New company may soon run COVID-19 test site

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

A new company may be running the COVID-19 testing site at former Ruxer Golf Course building starting next month.

It will be the same people doing the same work, just under a new name.

The Dubois County Commissioners approved on Tuesday a contract with Blue Ridge Group for the company’s services. The Dubois County Health Department will receive grant funding from the state to contract with the company.

Once everything is in place, OptumServe Health Services, which is contracted by the state, will leave the Ruxer site. OptumServe’s contract is up for possible renewal on Sept. 30. The goal is to make the transition to Blue Ridge Group on Oct. 1, said Shawn Werner, the health department’s administrative director.

Werner talked to the administrator at the Ruxer site about keeping the operations going.

“I asked if they would be willing to just keep things going as is if we provide all the supplies, the testing, the PPE, the equipment, the kits through the state grant,” Werner said Tuesday afternoon. “They said yes, and developed this [company].”

Blue Ridge will invoice the county, and the county will use the grant funding to pay the bill.

The public may notice minor changes with the new company.

“It's going to be a little bit of a change as far as how you would schedule an appointment,” Werner said. “It’s probably going to be a different phone number and different website. The hours might change a little bit. All that is still being worked out.” The health department will announce the changes when the details are finalized.

Although the health department is getting a state grant, the actual amount is not yet known. Werner will find out once the grant contract comes, which he hopes will happen and be signed in the next few days.

Spencer and Martin counties will be partners in the contract. “They forfeited their funding and their testing supplies to Dubois County, with the understanding that they would be able to send all of their residents here and get tested,” Werner said.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the commissioners extended the local emergency disaster declaration to Oct. 5. They also approved expenses submitted for CARES funding. That included temperature kiosks for the probation department and the courts, overtime costs for the health department, and PPE (personal protective equipment) purchases for different departments.

Emergency Management Agency Director Tammy Humbert told them that the county has about $980,000 left in CARES funding. Funds that aren’t spent by Dec. 31 will revert back to the federal government, she said.

Although the state now has more than 100,000 positive COVID-19 cases, which doesn’t surprise Werner, he is glad the number of positive cases in Dubois County is starting to go down.

“Luckily, Dubois county is still on a very slow downward trend, and that’s how we want to continue to go," he said. "Last week prior, we reported 44 [positive cases] per capita. And then this week, it was like 36. And our positivity rate is also dropping.”

But, he said, that Dubois County is still one of the higher counties for percent per population.

The public should still follow the recommended precautions:

• Wear a mask when around others

• Practice social distancing

• Wash your hands frequently

• Stay home if you feel sick

• Self quarantine if you have the virus. And self quarantine if you’ve been tested and are waiting for results.


The commissioners also:

• Hired Amber Harris as the new county veterans service officer. She will replace Bob Johnson.

• Approved Highway Supervisor Steve Berg’s plan to request that the Dubois County Council move $265,000 into the highway department’s bituminous fund for the seal-coating and crack-sealing work that will be done this fall, and $170,000 into paving projects fund for work being done on County Road 800 West.

• Purchased for the highway department a generator welder from Arc Weld for $12,388, beams from Sugar Steel Corp. for $52,623 and support piles from LB Foster Co. for $11,720.

• Opened bids for repaving County Road 800 West from State Road 56 to Portersville Road West. Those bids will be reviewed by Berg and County Engineer Brent Wendholt, who will recommend at the commissioners’ Sept. 21 meeting which bid should be accepted.

• Declared as surplus old equipment, including network servers and switches, computers and power cords.




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