In Churchill County Board of Health’s regular meeting on Monday, the members heard a report regarding the ongoing work to develop a Central Nevada Health District. Currently, the district will be led by Churchill County Social Services and formally includes Eureka, Mineral, and Pershing Counties.
Social Services Director Shannon Ernst said that information gathering from each community about what services a health district should include is ongoing as well as work to develop a budget that will be presented in June to all the different communities’ boards. Ernst has been working to engage the communities. “We are scheduling our rural tour, as we’re calling it, we’ll be going around doing town hall meetings to explain what the health districts look like and obtain feedback on what they would like to see in their communities.”
The date for the Churchill County town hall is scheduled for June 8 and more information will be forthcoming.
Part of the development of the Health District is the building of a satellite lab in Churchill County. Located in the County Annex Building at Taylor and B Street, Ernst has been working to get the lab up and running. She said there were issues with the first inspection in early April, but Dr. Pandori will be back this week to complete another walkthrough before the final certifications are sent to the state. Ernst said within another month the lab can begin accepting samples beginning with COVID and flu. Once they can show the uploading and reporting is accurate, they will be testing all other samples. She is working with the State Lab to determine which hospital specimens will come to this lab to relieve the lab in Reno.
About the community response to COVID, Ernst said the state has become quite lax, “One of the things we’re really maintaining here is that tracing for 65 and older and also the vaccine.”
Over the past week, there were a total of five positives, and on Monday there were two active cases of COVID reported. So far there have been a total of 12,489 doses of vaccine administered in Churchill County. The Pfizer vaccine has been given to 619 12–17-year-olds and 240 5–11-year-olds. “Why we track this separately is really for the school district and Oasis so as they develop their plans, they can know what the vaccination rates are and what the trends are.”
Reports show that 91.5% of county residents over 70 years old have been fully vaccinated.
The test positivity rate is no longer reported to the state or CDC, so hospitalizations and deaths are now the reporting metric, with both being extremely low, according to the report. There was only one hospitalization in the past month. As of May 6, 2022, a total of 6,460 positive cases of COVID have been reported, with 6,345 recovered. Churchill County has had 110 deaths linked to COVID since May of 2020.
The county has partnered with the State of Nevada to provide therapeutic outreach, informing each positive case of therapeutic options and reference to a telehealth provider to prescribe treatment.
Other business included third-quarter reporting for projects funded with the $88,000 marijuana tax revenue and the $33,000 allocation from the social services’ mental health budget. The Community Coalition and the Churchill County School District are both providing services with this grant funding to support community priorities focusing on preventing youth drug use and awareness of mental health services. Ernst said the school district partnership with UNR has provided counseling to 3,000 students this past year. New Frontier is also serving students at the Fallon Youth Club to provide programs.
An update was provided on the Behavioral Health Task Force activities. The Task Force is focusing on youth, adults, and education through subcommittees for each focus area. The coalition is leading the youth subcommittee and working to evaluate school and community needs. The adult subcommittee is focusing on transportation for people in a mental health crisis to get them to facilities where they can get care. Ernst leads the education subcommittee which is focusing on getting information out to the community during May for Mental Health Awareness month.
A new program that has been pushed through legislation provides a contact number to be used for individuals in crisis. “Rather than a crisis for mental illness going to 911, there is a new 988 number. Really the strategy for this is so individuals can access crisis intervention 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and it’s not going through law enforcement,” she said. “The challenging part of this is the crisis support we have available in rural areas. It’s building the strategies for these teams. They’ll be working with law enforcement so they can access services.” There is a push to develop Mobile Outreach Safety Teams, a tool that was evaluated seven years ago. The 988 program is set to launch in July.
The Board of Health members are County Commissioners Justin Heath, Greg Koenig, and Pete Olsen as well as Sheriff Richard Hickox, and Public Health Officer Tedd McDonald. Social Services provides support for the board which meets quarterly. The next meeting will be held on August 8, at 9 a.m.
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