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Board of Supervisors taking proactive COVID-19 steps

Steps to protect county employees were taken and plans put in place for the potential of a Marshall County employee testing positive for COVID-19.

At the regular Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, auditor Nan Benson said if someone employed by the county is confirmed with a case of COVID-19, there should not be an emergency meeting of the supervisors. She said she does not want people gathering together for a meeting in the event of a confirmed case.

“That seems wrong,” she said.

In the event of a confirmed case, the building where the employee works will immediately be closed and cleaning will be done.

Since different departments are in different buildings such as Great Western Bank, it creates closer working quarters between departments. If the departments were still in the Marshall County Courthouse, Benson said there would be a possibility of closing one department and the rest could operate as usual.

Supervisor Dave Thompson motioned to immediately close a building in which an employee is tested positive. The closure would last for at 14 days or until notice is given.

“I want to be crystal clear we are not doing this now,” Thompson said. “We are doing this as a preemptive strike, so to speak, so we are prepared in the event it happens.”

With COVID-19 changing a lot of working situations, a telework agreement is available for department heads who want some of their staff to work remotely from home. Benson said the only difference between working at home and working from a county office is the location.

“If you’re sick that day, you still need to report to your manager or department head that you’re out sick,” Benson said. “You log your time, do things very similarly to being in the office.”

Three of Benson’s staff members are already teleworking. She said it will help keep people safe. If someone is isolated for 14 days after exposure, that person can still work from home.

Supervisor Bill Patten, who participated in the meeting through video, said he was in favor of teleworking.

“I think at this time, in our country situation, this is something we need to do,” Patten said. “We’ve got people who have worked here a long time. They just need to be home so they can protect themselves or their family.”

The screening of employees for COVID-19 symptoms by the discretion of department heads was also approved.

Benson said if department heads want to implement screenings, they can. She purchased two thermometers that gauge temperatures by touching foreheads and she said alcohol swabs can clean them.

Thompson said from what he understands, a person can have COVID-19 and not have a fever.

“By the time you get a fever it’s too late,” Benson said.

Thompson said the idea is good, but it might be a case of putting the cart before the horse.

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Contact Lana Bradstream at lbradstream@timesrepublican.com.

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