Garvin County's commissioners are now working to get on the same page with health officials when it comes to potential upgrades to be funded by federal pandemic relief money.

One hotspot looks to be the county fairgrounds, another the county health department in Pauls Valley, as commissioners are continuing their discussions on the best projects for the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money coming to Garvin County.

Estimates are the county will eventually receive around $5 million to help with the ongoing recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and preparations for future emergency situations.

All three commissioners indicated during a Monday meeting plans for the fairgrounds is use some of that money to revamp the kitchen area, provide a new heating and air conditioning system for the east building and renovate some of it as a “shelter type thing.”

“The number one thing is the leaks and getting a new roof,” District 3 Commissioner Mike Gollihare said.

“We're looking at setting up double bays to allow testing on one side and vaccinations on the other,” he said about the fairgrounds providing a place for larger health-related drive-thrus.”

Dave Johnson, emergency management director for the county, estimates an area about 40 feet by 40 feet inside the fairground buildings could be used strictly for the storage of personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks, which is important to deal with things like a virus pandemic.

“I like what you're talking about for the fairgrounds with the testing and drive-thrus,” said Chris Mann, regional director for the Oklahoma State Department of Health, about a place for things like a larger size drive-thru for COVID-19 testing and vaccinations.

“That's a good location for that. The fairgrounds is perfect for that.”

Mann was at this week's meeting as he offered commissioners some idea of upgrades needed at the health department building in Pauls Valley.

One is a single, possibly double lane outdoor awning for smaller drive-thru vaccinations or testing, while others are Wi-Fi for the facility's Internet service, office furniture and improvements to a sidewalk that's “buckled” in places where some people have tripped and hurt themselves with a fall.

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With COVID-19 testing in higher demand with increased cases in recent days the Oklahoma State Department of Health is extending testing hours and availability at a number of local county health departments.

One of those is the Garvin County Health Department in Pauls Valley, which is offering testing from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 15.

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