The city of Paducah has temporarily closed City Hall and other buildings, amid an ongoing surge of COVID-19 cases in Kentucky and the nation.
The city buildings closed 5 p.m. Friday to the public and these closures are set to last three weeks, with the plan to reopen on Dec. 14. It comes after Gov. Andy Beshear issued restrictions Wednesday that are aimed to reduce the increase of COVID-19 cases. As of Friday afternoon, Beshear reported 3,825 new cases in Kentucky and 20 new deaths.
Aside from City Hall, the city announced that the Paducah Police Department lobby, fire stations, Public Works Department lobby and the Parks and Recreation offices are also closing to the public. However, city services will still continue and staff may be contacted through phone, email or online.
“I just want to make sure if anyone is trying to contact City Hall that you know you can always call our phone number, 270-444-8800,” Paducah Mayor Brandi Harless said, during Thursday’s community COVID-19 press briefing.
“The property tax payments are being collected. While a lot of people have shown up in person to do that, there is also a drop box at City Hall that you can utilize. And, if you need a permit or to speak with Fire Prevention, you can also call City Hall to reach them.”
On Friday, City Manager Jim Arndt acknowledged that it’s possible the three-week closure could be extended.
“I think the intent of what (commissioner for the Department for Public Health) Dr. (Steven) Stack and Gov. Beshear are trying to do is to decrease contacts. Therefore, decrease the transmission of COVID-19, therefore the numbers will go back down and then we can reopen before the Christmas holidays,” he told The Sun.
“That’s why I think it’s very important for people to kind of take heed to what he’s doing now. Because he’s basically saying, ‘Let’s do what we can to fight back against the virus for a concentrated three-week period to stop the surge, try to get ahead of the surge and stop it.’ ”
Arndt said the city is trying to communicate with its public to be safe and make smart choices.
“Be healthy, continue to mask up, continue to practice hand hygiene, social distancing and, hopefully, by leading by example, other businesses will do the same,” he said.
“We’re encouraging our workers who can to work remotely, making sure that we do not have a drop off in services. And then, of course, looking back to what we did through late spring, early summer — we were very effective on providing services, even during a time where our facilities were closed to the public.”
In a news release, the city also reminded residents that property tax payments are due Nov. 30. As Harless mentioned, the payments can be dropped off at a drop-box on the front of the Fifth Street side of City Hall.
The general phone number for city government is 270-444-8800. City employees will take calls and assist people with reaching the right department or service, during regular business hours. The callers are asked to leave a message, if it’s after hours.
People who need a permit from the Fire Prevention Division can call 270-444-8527. Information will be taken over the phone, while payments can be made through drop-box outside the building. Permits are then mailed to the holder.
For plans that need reviewing, the city asks for them to be sent digitally if that’s possible. Otherwise, people should contact the receiving department to make arrangements. Visit paducahky.gov for contact information.
As for the McCracken County Courthouse, Judge-Executive Craig Clymer told The Sun on Friday that it’s staying open for now.
“We had some discussion about it,” he said. “Looked at the governor’s order. Don’t see where it mandated that public offices close and so, we’re going to stay open for now.”
Clymer explained that one of the main concerns had regarded a jury trial, which was scheduled for Monday. He was concerned about bringing “probably” 80 to 100 people into the courthouse. He also noted they may be reluctant to serve jury duty at the moment.
“The jury trial got postponed and so, that helped ease that concern, so we’re going to stay open,” he added.
Overall, it will be keeping tabs on the state’s orders.
“We’ll be watching to see what comes down the pike,” Clymer said. “It changes fairly often.”