The Camden County Commission is creating a new position for what was initially called a "Covid officer," and commissioners are now trying to dispel confusion about what that person will—and will not—be doing.
The position, which Commissioner Don Williams says will be called a "Covid 19 Nurse," will be responsible for keeping all publicly accessible areas of the Justice Building and potentially other county buildings sanitized. When word spread the county would be talking about what was then called a "Covid officer" (and Williams says some other counties have used that term), some in the community feared this role would be related to contact tracing or community-wide enforcement of certain Covid/health-related rules. Williams emphasized that is not the case.
"This position has absolutely nothing to do with contact tracing, enforcement nor compliance of any kind. It is merely a position that is being created at the request of the justice officials in an effort to keep staff and the public safe while they are in the courthouse," he said in a letter to the public, sent to local media on Thursday.
According to Presiding Commissioner Greg Hasty, the role would be paid for by federal assistance funds received by the county.
The full letter from the commission, penned by Commissioner Don Williams, is below:
Several weeks ago, the judges and other officials employed in the Justice Building requested a meeting with the county commission to discuss their concerns relating to the covid virus and the three-stage re-opening procedure mandated by the Missouri Supreme Court. The focus of their concerns involved how to best conduct trials and other official hearings while keeping officials, staff and the public safe. They pointed out that, once jury trials are reinstituted, there will at times be over a hundred citizens in the building at once.
They pointed out that other counties have appointed what they termed a “covid officer” or “covid compliance officer” to perform functions such as marking off social distancing areas in their courthouses and to sanitize furniture, railings and various areas before and after court hearings. Further, they requested that the county commission create a similar position to perform such functions here in the Camden County courthouse. Other possible methods, such as UV lighting systems, were discussed but, as those methods have not been thoroughly researched and proven to be effective, they were decided against.
As the courthouse has completely reopened and all county employees are back to work full time, there were no existing county employees to fill the position. Consequently, the commission is in the process of creating a Covid 19 Nurse position. This employee will be responsible for keeping all publicly accessible areas of the Justice Building and potentially other county buildings sanitized. This person will work under the direction of the Emergency Management Agency. They are scheduled for only an initial 6 month period, after which the position will be re-evaluated.
Despite the many rumors and false information being spread on face book and in some media, this position has absolutely nothing to do with contact tracing, enforcement nor compliance of any kind. It is merely a position that is being created at the request of the justice officials in an effort to keep staff and the public safe while they are in the courthouse.”
Associate Commissioner, 2nd District
Camden County, Mo.