The Natrona County Commission on Thursday appointed a Casper physician to assist the two other county health officers to respond to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

The commissioners during a special meeting passed a resolution naming Dr. Martin Ellbogen as a temporary deputy Natrona County Health Officer to assist lead Health Officer Dr. Mark Dowell and Dr. Ghazi Ghanem, all of whom are infectious disease specialists.

Ellbogen was not present at the meeting.

County Attorney Eric Nelson said Ellbogen already has been helping Dowell and Ghanem with his work in nursing homes.

The Casper-Natrona County Health Department asked the commission to officially appoint him as a deputy health officer, Easton said. "This gives him the legal basis and authority as delegated by the county health officer and provides him some measure of protection individually."

After the COVID-19 emergency passes, the commission can rescind his title, he added.

In other business, Easton said state law requires county offices to remain open during regular business hours and the offices have no authority to eject customers for health reasons such as coughing and sneezing.

Hendry said the county offices do a lot of business.

Commissioners, Easton said, would need to pass a resolution to close county offices if they believed that would be best course of action for public safety.

County Clerk Tracy Good and Treasurer Tom Doyle discussed how they are coping to minimize human contact.

Good said the clerk's office doors are closed, but the offices are still open.

However, people who wish to register to vote or obtain a marriage license must make an appointment in advance, and only one customer at a time would be served, Good said.

Her staff makes it a point to deal with the public at the recommended social distance, she said.

Doyle said 400 to 500 people a day visit the the treasurer's and related offices such as motor vehicle registration and titles.

So far, customers have been keeping safe distances from each other, he said.

However, he's heard from some county residents who've told him that they've been laid off and wonder how they will make a payment in the next month.

Treasurers don't have the ability to waive those payments, Doyle added.

Hendry reminded the commissioners, other elected officials and department heads that county business could change depending on the progress of the novel coronavirus.

"This is a really fluid situation that's for sure," he said.

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