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Crawford County Fee Overturns COVID-19 Well being Ordinance – Pittsburg Morning Solar.

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Jordan Meier

| morning sun

PITTSBURG, Kan. The Crawford County Commission unanimously voted to repeal the county Public Health Ordinance No. 3 Friday morning after Health Commissioner Tim Stebbins and other community health officials recommended the measure.

The vote comes after weeks of declines in new positive COVID-19 cases across the county – as of Friday morning, the county only had 18 new cases this week – and as vaccine distribution picked up. Stebbins stressed that the health community did not make the recommendation lightly and only because they believed it was best for the community.

"I think we are approaching a time when a restrictive approach is not required," said Stebbins. "In trying to limit our community, we wanted to do this for the right reasons, and we need to have the evidence, and we don't agree with our current numbers, and that's a good thing."

Former Crawford County's assistant health officer, Dr. Linda Bean said the decline in the number of cases was a factor in that decision, but also said the burden on health care in the community is significantly lower right now.

"We know we'll probably never go to zero [cases]," said Bean, "but our main focus wasn't overly influencing our hospitals so we can care for the people who needed it and who we did are." As a result, we don't see any deaths and we are there. "

However, Stebbins and Bean recommended maintaining the mask mandate until after the fourth phase of vaccinations began.

"We are not ready to change our recommendation," said Stebbins. “The masks are important. The masks bring us to the goal. "

Additionally, Stebbins added that schools should continue to follow the mitigation strategies that they have followed throughout the year.

The regulation, which was in place in September, provided restrictive measures for the capacities of restaurants, the business activities of companies and public gatherings. With the repeal of this order, restaurants, businesses, and events can now return to full capacity – aside from the fact that masks still have to be worn in public places – almost a year after COVID-19 began to ravage the county.

"With our health care pressures resolved and addressed, we want to relieve the economy and business," said Bean, "and I think this is a sensible thing to do."

However, Stebbins reiterated that removing this order does not remove the masks.

"I want to be very clear that the recommendation does not include changing your mask," he said, "but to say that sitting in a restaurant will delight you is something I cannot do with good faith." Good evidence and good science say this is a risk factor in the community at this level. "

Stebbins also said he and other health officials only follow what the data shows.

"We're not changing our minds," he said. "We follow the data."

Both Commissioner Tom Moody and Bruce Blair were very supportive of the idea.

"It's because of you that we got to this point." Moody said, "We followed your recommendations from the start. I feel blessed to have the health care professionals we have and we followed your recommendations on everything. I am so damn happy where we are today. "

Commissioner Jeremy Johnson wasn't that keen on the idea, however, as the weather is getting warmer, more community events are planned, and COVID-19 variants have surfaced in the U.S.

"I don't want to be here next week and say, 'Just kidding, we have to go back," said Johnson. "I'm really scared of it and I don't want this to happen."

Despite his reservations, Johnson ultimately voted in favor of the motion.

"It's a hesitant yes," he said.

Stebbins and Bean both said they understood Johnson's concerns and even shared some of them.

"We're all still scared of what we've been through and that will come back," said Stebbins. "I cannot say with 100% certainty that this is not the case." I can't say with 100 percent certainty that none of us will get hurt if we get in our car and now drive down the street, but we still do these things and the challenge we have is do we do it in a limited way of feelings or do we limit based on evidence and science? "

Bean added that they cannot make these decisions out of fear.

"We don't want fear or trauma based on what we've been through in the last year," she said, "to limit ourselves when we don't need it."

Jordan Meier works for the morning sun. She can be reached at jmeier@morningsun.net

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