Crawford County Commissioners officially announced on March 24 they had declared a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 crisis the previous week. The commission also adopted a set of rules for leave for county employees related to illness.
During the weekly county commission meeting, held in the upstairs courtroom of the courthouse in order to promote social distancing measures, commissioners reported they had authorized a county ordinance on March 18 to declare an emergency in the county due to the COVID-19 crisis and to authorize temporary protocols and practices for the county during this time.
The ordinance noted both the Governor of Missouri and the President of the United States had declared states of emergency previously, and the commission had “determined that it is in the best interests of the county to enact rules and regulations to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in accordance with the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The ordinance includes the following orders from the commission:
• That, the County of Crawford shall declare a state of emergency for the next 60 days or until further action from the commission is necessary, whichever occurs first;
• That, access to meetings of the county commission shall be limited to no more than 10 people in the meeting room at any time;
• That, the Emergency Management Director will receive $25 per hour worked during the full scope of the declared emergency;
• That, public access to the county road maintenance properties shall be denied, save for previously scheduled deliveries by approved vendors;
• That, this ordinance shall be in full force and effect from and after its passage an approval.
The salary for the Emergency Management Director is necessary in order to potentially receive federal reimbursement funding.
Commissioners had approved the ordinance in a special email meeting vote, but had not disseminated the information to all personnel.
The commission also approved a document detailing leave guidance related to COVID-19 for all county employees in order to minimize the spread of illness during the outbreak.
The guidance noted that influenza and other respiratory infections, including COVID-19, have similar, if not identical signs and symptoms. As a result, employees who feel sick or develop a cough and/or shortness of breath should take their temperature twice daily to accurately track it. If they have fever of 100.4 degrees or higher, they should not report to work.
If an employee is tested for COVID-19, they should not report to work while the results are pending. If they test positive for the disease, they cannot return to work until they have not had fever for at least 72 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications, other symptoms have improved, and at least seven days have passed since symptoms first appeared. If an employee tests negative for COVID-19, they still cannot return to work until their fever has reduced below 100.4 degrees for 24 hours without medications.
If an employee has a household member who is sick or fits any of the above description, they should not report to work, and should follow the same requirements before returning to work.
For all of the above, including caring for household members requiring personal care and attention, employees should use available sick leave. If an employee doesn’t have any sick leave, they will be able to use borrowed leave for the absence instead of taking leave without pay. A maximum of 86 hours of borrowed leave can be approved. Borrowed leave will be repaid from any or all accrued leave, beginning when the employee returns to work.
The guidance document also encouraged employees with portable equipment, such as laptops and iPads, to take them home each evening in order to allow them to work from home under the above conditions.
Commissioners also held informal discussion on potential upcoming decisions to be made with Health Department Administrator Honor Evans, County Emergency Management Director Lesa Mizell, Sheriff Darin Layman, and Major Adam Carnal.