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Delta variant pushes Dane County Board to postpone return to in-person meetings

Delta variant pushes Dane County Board to postpone return to in-person meetings

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The Dane County Board has canceled plans to hold its August meeting in person and instead will continue to hold meetings online over Zoom amid concerns about the delta variant of COVID-19.

County staff are working on technology upgrades that will allow for hybrid meetings — or ones in which some people will attend in person and others online. But until then, the County Board will conduct its business digitally, Dane County Board Chair Analiese Eicher told board members in a memo Monday.

“Particularly given the current wave of the delta variant, I will not force our colleagues on the board or members of staff to choose between being able to attend an in-person meeting and their health,” Eicher said. “That would be both unnecessary and wrong, given the satisfactory alternative of the remote meeting platform.”

In a survey of residents, 169 people said they would prefer hybrid meetings, 46 said they preferred online meetings and just 16 said they preferred in-person meetings. Eicher said this feedback prompted her to direct staff to develop a process for hybrid meetings. The preparation should take at least a few months.

Also citing the rising prevalence of the delta variant, Dane County Department of Administration director Greg Brockmeyer told county employees Tuesday that they can continue working remotely through Jan. 3.

“We know the pandemic has been demanding for everyone and we are committed to doing our part to stop the spread of this new highly contagious variant by encouraging employees who can to work from home,” Brockmeyer said.

Staff had been in the process of coming up with plans for a hybrid model of working, with some staff returning to work in person while others stayed remote for at least part of each week. The goal was to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions by relying more on telecommuting. The new model would have been implemented in September, but Brockmeyer said those plans have been postponed until January.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported 1,582 new COVID-19 cases statewide Tuesday, the highest daily case count since Jan. 27, when vaccines were still scarce.

The delta variant is the predominant strain of COVID-19 in Wisconsin. Nearly all new COVID-19 cases in the state involve the delta variant, including among vaccinated people.


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