County government officials say they're following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocol to safeguard employees and the public.

Officials have ramped up efforts to disinfect all surface areas in public offices and spaces; made hand sanitizer readily available for use by employees and the public; and encouraged employees to maintain proper social distancing when dealing with customers.

Employees who have any flu-like symptoms have been asked to stay home.

Dr. Karen Landers, area health officer with the Alabama Department of Public Health, said she is in constant contact with local government officials, passing on guidelines regarding coronavirus preventative measures.

"Our guidance to the counties and cities in our area continues to be prefaced by thorough and frequent hand-washing, staying home when sick, and keeping surfaces clean and sanitized," Landers said. "It's this personal activity that reduces the risk of its spread."

Landers urges caution with non-essential travel and says working remotely when possible is advisable.

Colbert County

Administrator Roger Creekmore said he met with Landers and Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Smith three to four weeks ago concerning efforts to contain the virus, and how to protect county employees and the public when they come to the courthouse.

"Our efforts have been proactive, rather than reactive," Creekmore said.

Based on Landers' recommendations, Creekmore said the county purchased disinfectant spray, wipes and hand sanitizer. The products were distributed to county offices, and the housekeeping staff has been cleaning after hours and while the courthouse is open.

He said hand sanitizer is also being made available to the public.

"We've had our housekeeping crew put more emphasis on disinfecting," Creekmore said. "All counters get wiped down."

Probate Judge Daniel Rosser said his employees are frequently wiping off the counters where residents come to renew vehicle tags. Rosser's office is the busiest in the courthouse, Creekmore said.

"We are in the process of getting floor stand hand sanitizer stations," Rosser said. "We have hand sanitizer at the counter, but we also want people to have as many opportunities to (disinfect) their hands as possible."

He is also encouraging county residents to purchase their vehicle tag online during the pandemic. He is looking at other measures to allow the public do renew tags without making contact with employees.

"I feel as a public servant, I owe it to both the citizens and my employees to be proactive," Rosser said. "That's why I've been working on this."

Creekmore said the cleaning crew is wiping down counters, elevator buttons, hand railings, chairs, tables and other surfaces that come in contact with the public.

"We want to take common-sense measures and encourage good housekeeping practices, hand-washing and disinfecting," he said.

If the situation changes, Creekmore said the commission is ready to react based on the severity of the pandemic locally.

Lauderdale County

County Commission Chairman Danny Pettus talked last week with Sonny Bransfield, executive director of the Association of County Commissions of Alabama.

"We are trying to figure out everything that has to be done," Pettus said. "We're trying to cover every scenario to keep our employees and the public safe, and be as proactive as we can."

As of now, it is business as usual in the county, but with more focus on awareness about the virus.

"We're encouraging all of our employees to wash their hands and keep their hands away from their face," Pettus said. "We have put more hand sanitizers in the courthouse."

Buses

Northwest Alabama Council of Local Governments Transportation and Planning Director Jesse Turner said NACOLG buses are still running at this time.

"We're just monitoring the situation," Turner said. "We'll just go with whatever our state and federal partners advise us to do." 

In the meantime, bus drivers are instructed to clean surfaces that come in contact with the public with disinfectant products.

Airport

Jon Simpson, regional manager for Boutique Air, said the airline is still running a full schedule out of the Northwest Alabama Regional Airport.

Workers are disinfecting the aircraft with spray and wipes, Simpson said. Inside the planes, they're wiping down seats, railings and other cabin surfaces that are touched regularly.

"The airport is also taking steps to wipe down surfaces in the passenger screening and ticket counter areas, along with spraying disinfectant throughout the terminal on a daily basis," Airport Director Barry Griffith said.

Griffith said airport officials are concerned about the virus' long-term impacts on travel, and how it will affect the airport's Essential Air Service status.

He has not received any correspondence with the U.S. Department of Transportation concerning COVID-19 impacts to air service.

"Passengers are still utilizing the service, and there have been minimal reductions in travel patterns so far," Griffith said.

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