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Carroll County Government offices reopening to public, with restrictions in place

As of Friday, June 12, members of the public were able to begin scheduling appointments to meet with Carroll County Government employees face-to-face, or at least, mask-to-mask.

County government closed all facilities to the public beginning March 18, when the number of COVID-19 cases in the county could be counted on one hand. Many staff switched to working remotely, while others continued to report to their work places, assisting residents virtually and by phone. Some services, deemed nonessential, were temporarily suspended.

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On Thursday, the Board of Commissioners agreed to begin reopening some county-operated facilities, with restrictions in place. Some offices are not planned to reopen until June 22.

Roberta Windham, county administrator, presented the staff’s recommendations on which county offices can open and when.

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Offices that reopened to the public Friday on an appointment-only basis include: Department of Management and Budget, Bureau of Accounting, Bureau of Purchasing, Bureau of Engineering, Bureau of Building Construction, Bureau of Utilities, Airport Operations, County Attorney’s Office, Department of Recreation and Parks Administrative Offices, Economic Development, Department of Technology Services, Department of Public Safety, Office of Tourism, Department of Human Resources, Commissioners’ Office, Department of Planning, Maintenance Center Operations, Bureau of Resource Management, Bureau of Agricultural Preservation, and Bureau of Development Review.

According to a county news release, entry guidelines include:

  • Brief screenings, which may include a temperature check and survey questions, will occur at the entrance to buildings.
  • Face coverings are required for customers to gain entry; staff and visitors must continue to wear face coverings during appointments and while in public areas.
  • Only customers with appointments will enter the building. Unless a customer requires assistance, other individuals should wait outside.
  • Customers should arrive five to 10 minutes early for appointments to allow for security protocols.
  • Visitors will be escorted to and from the lobby and offices.

Commissioners voted on these guidelines Thursday, though they disagreed on some practices.

Commissioner Eric Bouchat, R-District 4, opposed requiring visitors and staff to wear masks in public spaces or during meetings in county facilities.

“I think that as long as individuals are practicing the social distancing guidelines, there’s no need for anyone to be wearing a mask,” Bouchat said.

Bouchat and Commissioner Ed Rothstein, R-District 5, voted against screening the public by checking temperatures and asking survey questions about symptoms or exposure to COVID-19.

In May, county government implemented a wellness check policy for employees who are not working remotely. The online form asks employees to confirm they don’t have a high temperature or symptoms of COVID-19. Rothstein then raised concerns about collecting this data from employees.

Doug Brown, deputy director of public works, told the commissioners Thursday the employee wellness check has prevented at least one possibly sick employee from coming to work, when they checked their temperature before work and learned it was higher than normal.

What’s reopening next?

Certain county offices are waiting for equipment, such as Plexiglass barriers, to be installed before welcoming the public back in by appointment, Windham said.

The Farm Museum’s administrative offices can open to the public by appointment on June 16. The Farm Museum grounds and exhibits remain closed, as museums are closed under the governor’s executive orders.

The county’s plan is to allow by-appointment meetings at the following facilities starting June 22: Office of Administrative Hearings, Bureau of Permits and Inspections, Bureau of Housing, and Department of Citizen Services.

Due to the nature of the work, the Collections Office is unable to accept appointments, but will continue operations with citizens paying bills online, via mail, or dropping their payments in the drop box and staff mailing receipts.

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The Office of Zoning Administration is not accepting appointments while undergoing renovations, which are expected to be complete by early September.

The Carroll County Business/Employment Resource Center (BERC) is waiting for a delivery of personal protective equipment, Windham said, and she expects staff to continue working remotely until late July. Citing unemployment concerns, Rothstein asked staff to look into the possibility of allowing meetings with the public to occur off-site.

To make an appointment with a county office that is reopened, contact the individual department or the main county office at 410-386-2400. A directory of departments with phone numbers is available on the county website.

Health department curbside services

The Carroll County Health Department will begin offering limited “curbside services” June 15, according to health department news release.

Birth and death certificates will be issued daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., by appointment only. Applications must be completed and emailed to cchdvital.records@maryland.gov or faxed to 410-876-4812. Applications can be found at https://cchd.maryland.gov/community-services-birth/ and https://cchd.maryland.gov/community-services-death/.

“Customers must call 410-876-4442 to schedule a pick-up appointment at the Carroll County Health Department, at 290 South Center Street in Westminster. At the time of their appointment, customers will drive up to the front of the building, stay in their vehicle, and call 410-876-4442. Staff will take the certificate to the client. Fees should be paid by credit card over the phone if possible, or by cash or check at the time of the appointment,” the release states.

Curbside services will be provided for food service plans and permits, camp applications, plan development review, pool applications, well and septic permits, and rabies program services.

“Many documents can be submitted for review as PDFs by email to carrollcounty.environmental@maryland.gov, including supporting documentation for plan or building permits, swimming pool applications, Bay Restoration Fund Grant paperwork, variance/deviation requests, and new construction documentation, but original versions of documents requiring signatures must also be mailed to the health department. Easement and disclosure documents can be signed by appropriate staff by curbside appointment. Call 410-876-1884 for more information or to schedule an appointment,” according to the relase.

Car seat checks and Cribs for Kids are available by appointment only by calling 410-876-4984.

For help finding a behavioral health provider in the community, please contact service coordination at 410-876-4449.

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Peer recovery support services are continuing virtually. To access a peer specialist, email cchd.peersupport@maryland.gov or call 410-876-4449.

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Naloxone refills are being provided curbside with limited hours. Call 410-876-4449 or email cchd.servicecoordination@maryland.gov. Provide your name and a phone number, and you will be contacted to coordinate pick up.

“Carroll County residents may still call 410-876-2152 for information on Health Department other services being offered virtually, such as Non-Emergency Medical Assistance Transportation, health insurance assistance, and WIC,” the release reads. “Plans are in development for reopening clinical services such as child vaccinations, reproductive health services, and dental services for children and pregnant women.”

Information on COVID-19 is available at the county health department’s website at cchd.maryland.gov/covid-19/ or by contacting the call center at 410-876-4848 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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