POTT. Co., July 24 -- Liz Parthemer, assistant Health Director, has been named Pottawatomie County Health Officer.

The Board of Health met today and agreed having one person trying to manage both the responsibility of running the health department, and acting as the primary county contact for the pandemic, was overwhelming.

It was decided our citizens would be better served by separating the duties of Health Department Director from that of the Health Officer. Therefore, the board voted to have our Health Department Director, Lisa Kenworthy, concentrate on her duties running the activities of the Health Department.

Parthemer, who has been actively involved in the daily operations of contact tracing and other COVID 19 responsibilities, is designated as the Pottawatomie County Health Officer.

Numbers for this update: There have been a total of 55 positive COVID-19 cases in Pottawatomie County, up eight from Monday. Thirty-seven are recovered, 18 are active. There are 19 pending tests. There are no related COVID-19 hospitalizations or deaths.

Frequently asked questions:

1. What happens if a citizen tests positive in Pottawatomie County?

The person is interviewed by a trained “contact tracer”, providing them with a list of close contacts. A close contact is defined as someone who has been within the person’s personal space (a six foot radius) for 10 minutes or more. This is a lengthy process daily for a small health department such as we have in Pottawatomie County. We have called on the State for resources, and have two additional trained “contact tracers” to assist our Health Department employees with the case load.

2. What happens if someone does not follow the recommended guidelines for social distancing?

If citizens do not practice social distancing, proper sanitizing techniques, and /or other recommendations, this will cause a spike in local numbers and restrict our resources further. Thus requiring us to request more state resources to assist. It is imperative for everyone to practice these recommendations in order to not overload our healthcare system including hospitals, urgent care clinics, and providers.

3. What is the most important thing to remember at this time?

COVID-19 is here. Our goal is to mitigate the spread whenever and wherever possible, especially to our at risk populations. Our long-term care and assisted living facilities are highly threatened by this virus. If we begin seeing a community spread, it threatens those facilities even more. Many of us have loved ones in those facilities, or high risk/special needs loved ones in our homes. We need to mitigate the spread of this virus by following the recommendations of medical professionals:

*Social distance;-unless you reside with the person, maintain at least a six foot separation; (if you cannot maintain social distancing, wear a mask!)

*Frequent hand washing and/or use the use of hand sanitizers.

*If you have the option, stay away from large crowds.

The choices you make today, and every day, affect you and your loved ones in the future: tomorrow, next week, next month… If not for yourself, think of them.

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