Johnson County declares state of emergency, places restrictions on gatherings of 250+ people

“The actions that we had to take in the past several weeks have been the most difficult decisions that I’ve had to make, that all of us on the commission had to make,” said County Chair Ed Eilert. File photo.

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Johnson County Chair Ed Eilert on Friday declared a state of emergency as a result of to the coronavirus pandemic, a move that allows the country government to access resources to aid personnel responding to the illness.

Additionally, the declaration gives Eilert the authority to establish rules designed to limit the potential spread of the disease. Among those are a declaration prohibiting public gatherings of more than 250 people.

Exceptions to the prohibition include:

  • Governmental and judicial functions
  • Healthcare facilities
  • Private business operations
  • Religious and faith-based activities
  • Weddings and funerals.

The state of local disaster emergency is in effect through Thursday, March 19. The Board of County Commissioners may chose to extend the declaration at that time.

The county has launched a website with information about the emergency declaration as well as a list of changes to county business as a result of the situation. Those include:

  • Johnson County Mental Health Center: Medication refill requests by phone through April 17 and rescheduling appointments for those impacted by illness.
  • Johnson County Appraiser’s Office: The office is suggesting appraisal appeal hearings by phone instead of in person, or rescheduling.
  • Voter registration online is being encouraged. More information is available at jocoelection.org/registration
  • Johnson County Library reminds patrons that eLibrary services, including eBooks, eAudiobooks, eNewspapers and eMagazines, are available 24/7 at jocolibrary.org/elibrary.
  • Johnson County Wastewater customers are encouraged to conduct all business over the phone or online. The JCW Customer Service Center number is 913-715-8590.  Staff is available to assist Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  For sewer emergencies, call 913-715-8600.  Operations staff is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Johnson County Motor Vehicles encourages residents to renew and conduct some other business online or via U.S. Postal Service. Otherwise, please utilize the virtual line management system at jocogov.org/residents/vehicles before coming into an office. Do not come in until the system notifies you to head to the office. If you miss your turn, you can rejoin the line virtually. 
  • The court’s Help Center will be closed to in-person consultations. Assistance is available online and by phone.

Departments announce changes for employees, interactions with public

The county is also having all of its departments review their employee protocols and how employees interact with the public. Changes announced by Johnson County Government Friday include:

  • Beginning Monday, meal and socialization opportunities will be suspended at congregate meal sites. The Home Delivered Meals program (Meals on Wheels) will continue as normal. All volunteers are being screened for illness. Shelf-stable meals have been ordered for program recipients, so each person has up to 11 meals on hand. Human Service’s Catch-A-Ride program will suspend all rides from volunteer drivers, with the exception of currently scheduled client transport to dialysis or chemotherapy. The department’s Housing Services program will involve screening of homeowners/renters prior to visits.
  • If you have a traffic ticket from the Highway Patrol or Johnson County Sheriff’s Office and have been ordered to appear in court in March or April, you can contact the District Court and ask for a continuance to a later date. You can resolve the ticket by calling the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office at 913-715-3011.
  • The Johnson County Law Library is closed to the public and attorneys. However, limited services are available via email from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday at JOCOLawlib@gmail.com.
  • The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office has suspended all visitations to the general public at both Detention facilities until further notice. Legal visits are still permissible at this time.
  • Additionally, fingerprinting services are suspended until further notice.
  • All tours and events, including the Sheriff’s Office Citizen’s Academy, have been postponed.
  • Johnson County MED-ACT has canceled and postponed all Hands-Only CPR, Bleeding Control and distracted driving awareness programming until further notice. Enrollees will be contacted for rescheduling. The department has also canceled and will reschedule all public celebrations such as retirement ceremonies and promotion ceremonies.
  • Johnson County K-State Research and Extension has canceled all programs and events for two weeks.
  • The Johnson County Library volunteers have been instructed not to report for duty at this time.
  • All use of public library meeting, conference and study rooms is suspended.
  • All library-sponsored programs and events are canceled through March 31, including the Friends of Johnson County Library Book Sale at Central Library scheduled for March 12-14.
  • Friends Bookstores are closed.
  • Book donations will not be accepted.
  • Jury trials (civil and criminal) scheduled through May 1 are continued, pending further order of the court. Those who have received a summons for trials from March 16-May 1, do not need to report to the courthouse. Marriage ceremonies will not be scheduled during this time. Contact the court for further information.
  • Johnson County Developmental Supports volunteer programs are suspended for the time being.
  • If individuals receive residential support from JCDS and normally receive day services in a larger setting, such as the Elmore Center, they will be temporarily supported in their homes during the day.
  • Johnson County Park & Recreation District has cancelled tournaments, performances and numerous programs. As they finalize plans they will release additional information.