Courthouse could lower its COVID cautions by May

A courthouse visitor, who wished to remain unnamed, has her temperature checked by Officer John Reese of the Darlington County Sheriff’s Office. The limit for admission to the courthouse is a temperature of 101, Reese said. PHOTO BY BOBBY BRYANT

By Bobby Bryant, Editor

editor@newsandpress.net

If the county’s COVID-19 situation keeps looking brighter, operations at the Darlington County Courthouse could return to normal by May, officials say. Since COVID slammed the county last spring, county officials have tried to minimize the number of people inside the courthouse by encouraging residents to do business by phone and Internet. If something needs to be done in person, a resident must be escorted to the appropriate office. County Council’s meetings are closed to the press and public as a COVID precaution, but the county live-streams its sessions online. “We’re still having some limited access to the courthouse,” county administrator Charles Stewart told council during its April 5 meeting. “All services are being provided. Before COVID, you could walk up there, go through security, and go roam the building, essentially, if you wanted to roam the building.” “You just can’t do that now,” he said. “You have to come in, go through security, and someone will contact someone upstairs in the appropriate office for staff to come help or assist you. If they need to, they’re authorized to take you back … into the courthouse (offices). But they’re trying to do as much business downstairs as possible.” Stewart added: “Our (COVID) numbers, as you know, are way down, but the CDC still warns us there could be another wave, and we’re monitoring that, and we’ll be prepared, if necessary, to deal with that.” He said that, after discussions with the clerk of court, “If nothing has changed here by May, we may be inclined to change the courthouse back to the standard operations. We’ll go from there at that time.” One council member, Albert Davis of Hartsville, told the council: “I had COVID. It’s not going away yet. So please be careful. … If you don’t want to wear a mask, that’s your problem. That’s your perspective. That’s up to you. But give your neighbor, your friend at the gas station or whatever, their 6 feet.” “COVID is still out there,” Davis said. “And don’t think it’s going away anytime soon.”

Author: Rachel Howell

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