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COOK COUNTY CONNECTIONS: County Operations During COVID-19

Aug 28, 2020 04:26AM ● By Editor

From Cook County MN - August 28, 2020

By Interim County Administrator/MIS Director Rena Rogers. 

In many ways, Cook County is a model of how to continue living and working during the COVID-19 pandemic.

When the governor issued his stay-at-home order last spring, many Cook County lodging businesses closed even though this was not required. Businesses used the down time to develop plans and implement physical and process changes. The downtime also gave our medical facilities time to prepare.

A group dedicated to reopening Cook County safely started meeting. The group includes government leaders, public health representatives, the medical community, and business leaders and owners. This group continues to meet to discuss issues and protocols for keeping residents and visitors safe. 

Many organizations, like county government, switched to remote work whenever possible, using technology to deliver services. By order of the governor, schools switched from in person to distance learning.

As the governor began re-opening the state, visitors started coming back – and they came in numbers that seem higher than in the past. We held our collective breath, wondering when we were going to see a local COVID-19 outbreak.

May slipped by and the numbers of COVID-19 cases grew throughout the state and the nation. We did not see our first case until late June, and it would be July before we would learn of a second case. Then, in three short days, we learned of three new cases, one each day and each in a different part of the county.

Regionally, the numbers are growing rapidly. This impacts us, as we share regional medical facilities with several other counties. There are many things about this pandemic that we cannot control, but there are many things we have been doing and should continue to do to minimize its impact on our community.

For our part, county government will continue to operate in a conservative manner. Workers who can work at home will continue to do so, and field operations will continue to follow public health guidelines for social distancing, face coverings and sanitizing. Options for in person visits remain limited.

Accessing County Services

The courthouse is open from 8:00am to 4:00pm  Monday through Friday for court related and election activities. Public meetings such as commissioner board meetings can be attended in person, although most board and commission members are participating via audio and video conferencing. Many public meetings are livestreamed and archived on the Cook County YouTube site. Please consider watching the meeting via video instead of coming in person.

All other courthouse visits require an appointment, as many staff are working elsewhere. Visitors will go through both a security and health screening process and will be required to wear a face covering. 

Contact information for each department can be found on our website, www.co.cook.mn.us. Following are phone numbers for frequently visited departments. If you receive a recording, please leave a message and someone will return your call as quickly as possible.

  • Assessor: 387-3650
  • Auditor: 387-3640
  • Land Services: 387-3630
  • Public Health and Human Services: 387-3620
  • Recorder: 387-3660
  • Soil and Water: 387-3647
  • Veterans Services: 387-3639

You may also wish to contact these departments:

  • Community Center/Extension Service: 387-3015
  • Emergency Management: 387-3059
  • Highway: 387-3014
  • Sheriff (non-emergency): 387-3030

The Recycling Center is open Monday through Thursday. The Budget Shop remains closed for the time being. We continue to explore ways to resume normal operational hours.

Many Cook County services are available on our website, and questions can often be answered by phone or email. We are working to ensure that all county services are provided as efficiently and effectively as possible for the duration of the pandemic. If you have questions, concerns or suggestions, please feel free to call me at 387-3687.

Be well!

 

County Connections is a column on timely topics and service information from your Cook County government. Cook County – Supporting Community Through Quality Public Service

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