Lee County buildings and offices are closed to the public.
County commissioners voted on the closures Monday night after a lot of debate. The commission voted to declare a state-of-emergency in Lee County and closed the courthouse, in addition to other county buildings.
The past couple of weeks the courthouse has been open to the public, but with limited access. A Lee County sheriff’s officer also has been posted by the doors to monitor access.
Forty-five county buildings in the state are closed to the public with staff present, 15 have been open to the public with limited access, five have been open like normal and two are closed to both the public and staff.
Some commissioners were worried about the impression that closing the buildings would give to the public. Commissioner Johnny Lawrence said he believed it would come across as ‘closed for business.’
“This is temporary and times are different right now, Johnny,” Commissioner Robert Ham said.
Lawrence said that he was still against the idea, but ultimately voted for the closures.
Commissioner Richard LaGrand was strongly in favor of closing the buildings. “Ladies and gentleman, people are dying,” he said. “We lost six people this weekend. My personal thought is that, if we can figure out a way to close to the public but have staff present … what’s more important than the safety of our employees and our citizens?”
County Administrator Roger Rendleman said that right now 15 percent of employees are out due to the coronavirus or similar complications, such as not having childcare.
He has been present on some of East Alabama Medical Center’s calls and said that while the hospital is doing well for now, a big wave is coming soon.
“We need to do everything we possibly can to minimize and isolate this as best we possibly can,” Rendleman said. “To me, we’re buying time. And I think this measure would buy us some more time and send a message to how serious the general public needs to take this.”
Although the courthouse and o county buildings closed, business can be conducted online and over the phone.
The resolution that was passed also said if the situation changes or worsens, the county administrator or the chairman can decide to close the courthouse and county buildings to staff as well.