Early on in the pandemic, cashiers at pharmacies, grocery stores and other retail outlets began doing their business behind transparent Plexiglas shields.

Starting on Thursday, Sept. 3, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners jumped on that bandwagon.

For more than a century, the Guilford County commissioners have set next to each other with no barriers dividing them – but, of course, the worldwide coronavirus has changed that.

At the meeting, a commissioner who looked to his or her side to see a commissioner talking could see them – since the shields were transparent – but not much sound passes through the plastic, so the commissioners had trouble understanding each other during the meeting.

The scenes brought up memories of a “Get Smart” routine in which Smart and the chief would go under the Cone of Silence to discuss a matter no one else should hear – only to discover that they couldn’t understand anything that each other said inside the cone.

At the commissioners meeting, it wasn’t quite that bad, however, Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Jeff Phillips did stop the meeting at one point and address the issue. He noted that he couldn’t hear what several commissioners were saying due to the new setup. He told commissioners to be certain to keep their mouths near their microphones when they spoke.

The Board of Commissioners meeting room is only one place on county grounds where the barriers are being used. County clients can expect to see more and more of the barriers popping up in places used heavily by the public.

Guilford County Facilities Director Dan Durham said the transparent barriers had recently also been installed at the county’s courthouse on the same plaza as the Old Guilford County Court House where the commissioners meet.

One reason for stepped up measures is that recently a county official who works with the Board of Commissioners tested positive for COVID-19.