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Update on Coronavirus given at Emergency County Meeting

Gilchrist County Commissioners held an emergency meeting on Monday, March 23, 2020 at the Commisson Meeting Room  to discuss the Coronavirus and its possible effects on the County.
Ralph Smith, County Emergency Management Director, reported that as of Monday there were 35 cases of the virus in Alachua County but still at that time there were none in Gilchrist County. Five people within the county have been tested and all the tests have come back negative.
Chief James Campbell of Gilchrist Fire Rescue said the county ambulances would not be used to take people who think they have Coronavirus and want to be tested. He said if someone thinks they have Coronavirus they should call their primary care physician. He also reported there are some 1,700 ICU beds available throughout the state. Locals were assured that EMTs were screened by taking their temperature every 24 hours. At this time EMTs will not be taking any third party riders when a patient is transported by ambulance to the hospital,  unless it is a small child or a disabled adult.
County Administrator Bobby Crosby gave the County Commissioners several updates on county offices. Human Resources have moved payroll from Tuesday till Thursday to help county employees have their checks early so they can buy needed items.
Solid Waste is currently accepting bag trash and recyclables only.
The Gilchrist County Library in Trenton has closed until further notice. They tried to limit the number of people in the building at one time but it didn’t work out.
Hart Springs camping is open to people with current reservations only, no new reservations are being accepted and the springs and park are closed.
Veteran’s Services is taking telephone appointments only except for circumstances that require a face to face appointment, such as if a form requires a signature.
Animal Control is taking emergency calls only with no animal trapping at this time.
Ag Extension office is very limited to traffic as UF/IFAS has instructed them to do. They are however working with farmers in the field. All 4-H meetings are canceled through April 30. They have a 4-H poster contest going on for children so check their facebook page at Gilchristfourh.jaltum@ufl.edu. All Pesticide licenses that expire now will be extended until April 30.
Building and Zoning has limited the number of people in the office at onetime. They are converting as much paper work as possible to paperless forms online. The building inspector is planning inspections so he is limiting contact with job site personal.
At this time the Courthouse will be open during normal hours.
The Tourist Development has canceled all travel and meetings.
All court cases have been postponed at this time. Chief Judge James P. Nilon has issued directives for the Eighth Judicial Circuit, all jury selection, jury trials and grand jury proceedings are suspended. All county and circuit criminal court events are suspended, with the exception of first appearances, bond reduction hearings, in-custody Change of Plea hearings in which the release from incarceration of the Defendant is expected, and matters which the court determines to be urgent upon motion of a party. All hearings in the family, juvenile delinquency, juvenile dependency, county civil, circuit civil, probate, guardianship, mental health and civil traffic divisions shall be conducted by electronic means or shall be continued, with the exception of juvenile detention hearings, Domestic Violence Injunction hearings and matters which the court determines to be urgent upon motion of a party.
Tax Collector Michael McElroy told Commissioners that his office has been very busy since Alachua County and several other counties’ Clerks Offices have either closed or have limited their hours. Mostly people are traveling here from out of county to renew their tags or change titles. McElroy said he is trying to limit the number of people who gather in the hall in front of his office.
Administrator Crosby reported that if any county employee feels their health might be jeopardized due to an existing health issue, they can take personal or sick leave time.
There was also a discussion about the possibility of holding County Commission meetings electronically due to the virus. County Administrator Crosby and  Emergency Management Chief Ralph Smith are working together to set up the electronics so county citizens could watch the meeting online.
The next County Commission Board meeting is planned for April 6, at 3 p.m.

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