Camden Mayor Julian Lott in a press conference said, ” Following the guidelines provided by President Trump for the ‘15 Days to Slow the Spread’ and recommendations from Governor Hutchinson, I have decided to move toward a ‘virtual City Hall’ format for conducting all City business. In today’s world, most of the transactions for our residents and businesses can be done online or arranged via phone, email or drive thru.
To that end, I have decided to close City buildings to the general public effective at 8:00 a.m. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. This closure to the general public will remain in effect until further notice is given.”
Lott went on to say that residents’ questions can and will be answered via phone or email.
City clerk offices will not issue any new business licenses, however renewals should be mailed in with the proper payment. Mayor Lott said the deadline for business license renewal is established by an ordinance and cannot be easily changed.
The Treasurer’s office will be closed to the public, and employees of the city will be paid for work and city bills will be paid.
Lott also stated, “The Code Enforcement building will remain open, however all business should be conducted by telephone or email. The Code Enforcement Officers will continue to conduct inspections to ensure citizens have needed electric and gas utilities.”
Mayor Lott stated that nuisance ordinances will be enforced and projects already under construction will receive the needed inspections to continue with their progress.
Building permit applications can be downloaded at explorecamden.com and submitted online.
Public Works facilities are also closed to the public and only city employees actively engaging in work may enter. The Ouachita Valley Business and Technology Center located on Adams street has closed. City parks are also closed until further notice.
Trash service will continue with no change of service of interruption. The city landfill will remain open.
The Water Department will remain open and take payments through the drive through window. The scheduled flushing of water lines at the end of March will continue.
Lott stated that all emergency services will continue without interruption.
Mayor Lott said he has spoken with James Lee Silliman of and the Ouachita Partnership for Economic Development and that the organization will assist in finding federal and state resources for local businesses and workers affected by covid-19 countermeasures.
Mayor Lott also encouraged residents to check up on people through telephone calls, texts and social media.
He ended by saying, ” Finally I must remind everyone that these actions are only being taken as precautionary measures and as a means to ensure we do our best to abide by the guidelines given to us to help slow the spread of COVID-19. We will continue to update everyone as new information is available.”
Ouachita County Judge Robert McAdoo held a press conference with members of the media a day later saying, “This morning I made an emergency declaration for Ouachita County with the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, not as a state of panic, but as a state of preparedness. We made an emergency declaration and when we’re needed advance services from the state level, that opens up the door to get those services.”
McAdoo said the declaration would be on file in case services were needed from the Arkansas National Guard or Department of Emergency.
Judge McAdoo also clarified the terms “suspicious, presumptive and confirmed cases”.
“When it’s a suspicious, someone’s not feeling well, they have signs of a fever or cough or sneezing, and their travels have taken them outside the county. Then some more indepth questions are asked and it’s determined if they need a swab test,” McAdoo said.
He said the swab test tests for strep, flu and Covid-19, the latter being sent off to a lab, which could take three to five days.
“If someone is deemed to be in suspicion in Ouachita County they automatically go into self containment,” he said.
If the test results some back and it comes back positive it’s deemed as presumptive and sent on to further testing.
McAdoo also said that all entrances besides the handicap entrance to the courthouse have been shut off and now that entrance will be monitored.
“As the courthouse, because we have the county clerk office and the assessors office and also the circuit clerk’s office, there’s sometimes that things have to be filed in a timely manner,” he said.
McAdoo said in these instances, a security guard can deliver the paperwork.
“I felt like it’s time, because we do have a growing number of suspicious cases in Ouachita County,” he said.
Judge McAdoo also said that and new inmate intakes at the Ouachita County Dentention Center are being screened for the virus.
Jail Administrator Cameron Owens told the Camden News that the jail has undergone and extensive cleaning, but the lobby is now restricted from the public and that video chats are available as well as the ability to add money to inmates accounts at www.citytelecoin.com
McAdoo said the recycling center will stay open, as it is an open air facility and does not present the risk of a closed building.