Today, the Johnson County COVID-19 Recovery Planning Task Force held its first meeting, virtually via Zoom and streamed live on Johnson County’s Facebook page (@jocogov). This meeting took place two days after the Board of County Commissioners authorized the creation of the task force to plan and strategize how to implement a phased approach to reopen the economy.
“We appreciate dedication of the county residents who have volunteered to serve on the task force, as well as the patience of our residents who have heeded our call to stay at home and flatten the curve,” said Chairman Ed Eilert. “We know it’s been incredibly difficult and, in many cases, with great sacrifice. We also know it has saved lives.”
The goal of the task force is to develop a Johnson County recovery plan that includes phases for business to reopen and adopt guidelines for the phased reopening of the county’s economy. The task force will make a recommendation on the recovery plan.
In its first meeting, County Manager Penny Postoak Ferguson recapped the timeline of actions taken at the county and state levels since Johnson County received its first COVID-19 case on March 7. Assistant County Manager Joe Connor presented federal guidance on a reopening approach, including the gating criteria for testing, tracing and treatment. He also highlighted the dashboard, located on the Johnson County website, which monitors information such as the number of symptoms, cases and hospital capacity. Department of Health and Environment Director Dr. Sanmi Areola presented a public health update. Dan Robeson, deputy director of Emergency Management and Communications, gave an update on the county’s efforts to secure and distribute Personal Protective Equipment for first responders and the health care community, as well as an explanation of the weekly meetings the county is holding with its community partners. Chairman Eilert talked about the authority of the Board of Public Health and the Public Health Officer, Dr. Joseph LeMaster.
The task force members discussed the availability of local economic data, concerns with acquiring Personal Protective Equipment and other supplies such as hand sanitizers and other cleaning supplies, standards and best practices for businesses to use when reopening, and considerations for certain businesses that should be considered priority.
At its next meeting, the task force will discuss an outline of a plan to reopen the local economy in three phases and the business sectors that would be part of each phase. They will need to determine the length of time for each phase and the guidance for reopening.
The task force meeting included participation by the following members:
Johnson County BOCC Representatives: Chairman Ed Eilert, Vice Chairman Mike Brown, Commissioner Janee Hanzlick Johnson
County Government Staff: Penny Postoak Ferguson, county manager; Dr. Sanmi Areola, director, Public Health and Environment; Dan Robeson, deputy director, Emergency Management and Communications
Small Business: Scott Anderson, restaurant owner/development attorney
Chamber of Commerce: Tracey Osborne Oltjen, president & CEO, Overland Park Chamber of Commerce
Economist: Frank Lenk, director of Research Services, Mid-America Regional Council
Mayor’s Council representative: Eric Mikkelson, mayor, city of Prairie Village
City Manager representative: Beccy Yocham, city manager, city of Lenexa
Non-Profit/Community Organization: Julie Brewer, executive director, United Community Services of Johnson County
Hospital Executive: Stan Holm, president & CEO, Olathe Health
Public Safety: Troy Rettig, police chief, city of Leawood/Johnson County Police Chiefs and Sheriff Association
The task force is scheduled to meet at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, April 24, Monday, April 27 and, if needed, Tuesday, April 28. A representative will provide updates to the Board of County Commissioners during its twice-weekly public meetings.