Dubuque Times

Dubuque Times

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Dubuque County prepares for COVID-19

Local Government

By Elle Johnson | Mar 25, 2020

Dubuque County is preparing for COVID-19. | Adobe Stock

Dubuque County is creating operations throughout all of its departments to help combat and prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

A board of supervisors met with county leaders to discuss an emergency declaration. This declaration would create mutual aid agreements and apply to the State of Iowa for help. 

“There will be changes in service,” Supervisor Jay Wickham said to the Telegraph Herald. “There will be changes in processes. And there will be changes in activities that we do.”

Officials haven't decided on anything yet, but they will make decisions on employee relocation, face-to-face public service and gatherings and courthouse procedures and meetings. 

COVID-19  has infected thousands of people in the U.S. with confirmed cases. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said there are a total of 44,183 cases in the nation. 

Dubuque County is encouraging the practice of social distancing, which will help slow and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Iowa currently has 105 confirmed cases of the virus. The county courthouse could potentially be closed as well. 

“Major disruption is an understatement,” Judge Michael Shubatt said. “If we’re not able to conduct trials, everything is going to get backed up.”

Nathan Gilmore, County IT director, said the IT department is preparing to give services to other departments that will have employees work from home. 

Inmates in Dubuque County Jail are also being screened for symptoms of the virus and body temperatures are being assessed as well, Sheriff Joe Kennedy said. 

Visits to the count jail won't be allowed unless it is an attorney visiting a client. This includes church services, Bible studies and support groups. 

Sunnycrest Manor, a county-owned organization, has also closed to visitors. Only family members of residents who are dying can visit. After two weeks with this policy, it will be re-evaluated, Cris Kirsch, administrator of the manor, said. 

Any nonessential medical appointments are also being delayed for a month or more.

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