Going to the courthouse? Bring your mask

Masks and temperature checks required for entry to the Cullman County Courthouse

Commissioner Kerry Watson, Commissioner Garry Marchman and Commission Chairman Kenneth Walker at Monday morning’s special-called meeting of the Cullman County Commission (Christy Perry for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – The Cullman County Commission met bright and early Monday morning for a special-called meeting to approve a new plan requiring all persons entering the Cullman County Courthouse to wear masks and have their temperatures checked. The courthouse was closed Friday to allow for deep cleaning and sanitizing after at least one employee from the Cullman County Probate Office tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. It was recommended by the County’s workers’ compensation physician, Dr. James Thomas, that these measures be put into place to better protect Cullman County employees and citizens.

Employees will be required to wear masks and undergo temperature checks upon entering the building, but it will be left up to each department to determine if employees must wear masks once reaching their work areas.

Masks will not be made available to those entering the courthouse. People must have their own masks.

Monday’s meeting was held in the courthouse parking lot, where Chairman Kenneth Walker explained, “I got with Dr. Thomas, and the reason I got with Dr. Thomas is he’s our workers’ comp doctor. We discussed taking temperatures three or four weeks ago and thought we were going to get that started, but then we decided things were looking better and we wouldn’t need to.”

Thomas addressed the commissioners, “I was asked to come Thursday to go over what the CDC and OSHA guidelines were to protect employees and also all individuals that are dealing with this COVID. After doing the presentation and sending out some emails, it was concluded on Saturday, we started doing temperature checks. There are some more guidelines that are available. There are guidelines about masks and staying 6 feet from each other and what to do when someone tests positive.”

Based on the guidelines presented by Thomas, the commission concluded requiring masks would be the best course of action to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Walker said, “Wearing a mask is recommended, but we want to require that before entering the courthouse because there is no way to keep the 6-foot distance. We really encourage keeping the 6-foot distance, and just bear with us because if we don’t implement this now, it’s going to take us longer to get over this.”

The commissioners were all in agreement on implementing the new policies.

Commissioner Garry Marchman said, “I know there are circumstances that have caused us to have to do this. I won’t go into detail about those circumstances, but I also know there is conflict. Some people think it’s silly to put on a mask and others don’t. I understand that. We’ve been obligated by legislation to make policies and guidelines that govern our facilities here. It’s not a popular thing because there are going to be people who disagree with us on that. I commend both these guys for stepping up and saying ‘Hey, we need to implement something to protect people.’ We really do.”

Marchman encouraged those with special circumstances or needs to let the commissioners know so they can help in special cases.

The commission plans to revisit the policies July 3 to determine if masks are still necessary.

Said Commissioner Kerry Watson, “This is something we didn’t take light and I know it’s going to be aggravating for everybody. We are all creatures of habit and this is not a habit. We’ve all got to pull together on this even if this may not be what we want to do. Right now is the time we got to step forward and work together until July 3 and then we’ll go from there.”

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Christy Perry