(Clarinda) -- Page County officials hope citizens will still take COVID-19 seriously--despite relaxed standards in the county courthouse.
As KMA News reported Tuesday, the county's board of supervisors unanimously approved discontinuing having a door monitor screen the public entering the courthouse. In July, the supervisors reopened the courthouse to the public after operating under modified conditions during the pandemic. Under the reopening plan, patrons were required to use only the south door, wear a mask and pass a temperature check. Under the new measures, masks will no longer be mandatory, but will be recommended in common areas of the courthouse. In addition to the new mask language, the supervisors voted to reopen all doors to the building.
Page County Public Health Administrator Jessica Erdman tells KMA News County Supervisors Chair Chuck Morris consulted her prior to the board's vote this week.
"We've been in conversations with the board of supervisors, and public health, and our safety coordinator for a few weeks about this," said Erdman. "We knew it was going to be happen. We just kind of wanted to hold off, and see what was going to happen when school started. We just wanted to make sure we weren't going to see a mass uptick in cases before relaxing some of the regulations at the courthouse."
While saying there's always more than can be done in terms of COVID-19 safety, Erdman says she understands why the board chose to ease courthouse regulations.
"In regards to the staff, I would say they are very protected," she said. "Most of the offices have the Plexiglas shields that are protecting them from the public. We all do wear our masks when we can't be protected, when we're out in the common areas, or if we have to be within that six-foot distance from somebody. I know our maintenance department is doing a lot of extra sanitizing. I think as far as the employee's standpoint, I think we are all doing our part."
Individual department heads can still require masks within their offices for customers, and masks are required in the Clerk of Court's Office and in the courtroom, as those are under the jurisdiction of the Iowa Supreme Court. Erdman says residents still need to be diligent when entering the courthouse, as the coronavirus pandemic continues.
"In regards to citizens coming in and out of the courthouse," said Erdman, "my hope is that even though the supervisors aren't mandating wearing a mask, that people will still wear their masks while they're in here, and still keep that six-foot distance from everybody else at all time."
UPDATE: Page County Public Health reported an additional case Wednesday, in a middle-aged adult age 41-to-60. The newest case brings the county's total to 141 cases--130 of which have recovered. Information from other southwest Iowa counties is available from KMA's Daily COVID-19 tracking page at kmaland.com.