The Cooper County Commission on Thursday declared a state of emergency to make the county eligible for additional state and federal aid to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.


The state of emergency is in effect for the next 60 days, according to the declaration adopted by the commission.


"The reason for the declaration is so we can qualify for funding and resources that may come down the state or federal government," Presiding Commissioner Don Baragary said.


Cooper County currently does not have a positive case of coronavirus and the declaration is a preventative measure, he said.


"If things were to get worse, we can qualify for help," he said.


Cooper County Courthouse offices remain open regular hours, but the commission is urging the public to conduct business over the phone.


Prior to the declaration, county offices already had hand sanitizer available for the public and staff and offices set up tables to maximize social distancing between the public and staff.


"What we are looking for is continuity of government. We want to be open to provide citizens the services they need to come to the courthouse for, but we are taking precautions," Baragary said.


Vendors and sales people have been barred form entering the courthouse for the time being.


"This is not a drastic measure. We are just being cautious to protect the citizens, employees and elected officials and their families," Baragary said.