Johnson County Board of Supervisors extend county building closures until April 16

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors met on Monday to discuss the current closures of county buildings and approved the closure extension for two additional weeks with plans to reevaluate the closures once again on April 16.


Emily Wangen

Johnson County Supervisors Rod Sullivan and Royceeann Porter listen to a presentation during a meeting on Thursday, Feb. 12, 2020.

Kelsey Harrell and Riley Davis

As the current closure of county buildings nears its mandated end March 31, the Johnson County Board of Supervisors approved a vote on Monday to extend the closures until April 16. 

The mandate was originally implemented on March 18 and was anticipated to last for two weeks. Now, as Johnson County reaches 70 positive cases of the novel coronavirus, chairman of the County Supervisors, Rod Sullivan, said the board voted to extend the closures an additional two weeks in order to periodically review the pandemic as it changes. 

“Two weeks is a reasonable amount of time,” County Attorney Janet Lyness said. “It extends the closure up to the date that [Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds] has authorized the change in public meetings as well, so we wouldn’t have a problem continuing what we’re currently doing as far as having the public call in or email questions to public hearings.”

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Lyness said that they should look at changes one week at a time and that the building closure extension will give the board more time to anticipate what they will need to do concerning the COVID-19 virus in the ongoing future. 

The extension will be added to the board’s meeting agenda on April 16 to review changes and discuss another vote to extend building closures once again depending on future circumstances. 

Johnson County services will continue to be provided, the Monday release said. Many of the services are available online, by phone, or through mail or email. 

The closure is in line with Reynolds’ declaration of a public health emergency and order to close all restaurants, gyms, adult care facilities, and places with large gatherings of people. As previously reported by The Daily Iowan, Reynolds extended this closure to include salons, tattoo parlors, spas, and retail locations through April 7. 

The board’s decision held a similar tone to President Trump’s Sunday announcement to extend social distancing guidelines until the end of April. According to an article from The New York Times, President Trump said that “all Americans must continue to avoid nonessential travel, going to work, eating at bars and restaurants, or gathering in groups of more than 10 for at least another month and perhaps until June.”

The article said that last week public health experts and the president’s advisers warned that “trying to return to normal life too quickly risked allowing the virus to rage, increasing the likelihood of more infections and raising the number of deaths.” 

President Trump’s Sunday appearance, the article said, acknowledged the “possibility of deaths on a large scale,” conflicting with the president’s previous statements that the threat from the virus “might be overblown.”