COVID-19’s fast spread spurred Marshall County commissioners to close the courthouse Thursda to the public indefinitely. Public access to the building will be limited to appointments only.
Marshall County has recorded 75 new active COVID-19 cases since Monday and the county health department director expects the total to eclipse 500 by the end of the week.
“There are so many people quarantined or isolated right now,” said Rhodes. “The numbers are going to continue to rise with the two holidays coming up.”
Sue Rhodes, county health nurse, told county commissioners at a special meeting Thursday the pandemic has continued to climb from 364 total cases on Monday, when she reported 133 active cases.
On Wednesday, County Treasurer Jami Ellenbecker closed down her office until Nov. 30 because of a case of COVID-19 among office staff.
As a result of the fast spread, commissioners voted 3-0 to shut down the courthouse to the public. People can do county business by phone, online or by dropping off payments at a drop-box outside the front door. They can also call county offices for appointments.
In addition, the county’s Agency on Aging will limit its public transportation program to in-county rides only. For more information call the Agency on Aging at 562-2020. The county's transfer station will be closed on Saturdays until further notice. It will also be closed Thursday and Friday for the holiday. For more information call the public works department at 562-5349.
County emergency management director Bill Schwindamann suggested shutting down the courthouse to both the public and employees until Nov. 30 to allow for a thorough disinfection of the building. Schwindamann said it is currently unclear if COVID-19 was spread to other offices in the courthouse.
Commissioners’ Chairman Barb Kickhaefer said employees will be expected to stay in their own offices and disinfect their work areas daily.
Commissioners previously closed the courthouse to the public from March 19 to May 18.
Rhodes said the first time the courthouse was closed was a “dry run” when the county had no COVID-19 cases yet.
“This time is different,” Rhodes said. “This time it’s real.”