Piatt County's chief health official has told the county board that meeting in person is now a possibility, but recommended that sessions also be open remotely, via Zoom or other conferencing software.

In response to a request from Piatt County Board Chairman Ray Spencer for guidance after the state moved into Phase 4 of the Recovery Illinois plan, DeWitt/Piatt Bi-County Health Administrator David Remmert said, “I would recommend that you maintain an option of either coming physically to the meeting or allowing participants to Zoom into the meeting at their discretion. This way, all participants are able to continue their civic responsibilities as dictated by their personal comfort level.”

Phase 4 allows gatherings of 50 people or less. Remmert also had the following advice for in-person public meetings:

–if there is any potential whatsoever of having a crowd size of over 50, precautions should remain in place to reduce the size of the group;

–for those who meet physically in person, please remember to wear a mask and maintain a 6-foot distance between others;

–ensure that surfaces are cleaned between or after meetings; and

–if possible, a best practice would be to have a symptom questionnaire and temperature screening at the door. Anyone with positive symptoms or a fever should not participate in the meeting.

Remmert said he shared the same guidelines with the DeWitt County board.

The Monticello city council is planning to meet in-person, with safety measures in place, on July 13. Others are expected to follow suit as the summer progresses. Some entities, including the Monticello school board and Bement village board, have kept their meetings open to the public through the COVID-19 crisis, with some board members attending remotely.

Zoom-only for now

The county board is planning on a Zoom-only meeting Wednesday morning, something State's Attorney Dana Rhoades said may not be covered anymore under the governor's emergency orders.

A judge in Clay County last week ruled in favor of state Rep. Darren Bailey, who had alleged that Gov. J.B. Pritzker's emergency powers had lapsed on April 8, and any executive orders after that date relating to COVID-19 are void. Pritzker's office said they will appeal. There is also a question how wide-ranging the Clay County ruling is.

Rhoades said the county should cover itself and “amend its bylaws to allow for remote meetings. I sent some information on this in March. I would be happy to prepare the appropriate paperwork. It’s very easy to do. Both Douglas and Moultrie Counties have already done this,” said Rhoades.

It is not likely the bylaw change could occur Wednesday, since that issue is not on the published agenda.