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County returning unused COVID vaccine money

Mason County will be returning “several hundred thousand dollars” of COVID-19 relief money to the state at the end of the month.

Mason County Director of Community Services Dave Windom provided the information to the county Board of Health at their May 23 meeting.

“It’s for COVID vaccine. We’re just not getting demands for COVID vaccine work so I talked to the hospital and they aren’t getting a big demand either,” Windom told the board.

The Board of Health talked about ways to use the money before the end of the month, including putting the money toward buying a vehicle for vaccine opportunities, but Windom said they explored that avenue and the answer from the state was “no.” Windom said they are exploring the idea of using a vehicle for back-to-school vaccines.

“What we’re seeing in the tracking right now is that the back-to-school vaccines are way behind,” Windom said. “Do the COVID, right, and we fully expect to see in the first couple weeks getting to be pretty busy as school nurses start reviewing records and start sending kids back to get their vaccines. It will be busy.”

Other business

Windom said during the meeting solid waste code enforcement is becoming a problem in Mason County. He said he has done some outreach to homeowners associations and the problem is “really big.”

“In some ways, we’re hampered, Ian (Tracy) and I are working around the citations and abatements,” “We have a few lined up that want to get their properties cleaned up but we don’t have the ability so we need to make sure that we’re doing it correctly but they’re in line to do an abatement and get the property cleaned up and in some way, we have to recover those funds whether it’s a lien on the property or a lien on taxes. What we’re trying to not do is to have it lien in such a way that the interest continues to accrue at such a rate that we wind up with the property down the road. We don’t want to have that happen. We don’t want to be in the property-owning business, so we’re working with other county staff to figure that out.”

Windom talked about the county health rankings, which Mason County ranks 25th among 39 counties, down two spots from the previous rankings. The county is in the lower middle range of counties for health outcomes, which represents how healthy a county is right now in terms of length of life and quality of life. Mason County is among the least healthy counties for health factors, which are conditions that can be modified to improve the length and quality of life for residents.

“Access to exercise opportunities, we’re pretty low, but it’s how they measure it,” Windom said. “It’s how far do you live from a gymnasium. Not do you ride a bicycle, not do you go fishing, it’s how those things are measured makes the difference. These are snapshots in time, what we track over time you’ll see in the community health assessment is more accurate.”

Mason County Environmental Health Manager Ian Tracy told the board that the state Department of Health announced several shellfish classification area downgrades this year, and Mason County was the only county with closure areas.

The Annas Bay growing area near Union has restricted and conditional approval for shell fishing. Tracy explained a marine water station in the area failed the fecal coliform measurements.

A Marine Water Station near Lilliwaup failed its measurements.

“This is one that we could see some public feelings on where they’d be a little upset,” Tracy said. “There’s a recreational shellfish beach and about half of that beach would get closed, probably closed out to station 185. This is one of those locations where, they are not expecting, even if we have pristine results to no longer be failing by the time they do reclassifications in August, September.”

A marine water station near Tahuya failed its measurements, and it is not expected to be open for shell fishing.

“What it means for the county is increased workloads are any areas that close that don’t have a closure response plan would need a closure response plan written,” Tracy said. “It’s not a huge burden but it’s probably a 40-to-50 hour project for a staff member to write a closure response plan so if we have two, that’s 80 hours.”

Author Bio

Matt Baide, Reporter

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Shelton-Mason County Journal & Belfair Herald
Email: [email protected]


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