County commission 4/1/21

Dr. Ladun Oyenuga and Renee Hively on Lyon County Public Health address the Lyon County Commission on Thursday morning.

The Lyon County Commission passed a new public health order that will continue the mask mandate indefinitely while removing mass gathering restrictions during its action session Thursday morning.

The decision was made based upon the recommendations of Lyon County Public Health Officer Dr. Ladun Oyenuga, who addressed the commission on Thursday.

“Where we are [with] our active cases, our transmission rates in Lyon County, we’re still in the Orange Zone … meaning that we’re not in an all-clear yet,” Oyenuga said. “We still have active hospitalizations presently in Lyon County. And we know that spring break just happened last week, so typically we don’t see the results of these kinds of gatherings until about two weeks after the whole gathering, so we’re still being very wary, being very precautious in this period with what might have happened over spring break.

“So in view of this and where we are presently in Lyon County, my recommendation will be for us to still continue to wear masks … even if you have been fully vaccinated.”

The mask mandate will continue without penalty for those who violate it. While mass gathering restrictions were removed, the commission still strongly recommended that gatherings not exceed 100 people or 40% of the facility’s capacity and that masks be worn.

“This is for people to understand: just because we give them the opportunity to open up, they still should take precautions,” said Commissioner Scott Briggs. “This thing’s not over. We’re getting there. … Get the vaccination. Keep vigilant of what we’re doing and in two months we could be a long ways down the road on this if people will just take precautions. They can still have the freedom they need, but let’s take precautions to make sure we get through it.”

While previous public health orders have had an end date, the one that became effective upon signing on Thursday will continue until amended, suspended or rescinded by the Lyon County Commission.

The mask mandate will remain in place until the county reaches the herd immunity threshold of 70% of the Lyon County population. Herd immunity comprises those who have been vaccinated, those who have already contracted and recovered from COVID-19 and those who are too young to be vaccinated.

“We can maybe take another look at it and there’s always hope to be done in a month or two,” said Commission Chairman Rollie Martin.

Renee Hively of Lyon County Public Health reported that vaccination efforts in the county continue at a steady pace. She said that other vaccine providers in the area — including, for the first time, Graves — will soon begin receiving more vaccine doses.

Of concern was the stark disparity in the percentage of the county’s Hispanic population and the percentage of the county’s population that has been vaccinated. As of Thursday morning, only 510 people who self-identified as Hispanic had received the vaccine.

Hively said that LCPH is having internal conversations about this matter and how best to address it. Currently, an interpreter is at the vaccine clinics and asks those who self-identify as Hispanic whether their family and friends have received or are planning to receive the vaccine. If an individual says no, the interpreter asks why.

“A lot of it is just fear, so we really need to dispel those myths, those beliefs, that fear of getting that vaccine,” Hively said. “I did notice a slight uptick when we were vaccinating the Tyson population, meat-packing plants. They started adding more people in to come get vaccinated once they saw that their peers were getting vaccinated. So maybe as we move along forward and more people get vaccinated, that fear will disperse, but there’s still a lot of work there to be done to be able to reach out to those populations.”

Chief Judge Merlin G. Wheeler of the Lyon County District Court announced that the courthouse would resume jury trials beginning May 3.

Originally, the county court had planned to begin jury trials back in November; however, the infection rates at the time were concerning and so that was further delayed.

While active work has been done to mediate or make plea agreements to resolve cases before going to trial, the court has still built up a backlog of some 60 cases requiring a jury.

Wheeler indicated that the backlog was not particularly concerning, as only about two out of every 10 cases actually proceeds all the way to trial.

“Once we begin the jury trial process and people start understanding that the case is going to trial, we will start to see a lot more disposition without trial,” Wheeler said.

For the weeks of May 3 and May 10, the court will group together all misdemeanor cases and try them in the order in which they came. Following that period, trial of felony cases will begin with the emphasis placed on those who are currently in custody in the hope of reducing the jail population.

The court will implement mitigation strategies for prospective jurors, including limiting the number of individuals summoned at one time and opening more space for jury deliberations.

“Our desire is to ensure the safety of everybody that’s involved in that process,” Wheeler said. “... As you all know, jurors don’t always come willingly. The last thing I want to do is bring a juror in and have them exposed to pick up a virus or infection as a result of the process, so we’re taking every conceivable step that we know.”

The County Commission also:

Approved a motion to allow the county to pay $4,300 to consult with engineers from RVW Inc. to investigate the feasibility of bringing broadband access to all areas of Lyon County.

Approved a quote not to exceed $10,000 from Professional Engineering Consultants for consultation to gain a permit to replace truss bridge 943.9-532.0. Through the new Programmatic Agreement Procedure, the county must work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Kansas State History Preservation Office to receive a permit that will allow the truss bridge to be replaced.

