A 20-member Perry Coronavirus Task Force held its first Zoom meeting this week, right before the Iowa Department of Public Health revealed the extent of the COVID-19 outbreak at the Tyson Fresh Meats plant in Perry.
The task force, composed mostly of public-sector figures with a few representatives from the sphere of private business, was the brainchild of Perry Mayor John Andorf, Perry City Administrator Sven Peterson and DMACC Perry VanKirk Career Academy Director Eddie Diaz.
The group was formed in order “to work together so we can stay on top of what’s going on and educate people and put things in place that we need to to keep people safe in Perry and move forward,” said Andorf.
Coordination and communication of efforts and activities are central to the purpose of the task force, Andorf said, “so that we kind of know what everybody else is doing, and we’re not duplicating efforts.”
Peterson and Diaz serve as the task force co-chairpersons.
“We all need to work together,” Andorf said, “and of course Tyson’s part of that. You know, it’s not a blame game. We all need to work together to move forward.”
Andorf said he is interested in finding out what the virus infection rate is for the Perry community as a whole.
“We still need Perry numbers,” he said. “We still don’t know how many cases we have in Perry, so we need to know the positive cases by zip code.”
In the meantime, Andorf encourages everyone to wear a face mask when in public.
“We’re encouraging businesses to have their staff wear masks,” the Perry mayor said. “We can’t require it. We recommend it, but I can’t force everybody to wear a mask when they go into a business either. I think they should, but I can’t force it.”
The Dallas County Hospital and Family Medicine Clinics has made the same recommendation for face masks, urging community members to wear face masks at all times when outside the home as a proactive precaution against COVID-19.
City representatives on the Perry Coronavirus Task Force include Andorf, Peterson, Perry City Council member Dr. Randy McCaulley, Perry Economic Development Director Mike Fastenau, Perry Police Department Chief Eric Vaughn, Perry Fire Department Chief Chris Hinds and Perry Public Library Director Mary Murphy.
The Perry-area health community is represented by Dallas County Hospital and Family Medicine Clinics CEO Angela Mortoza, Dallas County Hospital and Foundation Marketing Manager Macinzie McFarland and Dallas County Public Health Department Community Health Administrator Abagail Chihak.
Representatives from the sphere of public education include Diaz, ISU Extension and Outreach Family Specialist II Rosa Gonzalez, Perry Community School District Superintendent Clark Wicks, Perry High School Principal Dan Marburger and Perry Elementary School Principal Ned Menke.
The nonprofit sector is represented by Perry Area Food Pantry Site Director Lou Hoger.
Private-sector task force members include Tyson Fresh Meats Plant Manager Mike Grothe, Perry Economic Development Inc. President Tom Burkgren and Perry Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lynsi Pasutti.