Sumter County is poised to re-open libraries and service offices as early as Monday depending on a decision expected later this week by Gov. Ron DeSantis on whether to extend his stay-at-home order, which expires Thursday.
Commissioners extended the county’s state of emergency due to the COVID-19 virus for the sixth time at their meeting Tuesday. By law, the state of emergency is limited to seven days without an extension.
County Administrator Bradley Arnold said the number of new county cases is stable. As of Tuesday, the county has had 13 deaths, 177 positive tests, 40 people hospitalized and 107 infected people who completed quarantine.
“We are in a steady state and there is not an increase in the number of people who are in the hospital due to COVID-19,” he said. “We’re in good shape in order to respond.”
When offices reopen, Arnold said, they will be designed to maintain social distancing and protect employees and residents.
“We’ve been a lot of work behind the scenes for the reopening,” he said.
Commissioner Doug Gilpin, who attended the meeting by phone, suggested that the county use misting to sanitize county buildings, which he said is being used by The Villages to clean recreation centers. He said the mist kills the virus on all surfaces.
“I would like us to consider enhanced cleaning of all of the county buildings,” he said.
Arnold said he has considered misting some areas, but is relying on the janitorial staff to clean libraries and offices.
Chairman Steve Printz said thorough cleaning “would give comfort to residents.”
Commissioner Al Butler agreed, saying it “sets an example for the county, too.”
Printz said officials have “learned a lot” from confronting the virus.
“We will get through this,” he said. “We’re better positioned for everything going forward.”
Among the most important county services that could resume next week is the veterans service office, Printz said.
Examples of services provided include stopping the eviction of a 96-year-old veteran and making sure a murdered veteran was buried with military honors.
“They don’t get enough recognition for the work they do,” he said.