Greene County closes office buildings

Signs were posted on the front doors of the Greene County Office Building on March 19 announcing that the building was being closed to the public due to COVID-19 concerns. All of the county’s facilities have been closed. (Photo by Steve Barrett)

The severity of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has resulted in Greene County government and its many departments – as well as the county courthouse and its offices – to close their doors to the public and make many dramatic changes in their respective operations.

In a release issued on March 16, the Greene County commissioners officially approved a Declaration of Disaster Emergency for the county last week, stating that the declaration “is for funding purposes as effects of the pandemic increase over time.”

The commissioners also announced last week that all public meetings will continue to be live-streamed on the county commissioners’ Facebook account, reducing the need for residents to come to the government building.

On March 19, the commissioners announced that the county office buildings were closed to the public. As of press time, all normal county functions are continuing via e-mail, telephone or U.S. Postal Service.

“Because of this virus, we are strongly encouraging residents seeking services and information to use the county website or to contact departments through phone, mail or email,” Commissioner Mike Belding said.

Belding said that any individuals with an absolute need to visit any department or employee in person can schedule an appointment with the specific office in which they intend to conduct business.

Phone numbers for the commissioners’ office and other county departments are posted on the front door of the county office building and may also be found on the county website, www.co.greene.pa.us. This website is continuously being updated with news regarding COVID-19.

A press release issued on March 19 states that the commissioners and staff have continued coordination with state and national agencies to impede the spread of COVID-19.

“We (the commissioners) believe we are well postured to respond to this pandemic,” the release states. “Our over-arching approach is to flatten the curve on the rate of exposure and maintain patient treatment requirements lower than medical capabilities.”

Updates regarding changes and closings resulting from COVID-19 preparedness for various county departments were also announced.

The county tax office urges prior coordination for Small Games of Chance licenses by calling 724-852-5225 and tax claim visits at 724-852-5232.

Officials also announced that anyone who visits the county office building to pay for tax claims or licenses will be met in the front lobby, and a county representative will be notified and will take payments from there.

County elections office officials are urging voters to utilize the online applications at www.votespa.com to vote via mail-in or absentee ballot for the primary election, which is scheduled for April 28. Voters may also use that website to change voter registration or register to vote. For more information, contact the elections office at 724-852-5230.

The county emergency management and department of emergency services continues to remain responsive to calls; however, 911 dispatchers will be asking additional questions in order to prepare the EMS responders to the possibility of exposure to COVID-19.

Officials said that anyone who feels ill or is exhibiting flu-like symptoms is urged to call their primary care physician. Anyone who intends to go to a hospital is strongly encouraged to call beforehand for guidance from that specific hospital. Washington Healthcare System-Greene can be reached at 724-627-3101.

Emergency Management can also provide additional information pertaining to the response to COVID-19 pandemic and can be reached via email at publicinformation@co.greene.pa.us.

The Greene County Jail has suspended all contact visits until further notice. This applies to all inmate visitors, attorneys, county services and volunteers.

The commissioners also announced that all human service departments are continuing operations, incorporating directions from their state organizations and increasing the use of telephone communications.

Meanwhile, the Greene County Human Services Mental Health Department issued a release addressing concerns regarding the virus’s impact on mental health and well-being.

“While quarantine can prevent or minimize risk to physical health, isolation and fear can contribute to, create or exacerbate mental health concerns,” according to the statement. “In order to nurture our mental wellness in the midst of a global uncertainty, please be aware that preventative measures can minimize the impact this event is having on our mental well-being.”

The statement iterates that “mentally consuming ourselves with the news and updates about the current state of affairs can deplete our emotional wellness and result in depression, anxiety and many other mental health disorders. In general, isolation is a major risk factor for mental illnesses.”

Human Services representatives state that while complying with social distancing, wellness can be maintained by: Staying active, engaging in creative outlets, exercising, participating in enjoyable activities, laughing, deep breathing, meditation, eating healthy, getting a healthy amount of sleep (6 to 9 hours) and staying connected with loved ones.

Greene County has child and adult mental health services available with varying levels of intensity to support recovery. For anyone experiencing a mental health emergency at any time, the following resources are available for immediate help:

Local MH Crisis Line SPHS CARE Center: 1-800-417-9460;

Crisis Text Line: Text PA to 741741; and

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).

In order to obtain information about nonemergency child and adult mental health services available in Greene County, contact the Human Services Mental Health Department, located at 19 S. Washington St. in Waynesburg, at 724-852-5276.

The commissioners said county transportation services will continue to service life-sustaining trips, including medical and food trips.

Greene County Courthouse officials reported that all state courts were ordered to close to the public on March 19 until at least Friday, April 3. In Greene County, this includes the Court of Common Pleas and Magisterial Districts Courts.

More details regarding the closings may be obtained by visiting the county courthouse website, www.greenepacourts.us.

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