The St. Francois County Commission has no plans at present to “tighten” guidelines for county residents and businesses in response to the spread of COVID-19 in the state of Missouri, and the confirmation by the county health department of one confirmed case of the coronavirus in the county.
The Ste. Genevieve County Commission issued a list of enhanced community guidelines Monday morning that called for all public meetings of any size to be canceled and asked that they either be rescheduled or take place by teleconferencing. It was also suggested that public participation in meetings be lessened by allowing the submission of written statements from the public regarding pertinent issues.
Contacted by the Daily Journal, Presiding Commission Harold Gallaher said St. Francois County intends to stick with the COVID-19 recommendations announced last week by President Donald Trump and Missouri Governor Mike Parson.
“We’re just letting their words speak for us,” he said. “So, meetings limited to 10 people — and even the governor put an exemption on church services. You can have a church service with a bigger crowd. But, now, we’re going by their word. We’re not putting out our own rules.
“Channel 2 published that St. Francois County had closed all restaurants last week, and we had not. They had misinformation, so we requested they correct their information. I don’t know that they did. We are not going to be the big government type.”
While there are at this point no changes in the guidelines suggested for St. Francois County residents, the county has made several procedural changes to aid in stopping the spread of the coronavirus.
“We are on half-staff protocol now, which means each office is requested to send half their people home, and rotate people through the schedule,” Gallaher said. “They’ll get the benefit of their sick days. We’re going to relax the rules on sick day usage, so they can do that without the doctor’s call and all that — so they get a full paycheck. We want to encourage keeping our people. It’s vital that we keep good people yet keep them healthy.
“Another factor is that, now that the schools are out, we need more mamas taking care of the kids at home. We want to encourage that rather than putting them in a daycare where they can also be contaminated. So, we want to encourage that home endeavor, if you want to call it that.
“We want to keep our people as healthy as possible. We want to keep them on our payroll as much as possible — keep the economy going by making sure they get their full paycheck. So, we’re working to do all those things."
Gallaher noted there have been changes in how county commission meetings will be conducted for the time being as well.
“We’ve already cut our meetings to half the normal schedule,” he said. “We meet every week, but we cut that to every other week. We’re going to go to ‘website-only’ because the governor has requested [that] no more than 10 people [congregate in public] and it takes like eight people to keep the meeting going — and there’s going to have to be somebody there to present their topic, whatever it is. So, we’ll probably have those people wait outside and have security call them in on a one-at-a-time basis. It’s all new, uncharted territory for us.”
Kevin R. Jenkins is the managing editor of the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-756-8927 or firstname.lastname@example.org
"We are not going to be the big government type." – Harold Gallaher, SFC presiding commissioner
Concerned about COVID-19?
Sign up now to get the most recent coronavirus headlines and other important local and national news sent to your email inbox daily.