April 2020

Increased Board Meetings, new task force, new dashboard

(April 2) At its regular meeting, again held online, the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners decided to meet more frequently in order to receive updates on the ever-changing climate of COVID-19. The Board met 10 times in April including its regular weekly business sessions, special meetings and Public Health Live updates.

(April 9) County Manager Penny Postoak Ferguson told the board as of April 8, 264 employees have been furloughed. The furloughs were meant to align staffing with the current programs and services that were provided to residents, helping to maintain income stability for employees who did not have sufficient work due to COVID-19. A large portion of those were Johnson County Library employees whose primary roles could not be done remotely, such as shelving books, and, for a similar reason, Johnson County Park and Recreation District regular staff who work in areas such as before and after school care or recreational programs. Johnson County Library branches were temporarily closed to the public and JCPRD buildings and facilities were also closed. Approximately 24% of the furloughs came from other county departments and are positions that did not have sufficient work due to COVID-19. These were not all full-time positions; the 264 employees equated to approximately 195 Full Time Employees.

Given the circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak and the impact it made on the community, the Johnson County Appraiser’s Office extended the Informal Appeal filing deadline to April 17.

(April 10) Due to the “Stay-at-Home” order issued by Kansas Governor Laura Kelly, Johnson County announced a reduction in transit service levels to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 while maintaining access to essential businesses and services for riders.

(April 14) JCDHE launched an updated COVID-19 Data Dashboard. Available at jocogov.org/coronavirus, the dashboard is updated daily by 10 a.m.

New data added to the data dashboard:

  • COVID-19 Cases by Zip Code 
  • Cumulative Positive Cases by Onset Data
  • COVID-19 Cases by Race and Ethnicity 
  • Symptoms and Pre-Existing Conditions
  • Hospitalization by Age Group

(April 17) The first round of testing was completed with 371 randomly selected residents, the first of several such tests. Of the 330 sample results received, nine came back positive; 2.7% of sample size.

(April 20) The BOCC authorized the creation of a Recovery Planning Task Force to strategize and implement a phased approach to reopening the economy. The task force included many sectors in the economy representing a broad section of Johnson County:

  • Johnson County Board of County Commissioners representatives
  • Johnson County Government (Public Health, Emergency Management, County Manager)
  • Small Business representative
  • Chamber of Commerce representative
  • Economist
  • Mayor’s Council representative
  • City Manager representative
  • Public Safety representative
  • Non-Profit/Community Organization representative
  • Hospital Executive representative

The Recovery Planning Task Force efforts were meant to balance how to keep the workforce safe and healthy, while also working to reopen the economy. The capability of testing, tracing and treating were expected to play a critical role in the decision-making process. The county monitored the public health and testing data simultaneously so a determination could be made on the timing of a phased economic restoration. 

(April 21) JCDHE launched a survey of Johnson County residents in order to determine how many people in Johnson County had or did not have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). The survey was to be completed for every member of the household and was to be used by only JCDHE to determine how COVID-19 was spreading in the community. The same survey was run several more times in the next few weeks in order to compare results. 

(April 22) The Johnson County COVID-19 Recovery Planning Task Force held its first meeting, 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. The goal of the task force was to develop a Johnson County Recovery Plan that included phases for business to reopen and adopt guidelines for the phased reopening of the county’s economy. 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.

(April 23) Due to increased interest in voting by mail caused by concerns about COVID-19, the Johnson County Election Office announced it would send advance voting by mail applications to every voter in the county in May.

(April 24) Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic impacts on our community, Johnson County Government accepted partial payments on second half real estate and personal property taxes due on or before Monday, May 11. There was no minimum payment, but any remaining balance began to accrue interest on May 12. Partial payments only applied to the second half of 2019 property taxes.

(April 27) The Johnson County COVID-19 Recovery Planning Task Force presented recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners for reopening the county. 

(April 30) Johnson County’s Public Health Officer signed an extension of Governor Laura Kelly’s ’s Stay-at-Home Order through 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, May 10. The state’s order was set to expire May 3. A phased reopening of business was planned to begin on May 11.

The board was set to consider the task force’s recommendations and the governor’s plan at its special meeting scheduled for Friday, May 1.