Coronavirus cases rise in Shawnee County, tensions flare at commission meeting


TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Tensions flared at Thursday’s Shawnee County Commission meeting after a surge in coronavirus cases in the area.

The Shawnee County Health Department released its weekly scorecard detailing community transmission and severity. The score increased from 11 to 16 points, putting Shawnee County just below the “uncontrolled” level.

The score update came hours after a back and forth between commissioners and the health officer. According to Dr. Gianfranco Pezzino, Commissioner Bill Riphahn has been criticizing him about his handling of the pandemic.

“To be totally frank, sometimes I feel like you’re not helping me do this job,” Dr. Pezzino said. “You are questioning continuously what the health department’s strategies are, results in undermining our message. And that is a big concern in my mind that when the message is undermined like that, people get confused.”

The commission also approved the health department’s request to work with a local hotel to rent out rooms for those who need to quarantine for coronavirus or other diseases.

Health department director Linda Ochs said those details will be discussed at a later date, however the name of the hotel will not be public information.

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