Board Member reflects on his personal experience as a member of the Perry County Health Board

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In mid 2020 members of our community asked in a time of need if I could help our great county by serving our community by running for a spot on the Perry County Healthboard, in April of 2021 election the community made it’s wishes known and it was with all humility that I knew it was time to get to work.
A global pandemic left many leaders in our community (including the Health Department) struggling to make sense of the death, destruction and confusion that was Covid-19.
Reactions, overreactions and lack of scientific data left us with alot of questions that desperately needed be answered.
At the Health Department the winds of change were blowing as wild and strange as a storm coming east across the Mississippi.
The Health Board had just accepted Director Silvia Forrester’s resignation and it was immediately obvious and imperative to find a director that could lead us out of the toils of the pandemic that created tremendous downward pressures on the HD, the Community, our Schools and many others including private and public business alike.
I knew that we needed a local voice with an understanding and a long deep perspective of Perry County values and a background in public health that understood data tracking and had a working understanding of virus transmission along with a sleuth like hunger for data collection, interim Director Liz House fit that bill for me and after lengthy discussions with Liz and our Board I personally knew she was the right person at the right time to be Perry County’s newest Health Department director.
Next steps? Where do we go from here? It was then I took a State approach to Covid reactions but many others had listened to the CDC in Atlanta, Georgia or the W.H.O based in Lord knows where Google it if you like , but I knew in my heart that neither entity had a specific real concern for our community.
I was able to reach out to Health Departments across the region and ultimately across the state to see what was working for the “Show Me State “ our very own Missouri which I so desperately love. “SHOW ME”!
What worked? Here’s what I found...Data Collection in Schools, Data Collection at Health Departments.
Information to make informed decisions....Where do we get Covid? from who? When? Do Children get it? Do they transmit it amongst themselves?  "Data helps prove that fears are real or imagined!" It was proven in my opinion from others in our State that very early on our caution was founded, but the amount of time we held on to our fear was about a year to long or longer in many cases. Although we took a cautious approach initially, to long in my humble opinion , ultimately with some forward leaning action Perry County was still able to achieve a top five county status (114 counties) statewide in resistance to mandates, extended mask use at schools including private and public spaces we indeed were leaders once again something Perry County is known for and believe me you surrounding counties took notice immediately including some in Illinois. Perry County was and is open for business once again!

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