Visitors restricted at Putnam County Courthouse

Monday, March 16, 2020

County leaders have not taken the drastic step of closing Putnam County offices to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

However, officials are now screening visitors to the Putnam County Courthouse to minimize person-to-person interaction as the county awaits its first case of the pandemic.

During a joint meeting late Monday morning, the Putnam County Commissioners and Putnam County Council were joined by most county department heads and several other community leaders as they tried to take the county’s first steps in dealing with the virus.

While many decisions remained to be made by the end of the meeting, the chief outcome was the screening of visitors to the courthouse.

As part of the response, the only entry door to the courthouse is now on the east side, as it is the only ADA compliant entrance.

Once inside the door, visitors are being asked why they are at the courthouse. If it is something that can be done remotely by phone, email or internet, they are asked to do so.

They will also be screened for symptoms of the illness.

Some individual county departments were already putting plans in place to minimize visitors prior to the special, late-morning meeting.

For example, Putnam Circuit Court Judge Matt Headley explained that all non-essential court cases are either being continued or conducted by video or telephone.

Additionally, the probation department was in the process of converting to phone conferences.

The commissioners asked that all department heads formulate a plan for figuring out how many in-person employees are essential and how many can work from home.

Individual departments may also set up screening processes for entry into their offices.

As of Monday, the county still had no cases of COVID-19 according to the Indiana State Department of Health. However, when asked by a council member, Putnam County Health Department officials revealed that at least one person with a suspect case had been tested and had been instructed to self-isolate while awaiting the results.

“You’re naive if you think it’s not coming to Putnam County and every county in Indiana,” Joni Young of the health department said.

The county will continue to formulate its response to COVID-19, as restricting entrance to the courthouse was just one thing on Commissioner President Rick Woodall’s agenda presented during the meeting.

Among other issues, Woodall also wants to explore the county’s cleaning procedures, what to do with employees who choose to go on vacation to another area, employees’ need for daycare with kids out of school and what to do with sick leave for infected employees.

County leaders will continue to explore the issue as it develops.

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    Unnecessary hysteria.

    Joni Young is correct, it is coming to Putnam County (and everywhere else).

    In fact it probably is already here.

    Its very possible some have had it and not even known it.

    It should be business as usual, with heightened awareness and extra precautions for the more vulnerable.

    For the majority this is a flu-like cold in its worst form. Some will not even have this bad of a reaction.

    -- Posted by dreadpirateroberts on Tue, Mar 17, 2020, at 11:37 AM
  • Dreadpirateroberts- sorry but I am inclined to believe a person from the Board of Health over your comment that it is unnecessary hysteria. A flu-like cold can be very deadly for many. Precautions need to be taken now by everyone

    -- Posted by Nit on Tue, Mar 17, 2020, at 2:02 PM
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    Nit - You are welcome to believe whomever you wish. In fact, I agree with the BOH on a few things.

    Yes, precautions do need to be taken now.

    And yes, a flu-like cold can be very deadly. (I think I covered that.)

    My point is that it is here. Perhaps not this county (although I wouldn't be surprised) but it is here in the state.

    The idea of "flattening the curve" (which is the preferred method of the government) is designed to reduce the spike of cases (so as to reduce the possibility of overwhelming the medical system) but it does so by lengthening the duration of the suppression methods. Instead of 6 weeks of a viral outbreak with a high spike, you get 4 months of a low spike.

    Low Spike Plan: We know that 4 months of the status quo (low spike plan) will wreck the economy. (We have seen serious damage in less than two weeks.) And in the end, you will likely end up with the same mortality rate just over a greater time period.

    High Spike Plan: This is basically let the virus run its course while business goes on as usual. Of course there should be heightened precautions for the vulnerable (protective measures/quarantining) and public health campaigns (hand-washing/self-quarantining when sick) but for the most part life (and the economy) goes on as normal. This would save the economy (assuming people stop listening to the media and stop freaking out).

    If you look at infection rates & mortality rates in a sensible way (and don't look at other countries b/c they aren't the US) you would see that the infection rate is actually very low.

    Even if you account for "non-tested/non-confirmed" infections the infection rate is very low. And if you are going to take into account the non-confirmed on the infection side, you have to take it into account on the mortality side which drives the mortality rate even lower. (Of course the mortality rate will drop either way, b/c even as confirmed cases rise, the mortality rate will decline.)

    So it is a gamble: do you risk the possibility of a high spike crashing the medical system (which cannot be adequately quantified b/c there are too many variables) or do you risk crashing the economy and destroying the country?

    I would put my money on the high spike. I don't think it will be as bad as they say.

    Truth is - You cannot stop the virus by current means.

    Your only hope of true containment is Martial Law (I certainly do not recommend that) and testing every single person (which is quite a tall order). Otherwise people will be people and it will spread b/c there are supposedly asymptomatic carriers.

    Its really simple to deal with once you take the fear out of the situation.

    1) Public Health campaign - hand washing, cleanliness, and self-quarantining when sick.

    2) If you are symptomatic: Ask yourself - am I in respiratory distress?

    If you're not in respiratory distress, you are unlikely to get (or need) a hospital bed whether you have COVID-19 or some other viral infection. Ask any doctor/healthcare professional and they will likely tell you the same thing... you would be told to self-quarantine and convalesce at home.

    If you are in respiratory distress, you are likely to get a bed in a hospital whether you have COVID-19 or some other medical condition. They would likely test you at this point (assuming other symptoms), due to treatment planning and CDC statistics.

    3) If you are not symptomatic: you will not likely be tested. The time has passed for travel and/or known contact to be sole indicators to the point of testing. I believe the virus has been established to the point that even tracing will be next to impossible.

    This is all just my opinion. Your opinion may differ.

    -- Posted by dreadpirateroberts on Tue, Mar 17, 2020, at 4:23 PM
  • Nit - we will get through this best by:

    heeding CDC, state and local authorities;

    social distancing;

    washing our hands;

    and not feeding the trolls!

    -- Posted by Geologist on Tue, Mar 17, 2020, at 9:18 PM
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    VolunteerFF - I gave a very detailed explanation of my position and my reasoning behind it...

    And the best you can do is try to discount my opinion by calling me a troll?

    I mentioned the same mitigation protocols that you did - as they are common sense protocols that should be followed for EVERY viral infection to limit the spread.

    The difference is:

    I have actually done my research and reached a conclusion.

    You have cowered in a corner and bleated like a sheep.

    -- Posted by dreadpirateroberts on Wed, Mar 18, 2020, at 8:44 AM
  • I just feel so sorry for the people who are temporarily unemployed, due to closure of so many businesses and restaurants. A lot of financial suffering will be going on.

    -- Posted by JamesBond1972 on Wed, Mar 18, 2020, at 10:57 AM
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