Cass County Commissioners approve purchase of UV disinfection system

CASSOPOLIS — Since March, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of American lives — and now, it is having an effect on how Cass County departments clean and disinfect their buildings.

Thursday evening, the Cass County Board of Commissioners voted to approve the purchase of an Ultraviolet Light disinfection system. The devices, which disinfect large areas using UV light, which has been shown to be effective against the COVID-19 virus, will be stationed at the Cass County Jail and the Law and Courts buildings, respectively. Both devices are portable and can be used in any county building where disinfection is needed.

“I think this is a great tool not only to combat coronavirus but influenza and other viruses that we haven’t paid as much attention to,” said Cass County Sheriff Richard Behnke. “It even controls bedbugs, which is another problem we have at the jail sometimes.”

After receiving quotes from three separate companies that specialize in UV disinfection systems, the county approved the purchase of two disinfection robots with a three-year service agreement from Skytron LLC, a Grand Rapids, Michigan-based company. The total cost of the devices and service agreement is $142,720, which will be paid for with COVID-19 funds provided by the Michigan Department of Justice, through the Michigan State Police.

Behnke submitted the proposal to the Cass County Board of Commissioners. He said he and his staff worked on researching the best and safest UV disinfection system for Cass County. The Skytron model has motion detectors to keep it from running while people are in the room, as it is hazardous for an individual to be in the same room as a UV disinfector while it is in use. Additionally, the Skytron device has censors to be placed outside the door of a room being cleaned to keep people from walking in while it is in use.

Behnke said higher traffic areas or areas that have seen known infection will be disinfected using the UV system frequently, such as daily. Other areas that have less foot traffic might be disinfected less regularly, such as weekly.

“This will be a great tool,” he said.

The resolution was approved unanimously by commissioners.

Also Thursday, the board of commissioners voted to approve the county to seek $189,299 in Community Development Block Grant funds to reimburse unexpected costs associated with COVID-19.

The vote comes as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act makes available supplemental CDBG and Emergency Solutions Grant funding for grants to prevent, prepare for and respond to COVID-19. According to the resolution, the CDBG grant will provide flexibility for grantees to expedite the use of grant funds to help address the challenges facing the nation during the pandemic.

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