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The Athens City Council meets for its regular session in the Athens City Building on November 18, 2019. (FILE)

City Council: COVID-19 update received, ARTS/West program specialist recommended to return

Athens City Council met in committee Monday to discuss the current public health status of the city of Athens and Athens County. 

Jack Pepper, administrator at the Athens City-County Health Department, informed Council that community spread of COVID-19 can no longer be tied solely to Ohio University students.

“At this point, it’s no longer fair to exclusively place blame on our student population,” Pepper said. “We are starting to see spillover into the community.”

Pepper also said the viral load in the wastewater coming out of the Athens City Wastewater Treatment Plant has seen a 10-fold increase in the last two weeks.

Gillian Ice, special assistant to the president for public health operations, said the predominant spread of COVID-19 among students occurs in gatherings of two to three people. She also informed Council that OU is attempting to begin biweekly COVID-19 testing for off-campus students by next semester. 

Athens Police Department Chief and Interim Service Safety Director Tom Pyle said Halloween weekend could possibly be a problem for the spread of COVID-19.

“We have a big weekend coming up possibly,” Pyle said. “There’s no way of knowing what that’s going to look like, but we will be prepared to respond to any type of issue this particular weekend.”

Terri Moore, director of the Athens Community Arts, Parks & Recreation Department, recommended that Emily Beveridge, current program specialist at ARTS/West, return to work on November 2. Moore said Beveridge was temporarily laid off from ARTS/West due to a lack of work.

Council also discussed replacing the base radio system for Athens Police Department. 

Councilwoman Sarah Grace, D-At Large, said APD is currently using a radio system from the mid-90s, and that system is no longer repairable. The replacement would cost between $112,000 and $120,000 dollars.


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