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COVID-19 alters operations at SWAR courthouses

Texarkana

MILLER COUNTY, Ark. (KTAL/KMSS) – The Miller County Courthouse was closed Friday after an employee tested positive for COVID-19.

Miller County Judge Cathy Hardin Harrison said the building closed Thursday at noon to be disinfected and is set to reopen to staff only on Monday. Harrison said those having business at the courthouse can make an appointment and they’ll be seen outside of the building. “Being a part of state government, we can’t close the courthouse. So, we have to do everything in our power to make sure the courthouse stays open,” she said.

Harrison said the employee that contracted the virus had not been to work since March 23 and is currently doing well. She added that  before the closure, people attempting to enter the building were screened and turned away if they had a temperature. On her social media page, Harrison talked about a conversation with Gov. Asa Hutchinson this week. “I specifically expressed the concerns about Louisiana residents coming into the county. They are under a shelter in place order so they don’t need to come here for marriage licenses … we have turned several away that were trying to get into the courthouse that actually had fever,” she stated. Harrison said no other staff members have displayed fever or any other symptoms.

In Sevier County, officials have also closed the courthouse building off to the public. A staff member has been offering assistance to people at the courthouse door for safety reasons.  Judge Greg Ray said, “We’re open, it’s just different.” 

He said the county closed all entrances a few weeks ago and that some staff members are rotating shifts to keep fewer people in the building. “We’re pretty much wiping down everything every two hours, or at least twice, three times a day,” Ray said. “Different times, for sure. I’m not gonna say it’s perfect, but it’s working.” 

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