Jackson County declared a state of emergency


    The Jackson County Board of County Commissioners met in special session Tuesday to address county offices, COVID-19 (Coronavirus), and procedure changes that will be implemented during the social distancing encouraged at the state and federal levels.
    Officials in Jackson County are taking full precautions as they declare a local state of emergency. While there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the county, they hope this decision will keep it that way.
    Jackson County Health Department Administrator Sandy Martin addressed the board. She said as of that time there were NO positive cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Jackson County. Martin told the Board they had received COVID-19 testing kits on Saturday. Commissioner Jim Peacock asked Martin the total number of persons who had been tested in Jackson County. Martin advised that information was not available by county, only by state.
    County leaders called an emergency meeting Tuesday morning. They heard from Emergency Management Director Rodney Andreasen concerning his take on the COVID-19 pandemic. Andreasen recommended the county be declared a state of emergency. The Commission voted 5-0 to accept his recommendation. “I’d rather look back to say we did too much than I wish we did more,” said County Administrator Wilanne Daniels.
    The commission voted to cancel all events scheduled to be held in county rental facilities for the next 30 days. If rescheduling is not an option, deposits and rental fees will be returned. “We did not make that decision lightly, we tried to just fall in line with what surrounding counties and other agencies are doing,” Daniels said.
    The county is also closing outside access to their offices until March 30th. These offices include the county administration building and outlying offices. The constitutional offices (tax collector, clerk, property appraise and supervisor of elections are not included) will offer on-line access and will be available by phone. If the needs cannot be met online or by phone, exceptions will be made but will have to be on an individual basis and access will be limited. “No one needs to be concerned that they will not be able to conduct business, they will, we just ask that you call first, allow us to help you electronically or by the phone if at all possible,” Daniels said.
    Jackson County Fire Rescue Chief Charlie Brunner was also in attendance. He told the board that callers dialing 911 may expect some additional questions from the dispatcher related to the symptoms of COVID-19. These include asking if they have traveled internationally recently, or if they have been in contact with a laboratory-confirmed person who tested positive for the virus.
    Jackson County Corrections Chief Jammie Jeter also spoke to the Board. He says the jail has suspended inmate visits and outside inmate work crews. They are still allowed telephone and video contact with family and friends.
    Tax Collector Mary Carol Murdock addressed the board in reference to her office. She has suspended driver’s license testing as well as applications for concealed weapons permits. Murdock stated the driving tests are conducted in vehicles and her employees are far less than six feet away from the person they are testing. The concealed weapons permit requires finger printing which requires her employees to be in contact with the applicant and this is being implemented for the safety of the employees.
    The commissioners voted to suspend the March 24 scheduled night meeting. They are scheduled to meet April 14 at 9 a.m. “This isn’t coming from a place of fear at all. I feel very confident with everything we have in place to be able to respond if necessary,” Daniels said.
    The local state of emergency expires in 7 days at sunset. At that time, the county administrator can decide to renew it for another 7 days.


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