After almost exactly two years, Guilford County government looks like it’s finally moving past COVID-19.
The county has removed the Plexiglas barriers that separated the nine commissioners from each other at the dais in the meeting room in the Old Guilford County Court House, mask requirements on almost all county employees have been lifted, and, there was zero sign of any social distancing when the Board of Commissioners met last week for their annual retreat.
Just a couple of months ago, the county’s residents were testing positive for the disease at a rate of over 20 percent – more than four times the 5 percent mark that county health officials consider “low spread” in the community.
Guilford County Clerk to the Board Robin Keller said that, though the plexiglass barriers have been taken down, the holders for the large shields remained in place since COVID-19 can shoot up after appearing to have all but gone away.
“The barriers are in storage in case we need them again,” Keller said.
Guilford County Manager Mike Halford had required county employees in county buildings to wear masks, however, that requirement is no longer in place.
Guilford County government also had a vaccination rule in place for employees – one that caused some of them to quit their jobs. If an employee refused to get vaccinated, then that employee had to be tested frequently to continue coming to work.
Some of the county’s 2,500 or so employees quit their jobs due to that rule – and one longtime parks employee wrote an impassioned letter to the Board of Commissioners about her major concerns regarding the vaccine requirement.
Perhaps a more telling sign is that, when the Board of Commissioners held their annual retreat on Thursday, March 17 and Friday, March 18, COVID-19 was barely a topic of discussion. For the last two years, the pandemic, its consequences and the county’s response have been the unwavering focus of the commissioners.
This year, the board held its retreat in Bur-Mil-Clubhouse in Greensboro – the same room where it held the 2020 retreat just as the pandemic was hitting the county. At that 2020 retreat, the board and county health and emergency officials were preparing for the pandemic. When the board held the 2022 retreat last week in the clubhouse, the only remaining signs of the COVID-19 pandemic were a few very small bottles of hand sanitizers placed on the tables.