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The Dubuque County recorder Oct. 22 urged residents to stay away from county buildings due to a COVID-19 “outbreak” among staff as he issued scathing rebukes of other department heads.

John Murphy reported that staff in “a minimum of three departments” have had confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the past week.

“These departments work closely together, and their department head does not require their staff to wear masks, yet they are still working with the public on a daily basis,” said a press release issued by Murphy, though it did not name specific departments or officials. “For co-workers that were in close contact, it appears that isolating/quarantine is essentially on a voluntary basis, thus exposing other county employees and the public to COVID-19.”

He criticized some unnamed department heads or elected officials as being “lackadaisical about positive tests in their departments, who needs to isolate/quarantine and the use of masks.”

“I am notifying the public because the county refuses to lead, and this allows the public to make the decision for themselves,” Murphy said in the release. “I apologize to the public on behalf of Dubuque County for our inability to act. Hopefully, we can get all three (county) supervisors on the same page, protecting public safety.”

Murphy urged residents to use the mail, online options and available drop boxes for county business.

“I am incredibly disappointed with the county response to COVID and, as a consumer, would be shocked to learn that a public entity is putting their employees and the public in harm’s way,” he said in the release. “I wouldn’t want my friends or family in the building right now, and I feel obligated to express that to the public.”