COOK COUNTY, MINNESOTA ~~~~ July 29, 2020 (LSN) Business owners and managers who wish to ensure they are operating as safely as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic can request a free consultation from a team at Cook County Public Health, officials announced today.
Cook County Public Health Director Grace Grinager said the purpose of the consultation program is to support local businesses in operating safely to protect both customers and staff.
“One key to keeping businesses operating is ensuring they follow best practices in a number of areas,” Grinager said. “Consultation with the team from Public Health can support safe operations and a safe community.”
Leading the consultation team is Cook County’s Public Health Educator Kristin DeArruda Wharton. DeArruda Wharton will be working with Andrea Orest and Andrea Tofte, each of whom brings expertise in public health best practices to support business operations during the pandemic.
The team can assist businesses and organizations at every stage of planning and implementation, from developing a preparedness plan to troubleshooting and reviewing current operations via a site visit. To request a consultation, Grinager said, a business owner or manager should email the request and a copy of the business’ pandemic preparedness plan to DeArruda Wharton at Kristin.DeArruda-Wharton@co.cook.mn.us.
Once the business support team receives the request and reviews the preparedness plan, a team member will contact the business to arrange a site visit. The team may ask business owners to review the COVID-19 FAQs for Local Businesses on the Cook County COVID HUB site at www.cookcountycovid19.org. The document is located at the top left corner of the page.
Following the visit, Grinager said, the business support team will provide a summary document of the visit and of the businesses preparedness plan, with links to helpful resources . These will be provided to the business, along with an offer to provide follow-up advice as needed.
Initial estimates show the consultation team can conduct six to seven visits per week, with each visit taking about six hours of the consultation team’s time: one hour for the visit and four to five hours in preparation and follow-up.
Prior to formally announcing the program, Public Health conducted several trial consultations. Businesses that participated included Bluefin Bay in Tofte, Lake Superior Trading Post in Grand Marais and Grand Portage Lodge and Casino. All said they found the process helpful, and consultation team members said they were impressed with the degree to which the businesses are taking the pandemic seriously.
Brian Sherburne, enterprise manager for Grand Portage, said that DeArruda Wharton “took the time to ask questions and listen to our concerns and observations as we conduct our new, enhanced safety protocols. We toured the entire facility with Kristin, and she took many notes that she used to provide us with her assessment.”
“Probably the greatest outcome of Kristin’s visit and assessment was the reassurance that we were following the recommended guidelines and safety protocols,” Sherburne stated.
To request a consultation, a business owner or manager should email DeArruda Wharton at Kristin.DeArruda-Wharton@co.cook.mn.us.
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