Caddo Parish Commission outlines COVID protocol for re-entry into government chambers

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SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – The Caddo Commission on Wednesday held a three-hour virtual meeting to discuss their COVID-19 concerns.

The meeting came about after Monday’s work session failed to get off the ground, because some of the commissioners’ personal COVID-19 fears kept them home and prevented a quorum.

So they decided it was time to get serious about how they were going to deal with their own pandemic concerns and what protocols need to be in place for future meetings and re-entry into government chambers.

The virtual work session, which took place on Zoom and Facebook Live, was attended by all 12 Commission members. The majority of the meeting was all about COVID-19 and the protocol set up for re-entry into government chambers.

“I recommend the option that individual commissioners that may be under the age condition and underlying health conditions to be provided the option of participating in our future meetings during this pandemic time via zoom,” said Ken Epperson, District 12 Commissioner.

Epperson’s recommendation was added to the agenda, but more investigation is necessary to figure out whether it’s legal to hold virtual meetings after the governor’s orders are relaxed.

“The suspension of the state public meetings laws is what allows you to have a Zoom meeting period, so that is why it’s the governor call and not a local action,” said Donna Frazier, parish attorney.

The commission plans to send a letter to the governor asking for direction.

“Urging the governor to direct the changes to his proclamation to allow for partial zoom participation in public meetings,” Jeff Everson, Commission clerk.

They also addressed the protocol for their eventual return to Government Plaza, which will include social distancing measures.

According to Dr. Woodrow Wilson, parish administrator, a number of seats have been blocked off to adhere to the governor’s current 25 percent capacity directive, which amounts to about 23 seats in the audience, or a total of 45 seats overall, including the commissioners’ seats in front.

Ventilation also was discussed, but, Wilson said, “You would have some recirculated air to a certain degree. A lot of that air is mixed with outside air, but there is no way to reassure you that you would not be exposed to re-circulated air.”

In addition, how the public will enter the chambers is a consideration. Wilson said people wishing to come into the chambers will be checked by a device that will automatically sense body temperatures

The public will not be asked about their travel history or background but are urged to wear a mask when entering into the building and Government Chambers.

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