The Dubuque County Board of Supervisors opened the new year by welcoming a new member, selecting new leadership and discussing a new schedule for meetings, while also reviewing the arrival of COVID-19 vaccine doses in the county.
New Supervisor Harley Pothoff took his seat on the board for the first time at the meeting, Jan. 4, held virtually via Zoom videoconferencing.
Pothoff bested Democrat Dave Baker in November’s election, becoming just the second Republican in 70 years to win a seat on the board.
During the meeting, the supervisors voted on the board’s leadership.
Supervisor Jay Wickham nominated Supervisor Ann McDonough, a fellow Democrat, to serve as the board’s chairwoman. That motion was approved.
McDonough then nominated Pothoff to be vice chairman, a motion that also was approved.
The board also reviewed the status of COVID-19 vaccinations.
Dubuque County Health Department Director Patrice Lambert reported that 2,750 doses have been received in the county during the past three weeks, including 1,950 doses of an approved vaccine developed by Pfizer and 800 doses of the Moderna-developed vaccine.
“Every vaccine we have out there has been or is close to being administered into someone’s arm,” Lambert said.
The first priority for vaccinations in Iowa are health care workers caring directly for COVID-19 patients.
The Iowa Department of Public Health previously identified 4,857 such people in Dubuque County.
Lambert said the state has asked smaller counties to decline vaccine doses once they have completed vaccinating these front-line workers, freeing up additional doses for larger counties.
“We are hoping to see an increase in vaccines (soon),” Lambert said.
Lambert noted that the county’s long-term-care facilities are scheduled to receive vaccinations from area pharmacies.
“The first doses are already planned,” she said.
Sunnycrest Manor is the Dubuque County-owned long-term-care center. Interim Director Tammy Freiburger said Jan. 4 that the facility has 12 positive cases among residents in a non-skilled-care portion of the facility. She said the 12 are being treated in the facility’s COVID-19 unit, and there are no symptomatic individuals.
“It can be a change within a day,” Freiburger said. “I added extra testing this weekend, and we did our routine testing today.”
Supervisors concluded the meeting by determining a schedule for upcoming meetings.
The board has been meeting every Monday since the early days of the pandemic. Supervisors will continue that schedule by holding meetings from 9 a.m. to noon on every Monday but the last in the month, when the board will meet at 5:30 p.m.
McDonough advocated for a set schedule for meetings, saying it could help county staff develop agendas, reduce time spent working at night for staff and lead to greater efficiency.
Wickham said a set schedule should keep board meetings accessible to the greatest number of potential participants.
“I just think an evening meeting is helpful for the public,” he said. “I am fine with the last meeting of the month being an evening meeting.”