The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to increase in Hamilton County. But County Commission President Denise Driehaus said Friday those numbers are below what had been projected, and the curve that state officials have been talking about is flattening.
She credits residents for that.
"I just want to say that we're crushing it in Hamilton County, and we need to keep doing what we're doing," Driehaus said. "And it's thanks to all of you that we are seeing a flattening of that curve. It is a credit to everything that you are doing."
Driehaus said residents can't let up on washing hands, staying home and following social distancing guidelines when they do have to go out.
The Health Collaborative announced Friday morning that the field hospital at the Duke Energy Convention Center will have about 150 beds. That's down from the original number of more than 500. Driehaus also calls that good news. It means local hospitals will have the capacity to deal with COVID-19 cases without a large overflow center.
Meanwhile, Driehaus announced that next week officials will begin implementing some measures to stabilize the county's budget. The coronavirus outbreak has reduced county revenues especially sales taxes, fees and parking money.
Driehaus said she's seen the financial modeling for what the reduction will mean for the budget and it's "not pretty." She said the county's actions will involve several steps.
"Things like redeployment; things like using restricted funds to fill in the gap; things like furloughs for county employees," Driehaus said. "And so, we are going to see these strategies starting to play out. I'm going to talk more about that on Monday."
Driehaus said the county's strategies for dealing with the budget crisis will be customized by department. She said it will not be a blanket approach.
Last week, the county announced it anticipates losing $20-30 million of sales tax revenue because of the economic downturn.
It had asked offices and departments to prepare plans for 20% budget cuts.
The county could also be receiving millions of dollars from the federal stimulus program, but it's unclear if those funds can be used to stabilize the budget or only be used for direct expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic.