Quorum Court Special Call Meeting Scheduled
A special call meeting has been scheduled for Monday, July 6, at 6 p.m. in the Drew County Courthouse to address the closure of the County Collector Tonya Loveless' office following her decision for her and her staff to quarantine for 14-days and refusing to take a COVID-19 test.
In a response Wednesday, July 1, to the Advance Monticellonian, Loveless cited several reasons for her decision regarding the health and safety of her employees, accuracy of the tests after potential exposure to the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, or more commonly referred to as SARS-CoV-2.
"I chose to have my employees quarantine for 14 days versus being swabbed for COVID-19 due to the inaccuracy of the tests and also due to the fact that you might be negative one day and positive for it the very next day," said Loveless. "According to the CDC guidelines and the Arkansas Department of Health, quarantining for 14 days is acceptable."
According to Loveless, her office was told on Saturday and again on Sunday that if Loveless and her staff did not get a test, they would be required to quarantine for 14 days, per the CDC guidelines and that testing would take place Monday morning. During this time, Loveless says she was concerned to take the test where the test was being implemented.
"We were to line up downstairs next to the office where the positive case was found," Loveless wrote. "This was unacceptable and would only cause re-exposure to the virus not only for my employees but to everyone else in the facility."
Loveless continued by citing her employees problems with daycare once the information the courthouse was closed and that a positive case had been identified.
"A 14 day quarantine only made sense for my employees because again they both have young children in local daycares and once (Joe Burgess) posted the COVID positive on MLive, they were notified by their private daycares that the children could not come back for 14 days."
Loveless also stated concern on whether or not her employees would be paid during the quarantine.
"In the meantime, you need to inform the county in writing whether you are placing your staff members in quarantine under the provisions of Ordinance No. 2020-05 as this determines whether your staff members are entitled to be paid during quarantine," said Drew County Judge Robert Akin in a letter to Loveless dated Tuesday, June 30. "I would remind that any decision you make to place your staff member in quarantine for 14 days or less must be 'based on identified risk factors as explained by the CDC, or based on fact specific information related to travel locations, or high risk transmission setting, or personal contact with a presumptive case of COVID-19,' per the provisions of Ordinance 2020-05."
Loveless stated that even though it was "constitutionally unethical" to be required to take the test based on CDC guidelines and the Association of Arkansas Counties, she will be testing in order to perform her duties as an elected official.
The meeting will take place in the Drew County Courthouse Courtroom in order to allow room for social distancing.