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State will get 310,000 flu vaccinations; unknown how many county will receive

Hubbard County continues to grapple with money, hirings and filling vacancies.

But it's also a time for Hubbard County's employees to be promoted.

The county's hiring freeze was an issue again last week when Public Works Maintenance Superintendent Ed Smith tendered his resignation after 38 years, effective July 31.

The board directed Public Works Director Dave Olsonawski to fill from within, then use the domino effect to fill each succeeding position until he's run out of employees.

The county board has promised to revisit the hiring freeze and budget situation at the end of this month, after it has gotten a half-year snapshot of the county's finances.

In other business, the board:

-Heard from Sheriff Frank Homer that county deputies will no longer transport mental patients from area hospitals unless there's a court order in place directing them to do so.

He said it was a matter of liability and county savings. Deputies are incurring overtime, driving patients to facilities in St. Cloud, Moorhead, Crookston and Brainerd, Homer said.

"They can be dangerous," he told the county board of the patients transported. "We have to use an unmarked car, wear plain clothes and drive them unrestrained. That goes against our policy" to use restraints.

Homer said the county would like to oblige the hospitals, but the transports are getting as frequent as one per week, and the county doesn't have the resources to conduct the transports.

He said the juvenile and adult riders also pose a liability hazard to the county if something should happen en route.

"It's a sensitive subject," he told the board.

-Heard from Public Health Director Chris Broeker that Minnesota should get 310,000 vaccinations for the H1N1 flu virus. But that will entail rationing the vaccines to the most vulnerable populations in the state.

It takes two injections for the vaccination to work, she said, and patients should also get a regular flu vaccine.

Nationally 18 million doses of the newly-formulated vaccine should be available after Labor Day, she said, with Minnesota getting 1.72 percent of those doses.

"The state will decide what the counties get," she said.

The World Health Organization recently declared the H1N1 strain a pandemic, not because of its severity, but because of its spread, Broeker said. To date, more than 70 counties have reported outbreaks,

Minnesota so far has reported 274 cases, prompting some summer camps to cancel sessions.

Broeker also reported that the county is in line to get a State Health Improvement Program grant, with three partnering counties. The monies, to be phased in through 2011, will provide more than $400,000 for obesity education and tobacco prevention activities.

-Approved the expenditure of more than $12,000 for a three-year software maintenance agreement for the auditor/treasurer's office. The funds were budgeted in data processing and other designated monies.