Columbia City Manager authorizes COVID-19 aid
COLUMBIA - City Manager John Glascock finalized an authorization of an ordinance to bring almost $1.8 million dollars to Boone County and Columbia from the federal coronavirus relief bill commonly referred to as the CARES act.
The agreement was discussed Monday night at Columbia’s City Council meeting. It gives funding to Boone County/ Columbia Public Health and Human Services.
The money will be used to hire forty people, including contact tracers, data analysts, disease investigators and health educators to help with public awareness of the virus.
Scott Clardy, assistant director at Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services, said more staff is needed because people who test positive for COVID-19 have more contacts than before.
“Now we have cases that have many, many contacts. It's not unusual for especially someone in the 20 to 24 year old age group to have 8 to 10 contacts.”
At the city council meeting, Mayor Brian Treece said he is happy about the agreement.
"I'm glad the city manager was able to reach an agreement on contact tracing," said Treece. "I think that is one of the most effective things we can do to help curb the spread, I think we need to look at other intiatives like that."
Under the agreement, people without insurance can still be covered to get free COVID-19 testing.
Clardy said this takes the load off of health care systems that have been partly funding testing.
“We have included testing, paying for testing for uninsured individuals, this is something that the health care systems have talked to us about because they’re the ones with the drive-thru clinics,” Clardy said. “They’ve been shouldering most of that cost and it's gotten to the point where they just really can’t do that anymore, so this is certainly eligible for CARES act funding.”
Clardy also said that this plan is a preparation for the influx of college students coming to Columbia in the future.
“We are expecting cases to increase a couple of weeks when the students are back and then again, anywhere from one to three weeks after that,” Clardy said. “So yes the idea is to try to have some of these folks anyway on, trained, and ready to go by the time we start to see those spikes to help with that increase in workload.”
Clardy said MU and Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services will be in contact for the future and use the same data and management systems to further prevent more COVID-19 cases.
Treece also said that COVID-19 costs and damages still need to be discussed as it is depleting the city's budget.
"I think we probably need to have a conversation about what are our council's priorities for COVID related expenses in the City of Columbia that we have incurred and will continue to incurr until the end of this year," said Treece.
The council will talk about the budget in an in-depth session on August 13.