Despite throwing gobs of money at the problem, COVID infections continue to plague the Schuylkill County Courthouse as officials there battle over what steps to take the mitigate spread of the virus.
According to information released by the county government, a total of 18 employees have tested positive for COVID-19 since Christmas Eve. Those 18 employees plus 7 others, identified as close contacts, have been told to quarantine and not come in to work.
Outbreaks of the virus have been a consistent theme at the Courthouse in Pottsville for the last month. Information released by the county’s HR department indicates that a total of 54 county employees have been listed as “symptomatic” and another 34 are listed as “exposed” since Dec. 2, 2020. Of those, 63 have been cleared by a doctor and have returned to work.
Of course, cases of COVID-19 have been more widespread across Schuylkill County so the virus is bound to make its presence known within the Courthouse. But unlike other locations where the virus is present, more is being done – at least more money is being spent – to prevent outbreaks at the Courthouse than probably anywhere else locally.
The county has spent tens of thousands of dollars in efforts to keep the Courthouse and other county-owned facilities COVID-free since the start of the pandemic. And that’s just in cleaning supplies and cleaning contracts. That’s not mentioning the tens of thousands of dollars more the County spent on touchless water fountains and automatic flushing toilets and automatic sink faucets that County Commissioners insisted were necessary and used valuable CARES Act funding to purchase last year.
At a recent County Commissioners meeting, Clerk of Courts Maria Casey has badgered to have the Courthouse closed to the public until the virus is more under control there. Those pleas have been ignored by the Commissioners and President Judge William Baldwin who insist on keeping the building open.
Casey tells The Canary that the County is less than forthcoming with information about these infections, too. In fact, the information about the most recent 18 cases since Dec. 24 was only released on Monday. She says the County’s HR department, still being run by an interim director, only releases information to the media after she pleads with them to do so.