Logan County officials say they are taking extra precautions and are working hard to prepare for the possibility of the virus reaching the area.
Protecting the public and working to prevent the spread of the outbreak continue to be their top priorities. To help prevent the spread of the virus, Logan County Judge Ray Gack made the decision to close the courthouse starting Monday, March 23.
"If you have business to attend to at the courthouse, first try to take care of it online or by phone."
If business must be done in person, residents will be required to make an appointment and will be screened by Judge Gack before entering the building.
"This is for the protection of not only our employees but other residents as well."
The Gattis Logan County Library closed last week but has been offering Facebook live storytimes and Grab and Go bags of books outside its doors to help provide reading materials during the shutdown.
The Logan County Museum is also closed to the public until further notice.
The City of Paris is also taking precautions for staff and visitors at Paris City Hall, initiating social distancing measures.
"We are still encouraging everyone to mail payment, use dropbox or pay online with a credit card," said Paris Mayor Daniel Rogers. I'm looking into splitting our city employees into smaller groups to reduce the health risk to our employees and to practice better social distancing. We will keep our city services running. I want to provide those services and minimize health risks."
The city will be closing the public restrooms but will continue to open the storm shelter at the middle school during severe weather.
"My advice would be to watch the local news for storm coverage and if you feel the danger from the storm is greater than the health risk, then maybe consider going to the shelter."
Mayor Rogers said that he feels tourism will stop for the most part until this crisis is over, not just in Paris, but nationwide. Still, Paris may see tourism dollars by people coming to the area to fish and enjoy the natural beauty of Paris and the surrounding areas.
"We have closed the coal miners museum; we have businesses closing on the square for a while; our state and national leaders are directing us not to travel, so we really shouldn't be getting too many tourists at this time. Hopefully, our residents are careful not to travel at this time as well."
The purpose of the precautions is to minimize exposure between town staff and the public.
Paris City Hall and the Logan County Courthouse will remain open, but with staff who will conduct internal and external business telephonically and electronically as much as possible. Officials are asking the public to practice social distancing and limit interactions with other citizens as much as possible.
Emergency services said it wants to remind residents that COVID-19 is a high-risk illness for those with existing medical conditions. For this reason, nursing homes and assisted living facilities are not allowing visitations.
The Senior Activity Center in Paris is closed to the public. All congregate meals, scheduled activities and socialization programs will be suspended until March 30. The situation will be reassessed at that time. Home delivered meals will continue as usual. The staff is taking every precaution to ensure safety, including daily screenings, stringent sanitation protocol and the use of fresh gloves and a mask for each delivery.
Logan County Sheriff Jason Massey is also taking extra precautions at the jail.
"We recognize that there is an increased risk for those living and working in close quarters, such as in a detention center, so we developed protocols for visitors, employees, and inmates and for screening and accepting arrestees and inmates brought to the Logan County Detention Center," said Massey.
Sheriff Massey said as a preventative measure he has canceled church services, classes, etc. for inmates; services such as fingerprinting civilians for applications, licenses, etc. are put on hold and one-on-one visitation inside the facility is restricted to attorneys, mental health and medical professionals, etc. who will have to go through our screening process before entering the facility.
"We will also accommodate attorneys and professionals through phone visitation to decrease one-on-one visitation. At this time, we are still accepting fine payments at the Sheriff's Office, but we encourage you to mail your payments in."
Sheriff Massey stated that he has implemented a screening process for visitors, employees, and inmates that includes taking their temperature, asking questions, and other tests.
"We set up a screening process in our sally port to screen arrestees/inmates and the arresting officer before they enter the facility."
Governor Asa Hutchinson has extended the public school closures through April 17.
County Line Superintendent Taylor Gattis said that information regarding AMI packets would be sent out through social media, school messenger and the district website. Kindergarten registration and prom has been postponed at this time.
"We still want to do something for our seniors since they are missing out on so many things their senior year. We will revisit this later."
Paris Superintendent Dr. Wayne Fawcett said that the school would be holding a meeting this week to determine going forward regarding AMI packets.
Scranton Superintendent Toby Cook said that Kindergarten registration has been postponed at this time, prom has been rescheduled for June 4, all banquets and other extra activities scheduled have been canceled until further notice and graduation is still planned for May 3 at this time.
Local schools are continuing with meals for all students.
Scranton will be delivering meals to students beginning on Monday, March 30, via bus routes. Buses will leave the cafeteria at 11 a.m., Monday-Friday, for the three weeks after Spring Break. Students who want a free lunch need to watch for the bus to come by their stop and meet the bus at the end of their drive to get their food.
Paris School is meeting to determine how to move forward with lunch and breakfast programs.
County Line will be delivering meals Monday through Friday by bus route beginning March 30. The meal delivery will be approximately 4.5 hours after each student's regular morning pick up time. Meals will still be available to be picked up at the cafeteria at 11 a.m. until noon each day.
Social distancing is the best practice right now, according to the CDC. Social distancing can look different for everyone. Governor Hutchinson has recommended no social group gatherings of ten or more but encouraged outside walks, hikes and other activities where social distancing can be practiced.
Healthcare officials urge the public to stay home, especially if you are not feeling well. If you do feel sick enough to see a physician, call your physician's office before going in for a visit.