Employees working for Simpson County will be required to have been cleared from COVID-19 before returning to work if they have been diagnosed with the virus.
The Board of Supervisors said at their last meeting that the requirement is not an indicator that cases have been found among employees but is a specific method of determining how such cases should be handled if they occur in the future.
An agreement has been made with Magee General Hospital to re-test any county employee who may have formerly tested positive for coronavirus. The cost of the tests is $153 each, but the board felt it was in the best interests of other employees to clear the health of anyone who has tested positive before they can return to work.
Emergency Management Coordinator John Kilpatrick reported to the board that protective masks are now available to the community. It is estimated that the pandemic will cost Simpson County $35,000 to $40,000, though this amount should be reimburseable from the federal government.
Kilpatrick told the board that mobile testing would be set up for the county, but details have not been finalized. He said the goal is to have enough personal protective equipment in Simpson County to last for up to a 30-day period.
Currently supervisors say they not overly concerned about the pandemic creating a shortfall in revenue. However, County Administrator Rhuel Dickson said that he anticipates some areas of shortfall, namely oil and gas severance taxes as well as justice court fees on violations. He said the budget can probably be adjusted to prevent serious issues.
County Road Manager Ben Warren reported to the board that his crews are still cleaning from storms that struck the county in April. He asked that residents contact the road department about areas that still need attention. In addition to flooding, some areas have experienced tornadic activity and general storm damage.
Warren also told the board about the continuing problem of litter along county roads. He said he had offered part time employment in clean-up, but no one was interested in the additional work.
Part of the issue he faces now, he said, is completing pre-leveling so workers can start paving projects. The board discussed hiring additional personnel so that the crews would not be sidetracked with other work projects. They also discussed getting a third motorgrader. The county currently has two and another one is set for delivery on June 12.
Rhuel Dickinson and County Attorney Danny Welch are meeting with the ASAP ambulance company to get an agreement in place before the board makes final approval of the contract for new ambulance service which is expected in June.
It was announced that face to face business is now being conducted at the Solid Waste as well as the Tax Assessor’s offices.
Sheriff Paul Mullins told the board it would probably be June before inmate labor is available to the county, based on a decision from the Governor. Mullins was able to get an additional vehicle from Rankin County to use as a canine unit. The vehicle was declared surplus and donated to the county.
The board voted to go into executive session in order to discuss an economic development prospect.
The next regular scheduled meeting of the board is set for Monday, June 1.