County not ready to advance public access more

The same day Page County implemented its new policies to allow more people access to the courthouse was the same day Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced some lifted restrictions to the public to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

But Page County officials won’t be as aggressive as Reynolds’ plan starting Friday, May 1.

“We did have an appointment Monday, (April 27) and it went well,” said Page County Recorder Brenda Esaias. On that day, Reynolds gave her plan to open up some businesses and public places.

With a list of health-related questions to determine if someone can safely enter the courthouse, Page County officials eased on its restrictions to the courthouse since March 18. Starting May 1, Reynolds will allow more public access to restaurants, fitness clubs and certain other facilities with respect toward social distancing and building capacities.

“We are seeing some activity in restaurants and churches. What is our posture? What should our posture be as we work toward May 1,” asked Supervisor Chuck Morris via a video conference meeting April 28.

Supervisor Alan Armstrong said he prefers to be cautious.

“I’m fine to wait another two weeks,” he said, referring to Reynolds’ plan which may open up public places even more after the middle of May. “I’m a little hesitant, testing numbers are going up. I’m hesitant in trying to monitor the number of people inside (the courthouse).”

Supervisor Jon Herzberg had similar thoughts.

“I wouldn’t open it up yet. We are getting in a hurry. If we get a case in the courthouse, the whole courthouse would have to be shut down, probably. We have to keep operating,” he said.

Page County has recorded six COVID-19 cases. Page County Public Health staff member Brandy Powers reminded county officials people can be asymptomatic; meaning they are carrying the virus, are infectious, but don’t show symptoms.

Page County Treasurer Angie Dow said she is screening calls from customers and is planning on installing protective shields in her office. She knows there are residents with needs.

“We have citizens who want to get their driver’s license renewed,” she said. Iowa extended deadlines for various documents because of the virus and office restrictions. She said some states may not give a pass to Iowa residents who have expired licenses.

Page County Auditor Melissa Wellhausen said in-office voting for the June 2 primary begins Monday, May 4. Those voters who want to vote in her office will also have to follow the courthouse visitor rules. Protective shields are also planned for her office.

Her staff will also offer voting from voters’ cars in the parking lot.

Registered voters were included in mass mailings to encourage people to vote by absentee ballots.

Morris suggested having someone manage a courthouse entrance to monitor the number of people in the building at one time. Herzberg suggested county safety coordinator Tom Nordhues, which Morris agreed. No action was taken.

In other county news…

With input from County Engineer J.D. King, supervisors approved a bid of $374,256 from Gus Construction of Casey to install a new culvert near Northboro. The location is along 290th Street north of the town. King said a work schedule has not yet been determined. Any traffic detours will be announced before work begins.

The culvert is similar to the one installed near Braddyville last year.

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