persons who have had Covid-19, health care professionals aren’t sure how long a person will have immunity to the virus, but most are saying about 90 days. 

If it is available, the vaccine is first given to the most vulnerable people in the population. Front line health care workers came first and then nursing home residents and staff. 

Persons who keep us safe and help during emergencies are the next in line in Phase 1B Tier 1. This phase includes public health  administrators and staff, law enforcement, fire services, corrections, emergency management, public works, emergency services, and morticians and embalmers. 

Individuals at an increased risk for severe illness are next in line. Those included in Phase 1B Tier 2 are anyone 65 and older. Also, persons 16 and over with health issues such as cancer, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart conditions, weakened immune system due to an organ transplant, severe obesity with BMI greater than 40, pregnancy, sickle cell disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus, or individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities such as Down syndrome. 

Stratman said he heard on the radio Patrick Stites of the health department who he said did a good job of explaining the situation about who can be vaccinated at this time. They have heard that people come to be vaccinated even though they don’t fit the criteria of the vaccination event and get in line anyway. Registration is required at all of the vaccination events. 

Early in February

Stratman said he recently spoke with Chris Brundick who one of the developers of the Farmer’s Meat Market in the former WOW Pizza building along Highway V, Vienna. 

Brundick said the state inspected meat facility is coming together and he anticipates opening the business to customers early in February.  They are in the final stages of pulling it all together. And, they are looking at hiring part time workers. Stratman said Brundick mentioned hiring retired people to work one to two days a week. Once the facility is opened, Brundick invited the commissioners to come and tour the place. 

Brundick of Argyle and Roger Schulte of Brinktown are the partners in the business endeavor. When the Covid-19 coronavirus came, they saw a need as butcher shops were all covered up with the increased demand for butchered meat for freezers. Butcher facilities farmers and consumers usually used were not taking new business as they were months or even a year away from taking on more animals to butcher. The two men saw all of the butchering business out there are decided to open Farmer’s Meat Market. 

At the commission meeting last Thursday, Stratman said he saw an article in a farm magazine about it taking 500 gallons of water for every beef processed. He’s not sure why it would take so much water, but maybe its for the clean up. He said most butcher facilities kill beef one day, kill hogs one day, and they all go right into a cooler. Then the processing part begins. 

He said the demand is there for a new meat facility to do well. Western District Commissioner Ed Fagre said at a butcher facility in Camdenton it is over a year to get on their schedule. Stratman said there are several little places that just process the meat after the farmers kill the animals and bring it to them for processing.

BRO

Eastern District Commissioner Doug Drewel said he’d like to find a way to get grant money to replace some small bridges. He said he has about five east side bridges that need to be replaced. In the past Drewel has expressed concern the BRO program is not designed for small projects. More small projects would help more people. He said MECO Engineering’s Scott Vogler mentioned a grant program when he was at the courthouse the week before. Drewel would like more information about this grant program and asked County Clerk Rhonda Rodgers so see what she can find.

Keeping the business

Stratman said he heard Honse Implement Company in Vienna, under the leadership of Vivian Honse, will be keeping the dealership. There has been activity across the road from the farm implement company as they are cleaning up and clearing out the lot for a new purpose with the business.  

Buildings and Grounds

There are several offices in the courthouse where the carpet is very worn in the areas where courthouse staff serve customers. The commissioners are moving forward with making these improvements but will start small and see how it works before going on to the next office. Custodian Dave Juergens volunteered to lay the 24 inch by 24 inch carpet squares, but the commissioners weren’t sure whether to let him do it or to hire someone. Eastern District Commissioner Doug Drewel suggested they let Juergens do one small area and see how the project goes and then decide at that point. 

These are high traffic areas in the license office, county clerk’s office, circuit clerk and recorder’s office, and the assessor’s office. The carpet will be purchased from Freeburg Home Center and the one selected has multiple colors of blue, gray and black. 

The front area of license office will be the first one done. Stratman said it probably will need to be done on weekends and he asked Juergens to coordinate with license office staff. Juergens reported the carpet was ordered and will be here in about two to two and a half weeks.

Abbco Lock & Key, Rolla, was scheduled to be at the courthouse Jan. 22 to work on several lock-related issues at the courthouse. Stratman said the front door is the one they are most concerned about and it “needs to be the first priority.” 

Juergens said the front door was locked and he didn’t realize a lady was outside trying to get in rather than going to another door. He unlocked it and it was really hard to open. Juergens said he thinks on a day of high wind the door was opened and the wind caught it and slammed it into the building and damaged it. 

There were three other lock-related issues in the courthouse the locksmith will address as well. 

Stratman and Juergens discussed the mess birds are making on the front porch of the courthouse. The birds, sparrows, are roosting on the light sensor and on the light fixture and making a mess on the landing at the front door. Stratman suggested using flashing to keep the birds off and eliminating the sensor as the light is now on a timer inside the building. The birds may then begin to roost on the ledge. Either way, it will take someone with a lift to do the work. 

Assessor Dana Simmons has expressed interest in painting the paneling in her office in the courthouse. Stratman said paneling was very popular in the 1960s and a lot of it was put on walls. It is very durable. The paneling was put up in the courthouse when it was renovated in the 1980s. 

The commissioners were asked if they minded the paneling being painted in individual offices and they said they did not as long as it does not get “too outrageous.” Collector Jayne Williams painted the paneling in her office and it looks good. Stratman said a lot of people paint paneling.

The county also will pay for the paint “as long as they don’t get carried away,” Fagre said. The commissioners asked that they be informed first about an office being painted and about who is going to do the painting, the office holder or employees or if they are paying someone to do it.

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