Homer Covid-19 Task Force ready for next round of mandate easing

May 7, 2020

Credit PBS

On the day after the first death at South Peninsula Hospital from Covid-19 was announced, discussion on KBBI’s Covid Brief (with Kathleen Gustafson) began with how Homer’s Unified Command elements have prepared for the second round of mandate relaxations that start Friday.
    Derotha Ferraro of South Peninsula Hospital said the lead time the Kenai Peninsula has had while the pandemic swept the world has benefited its emergency preparation.
    “We had some in place, but we still were learning from the wave in front of us, throughout the nation and the world. And so for the last, you know, month or so that we've been doing, setting up the alternate care sites, setting up internal systems, adding negative pressure rooms, adding new walls and entryways with, you know, secured plastic,” Ferraro said. “And so now we slowly start adding back in all of our regular services because we worked on getting the Covid-19 ready. And so now everything will kind of coexist. And you know, really in a lot of the departments we're kind of back to normal. Our numbers aren't there, so we're not seeing the same number of people because of spacing issues and new protocols. But for the most part were really close to back to normal as far as the types of services.”
    The City of Homer’s Jenny Carroll spoke to the backlash seen in some quarters against the public health safety mandates ordered by Governor Dunleavy.
     “I want to address a tension that I'm feeling in the community a little bit. That people are saying, well, the only way to improve our public health is to shut down the economy, ‘cause that really hurts individuals, and our ability to make a living and put food on the table and pay our rent versus, is the only way that I can improve the economy is to sacrifice my health or my family's health or public health. So I just wanted to say that the governor is providing these mandates based on this very fragile place that we are in, a very good place, that we are with the slow transmission of Covid in the state,” she said. “And so the city's been following those strategies for reopening the economy while keeping public health and safety number one, in our minds. That's the job of the emergency operations center. That's why we have a state of emergency is to try to protect each other. At the same time, people are voicing their discontent and the city is working within the governor's framework to help protect public health and safety. And following the mandates and the guidance.
    “And that is one way that we can kind of ease that tension is that by following the guidance, we can mitigate health concerns. So the city is practicing and we're helping educate people about those best strategies known to keep transmission down. If we can keep the transmission down. We're going to be able to continue with opening our economy while at the same time protecting public health as best we can.”
    Homer Public Health Nurse Lorne Carroll, whose office is responsible for tracing the contacts of all identified Covid-19 patients, described the task ahead as the summer picks up.
    “The public health nurses are the ones that are locally responsible for contact tracing, which is in part based upon interviewing the client. So yeah, the, the implication there is that with summer comes fishing season and other seasonal work. Uh, so the, the idea there is with more people moving around, there is a higher chance of transmission. So yeah. Um, just like the hospital in terms of population focused healthcare, the public health nurses are gearing up for a busy season as well.”
    You can hear the full Covid Brief here.