Four elected officials in Creek County were sworn in for new four year terms before Monday, January 4’s Board of County Commissioners meeting. District #2 Commissioner Leon Warner, County Clerk Jennifer Mortazavi, Sheriff Bret Bowling, and Creek County Court Clerk Amanda Vanorsdol all ran unopposed.
District #1 Commissioner Newt Stephens was renominated as Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners for 2021 and Warner as Vice Chairman. Both nominations were unanimously approved.
Two Creek County Home Finance Authority Trustees were reappointed for terms that will end in 2024. Ron Dyer from District #2 and Marland Armitage from District #3 “have good attendance and are good servants to the County,” according to Warner.
The Commissioners signed a REAP Grant Contract for Community Development to purchase a skid unit at Olive Volunteer Fire Department which included a scope change to purchase face masks with breathing apparati instead. The contract was for $2,180.00. Stephens said that Olive VFD purchased the skid unit with CARES Act Reimbursement funds and decided to utilize the REAP Grant monies to obtain the much-needed masks, as they have had to rely on the County to supply them with the equipment for awhile. INCOG has also approved the scope change.
Emergency Management Director Covey Murray gave updates on current COVID-19 statistics for Creek County and spoke about Phase 1 of the vaccine rollout. He said there have been 4,276 active cases here since March and that there are 103 new cases and 66 total deaths, as of Sunday, January 3. Warner further stated that over the last week there have been 511 positive cases.
Murray went on to explain how the State Department of Health informed him of the delivery of the vaccines and related the difficulties of implementing the plan on such a short notice. “I received a call around 3 p.m. on Monday, worked all day Tuesday notifying first responders and getting them scheduled, and Wednesday we began vaccinating them in groups of 10 at St. John Sapulpa.” (The maximum number of people that could be in the room at once.) Creek County has approximately 700 first responders and finding their contact information and trying to call them all in one day was “not a good system at all” and very inefficient, Murray said. If the State Health Department continues in this manner, “it’s going to be a slow go… It’s tough.”
Of the 700 first responders (a group that includes paramedics, police, firefighters, sheriff’s deputies, judges, district attorneys and their staff, court clerk employees, state troopers, and OSBI and Drug Task Force employees) they were able to vaccinate 120 of them. The low number is due to the social distancing requirements at the hospital and the observation period recommended for those who have just taken the shot. Additionally, a large number of the group in question opted out of receiving the vaccine. “We are not seeing a lot of entities that want to be vaccinated,” Murray said. Of the 40 Sapulpa Police Department employees, 11 opted in. The Sapulpa Fire Department had 10, Kiefer 10, and Drumright 10. None of the Sheriff’s Deputies agreed to take it, and only 2 people in Mounds and 1 person in Kellyville did.
Chamber of Commerce Director Suzanne Shirey asked Murray how many of the first responders who elected not to take the vaccine have already had the virus. She said, “we are hearing that a lot of people aren’t taking the vaccine due to already having had COVID, and want to save the vaccines for those who have not.” Murray replied that he did not know many had already had it of those who did not take the vaccine, but that he did know there were two people at the Kiefer Fire Department who have already had COVID and still took it.
Fortunately, Murray related, the vaccines themselves and the process at the County Health Department and the hospital went well. He hopes this week’s effort is smoother than last week’s.
He said he will be working with the Creek County Health Department this week to get more first responders scheduled and to disperse information to upcoming eligible groups, such as people 65 and older, teachers, attorneys, and fleet management. He will also be starting a Facebook page this week to share information.
Stephens and Warner were thankful to Murray for disseminating the information he was given as well as he did and for creating the public Facebook page.
What is known about further phases of the vaccine is that pod sites will be set up throughout the County for the next group and that the people 65 and older will go to the County Health Department. Warner emphasized the importance of knowing the pod sites and the plan so that “when it is ready, we can be prepared.”
In a somber end to the meeting, Warner requested prayers for a County employee hospitalized with COVID whose condition is worsening and his family, along with others who have lost relatives this week.