County courthouse workers masking up (again)

By Buck Collier, Special Correspondent
Posted 8/5/20

HERMANN — Gasconade County Courthouse personnel donned face masks again this week after the County Commission agreed to apply a Missouri Supreme Court order for Circuit Court staffers to the …

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County courthouse workers masking up (again)

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HERMANN — Gasconade County Courthouse personnel donned face masks again this week after the County Commission agreed to apply a Missouri Supreme Court order for Circuit Court staffers to the entire courthouse workforce.

The Commission Thursday agreed to follow the edict issued earlier last week for court personnel that masks be worn at all times, unless the workers were in an office alone and could close the office door. The high court’s order took effect Aug. 1.

Because the statement from the state Supreme Court used the word “courthouse” instead of “court,” the Commission decided to apply the protocol to the entire courthouse staff. This is the second time the Commission has applied a coronavirus-protection order for the courts to the county government offices. A similar, more-strict set of protocols were put in place June 1. Those measures were relaxed a couple weeks later as the state moved into a new phase of recovery.

“In the past, whatever has been mandated by the courts, we’ve had the courthouse employees to do the same,” said Presiding Commission Larry Miskel, R-Hermann, at the July30 session in Hermann.

Under the state high court’s directive, few courthouse employees will be allowed to remove their masks while working as most employees are in offices with at least two people.

The duration of the most-recent safety practice is unclear. The order did not contain an end date.

Meanwhile, in what might have been a bid to boost tourism in the county, Miskel noted that while there had been 27 positive tests for the coronavirus among Gasconade County residents, none of those cases resulted from the contact with a tourist. He based that on a conversation with Gasconade County Health Department Administrator Greg Lara. Miskel said Lara told him that “as far as he knew” no infections resulted from contact with a visitor to the county.

There have been more than 27 positive cases resulting from tests given in Gasconade County; however, if someone from outside the county tests positive in this county, the case is referred to the person’s home county and the case is not counted in this county. Likewise, if a Gasconade Countian tests positive in another county, that case becomes one of this county’s active cases with the local health agency responsible for conducting contact tracing.

As of Thursday, of the 27 positive county cases 20 have recovered with four still county cases still active, Miskel said.

That number had risen to 32 as of Monday afternoon, Owensville Mayor John Kamler announced at the city’s Board of Aldermen meeting. He cited a message he received from county health officials. Ten of these cases are listed as “active.”

Osage County health officials on Tuesday morning announced the first COVID-19 death. The count of total cases there stood at 40 to close out Monday with 10 active cases and 29 who have recovered.

Regarding the effort to contain the spread of the virus, county administrators approved the county health agency’s request for $36,620 in CARES Act funds. The money is part of Gasconade County's $1.725-million allotment to reimburse local entities’ costs of dealing with the coronavirus. Other local agencies requesting some of the funds include Gasconade County E-911 Center and Gasconade County R-1 School District. Agencies seeking reimbursement from the fund have until Dec. 20 to submit requests. The program is being administered by the Meramec Regional Planning Commission.

Any remaining money from the $1.725-million allotment must be returned to the federal government.

On another matter, courthouse employees returned to work at the start of last week (July 27) to alarms sounding and computer problems — the sign of a possible lightning strike on the building. County Clerk Lesa Lietzow said the computer consulting firm personnel doing work as part of county government’s switch of Internet providers thought there might have been a strike the corner of the building housing the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

The county clerk said an effort was made in July of last year to have the lightning-rod company check the system to ensure it was working properly, but company workers never arrived.

“I really think we need that looked at,” Lietzow said. “If we were hit again that’s a problem.”

Northern District Associate Commissioner Jim Holland, R-Hermann, agreed that a system check is in order. “It’s supposed to be the biggest and the best,” he said of the lightning-protection system.

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