Clay Co. Officials Address Local COVID Concerns At Press Conference

Fri 11-13-2020

(Spencer)--Clay Co Presser01 "Doing nothing here is not an option right now. And we want to do those sort of things also in a way to protect everyone's interests as best we can. We want our retailers to continue to operate."

That's Bill Bumgarner, President and CEO of Spencer Hospital speaking earlier today (Fri.) at a press conference on the local COVID-19 situation that also featured Spencer Mayor Kevin Robinson, Spencer School Superintendent Terry Heman and Clay County Supervisors Chair Dan Skelton. Each of them pleaded with the public to wear masks, social distance and practice other public health recommendations to help mitigate the spread of the virus.

Bumgarner said the surge in cases can't be sustained by healthcare providers in the region much longer, citing increased concern over the impacts on capacity and staffing...Clay co Presser02 

"I want to be very clear: we're at the knife's edge here in our ability to continue this going forward every day gets increasingly more difficult. It's the good will of our employees and our medical staff that are keeping us at the point we're at. If we see a significant surge beyond where we are right now, it's going to get much more difficult. And there aren't a lot of opportunities right now to refer patients out to other hospitals. Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls is where typically a lot of our transfers go, and they are near max capacity on most days."

Spencer Superintendent Terry Heman says so far, most schools in the area, including Spencer, have had relatively few cases of COVID-19 among students and staff. But he says that's starting to change now...Clay Co Presser03 

"If we want our schools to stay open and continue to provide experiences for our kids this school year, then we must change behavior in our community. Strategies such as wearing a mask in public, social distancing, avoiding gatherings of people will help us keep our kids in school."

Heman said as of now the Spencer Community School District doesn't plan to seek a waiver from the state to transition to online learning. District's can apply for those if the positivity rate in their county is above 15 percent. Heman says there's another factor that needs to come into play before they would seek a waiver...Clay Co Presser04 

"I think the bigger number for us is our illness rate, which according to the state recommendations would have to be 10 percent. We're quite a ways from that. So in our mind it's, at the school, the illness rate is a much bigger number for us to be watching than the positivity rate in the county."

Bumgarner, Heman, Skelton and Robinson all issued a call for a statewide masking mandate from the Governor.

(Photo: Spencer Hospital President & CEO Bill Bumgarner)