Lee County Courthouse

The Lee County Courthouse will re-open, with safety guidelines, on Tuesday.

Lee County commissioners and the local Emergency Management Agency have had their hands full in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, officials said.

Rita Smith, Lee County EMA director, said that the staff is working to provide food to residents, protective equipment to health care workers and more.

Personal Protection Equipment includes items such as gloves, masks, suits and respirators.

Providing for needsAs EAMC has been coordinating the drive-through testing site, the EMA has sent volunteers each day to help, Smith said.

“They’ve requested things like heaters and fans for when the evening comes,” Smith said. “And this weather’s changed every day. And tents and sites for tents so they could have the outdoor drive-through pharmacy, the ER.”

EMA is also helping residents in other ways, particularly food insecure families. The agency began a food program, the Lee County Emergency Food Assistance Program, last week.

Locals can call 211 to request a box of food to help get them through this time. They will then be given a time and place to come pick up their box.

“A lot of families are scared,” Smith said. “A lot of families went to the grocery store when they got their paycheck on Friday and all the groceries were gone that week, at that time.”

Although stores are re-stocking, Smith said, many need food before that time and have limited funds to purchase items.

“Some people aren’t getting paychecks,” she added. “Some people had to go home that aren’t getting paid. It creates a food insecurity and it creates more stress in your home when you are food insecure.”

Smith said that this program is not just the result of EMA’s work but partnerships with other organizations, like the Food Bank of East Alabama and faith-based partners.

Smith gave credit and praise to not only volunteers with EMA, such as the CERT volunteers, but the citizens who have asked how they can help.

County commissionLast week, the Lee County Commission met for an emergency meeting to deal with how the county would handle the pandemic.

At that time, the commission voted on a few new procedures. County Administrator Roger Rendleman said that since that vote, not much has changed.

Employees who are over age 60 and have underlying health conditions have been sent home for two weeks with pay. Additionally, any who show signs of coronavirus have been sent home until they can produce a negative test result.

Any employees who test positive for coronavirus must quarantine until they produce a negative test result, Rendleman said.

Additionally, any employees who have been unable to find childcare have been allowed to stay home, he said. “As CDCs changed their criteria, we change along with it,” he said, referring to the Centers for Disease Control.

The next commission meeting is set to be held on March 30 and the county will discuss further procedures or re-look at what it has put in place at that point, Rendleman said.

Despite having fewer employees, the county is still trying to provide services for citizens, he said. It is, however, encouraging anyone who can to use online resources.

“We’re still operating, we’re still trying to operate as normal as we possibly can,” he said.

To help promote social distancing, the courthouse is letting in only a few people at a time. There is a deputy at the door who monitors who comes into the building, Rendleman said.

“I strongly encourage that you limit your social activities to those strictly with your family at home,” Smith said. “If you’re working, go to work and go home. Go to the grocery store once a week, leave enough supplies for everybody.

“It’s not time to hoard and panic.”

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