Hand sanitizer

Commissioners Tuesday approved the authorization of Parker County Judge Pat Deen to execute an interlocal agreement with local school districts for reimbursement of personal protective equipment.

The reimbursement will come from Coronavirus Relief Funds under the U.S. Department of Treasury's CARES Act.

"This program will work through the office of emergency services to work with individual districts and look at the PPE they bought from March to present," County Emergency Management Coordinator Sean Hughes said. "Things like gloves, hand sanitizer."

Under the agreement, school districts will submit a budget and receipts to the emergency services office, which would work with the county auditor to validate the budgets and receipts, then bring the packets to commissioners for approval of reimbursement.

"Is this for money they've already spent or money to be spent?" Precinct 3 Commissioner Larry Walden asked.

"Both," Hughes answered. "We do have time constraints on these dollars by the end of the year, with other CRF funds, so there are some tight timelines.

"This isn't something that will run past the first of December for the districts."

Hughes said his office would be contacting superintendents individually to work with them and expedite the process prior to running into the December deadlines.

The agreement would include the following school districts: Azle ISD, Aledo ISD, Brock ISD, Garner ISD, Millsap ISD, Peaster ISD, Poolville ISD, Springtown ISD and Weatherford ISD.

As of the latest update from Oct. 13, Parker County has had 2,185 total cases of COVID-19. Of those, 86 are active, with 2,092 recoveries and 40 deaths, according to the county's website.

The county has been regularly holding drive-through testing at Heritage Park in Weatherford, with another set for Wednesday, Oct. 14, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. No appointment is necessary.

"We had a very large testing number last week in the 200s," Hughes said. "We were a little surprised, but we're anticipating good numbers again this week, at least in the hundreds."

Hughes's department has reached out to the Texas Division of Emergency Management to secure testing on Oct. 21 as well.

"The testing this week, is this going to be with the swab or the foot-long rod?" Precinct 1 Commissioner George Conley asked.

Hughes said a swab of the mouth is what is generally used.

"Some of the nasal swabs are still out there and are still used," he said. "What we've seen on testing at Heritage Park has been the oral swab of the mouth."

Deen noted a spike in the number of positive COVID-19 cases in nearby areas, namely Tarrant and Dallas counties, but added Parker hasn't seen that uptick.

"While some would criticize the county for not having a mask mandate throughout the county, what we've found is the community and the business community have put in their own mask mandates," he said. "The county has taken the position that, rather than put more government into them and mandating them to do that, we're allowing those personal decisions."

Deen said the county's approach is working and that they're making good decisions, but added that it doesn't mean the number of positive cases isn't going to spike.

"It does have fluctuation, but one thing that continues to stay constant with us is the recovery rate," he said. "Any further government involvement and to mandate a mask is not justified as we see currently."

The county is also working with county local health authority Dr. Stephen Welch and the Parker County Hospital District in procuring medical pods at each school campus.

The pods were purchased from CARES Act funding, and allow students to see a doctor at the nurse's office through the pod without having to leave school, and get tested and receive results back quickly.

"One thing that's very complex is schools reopening," Deen said. "You've trended into a very delicate situation where there could quickly be exposure like we've seen in some areas, Mineral Wells being one."

Deen said they would be putting out more information and specifics on what is going on with the schools and how they're implementing testing in schools, noting that things "are progressing positively relative to some of the other areas. The pod has been a big success."

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