Coffee County Commission Chairman Dean Smith (far left) and commissioners (from left) Tom Grimsley, Jimmy Jones and Jim Thompson were space responsibly apart during Monday morning's meeting.

NEW BROCKTON — Coffee County Administrator Rod Morgan said county offices are and remain open, but in-person visits will be limited “to protect both the public and our employees.”

Morgan strongly encouraged anyone needing a county transaction to try an alternative.

“I realize some of these measures may cause some inconvenience for citizens, but I would ask that everyone understand that almost any transaction you can complete at the county (offices) you can complete online, via telephone or by mail,” Morgan said.

Speaking at the Coffee County Commission on Monday morning — with commissioners keeping social distancing of at least six feet in a different seating arrangement — Morgan outlined the limited access to county offices as response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The number of people that can be in county offices at one time is going to depend on the size of the office,” Morgan said. “Absentee balloting, solid waste, mapping and appraisal, or the engineer’s office will only be able to accommodate one citizen at a time so we can maintain six feet of social distancing in accordance with the state health officer’s order.

“We’re going to ask that if we’re at capacity that others wait outside and maintain six feet of distance in order to protect themselves and our employees.

“The revenue office and probate office can accommodate more, depending on staffing levels,” Morgan said, referring to three or four in-person visits to those offices, but no more.

Again, if the capacity is reached, citizens must wait outside and they’ll be notified when they can come in.

Morgan said the county has placed a lot of information on its website, coffeecounty.us.

“We would prefer you go there first before coming to the courthouse,” Morgan said. “We ask if somebody has to come to a county office, please limit it only to those persons necessary to complete the transaction.”

County EMA Director James Brown told the commissioners at the morning meeting that the state has 157 positive tests for COVID-19.

“That’s up 19 from our 4 p.m. update yesterday (Sunday),” Brown said. “We expect these numbers to grow because we’re just now being able to test more and test them quickly. I want to tell everybody don’t panic if you hear your neighbor has it or somebody came up with it. Ninety percent of these tests are coming back negative (in Alabama).”

Brown said if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms — the 100.4 fever, tightness in the chest, trouble breathing — to call your doctor first.

“Don’t just show up. Your doctor will tell you how to get there, how they’ll do your test,” Brown said. “They’ll probably have to wait out in the parking lot and then call you in. If you can’t get hold of your doctor, please call ADPH’s COVID-19 hotline and they’ll tell you how to get a test. 1-888-264-2256. Please call first.”

Brown reported more positive news on the growing availability of PPE — personal protective equipment — for health care and EMA workers. He also said more tests have been arriving in the area.

“We should have enough tests for people that need to be tested. As far as I know, the tests are still being limited to those that are showing those symptoms,” he said.

He also mentioned the possibility of a first responder quarantine shelter.

“The only reason for this is if one of our first responders gets exposed while they’re out on the job we don’t want to send them home and infect their families,” the EMA Director said. “So we’re looking at a place that we can set up they can go to until we can get a test result back on the person they were helping. Then we’d either release them or quarantine them further.

“Enterprise First United Methodist has stepped up and offered their Family Support Center for this. We have already contacted our people, have all the cots, the only thing we’re missing is partitions. Again, it’s not to panic anybody, but we always prepare.”

As Brown did, Morgan encouraged people to “consider the source” about the pandemic. He noted the ADPH has been reliable.

“There is a good deal of misinformation out there,” he said.

Morgan referred the public to guidelines the county issued on its website on Friday. Anyone who has traveled outside the state or lives with someone who has traveled outside Alabama in the past two weeks will not be allowed access to County buildings. Similarly, if you’re experiencing those symptoms of if you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 or if you’ve been asked to self-quarantine by a hospital or state agency, you will not be given access to enter.

In other highlights on www.coffeeounty.us, the Circuit Clerk’s office will process payments and filings, but will be available in person by appointment only. There is a secure drop box at the Elba and Enterprise locations.

The Coffee County Probate Office may be accessed through the county’s website or at www.coffeecoprobate-al.org. The County Commission has waived the $3 mail fee on renewals through April 15. The deadline for tag renewals due in March has been extended to April 15.

Questions related to recording documents can be addressed by calling the Probate Office in Elba (897-2211) or Enterprise (347-2688.

County Solid Waste bills can be pain only through the county’s website or over the phone at 894-6600.

The Coffee County Highway Department can be reached at 894-6112 or at www.coffeecounty.us.

The Revenue Commissioner’s Office can be accessed through the county’s website or by phone at 897-2475 (Elba) or 347-8734 (Enterprise).

The next County Commission meeting is scheduled for April 13 at 9 a.m., but it could be conducted electronically, Morgan said.

“We wanted to hold this meeting today, but we asked several department heads to not be here,” he said.

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