MOUNT VERNON — Mount Vernon Safety Services Director Rick Dzik is the county’s 40th confirmed positive COVID-19 case.
In the weekly meeting with city departments and the News Thursday, Dzik said he received a positive test result Wednesday evening for coronavirus after being tested in Mount Vernon. Dzik appeared for the meeting via conference call from home.
Dzik said he is recovering at home and will self-quarantine for two weeks. He described his symptoms as mild, and said it was the presence of symptoms that prompted him to get tested.
Dzik noted the irony of his contracting the virus after being part of the team that closed City Hall due to COVID-19 and established ways for employees to work from home. He further worked closely with reopening city offices as safely as possible with guidance from Knox Public Health Commissioner Julie Miller.
Dzik said he spoke with Miller on Thursday about what the city should do moving forward.
Miller spoke on Dzik’s case after getting his approval to do so. Miller said that as of 3 p.m. Thursday KPH has completed contact tracing in Dzik’s case. She said Dzik is believed to have contracted the virus from community spread, as he had no known contact with anyone showing symptoms. The contract tracing involved “seven or eight” individuals, Miller said.
It is as safe for the public to visit offices at City Hall as it was before Dzik tested positive for the virus, Miller said, noting that all the usual precautions should be followed.
Dzik said he is the second city employee to test positive for the virus, but, citing HIPPA laws, declined to comment on who the other positive case is and what city department they work for. The other case tested positive last week, Dzik said.
KPH also declined to identify the employee. Pam Palm, KPH spokesperson, said Knox County residents who have tested positive since last week are not a city employee. She said KPH was notified Wednesday of a positive test of a Licking County resident who tested positive in Knox County, but did not specify if the individual is a city employee.
Dzik said Thursday he is feeling all right and will be ready to begin working remotely next week.
As a precautionary measure, City Hall has been scheduled for a complete disinfecting this weekend. Dzik said the incident will likely result in the city looking into a more stringent mask policy.
Parks and buildings and grounds
The elevator at the Plaza building is expected to shut down for approximately six to seven weeks as it is brought up to modern standards. Mayor Matt Starr reported that the contractor expects to start July 13 on the project.
The Public Square fountain was turned back on Wednesday by city crews. Starr said the fountain, which is usually running in late spring, needed repairs to the basin that the city planned to address this year. That stalled turning the fountain on, and then addressing the coronavirus outbreak stalled things further. Then, the bleach needed to treat the water in the fountain was in short supply.
LED lighting has been installed at the city garage off Old Delaware Road. The city received rebates from AEP on the project, saving about $4,000.
The division of water and wastewater will resume regular penalties and shut-offs beginning Aug. 1, Utilities Superintendent Mathias Orndorf reported. Late penalties will be added Aug. 16 and final shut-off notices will be mailed out around Aug. 23. Customers will have until Sept. 7 to pay from this final shut off notice. If payment is not received, a non-payment fee of $40 will be added and the water will be turned off Sept. 8. Any customer having a balance over $200 on their bill due July 15 will need to call the office at 740-393-9504 if payment arrangements are needed.
Orndorf noted that financial assistance is available by contacting Interchurch at 740-397-4825 or Kno-Ho-Co at 740-397-0378.
Streets and engineer
Work on the gas line under Yellow Jacket Drive will begin July 13, meaning the drive will be closed. However, Cougar Drive will be open.
The linework is expected to be completed on July 25. After that, paving will begin.
The city is looking at numerous areas where stormwater is becoming a problem and complaints from residents are coming in. Engineer Brian Ball reported finding several stormwater pipes that are in very bad shape.
Starr noted that the three-segment Fourth of July video being prepared by multiple groups includes one he wrote and directed on Ariel-Foundation Park’s fifth anniversary. Starr said he did the work for free, and the production of the segment is not affiliated with his production company, Kokosing River Productions. The only expenses were for royalty-free music and closed captioning, which was paid for by Ariel-Foundation.
The video will be released Saturday via the park’s website and social media accounts.
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