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Washington commission may limit meetings due to Covid

With Covid-19 cases spiking in Washington County, county commissioners Monday talked about possible steps to deal with the situation, including curtailing or even canceling meetings.

Commission Chairman Allen Bailey explained that when the virus was at its worst last year and earlier this year, an emergency declaration was in effect that allowed the commission to conduct meetings by Zoom, phone conferences. That declaration has ended and the commission has no recourse but to hold public meetings. Even so, Bailey said, the agenda can be limited to matters that require commission action.

“We don’t need 50 people coming in here talking about potholes. This stuff [Covid] is going crazy, we’ve had several deaths in the county last week.”

Bailey said he isn’t trying to ignore people’s concerns but said that with the way things are right now they need to contact their commissioner or the county engineer’s office instead of crowding into a commission meeting.

In addition to limiting the agenda to only essential items, he said the state association had also suggested not having meetings at all if there is no action to be taken.

His fellow commissioners listened but did not take any action on his suggestions but agreed to possibly consider the matter at the next meeting.

On a related matter, Bailey asked for permission to take certain steps without having a full vote of the commission if he deemed it necessary. He said he would consult with commissioners beforehand on any action to be taken but said waiting for a meeting could slow down the action and put commissioners together when they may not need to be.

It wasn’t said, but he may have been thinking of a reinstated mask mandate for the courthouse and other actions to combat the virus.

Commissioners agreed to that request.

It was a short meeting otherwise with only a few agenda items.

By Jim Cox
The South Alabamian
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