Face coverings will be required for anyone entering a Linn County facility starting next week

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Jean Oxley Public Service Center, 935 2nd St SW, Cedar Rapids. Photo taken on April 20, 2020. — Izabela Zaluska/Little Village

In preparation for the reopening of Linn County buildings next week, the Board of Supervisors approved two measures to help keep employees and residents safe from COVID-19.

County facilities will begin a phased reopening approach on Monday, July 20, with “modifications in place to keep employees and customers safe.” Most county buildings will conduct their businesses by appointment only.

The first measure the board approved during its Wednesday meeting is a face-covering policy. Effective Monday, anyone entering a county-owned facility will be required to wear something that covers their mouth and nose. A face covering can be a cloth mask, paper mask, face shield, scarf or bandana, according to the policy.

“This is the most responsible way for us to ensure the safety of our employees and our residents coming in here,” Supervisor Ben Rogers said during Wednesday’s meeting. “I appreciate us being on the leading edge, being a public institute that is requiring face coverings for anyone coming in here.”

Linn County will provide a disposable paper face mask to anyone entering a county facility without a face covering. If an individual entering the facility can’t wear a face mask, the county will provide a reusable face shield to wear. The face shield will be returned as the individual leaves the building and then sanitized by an employee.

There are three purposes behind the policy:

• Protect public health and safety by reducing exposure to the COVID-19 virus
• Help slow the community spread of the virus
• Help prevent spread of the virus to others by people who are asymptomatic, or who have the virus and do not know it

The county will deny entrance to individuals who refuse to wear a face covering inside the county facility, according to the policy. An exception is if the face covering would cause impairment for someone with an existing health condition and they present medical verification.

The board also approved a contract for a temporary security officer at three county buildings, including the Harris Building, Public Service Center and the Community Services Building.

The security guards at the Public Service Center and the Community Services building will be in a typical security guard uniform, but the guard at the Harris Building will wear more casual clothing, said Darrin Gage, Linn County’s director of policy and administration.

“They’ll be wearing more like a golf shirt and khakis because of the number of immigrants and refugees that we see in [the Harris building] that are coming in to get to go through the process of becoming citizens. We don’t want to frighten them,” Gage shared during a presentation he gave at the board’s Monday meeting.

The security guards will monitor building entrances and appointment schedules, ensure compliance with the face covering policy and other responsibilities, including:

• Monitor designated building entrances to prevent unapproved entry into buildings
• Monitor appointment schedules to prevent unapproved entry into buildings
• Oversee admission process to prevent unapproved entry into buildings
• Complete COVID-19 screening of all building visitors (not including employees)
• Ensure compliance with Linn County face covering policy
• Provide line management/crowd control
• Provide directions within buildings are requested
• Perform routine patrols as time allows
• Report suspicious or disorderly activity to law enforcement

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