Century Council Questions Safety Of Town Hall After Positive COVID-19 Cases

August 4, 2020

The Century Town Council questioned Monday ight if the town hall is safe for workers and the upcoming primary election day because it has not been professionally cleaned since two employees were diagnosed positive for COVID-19.

On the afternoon on July 24, the town announced two employees that work in the building were positive, and they had gone home to quarantine.

Following a question by council member Brenda Spencer, Mayor Henry Hawkins said town workers had cleaned the building. He said “the little disinfecting we do in the day works”. The town does not have any cleaning personnel on the payroll.

In response, the council quickly voted to hire a professional company to clean the building with hopes that  it will be eligible for federal CARES Act reimbursement.

A Monday night town council meeting in building was open to the public. All of the council members attended by Zoom but others did attend in person, including Hawkins, Interim City Manager Vernon Prather, two other town employees and at least one member of the public. And the building will be open as a voting precinct on August 18. Otherwise, it’s been closed to the public for weeks.

Staff has continued to work in the building, but Hawkins said he has them assigned to only work one at a time.

“That’s extremely dangerous,” council member James Smith said. “…When you put yourselves and other people at risk, it’s not a good thing.”

Councilman Luis Gomez expressed concern that the town was not adequately addressing COVID-19 concerns.

‘We as the city leaders, we need to start discussing this a little more,” Gomez said. “It’s digging deeper into the town of Century and its citizens.”  As of Monday, the Florida Department of Health reported 76 total COVID-19 cases in the Century zip code.

Gomez said four people he knows have recently tested positive, and he mentioned a town employee by name and his wife that he said were infected with the virus. He said the town needs a plan just in case numerous employees become infected, and he believes employee were not getting tested.

“This virus is not playing,” Gomez said. “I’d rather one get sick and go home on quarantine than keep it hush-hush.”

There are only five employees, in addition to the mayor and city manager, that make up the full staff working inside the Century Town Hall.

Town Clerk Kim Godwin said one of the two currently out due to COVID-19 retested positive, and the second is expected to be tested again on August 5.

NorthEscambia.com file photo.


8 Responses to “Century Council Questions Safety Of Town Hall After Positive COVID-19 Cases”

  1. Lee on August 4th, 2020 3:46 pm

    @bewildered – Things don’t necessarily have to “make sense” to be true. A lack of understanding can make something difficult to understand, but has nothing to do with truth. There are many variables to consider with this virus. That’s why it can take years to develop vaccines. Today Escambia (FL) reported the highest number of deaths in the county in a single day. What doesn’t make sense to me is people who say they want to get back to normal but won’t do something as simple as wear a mask. We’ve been dealing with this for months. There’s a narrow window to get the virus under control before we will be into flu season which will put more burden on medical services and put more people at greater risk.

  2. David Huie Green on August 4th, 2020 2:27 pm

    “the building will be open as a voting precinct on August 18. Otherwise, it’s been closed to the public for weeks.”

    From the CDC back on 15 July

    “Coronaviruses are thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets. Although the virus can survive for a short period on some surfaces, it is unlikely to be spread from domestic or international mail, products or packaging.”

    This isn’t about USPS mail or Amazon or Walmart packages, but the principle should apply. The school system has a CDC approved disinfectant which will kill all severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) within ten minutes, but most infections won’t come from touching what others touched, rather from breathing droplets others have exhaled.

    Clean the surfaces all you want, the virus will definitely be back as soon as the first infected person without a mask walks into the room.

  3. David Huie Green on August 4th, 2020 1:51 pm

    “It has been 40 days since the infected employees left the building. ”
    “If it does not make sense = it’s not true! !!!”

    Surely you have seen things which didn’t make sense but were true.
    It happened all the time back in school.
    It usually meant you knew too little, not too much, and expected what you wouldn’t get. For example, many expected this disease to act like other diseases even though those don’t act like each other.

    They are finding out new things all the time. Would you want them to not share the information until they know everything? That could be a long while.

    “While viral RNA shedding declines with resolution of symptoms, it may continue for days to weeks. However, the detection of RNA during convalescence does not necessarily indicate the presence of viable infectious virus.”

    To get an idea of how many weeks they mean, look at:

    “…in another study of 56 patients with mild to moderate illness (none required intensive care), the median duration of viral RNA shedding from naso- or oropharyngeal specimens was 24 days, and the longest was 42 days”
    [This means they were putting out the virus up to 42 days from infection.]
    “Isolation of infectious virus from upper respiratory specimens more than ten days after mild illness onset has only rarely been documented.”

    Forty days is less than their 42 days, but they are not sure how long the virus might still be dangerous; it varies.
    Please pay close attention to the word “rarely,” which means it has happened but not that often.
    How lucky do you feel with others’ lives? Few — but SOME — would die or even get sick after 10 days.

    David for knowledge shared

  4. Chelleepea on August 4th, 2020 12:58 pm

    The whole building should have been disinfected as soon as employees tested positive…….just hand cleaning is not enough for others to be in the building…….this is not where we need to be frugal………

  5. bewildered on August 4th, 2020 9:18 am

    It has been 40 days since the infected employees left the building. Dr. Fauci and all the other so called highly intelligent doctors should at least know by now how long the virus stays active. That’s why the public is getting disgusted with all the information and suggestions we are spoon fed on a daily basis. If it does not make sense = it’s not true! !!!

  6. Just listening on August 4th, 2020 8:49 am

    We must have too many working there. A first for me is my bill was a day early. Just saying

  7. fisherman on August 4th, 2020 8:35 am

    Where’s the money coming from to pay a professional cleaner? Only 5 people work in the building that’s enough to keep everything cleaned.

  8. sam on August 4th, 2020 7:18 am

    the bldg is closed but i still got my utility bill on time.

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