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County addresses employee exposure to COVID-19

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A “crisis” conference call that included Department of State Health Services, County Judge Joe Fauth, Sheriff Don Sowell and others regarding the handling of an employee-related exposure to COVID-19 prompted the initial delay in the meeting’s call to order. 

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    GC Courthouse - File photo

Citizens unable to find the Wednesday, April 1 Regular Meeting of Grimes County Commissioners Court on Grimes County Court House Facebook Live may have thought they were recipients of an April Fool joke, but the meeting’s delay was no joking matter. 

A “crisis” conference call that included Department of State Health Services, County Judge Joe Fauth, Sheriff Don Sowell and others regarding the handling of an employee-related exposure to COVID-19 prompted the initial delay in the meeting’s call to order. According to Fauth, two employees responsible for setting up the recording equipment in the courthouse annex were advised to refrain from entering the courtroom until the conference call was complete and a decision was made how to proceed.

 

Employee exposure

Fauth told the Examiner Wednesday afternoon, “The crisis situation was that we did have an employee whose wife turned up positive. She is not, and he is not, a resident of Grimes County; however, he is an employee of Grimes County. The reason I did not have technical people available to do Facebook Live or record is because we had things shut down temporarily.”

Fauth continued, “She (the spouse) was tested but we did not get results until yesterday, Tuesday, and as soon as he shared the results, I sent him home. Her symptoms and case have not required her to seek medical attention or hospitalization. The employee of Grimes County, because he is in such close contact, we did not want to have any community spread from him within the county. He had not been experiencing any symptoms at the time I sent him home, which is a good thing.”

An Instagram photo posted by the employee and shared by followers, featuring the couple in “quarantine” T-shirts and protective masks, stated that his wife is a nurse, but no information accompanied the post about her place of employment, only that their place of residence may be Brenham.

Fauth confirmed that given the employee’s county of residence, Grimes County’s COVID-19 case count remains at three and that despite repeated inquiries of DSHS, neither he nor Emergency Management Service Coordinator David Lilly have been provided any information regarding the recovery status of the three individuals.

KBTX reported Friday that precautions put into place to protect staff members who may have had contact with the employee include alternating workdays, different work locations or 14-day self-isolation at home. The 125-year old courthouse has been sanitized and the only office open to the public is Elections Administration.

 

Taking care of business

An “abbreviated” meeting with commissioners observing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations limiting gatherings and social distancing within the courtroom was eventually called to order. 

Fauth said, “There were some agenda items that we did need to discuss but nothing that we couldn’t push until the next meeting which is April 8. The Consent Agenda items needed to be approved so we got that done and we had one Change Order that needed to be done to keep the contractors working. We got that done for Mr. Peeler and then we adjourned the meeting.”

 

Burn ban

Fauth confirmed that the burn ban remains lifted.