Andrews council hears updates from public safety entities

The Andrews Town Council discussed dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic at its meeting on Monday, March 23.

The board received updates from the town’s public safety entities, the Andrews Volunteer Fire Department and Andrews Police Department, on how they are responding to the crisis.

Fire Chief Tom Wuensch spoke about the need for personal protective equipment. A member of the Huntington County Coronavirus Taskforce, Wuensch reported that the group was expecting a delivery of N95 masks, gloves and safety glasses from the state, although the delivery date of those items is unknown.

Town Marshal Austin Bullock cast doubt on whether or not that delivery would occur.

“I asked for a date and time,” he said, “and I was told they do not have a date and they do not know if they will come at all.”

Wuensch stated that the fire department only had nine N95 masks left. He remarked that the masks were the ideal way for department personnel to protect themselves.

“We either have to be in the N95 masks or we have to wear our air packs – and then have to decon (decontaminate) our air packs after every run,” he explained.

Decontaminating had become more challenging, he stated, due to the scarcity of cleaning supplies.

“We don’t know what we’re going to do if this goes on for any period of time,” said Wuensch of the pandemic.

Bullock said that the police department currently had an adequate supply of masks and cleaning supplies, but echoed Wuensch’s concerns about the pandemic turning into a lengthy event.

“We’re fine right now,” he said, “but if this goes on for months, that’s where we’re going to run into some major problems.”
Until the pandemic is over, Council President John Harshbarger requested that all of the town’s department heads refrain from making any non-essential expenditures.

“I’d like to suggest that we hold all unnecessary spending down to the minimum,” he stated. “Just spend what’s essential to keep things running for now, until we see how long this is going to draw out here.”

In light of the health emergency, council decided to go from meeting twice a month to just once. Going forward, the board will only meet on the fourth Monday of each month.

Clerk-Treasurer Laury Powell noted that the Andrews Municipal Building is closed to citizens aside from that. The building is still staffed and staff members can be reached by calling 786-3848.