Beginning Tuesday, all Fulton city facilities will be closed to the public until further notice, the city announced Monday.
Buildings closing include Fulton City Hall, the Fulton Police Department, Fulton Fulton Fire Department, the city warehouse and Grabb Animal Shelter.
The move follows an increase in COVID-19 cases among city employees in several departments, according to city public information officer Darin Wernig and Director of Administration Bill Johnson.
Johnson said he's not sure how many cases have been detected but estimated around "five in the last week, week and a half."
Appointments may be made with specific departments on a limited basis for issues that can't be resolved over the phone or at Fulton City Hall's drive-thru window, Johnson said. Residents needing to pay their utility bill can use the drive-thru window or drop boxes at city hall and on Court Street. Also, bills can be paid by mail or online at fultonmo.org.
Fulton City Council meetings will continue to take place in person at Fulton City Hall and will be open to the public, Johnson said. Commission meetings will be open to the public as well. The next city council meeting is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 12.
In hopes of cutting down coronavirus cases among city employees, the city is implementing a number of measures:
Asking employees to be more diligent about washing hands and sanitizing work areas.
Limiting out-of-town travel on city business.
Designating one city employee to pick up needed parts and materials from out of town.
Asking employees to limit inter-departmental mingling.
"I do realize there have to be exceptions to all of those rules," Johnson said.
It's currently unclear how many cases of COVID-19 are present among Fulton residents — the city hasn't received an updated count from the Callaway County Health Department since midway through last week, Johnson said. The last publicly posted update, Dec. 29, noted 120 active cases within Fulton city limits (excluding the Fulton Reception and Diagnostic Center and Fulton's two colleges.)
As of Dec. 31, the Callaway County Health Department's CallawayCOVID19.com website stated there were 448 active cases within Callaway County. That update also noted two additional COVID-19-related deaths, bringing the county's total to 30. According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, 3,869 Callaway County residents have tested positive for the disease since the pandemic began.
"Please take it seriously," Johnson urged.