As the rate of positive COVID-19 cases in the South Heartland District Health Department continues to decline, local officials are scaling back the frequency with which they hold video news conferences.
The city of Hastings announced the change Thursday morning.
Local officials including Mayor Corey Stutte; Michele Bever, executive director of the South Heartland District Health Department; Eric Barber, president and CEO of Mary Lanning Healthcare; and Ron Pughes, Adams County Emergency Management director, have held video news conferences each Friday morning for more than two months to provide the public with details about the presence of the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, in the area.
The current positivity rate for the health department is around 2%.
“We took a look at it over the past couple days,” Stutte said in an interview Thursday morning. “The numbers, as far as the COVID-19 positive numbers, are not being driven up much, and there’s just not a lot of new news to give, so we thought it would just be a good time to scale those back and probably do it every other week. As we continue to move through the pandemic and the way this all continues to lay out, we just want to make sure we’re giving relevant news. We don’t want to be meeting just to meet.”
He expects to hold a videoconference again on June 19.
“We don’t want to overload them when there’s not a whole lot of new information coming out right now,” he said.
Besides the Friday videoconferences, about 40 local stakeholders representing around 30 organizations have met throughout the quarantine process to discuss the challenges they each face.
The frequency of those meetings has slowed from six days a week initially to now once a week.
Those meetings, currently held Wednesday mornings, help inform the content of the Friday videoconferences.
Stutte is thankful for all of the collaboration he has seen among local organizations as they fight the spread of COVID-19.
“We’ve got a great group of partners here to help discuss these issues and make sure people are getting relevant information,” he said.