A Courthouse official is again questioning the local government’s protocol when dealing with confirmed positive COVID-19 cases among Schuylkill County employees.
Clerk of Courts Maria Casey accused Schuylkill County Commissioners Boots Hetherington and George Halcovage of covering up the recent positive tests – one in an employee of the tax assessment office and another from the Sheriff’s Dept. – by failing to report it to other County employees.
Clerk of Courts Accuses Schuylkill County Commissioners of COVID Cover-Up
She says the Commissioners are ignoring the protocol apparently established among Courthouse staff several months ago when an initial positive COVID case was confirmed there.
“When we had a Department Head meeting several months ago, we were guaranteed that you would immediately notify us when there was a positive test. In your usual pattern, you have concealed the facts,” Casey writes in an email obtained by The Canary that was circulated among Courthouse employees and addressed to the two GOP Commissioners.
Casey says Courthouse employees, particularly those working in her office, were only notified after a Times-News report from earlier this week on one positive case in the tax assessment office.
“Are employees here of so little value to you that you do not care about exposing them and their families to this fatal disease,” Casey questions in her email to the Commissioners.
According to the Times-News, Administrator Gary Bender says he found out about the positive case in the tax assessment office on Saturday. Bender then notified Doreen Kutlzer, a representative from Hubric Resources, the third-party HR firm filling in as the County’s HR director.
Hubric is charging the County $125 an hour, per a contract entered into with Schuylkill County Commissioners in September.
Bender told the Times-News, “Everybody that needed to know knew.”
Both Hetherington and Sheriff Joseph Groody also told Times-News that they’d conducted proper contact tracing.
But Casey isn’t buying it.
“We have had numerous cases of COVID in the Courthouse, which cases have been kept from the public until we questioned it or reported it to the Press,” she wrote in her email.
She believes the public could have been exposed to the infected employees if they visited the Courthouse, too. And a property tax sale could have possibly exposed would-be buyers at that sale to COVID-19.
“Your actions are particularly egregious in that the Public continued to frequent the infected Offices without knowing that COVID existed. Even more egregious is that you allowed a Public Tax Sale with hundreds of people attending to go through on September 28, 2020 where the infected Offices were involved,” Casey writes.
Courthouse Cleanliness “Deplorable”
Further, Casey says the Courthouse is filthy and wonders why when the County has plenty of money on hand to purchase cleaning supplies and, indeed, has spent tens of thousands of dollars on cleaning supplies and equipment using part of its CARES Act allocation of $12.7 million.
“Months ago, I asked you to have 24/7 cleaning staff here to disinfect the common areas and bathrooms. My Staff continues to report that the bathrooms are deplorable. The rest of the Courthouse is, likewise, filthy,” she writes.
Bender told the Times-News that a disinfectant spray is deployed once a week and special spray downs can be done at his request.
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