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Editorial: How Lee County is Facing COVID-19 Challenges

By Lee County Administrator, Roger Desjarlais

I want to thank the residents of Lee County for your perseverance during these difficult times.

I also want to thank our Lee County employees, who have stood the test of what all public servants are supposed to do in times of great need – service to the community.

You know many of these employees; they are your neighbors.

Paramedics and emergency medical technicians are on the front lines of the daily COVID-19 response. Our Emergency Management staff distributed much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE) to assisted living facilities and public safety personnel throughout the county. Transporter driver continues to serve. Parks & Recreation staff are organizing summer camps so parents can return to work.

Additionally, on May 12, the Lee County Board of Trustees directed county staff to implement assistance programs for families and businesses within two weeks.

The day after Memorial Day, the county launched a major aid effort called LEECares.

As you can imagine, we had to prepare for literally thousands of calls in the first week. We had to train staff and implement new technology to process applications and payments.

To do that, the county has appointed 150 employees from across our divisions – including bus drivers, librarians, entertainment professionals, social workers and financial managers – to run two centers. Call centers and payment processing systems include Lee County Clerk staff.

Not only programs are open for two weeks, here is what has been achieved in the past 10 weeks:

  • Family – $11 million approved for assistance with mortgages, rent and utilities.
  • Enterprise – $6.3 million for reboot support and another million dollars available now for re-boot workers.
  • PPE – more than 4.2 million items (masks, disinfectants, gloves) distributed to assisted living facilities, businesses and cities.
  • Food Security – $3 million for local food banks and food pantries.
  • Childcare – $4.5 million for scholarships and facility cleaning.

As the COVID-19 crisis continues, the Committee of the County People’s Committee recognizes that this support must be continued and enhanced. This week, the county board approved a second batch of individual and business assistance.

Families who have previously applied can reapply for a new round of assistance of up to $3,000 for rent, mortgage and utilities starting August 17.

Businesses can receive up to $8,000 per rehired employee.

The Child Care Scholarship has been doubled to $2,500 per student to enable enrollment in after-school programs this fall.

Visit Leeflcares.com to learn about all available supports and how to submit an application.

I am proud of the residents and employees of the county. People have demonstrated a “can-do” attitude during these trying times.

Keep yourself safe and know that your local government and government employees are here to help.

Roger Desjarlais is the Lee County Superintendent.

https://nbc-2.com/news/opinion/2020/08/04/editorial-how-lee-county-is-tackling-covid-19-challenges/ Editorial: How Lee County is Facing COVID-19 Challenges

Tom Vazquez

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