The Taney County Commission has declared a State of Emergency for Taney County.
On March 23, Taney County Commissioners passed a resolution declaring a State of Emergency “to control the spread of COVID-19 to protect the safety and welfare of the citizens of Taney County, Missouri and to acknowledge the findings, recommendations and orders of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.”
The resolution was passed unanimously and took effect immediately. In the resolution, it states in order to protect public health and prevent the further spread of COVID-19, and in accordance with the guidelines from the President and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, the Director of the Department of Health and Senior Services has ordered the following:
— Every person in the State of Missouri shall avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people. Social gatherings include any planned or spontaneous events or convening that would bring together more than ten people in a single space at the same time.
—Every person in the State of Missouri shall avoid eating or drink at restaurants, bars or food courts, however the use of drive-thru’s, pickup or delivery option are allowed.
— People shall not visit nursing homes, long-term care facilities, retirement homes or assisted living homes unless to provide critical assistance.
— All schools shall remain closed. This order does not prohibit schools from providing child care and Food and Nutritional Services for those children that qualify. Teachers and staff may enter the building as long as they follow the other directives set forth in the order.
— The order does not prohibit people from visiting a variety of places, including grocery stores, gas stations, parks and banks, so long as the necessary precautions are taken and maintained to reduce the transmission of COVID-19, including maintaining at least six feet of distance between all individuals that are not family members.
— The order allows offices and workplaces to remain open, as long as individuals practice good hygiene, and where feasible work from home in order to achieve optimism isolation from COVID-19.
—Local health authorities are directed to carry out and enforce the provisions of this order by means of civil proceedings.
These orders will remain in effect unto 12:01 a.m. on Monday, April 6, 2020, unless it is extended by further order of the Director of the Department of the Department of Health and Senior Services.
“We want to stay in sync with what the state and federal is doing and this ordinance does that,” said Eastern Taney County Commissioner Sheila Wyatt. “It stays with what came from the State of Missouri. I have no problems with the ordinance. It’s been reported that there’s maybe some out in the county that had a large event with a lot of cars and everything that was outside of the control of the city of Branson and city of Hollister. This ordinance should stop that and limit it to 10 people to have in your space.”
Taney County Assessor Chuck Pennel came before the commission to explain what his office will be doing during this pandemic to limit the amount of face-to-face meeting that typically occur in his office.
“We left the door open a little bit on Friday, but I’ve closed the door, and I am sticking to that no face-to-face,” said Pennel. “If somebody should come to the office, they could knock on the door, we have a note, so that they can get service. I’ll take a phone out to them and they can call in, because they can do everything over the telephone, so we’ll have less contact.”
Pennel thanked the commission for their approval of his plan and invited commissioners to share their thoughts and comments with those in attendance at the Monday meeting.
“Everyone has to work together, take responsibility and realize they may be risking one of their loved ones if they don’t take that responsibility, which that’s been stated by professionals,” Wyatt said. “I heard (someone) ask, ‘What’s the penalty if we don’t do so and so?’ The answer was you are risking death of maybe a loved one. So everyone take responsibility. I think we all have elderly parents or loved ones somewhere and we know to contain it we all have to be responsible.”
Taney County Presiding Commissioner Mike Scofield added, “I’m prepared to vote on this resolution. I agree with everything in here and we need to all follow the resolution.”
Deputy Taney County Clerk Wesley Shoemaker also addressed the commission and asked if or when they plan to close the courthouse to the public as some other counties have. Western Taney County Commissioner Brandon Williams explained that closing the courthouse to the public would involve a separate discussion and would not be included as part of the state of emergency declaration resolution.
“Anytime you close a public building like this, it’s a pretty serious deal,” said Williams. “I appreciate that a lot of offices have taken some steps to make sure that we’re still open and still serving the public and we still have to do the operations of the government. But one thing that we’ve talked about last week and I’ve talked about with our attorney is just different ways to close the courthouse to the public. We can have phone numbers up on the doors and one person for that office can actually go and communicate with the individual.
“Within the commission there really is no reason for anybody to be in our office. I don’t know if that’s the case in your guys offices or not. That’s something that we would need some feedback from you guys.”
Shoemaker informed the commission that the clerk’s office is offering mail-in absentee voting and candidate filling will be by appointment only during the immediate future.
The resolution has been filed with the Taney County Clerk office and copies will be available for distribution to the public.