Sussex County Administrator Todd Lawson said steps have been taken to prepare for the time when county operations can return to normal. However, “normal” will not be what it was before the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted county operations nearly two months ago.
Lawson said any action would be governed by guidance from state officials, particularly the governor's office and public health officials.
“When that does take place, I would suggest that the county's operations will look different and things will change,” Lawson said during Sussex County Council's April 28 teleconference meeting.
He said opening will be staggered until safety can be ensured for staff and the public.
Lawson said among changes, plexiglass partitions will be installed in the administration building at locations where staff interacts with the public, such as the building permit counter. Employees may continue to wear masks and gloves, some employees may continue to work from home, and in most offices, customers will be required to make appointments, he said.
Once meetings are again open to the public, modifications could include seating restrictions to provide for more room between attendees and scheduling applications that are not expected to attract large crowds.
County offices have been closed since March 19. However, Lawson said, that doesn't mean county business has halted.
The public can drop off paperwork for processing by staff at the county administration office, 2 The Circle, Georgetown. Although many county employees are working at home or on staggered shifts, critical operations, such as building inspections and engineering work on projects, are still taking place.
Since county offices have closed, council and planning and zoning commission meetings have been conducted via teleconference. Public hearings were canceled.
Technology has been installed to resume hearings and allow public comment. Planning and zoning will have hearings at its Thursday, May 14 meeting and council will have hearings at its Tuesday, June 9 meeting.
Lawson said staff mobilized to secure enough face masks for all employees to meet new mandatory statewide face-covering requirements, which went into effect April 28.
PPE supplies are adequate
Lawson said county supplies of personal protective equipment are adequate, and a shipment of 10,000 face masks is expected to arrive in about a week.
He said county EMS administrators have weekly contact with Sussex fire chiefs to ensure fire departments have enough PPE. “Today, their needs are being met,” he said. “The county has PPE at its disposal and would make it available.”