The Decatur Daily, Ala.
The Morgan County Health Department will receive assistance in purchasing mobile testing and vaccination equipment while volunteer fire departments will get automatic chest compressors after the county received $489,475 in coronavirus relief funds through a state grant.
The federal CARES Act grant agreement between the Morgan County Commission and the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs was approved by the commission at its regular meeting Tuesday.
Judy Smith, administrator of the Northern District of the Alabama Department of Public Health, said the grant will allow ADPH to create remote testing or vaccination sites.
“This is great that the health department, county and community are working together,” she said. “A possibility is to use this mobile unit with school systems to provide vaccines to students. Also we’ll be working with churches, rural sites where it might be needed.”
According to the grant agreement, the $203,000 the Northern District of ADPH is receiving will go to hiring temporary nursing staff and the purchase of a mobile testing site, drive-thru tents and other equipment.
Smith said she is disappointed only 30% of Morgan residents have received the full vaccination and just under 35% have received at least one inoculation. Those numbers are as of Friday, she said.
“We’re not giving up,” she said. “We’d like for it to be a lot higher. The 12 to 25 age group is the lowest vaccinated. We have a short attention span as a society, and some in the national media are raising concerns” about the vaccines.
She added, “We can be in trouble if we see an increase in coronavirus and its variants that are out there.”
Smith and County Commission Chairman Ray Long said younger residents have been reluctant to take the vaccine.
“Younger people are taking the wait-and-see approach,” Long said. “If it doesn’t affect them, the younger people don’t see the importance nor the urgency. We’ll never reach 100% or even 80%. Too many people are skeptical of it going into their body.”
John Stinson, president of the Morgan County Volunteer Firefighter Association, said the equipment the fire departments receive will save lives.
The county will be purchasing 24 chest compression systems from American Emergency Products Co. of Crane Hill for $204,691.20. Battery packs are $575 each, and dual battery chargers are $850 each. The county also is purchasing 24 refurbished defibrillators for $17,848.32. The total of all equipment for fire departments in the grant is $260,256.48.
“This is perfect CPR,” Stinson said of the chest compressors. “A machine will be doing the pumping. You don’t wear your people out. It’ll be saving lives.”
Of the 22 volunteer fire departments in Morgan County, Stinson said he knows of at least five county volunteer fire departments that don’t have compression systems. “And others have older units,” he said. “These are the newest in the industry and all of our volunteer departments will have the chest compressors.”
Stinson, also president of Morgan County emergency medical technician association, said the state should require every ambulance to carry the compression system.
The grant also included grant administration fees.
No residents attended a public hearing at Tuesday’s meeting concerning the commission assisting with repairs to the driveways at the Morgan County Sheriff’s Posse grounds in Hartselle.
In other business, the commissioners:
—Approved paying a $71,427 annual increase from $431,995 to $503,422 for its self-insurance medical stop loss agreement with HCC Life Insurance Co. Long said several county employees had medical bills surpassing $85,000 in the past year, causing the county to pay more. “The employees’ premiums are not going up. The county is paying for this out of the general fund,” Long said.
—Authorized the chairman to enter into an agreement on behalf of the Sheriff’s Office with Brooks-Jeffrey Marketing Inc. for professional web design, account service and development of a responsive website to be paid from the sheriff’s discretionary fund.
—Adopted a resolution authorizing appropriate officials to fill the following positions: Revenue Department senior assessment clerk, $17.37 to $22.67 an hour; reappraisal personal property appraiser II, $17.37 to $22.67 an hour; reappraisal chief appraiser, $31.85 to $41.85 an hour; sales tax data entry clerk, $12.12 to $15.76; and commission personnel specialist, $23.94 to $31.26 per hour.
—Distributed money from the tourism, recreation and convention fund to Priceville cruise-in car show, $1,000; Falkville Fall Festival, $1,000; and Brewer High School ad, $200.
—Changed the next commission meeting from July 13 to July 15 at 9 a.m.
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