Approved a resolution to vacate a portion of Road 40 west of Road H.

Directed Shane Brunner and Janice Arb of Lyon County Area Transit to submit a grant request for Kansas Department of Transportation funding to expand its security camera technology and find a new facility so that the bus barn and the office can be in the same location. LCAT would request $13,000 for the security camera technology and $450,000 for the new facility, with the county being liable for 20%. Submitting the grant request would be step one of a multi-step process that could be aborted if other solutions became available. Commissioners directed LCAT to also investigate other solutions in addition to submitting a grant request.

(24) comments

Elrod

How old ground again you are wrong you do not know what you’re talking about privately owned businesses on private property can refuse business to anyone. Again you are an idiot shows that you I don’t know what you’re talking about in most cases throughout all the comments you make. You need to stop and go away.

Elrod

It just shows about how much you are so wrong about almost everything you talk about because you do not know. It’s just what you think is right and it’s not. Again you are an idiot

Elrod

Hallowed Ground you are very wrong a privately owned business on private property can refuse business based on health reasons. You are an idiot you do not know what you’re talking about.

Elrod

100 % agree with you Create. These people are just idiots and only care about themselves and their Selfishness.

Elrod

Businesses have the right to refuse service to anyone. It’s privately owned so no they cannot get sued idiot.

Hollowed Ground

Actually they cannot refuse service to anyone. They are required to serve all the public equally. They can and do ban the shirtless so it is beyond me why they do not ban the maskless. Must have to do with moolah. One day I will walk into Walmart with no shirt and if asked to leave, say I'll leave right after those without masks leave.

Rationa1

As I understand the law, if a business is open to the public, it must not favor or disfavor customers for reasons related to a protected status (gender, race, religion, nation of origin, color, etc.). Other than that, businesses are allowed to choose their customer base.

houndi

Are you awake sheep see what they are doing to you. Chase county already drop the mask. Half of Emporia dose not wear them any way. Hope you don't get throat cancer because you can't sue them. Cause you did it to yourselves.

havesomehorsesense

Chase County doesn’t have a hospital. Most likely a large majority use Newman’s in Lyon County. Chase County doesn’t have a sanitary transfer station because they use Lyon County’s. All funded with Lyon County tax dollars. Now they can’t even buy masks. Aren’t they just a shining example of leadership?

CitizenV

I'd say it's over half, and business never turns them away. At this point i think the mandates are pretty much toothless and really have no bearing,. Mandates don't work when nobody follows orders from elected officials and made for tv doctors. And honestly after a year it's refreshing to see this has gone wayyyyy to far for almost nothing.

Rationa1

I suggest if up to half of the population is following the mandate (I am one of them), it is an exaggeration to say "nobody follows orders." You may not, Citizen, but I follow both the mandate...and the science. You'll find me being careful. My family and I go out only for necessary errands and activities, complete them quickly, and return home.

And that's not being "sheep." That's common sense.

Rationa1

It is immoral to wish disease on others, houndi. I'm certain your parents would be very disappointed in this comment.

havesomehorsesense

“The coward only threatens when he is safe”. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Guess that best describes those that have received the vaccine not wanting to wear masks.

havesomehorsesense

“The power of one man or one woman doing the right thing for the right reason, and at the right time, is the greatest influence in our society – Jack Kemp”. Thanks to the Lyon County Commissioners for standing strong on the mask mandate when others are folding. There are still those who have waited patiently for their turn and are still waiting for supply to meet demand.

Dale011

I have been vaccinated and there is no reason to wear a mask now.

havesomehorsesense

What a waste of a perfectly good shot.

Dale011

Not really, There are other counties to shop in.

havesomehorsesense

Let’s see, Chase, Morris, Wabaunsee, Osage, Coffey and Greenwood. Yep, all shopping meccas – knock yourself out!

Dale011

Wichita and Ottawa are fine. Lyon County is now leaving themselves open to lawsuits and so are businesses that continue to abridge rights.

Hollowed Ground

If you're shopping for cow manure, yes.

houndi

Your shots are only good for 3 months. What do you expect from a experimental guinea pig.

Hollowed Ground

Is that the lie Tucker the Mucker is now spreading?

create

Seriously? The real experts tell us that we must continue to wear masks even after being vaccinated. You are no expert. First, the vaccine is not 100% effective; second, we have yet to achieve herd immunity; third, while the vaccine does protect YOU from getting the virus 95%, you can still spread the virus if you come in contact with it; 4th, masks protect people with compromised immune systems, people with Diabetes for example and they are everywhere; finally, new genetic variants of Covid are still out there, and those who study all this carefully don't know yet how much protection from a new strain the current vaccination offers. My concern is that people like you won't wear a mask now and probably don't wash their hands either. You are a spreader.

Hollowed Ground

Other than you look better with one than without.

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