Nov 18, 2020 5:03 PM

Presiding Commissioner sees some glimmer of hope in COVID-19 fight

Posted Nov 18, 2020 5:03 PM

By BRENT MARTIN

St. Joseph Post

Though coronavirus numbers are up, Buchanan County Presiding Commissioner Lee Sawyer sees some optimism developing in the fight against COVID-19.

Sawyer points out though the number of new cases and hospitalizations have risen of late, efforts to develop a vaccine seem to be bearing fruit.

“I think there’s a lot of reasons to be optimistic,” Sawyer says. “It’s not been a fun time to sacrifice some of the things that you’d like to do and would want to do, but I do think that there’s some real reason to be optimistic looking forward. But it doesn’t necessarily help right now.”

St. Joseph health officials reported on Tuesday three additional coronavirus-related deaths as well as 102 new cases of COVID-19. On Monday, Buchanan County reported four deaths and 133 new cases. The county now has totaled 5,250 cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, resulting in 61 deaths.

Mosaic Life Care reported 95 COVID-19 patients in its system as of Tuesday morning; 82 in St. Joseph, nine in Maryville, and four in Albany.

Sawyer cautions residents to continue wearing masks, keeping six feet of distance with others, and washing hands frequently and thoroughly.

Federal money forwarded Buchanan County by the state to fight COVID-19 has largely been spent, according to Sawyer. Buchanan County received $10.2 million in federal funds, an allocation based on county population.

Sawyer says the County Commission has worked hard to make the money count.

“We have distributed over 300 of the small business grants, which were the $5,000 small business grant. We have gotten some really good feedback from some folks on that, that that really made a difference in keeping them going. I don’t know if that will be enough of a help for everybody, but we certainly hope so and that was the design,” Sawyer says.

School districts in the county have been reimbursed for some of the money spent to prepare school buildings for in-class teaching. Money also has been used for additional testing to determine the spread of the coronavirus in the county.

“So, we’re not completely at zero, but we’re pretty close,” according to Sawyer. “If you look at what we’ve allocated that we said we would reimburse, we’re really close to using it all. We just have a little bit left.”

Sawyer says the county faces a December 30th deadline to spend the money.