It’s a waiting game right now among Lycoming County government departments as cases of the coronavirus have yet to appear, but fears seem to rise.
With no reported cases yet, Jeffrey Hutchins, county director of Public Safety, said he is continually in contact with the state Department of Health and Safety as well as other state and federal health agencies.
“We don’t have all the answers, but we are planning,” Hutchens said.
County Chief Clerk Matt McDermott said Thursday he plans to hold a meeting with county department heads Friday morning to discuss the county’s procedure should cases be diagnosed locally.
Specific concerns have been raised by the county courts and justice systems.
“Prisons are pretty much a petri dish (of germs),” said Ed McCoy, chief probation officer for the county. McCoy said it is not uncommon for his officers to travel far away from the county, often into areas with the coronavirus.
Two adult probation officers recently traveled to a prison on Staten Island, New York. The region has been hit with over 1,000 coronavirus cases, and while none had been reported in the prison, the correction officers wore masks and concern was high.
Probation and sheriffs deputies are also often called to travel to counties along Pennsylvania’s eastern coast, the state’s main region with coronavirus cases, according to Sheriff Mark Lusk.
Lusk said he is seriously considering drastic action to limit prison transport outside the county for a time. While some counties have begun video conferencing their court hearings as much as possible, Lusk said Lycoming County has yet to make that move, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility.
“It could be that eventually the SCI system says we are on lock down. We’re not moving anywhere,” Lusk said.