Portage County Economic Recovery Team holds sixth briefing
By Taylor J. Hale
PORTAGE COUNTY – The Portage County Economic Recovery Team held its sixth briefing on May 20. Local leaders touched on county health updates and how to safely reopen workplaces as restrictions begin to lift across the state.
Portage County Health update
Portage County Health Officer Gary Garske gave an update on COVID-19 in the region. As of May 20, eight cases of the virus have been documented, with five recoveries.
Roughly 1,168 tests have been administered in the county. The last reported case was recorded on May 3.
Garske noted that he hopes to see testing increased across the state as shops continue to reopen. He added that shops should follow CDC and other health organization guidelines when opening, and allow for at least six feet of social distancing for customers, though that general rule can have exceptions.
“There are matters that complicate that; for example, a large household of people from the same home do not need to observe social distancing, but they need to stay six feet from others,” Garske explained.
Returning to work
Skyward President Ray Ackerlund spoke on how to safely reopen the workplace during the briefing.
Skyward created a “return to work leadership team” to help curate the organization’s returning employee base. With over 400 employees at the Stevens Point office, Ackerlund noted that his team’s health was vital to the success of the organization.
Skyward leaders recommend utilizing a phase-based approach to reopening. Ackerlund also recommends that employers should stay flexible during the pandemic, and offer protection for employees deemed vulnerable by the CDC. Skyward officials noted that managing employee anxiety in the workplace was a crucial step in reopening. Ackerlund said that being adaptable and having contingencies in place during the ever-changing COVID-19 crisis is crucial when reopening.