Gallatin County Courthouse File

The sun sets on the Gallatin County Courthouse in this February file photo.

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COVID-19 cases in the Gallatin County Clerk and Recorder’s Office have caused staffing issues that forced the department to temporarily close its office to foot traffic.

County Clerk and Recorder Eric Semerad said he is unsure if people who came into the office would have come in contact with a COVID-19 positive employee. Staff were asked to wear masks beginning last Tuesday and have had other safety measures in the office, like plexiglass dividers at counters where the staff interact with the public.

There is no concrete date for when the Clerk and Recorder’s office will reopen to in-person services.

“The safety of the people in my office and for the public is the primary reason for this closure,” Semerad said.

There are 10 people, including Semerad, who work in the Clerk and Recorder’s Office. Semerad declined to say how many positive cases were reported among the staff, citing privacy concerns.

Semerad also said he is unsure whether the Gallatin County Health Department had conducted contact tracing on the members of his office who tested positive for the virus.

The Gallatin City-County Health Department declined to comment about COVID-19 at the Clerk and Recorder’s Office. There were 466 active cases in Gallatin County as of Monday.

The health department is no longer able to investigate every positive case for contact tracing due to a high active caseload and low staff. Only certain cases — including positive cases involving health care workers, immunocompromised people, students at MSU, and people 65 and older and 18 and younger — will be prioritized for contact tracing.

Gallatin City-County Health Department spokesperson Holly Whaley said that the health department is “following CDC guidance in prioritizing some case investigations.”

No other offices in the Gallatin County Courthouse — which houses many county departments including the Clerk and Recorder’s Office, the county commission, the elections department and others — have closed because of positive COVID-19 cases among employees.

This is no mask requirement for people coming into the Gallatin County Courthouse. Gallatin County spokesperson Whitney Bermes said the county follows CDC guidelines, which recommend people wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status.

While closed to in-person traffic, the Clerk and Recorder’s Office can still perform some services online. Delays in processing records, which staff have to record and file, are likely.

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Alex Miller is the county and state government reporter and can be reached at amiller@dailychronicle.com or by phone at 406-582-2648.

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