Live Oak City Hall will remain closed for the next few weeks to allow employees to self-quarantine after potentially being exposed to another employee last week that tested positive for COVID-19.

City hall initially closed its doors to the public on June 24 after learning that an employee had tested positive. The city believed the infected employee was asymptomatic and hadn’t had enough contact with other employees to warrant them all to get tested, though they were encouraged to do so if they had any concerns. The city closed down the facility for the rest of the week to deep clean, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention standards, and planned on reopening Monday.

After speaking with the area’s health officer over the weekend, City Manager Aaron Palmer said contact tracers had determined the employee was actually symptomatic at the time they were inside the building last week. Considering the amount of time the employee had spent around other employees, Palmer said they made the decision to have employees self-quarantine.

The city had also recently implemented several different safety protocols like placing glass shields around the facility where employees made contact with members of the public and requiring social distancing and facial coverings, which were intended to mitigate the chance of exposure. Officials don’t believe any members of the public are at risk of exposure.

“Due to HIPAA concerns, we do not publicly confirm workplace locations of confirmed cases. But in a setting like this, there would be no concern for the public about exposure since the criteria for being a close contact is less than six feet of interaction for 15 minutes or more,” said Bi-County Health Officer Dr. Phuong Luu. “This reiterates the need for individuals to be vigilant about social/family gatherings since once you are infectious and go to work, you will run the risk of infecting others at work.”

Palmer said 11 employees are now self-quarantining for the next two weeks, including himself. Functions and operations that are conducted at city hall are on hold for the time being, he said.

“Some employees will do as much as they can from home. We were already set up for this with the initial closure, but for the most part, the big thing will be with Building and Code Enforcement. Permits and inspections will be on hold,” Palmer said.

City residents looking to pay bills can do so on the city’s website or by dropping off payments in the drop box in front of city hall, Palmer said.

Once quarantine is lifted, the plan is to reopen city hall on July 7 at 9 a.m.

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