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Coronavirus

CARES Act funding agreement could add 40 positions to Columbia/Boone health department

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

The Columbia City Council is set to talk about an agreement on CARES Act funding with Boone County at its meeting Monday.

The agreement would provide nearly $1.8 million in funding to the Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services to hire temporary staff.

The assistant director of the health department Scott Clardy said the funding would allow for up to 40 temporary positions. Those includes disease investigators, contact tracers, communicable disease specialist, health educators and data entry positions.

He hopes these positions will lessen the workload on current staff at the department, as they are getting into a busy time of year with school starting and flu season on the horizon.

The nurses at the health department have been shouldering some of the added responsibilities of disease specialist, and Clardy says they need to get back to doing their regular workload.

"We needed to get some people in to help relieve some of the disease investigation work that those folks are doing so they can do their regular jobs," Clardy said.

As for the data analysis work, only one person has been taking on that work at the department since April.

"He's had one day off since then," Clardy said. "We need to try to get some relief for our staff or we are going to quickly burn them out."

The department is expecting a spike in cases when students return to classed this month, according to Clardy.

"This will give us some more staff to do that disease investigation and contact tracing," Clardy said.

Young people in Boone County continue lead in total number of confirmed cases. As of Sunday, 315 cases fall in the 20-24 age range of the total 1,251 cases. 159 cases are in the 15-19 year old age range, and 123 are found in people in the 25-29 group.

Columbia City Council will have its first discussions on the agreement at its meeting Monday night, even though the city manager has signed the agreement under the emergency declaration.

Clardy said they have already began to interview and even hire people because of the advanced timeline. City council still must approve the agreement within 21 days of the signing.

The CARES Act funding would also allow the department to pay for testing for people without insurance.

"We're working that out with the hospitals and the folks that are doing testing to figure out how we can accomplish that."

The city council meeting is set for 7 p.m. at City Hall.

Boone / Columbia / Columbia City Government / News / Top Stories

Brittany Wiley

Brittany Wiley joined ABC 17 News in December 2018 as a full-time reporter. She anchors weekend morning broadcasts and reports in the early evening during the week.

Connor Hirsch

Connor Hirsch reports for the weekday night shows, as well as Sunday nights.

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