County officials thinking about details of reopening

Robert Smith

Osage County commissioners voted Monday morning to keep county-owned buildings closed to the general public for at least another week, and to prohibit public events in those buildings for the same length of time.

Officials are, however, thinking about needs they will have to address when the courthouse and other facilities are eventually reopened.

Jerry Roberts, the county’s Emergency Management director, said he has been gathering Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that he hopes can be used by both employees in government offices and by residents visiting those offices.

Roberts said he has been ordering the PPE needed by emergency medical personnel and firefighters in Osage County from the state, but he has been ordering a little bit extra each time to build a supply to be used to keep people safe as the county opens up. Roberts said the supply he is building currently includes both N95 masks and surgical masks. He said state officials may not be thrilled that he is ordering more than he immediately needs, but they had not refused him yet.

Roberts commented during and following the weekly meeting of the county commissioners. The county board indicated Monday that it intends to continue meeting for now at the Ag Building at the Osage County Fairgrounds. Roberts noted that Osage County had 72 confirmed positive tests for COVID-19 and eight deaths as of Monday morning. That was an increase of seven positive tests and no deaths in a week, indicating that the upward trend of the spread of the virus in the county seemed to have been blunted.

State figures also showed, as of Monday, that 50 of the 72 persons infected with COVID-19 in Osage County have recovered. In Pawhuska, as of that date, 7 of 10 persons confirmed to have contracted the illness had recovered.

Statewide, as of Monday, there had been 3,280 positive tests for COVID-19 and 197 known deaths. Nationally, there had been more than 56,300 COVID-19 deaths by Monday.

District Attorney Mike Fisher on Monday requested and was granted permission to slowly begin opening his office on the third floor of the Whiting Building to some public access. Fisher voiced a desire to begin to “ramp up” normal activities on the part of the district attorney’s office. He said that he had counseled his staff members about continuing to engage in social distancing practices.

As the commissioners talked briefly about the eventual reopening of county buildings to public events, District 1 Commissioner Randall Jones reiterated a point he made last week — that the county will need to develop social distancing guidelines for public events.