EL DORADO – The Butler County Commissioner’s passed a resolution on Thursday to for a Public Health Emergency Declaration for Butler County for the county.
The resolution passed 4-1, with commissioner Ed Myer dissenting.
While four of the five voted for the approval, not all were completely in agreement. Commissioner Dan Woydziak did it but felt obligated to do so.
"I’ll vote for the resolution because we’re forced into a corner where we have no choice," Woydziak said.
With the state’s decisions of declaring a state of emergency last week and then with Governor Laura Kelly closing the state’s school buildings on Tuesday, the board met on Thursday morning to address the pressing need of a declaration for the county.
The declaration comes six days after a Butler County man tested positive for COVID-19 and two days after Sedgwick County declared an emergency. More than 10 counties in Kansas have issued their own declaration of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the declaration, the board also unanimously passed closing all county owned and operated buildings to the public, with the exception by appointment.
The declaration is from Monday, March 23 through Friday, April 3. The two weeks according to the board will give the county time to assess the needs of those within the county and determine what are the next steps needed to move forward.
"There will be employees that we have to address that have compromised health," County Administrator Will Johnson said. "We'll have employees that are truly fearful. We have to have compassion for them."
With the declaration, the county also moved to limit events with 50 or more people. There are certain restrictions according to the board that apply to the detention center as well.
"I’m looking for evidence of 50 people or less in the detention facilities," board member Jeff Masterson said. "That function will have to continue."
For county employees, they are eliminating all out-of-state and out-of-county, with the exception of Sedgwick County travel has been canceled.
"We’re going to keep everyone home right now," Johnson said.
All future board meetings will be held without the general public in attendance. To comply with the Kansas Open Meetings Act, all meetings will be streamed via the county website.
"They don’t have to participate in the meetings," Johnson said. "As long as they can view, we’re in line with KOMA."
The discussion of furloughing county employees was approved. However, how those employees will be paid is still being discussed. Johnson stated those who have been furloughed may use vacation or personal time off. However, Woydziak stated the county should pay employees without using their accrued time.
"We’re hoping to be better situated through this," Johnson said. "Only time will tell."