Commission ponders meetings
County commissioners will meet at 8:30 a.m. Friday to discuss how the county will conduct business in response to the COVID-19 virus outbreak.
County counsel Brad Jantz said commission meetings must still be open to the public, but broadcasting the meeting to another room set aside for spectators doesn’t mean onlookers will be separated the six-foot distance health officials recommend.
Commissioner Randy Dallke said public comments could be written or emailed to the county clerk’s office.
County offices might offer only services deemed essential and encourage employees to work from home as much as possible.
Commissioners considered locking the west and north doors of the courthouse and restricting entry through the building’s south door, allowing people to be screened before they conduct business.
For offices located away from the courthouse, such as the planning and zoning department, commissioners are considering having those offices lock the doors and admit only people who were screened at the courthouse.
Some services provided at the courthouse, such as tax payments and drivers license renewals can be taken care of online or by mail.
Jantz said some counties are preparing to waive late fees for people who handle their business by mail. County clerk Tina Spencer said some services, such a license plate renewals, are operated by the state. The county cannot waive late fees in those instances.
Jantz said some cities have closed the doors to their treasurers’ offices and permit only one person to enter the office at any time.
Commissioner Dianne Novak suggested putting Plexiglas between employees and members of the public to reduce the exchange of germs.
Emergency Medical Services director Travis Parmley said some employees have already had to self-quarantine until people they’d had contact with were tested for COVID-19, leaving the department short-staffed at times. Parmley asked commissioners if EMS could go to one centrally-located station when staffing is low. Commissioners agreed.
County health nurse Diedre Serene said COVID-19 has a two- to 14-day incubation period, with an average incubation of five days.
In very severe cases, patients can develop pneumonia and develop major organ failure.
Serene said people should practice good hand-washing, stay calm, and be prepared.
“You do not need to buy all the toilet paper,” Serene said.
If someone has been ordered to quarantine or go into isolation, they are required by law to comply.
“If we have to, we can have the sheriff enforce that,” Serene said.
The health department is required to make sure the basic needs of a patient in quarantine or isolation are met.
“We’re hoping people will make a plan and reach out to their neighbors,” Serene said.