Someone at county commissioner’s meeting has tested positive for COVID

Board members and staff at Monday’s Columbus County Commissioners meeting. (Screenshot from YouTube video)

By DEUCE NIVEN

tribdeuce@tabor-loris.com

     Someone attending Monday’s Columbus County Commissioner’s meeting has tested positive for COVID-19, sending board and three staff members into quarantine.

     County Manager Mike Stephens said he was notified by county Health Director Kim Smith Wednesday morning, with all who attended the meeting told to quarantine through Oct. 20.

     “I don’t know who has tested positive,” Stephens said. “Kim wouldn’t tell me. She couldn’t tell me. If I did know, I couldn’t tell you.”

     Privacy laws prevent a health care provider or employer from disclosing protected medical information to others, Stephens said.

     Commissioners have cancelled their scheduled Oct. 19 meeting.

     Commissioners have not allowed the public into their meetings for months, a precaution forced by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some meetings were conducted by Zoom conference during the spring, and in recent months the board has met in their chambers, the public kept out in order to abide by Gov. Roy Cooper’s executive orders on mass gatherings.

     Attending Monday’s meeting were all five commissioners, Stephens, County Attorney Amanda Prince, and Board Clerk June Hall. A technician from Southeastern Community College was in the chambers briefly to set up video and sound equipment providing public access to the meeting on YouTube.