WAHOO – The number of Saunders County residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 has risen to 38, according to the most recent press release from Three Rivers Public Health Department.

Despite more relaxation of the Directed Health Measures set by Gov. Pete Ricketts, most of the local counties are keeping the doors of their county courthouses closed to the general public.

The Saunders County Courthouse remains largely closed to the public but open for business, with the exception of the county treasurer’s office. On Monday, County Treasurer Amber Scanlon announced on social media that the office was open by appointment, but only for new vehicle purchases that require titling and licensing.

The walk-up counter at the treasurer’s office now has a plexiglass shield between customers and employees. The benches placed for people waiting in line have been removed.

The Saunders County Board of Supervisors voted to close the facilities to the public on March 18. There have been no reports of positive tests among employees at the courthouse.

Nearly all of the offices in the Cass County courthouse are open by appointment only, after three employees tested positive for COVID-19.

The courthouse was closed to all business on May 21 for deep cleaning and sanitization after an employee tested positive for the coronavirus. Another two employees received positive test results a few days later.

The facility reopened to the public briefly on May 26, the same day the Cass County Board of Commissioners met in an emergency meeting to discuss the situation. It was decided by a unanimous vote to close the courthouse until May 29, and reopen on June 1 by appointment only.

The commissioners ask the public to make an appointment for services that can only be done in-person. If a service can be completed via phone, email or online services, or cannot be delivered through the drop box, then the person should call the appropriate office to make an appointment.

The Cass County Assessor’s office remains completely closed to the public until further notice. Personal property returns and Homestead Exemption applications can be delivered using the silver drop box on the west side of the courthouse. Forms can also be mail. The staff will return phone messages.

The county, district and juvenile courts remain open. They are under the jurisdiction of the state, not the county.

“We recognize this will be a challenge, the public may still contact offices directly by telephone or email.  All offices remain staffed and available to assist tax payers,” said the commissioners in a statement on the county website, cassne.org.

The commissioners’ objective is to protect the safety and health of the employees and the public, the statement also read.

Last week, Dan Henry, chair of the Cass County Board of Commissioners, confirmed that two employees in the county clerk’s office and one in the treasurer’s office tested positive. The employees were tested after developing mild symptoms.

The employees and people

who were in close contact with them were advised to quarantine for 14 days by the Sarpy/Cass Health Department and federal officials.

Henry said county officials are working on a way to prevent the need to close down during a pandemic.

The courthouse had just reopened on May 11 after having been closed for several weeks due to the pandemic. At the time, social distancing rules were established, and on May 18 all persons entering the courthouse were required to wear a mask.

As of June 1, there are 50 cases of COVID-19 in Cass County, and no deaths reported, according to the Sarpy/Cass Health Department’s online dashboard.

Three deaths have been reported in the entire health department district, which also includes Sarpy County. A map on the website indicates that there are zero to six cases in the Ashland, Greenwood, Waverly, Eagle and Alvo zip code areas of Cass County.

Several offices in the Lancaster County courthouse remain closed to in-person traffic until further notice, according to the county website.

The closed offices include the assessor, register of deeds, board of commissioners, clerk and treasurer. The public is encouraged to complete as much business as possible online or by phone.

The number of COVID-19 cases reported by the Lincoln/Lancaster County Health Department is 1,228 as of Monday. There have been nine deaths attributed to the virus.

Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, headache, chills, muscle pain or a loss of taste

or smell. Symptoms can appear two to 14 days after exposure.

Health officials encourage residents to continue to stay home if possible, to wear face coverings, and to wash their hands frequently.  Those at risk of complications from COVID-19 should continue to stay away from others. 

In Lancaster County, persons who experience these symptoms are urged to access drive-through testing offered by Bryan Health and CHI Health St. Elizabeth in Lincoln. Residents begin this process with a free online risk assessment available at BryanHealth.com and CHIHealth.com.

If testing is recommended, individuals will be given an order and referred to one of the testing sites.  Only those with an order and referral from Bryan Health or CHI Health St. Elizabeth, or an order from their doctor are permitted at the drive-through sites.  Those who need assistance may contact the Health Department at 402-441-8006.

The website COVID19.lincoln.ne.gov also includes a dashboard that summarizes Lancaster County COVID-19 data. 

In Cass and Saunders counties, individuals are urged to call their health care provider to determine if testing is needed.

The latest information on local coronavirus response in Lancaster County is available at COVID19.lincoln.ne.gov. LLCHD has established a hotline at 402-441-8006 for questions on COVID-19. The Sarpy/Cass Health Department website is sarpycasshealthdepartment.org/novel-coronavirus and information is available to Saunders County residents at threeriverspublichealth.org.

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