The Boone County Commissioners announced July 27 they will extend the county’s cost-share waiver to pay for COVID-19 testing and prohibit those not wearing masks from entering the county courthouse.
Since March, county employees and members of the county’s unified command have been tested for COVID-19. To offset the cost of providing the service, commissioners entered a cost-share waiver, which allows the county to be reimbursed for costs ensued.
The county has used Aria Labs, an Indianapolis-based laboratory, to complete county employee testing at the Boone County Sheriff’s Office and can regularly receive test results within 48 hours. The commissioners said the process is a vital measure that allows health officials to trace contacts of those who may be infected before they spread the virus. The waiver was scheduled to expire July 24, but the commissioners voted to extend it through at least Oct. 22.
“Employees throughout (the COVID-19 pandemic) have not had to pay for COVID-19 testing,” county legal council Bob Clutter said.
By extending the waiver, the commissioners ensured county employees will continue to receive free COVID-19 testing.
On July 20, the commissioners unanimously approved a resolution declaring a state of emergency in response to an uptick in county COVID-19 cases. The decision necessitates the commissioners meet every seven days to determine whether to extend the state of emergency. On July 27, the commissioners extended the state of emergency for at least another seven days.
The commissioners also said during the July 27 special meeting that they will prohibit any member of the public not wearing a mask or facial covering from entering the county courthouse, a county-owned building. The sheriff’s office will enforce the prohibition, which applies specifically to the courthouse. The decision, however, will soon apply to other buildings that have been outfitted with thermal imaging cameras.
Thermal imaging cameras have been installed at the county courthouse and others are being installed at the KeyBank building at 127 W Main St. in Lebanon, which houses the Boone County Probation Office. Two more cameras have been installed at the sheriff’s office, and another is installed at the Boone County Office Building. Boone County Commissioner Jeff Wolfe said the cameras should all be linked the week of July 27. When the cameras are linked, the commissioners’ decision will pertain to the other buildings as well.
“The courthouse used to be open,” Boone County Commissioner Tom Santelli said. “All the doors were open. You could come and go. And working with our sheriff, we put in security screenings and X-ray andmetal detection in the system, and we’ve limited it to one-door access, so that then lent itself, as we came into the pandemic, to our ability to screen. We did start with taking people’s temperatures, (but) we wanted to improve the speed as well as the accuracy, so the thermal imaging gives us better information, a better database.”