The Madison County Board of Supervisors made several moves this week to further protect county employees and taxpayers from spreading COVID-19 on county property.

The board voted in favor of posting signage at entrances to all county businesses that reads “No mask, no entrance” after a lengthy discussion on the feasibility of enforcing such a policy.

Later, the board also voted to extend the county’s COVID-19 state of emergency proclamation for another 30 days, purchased two Zoom licenses for the county courts and accepted the low bid for plexiglass barriers to separate county employees from taxpayers in various county offices.

All three measures passed unanimously.

The motions came after county Emergency Management Director Albert Jones gave a brief update on the number of cases of the  coronavirus in Madison, which has grown exponentially over the past two weeks.

As of Wednesday, Madison County had reported 573 confirmed cases of the virus with 18 deaths. Those numbers include 89 cases and 11 deaths in long-term care facilities.

Board President Gerald Steen agreed with his fellow supervisors that people generally should be wearing masks in office settings, but raised several issues with requiring the employees and taxpayers to do so.

“I’m in favor of this,” Steen said. “But I don’t like that we have not talked with the elected officials who actually run these offices.”

Chancery Clerk Ronny Lott spoke up to say he had no problem with the proposal.

District 5 Supervisor Paul Griffin, who has been wearing a mask to meetings for weeks and presented the motion in question, said his vote wouldn’t come out of a lack of respect, but self-preservation.

“I’m not wearing a mask to protect me,” Griffin said. “I’m asking you to wear a mask to do the same for me. I don’t care whether they are an elected official. I’m going to wear mine. When I get out of the truck, I’ve got my mask on. This is a life or death situation and has nothing to do with respect.”

District 1 Supervisor Sheila Jones, who is married to a medical doctor, said she’s wearing her mask because her husband told her it was necessary.

Sheriff Randy Tucker weighed in by saying he had been providing his deputies and other employees with masks, but that he would need about 24 hours to get the signage up and inform them of the new rule.

The two other COVID-19 related votes were passed in separate motions. The Zoom subscriptions totaled $119.92 each.

The plexiglass barriers, purchased from Hederman Brothers in Madison, cost a total of $7,385 and will take about two weeks to install. The order for barriers lists placement throughout several county offices.