White Castle Town Hall set to reopen after COVID shutdown

Staff Report
The White Castle Town Hall was set to reopen this week after an outbreak of coronavirus. The municipal facility was shut down 17 days, according to Mayor John Morris.

Business was scheduled to resume Wednesday at the White Castle Town Hall after seven cases of COVID-19 forced its closure for nearly three weeks.

Four employees who work inside the office were diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, along with three who worked outside the facility, according to Mayor John Morris.

Morris ordered the municipal building closed to comply with state precautions

“It almost wiped out my entire staff,” he said. “We’re coping pretty well now, and we’ve finally been able to get town hall back to where we’re fully open.”

The outbreak proved particularly frustrating for Morris in light of the precautions the town took to safeguard the buildings when the pandemic began in early March.

He said the town had given out masks, hand sanitizer and information booklets on COVID at the start of the pandemic.

“Within our town hall, I put in so many tight protocols, from masks in the building and sanitizers all throughout the facility,” Morris said. “At the same time, we installed plexiglass to make sure our people were safe, and to protect the janitorial staff, we didn’t all people to use lobby bathrooms or water fountains.

“But still, when you do so much, you don’t know what’s happened outside in the community,” he said. “We have no clue how this happened.”

One employee remains sidelined, but Morris expects her to make a full recovery.

The uncertainty of each case makes COVID-19 a particularly tough challenge for a community, he said.

“Everyone deals with it in a different way,” Morris said. “Some bounce back fast, while others take time.”

Morris said he is grateful to the town residents for their patience. He said he was left with no choice but to close the building when the employees became sick.

“We didn’t want to take away town hall services, but I have to ensure we protect our workers and our community at all costs,” he said. “We just want people to know that we’re not backing down and we’re going to give the best effort we can give.”

The minimal effect from Tropical Storm Marco and Hurricane Laura’s move in the opposite direction provided a saving grace for the town, he said.

“We’re lucky we didn’t get slammed, especially when so many people were out sick,” Morris said. “We were blessed to have Laura going away from us, but at the same time we offer our prayers and heartfelt sympathies for the people of Lake Charles.”

Work is under way with the town’s youth council to provide care packages for residents in the affected region, he said.