FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Washington County Court Leaders held a press conference Monday (Mar. 16) at 9:00 a.m. to address the county's plans for dealing with the coronavirus threat.
County Judge Joseph Wood and County Attorney Brian Lester held the press conference at the Washington County Courthouse in Fayetteville.
Monday morning prior to the press conference a meeting was held between all elected officials serving Washington County to discuss how to manage going forward over the next 30 days.
"The pandemic going around the country is impacting our state now," said Wood, "so this morning I declared an emergency in our county in line with the state as well as live federal government. I also issued an executive order to support our employees so they still have their pay, their sick time, without it being a penalty to them, so they can continue to manage themselves, manage their families as well as serve our citizens around the county."
Judge Wood said there have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus in the county yet, but there have been a number of tests done.
Wood said they are taking precautionary measures to protect both the public and county officials, such as not allowing anyone into county government buildings unless they have specific business such as getting court orders and marriage licenses.
Washington County Sheriff's Department has been working to screen inmates coming into jail to minimize the risk of employees at the jail and inmates.
Quorum court meetings will be canceled. Essential trials will still be held, but all trials that can be postponed will be.
The 30-day executive order gives elected officials the ability to manage employees with autonomy, and if able to work remotely, employees will be able to stay home to care for their kids if needed.
Judge Wood encourages the public to practice social distancing, avoid public gatherings and practice healthy sanitation and hygiene.
He also asks citizens to take care of as much as their business online as they can, such as paying property taxes and assessing.
"It is a very challenging time. It is very emotional," said wood. "We will get through this as we normally do, the leaders of Washington County continue to be among the best in the state. We will lead our county, lead our employees, lead our citizens through this."