SOUTH BEND and LONG BEACH — The Pacific County Commissioners voted 3-0 to temporarily close all county buildings to non-workers and the public for a period of two weeks beginning on Nov. 18 and remaining in effect until at least Nov. 30.

The decision comes on the heels of the Pacific County Courthouse having a scare last week when the Pacific County Prosecutor’s Office received notice on Nov. 13 that a staff member had been exposed to covid-19. Despite the exposure, the court was able to tiptoe through the day’s hearings.

Commissioners Frank Wolfe, Michael Runyon and Lisa Olsen were all present for the meeting that kicked off at 12:30 p.m. on Nov. 17 and opened with a request for public comment. None of the observers watching via Zoom chose to speak, so the meeting moved on to Pacific County Risk Manager Kathy Spoor.

“Sunday, as everyone is aware, the governor released new orders where he put in place several new restrictions impacting a number of different services and activities,” Spoor said. “County government was specifically called out in that. However, in response to that, as well as a big surge in cases we are seeing locally, our rate is up over 260 [cases] per 100,000 [residents].”

Spoor continued, “we have a big spike in cases [and] we just had 30-plus cases just yesterday alone. Based on that, as well as, we have two of our offices that have been directly impacted. We had a conversation workshop yesterday about how you, as a board, would like to proceed. We [also] met with officials and the other department managers to discuss this.”

After the workshop, the board felt that the most logical and safest thing to do was temporarily close all county buildings for at least two weeks. The decision would allow workers, that can do so, to work from home in coordination with their supervisors.

Wolfe requested a motion from one of his fellow commissioners, which was quickly moved by Olsen and seconded by Runyon, leading to a 3-0 vote to close down the buildings officially.

Olsen’s vote came with a comment to Spoor and other county officials who have been battling the surging pandemic. “Thank you guys for all your hard work,” she added.

The county is expected to reevaluate the situation in another week and decide if further action is warranted. As of Nov. 16, the county has amassed 71 cases in November alone.

"Hopefully, in a couple of weeks with these additional restrictions [put in] by the governor and this action, we hopefully will see a downturn in the number of cases we are seeing and can get a handle on this again,” Spoor said. “We are seeing widespread community spread at workplaces, social gatherings, schools, north and south, and east and west.”

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