For now the public's limited access to the Garvin County Courthouse will stay in place as officials work to figure out how to keep offices inside safe once a full staff returns.
Limitations have already been eased for employees working in any of the county offices inside the building, while visitors continue to remain mostly restricted to the first floor annex as a single door there is the only public access for now because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Employees can come in any door,” said Dave Johnson, Garvin County's emergency management director, while addressing all three county commissioners Monday.
“Visitors still have to come into the building through the west (annex) door and there they get their temperatures taken.”
There in the annex drop boxes for each of the county offices are made available to the public.
Still, elected officials overseeing courthouse offices are now beginning to look for a hint on when a good time might be to bring back their full staff.
During the weekly meeting two Garvin County officials – Court Clerk Laura Lee and Treasurer Sandy Goggans – indicated they have limited the time each staff member spends in the office revolving them through on a regular basis during the pandemic.
Lee said her office is only now beginning to open up a little bit as it's been essentially closed to the public since the COVID-19 threat began.
“Attorneys are the only ones coming into my office right now,” Lee said.
“Our girls have asked about dividers being put in between desks because they're so close,” she said, referring to her full staff being there at once with concerns expressed about safety and proper social distancing in the tight spaces of the office.
The activity in the court clerk's office is expected to increase soon as plans are in place to partially open the county's district court with more in person proceedings starting Monday, May 18.
As for what staff policies and safety measures are to be in place for any of the courthouse's offices, Assistant District Attorney Carol Dillingham, counsel for the commissioners, says it's really up to the elected officers.
“The work of the county still has got to be done. As some point you'll need to decide when this administrative leave will stop,” Dillingham said to both Lee and Goggans.
“You all have to be careful. You're free to do what you believe needs to be done.”
She was quick to add a conversation will likely come very soon for commissioners as they need to look closer at balancing out the public having full access to the courthouse and providing a safe environment from the potential spread of the virus.
“All we can rely on is science. Politics don't mean anything with this.”
Johnson said there was one new confirmed case of COVID-19 in Garvin County over the weekend.
“It came in a long term care facility. All the staff and other clients at the facility tested negative,” he said.
That one person testing positive has since been transferred to a facility out of the county. To date there have been 15 positive cases in the county with one death attributed to the virus.
Johnson also updated commissioners on an online post he says is just wrong.
“It's an online posting advising people not to pull over for flashing lights,” Johnson said, referring to law enforcement vehicles.
“In the past there's been talk of people impersonating a police officer. That's just not true. We're advising our dispatchers to tell them to pull over immediately if they see flashing lights.”