Bannock County driver’s license division shuts down due to COVID-19 outbreak
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POCATELLO — Following a rash of positive COVID-19 tests, the Bannock County Sheriff’s Office has shut down its driver’s license division.
The shutdown occurred at 2 p.m. Tuesday, after four of the six employees — the entire full-time staff — in the driver’s license division tested positive, according to Sheriff Tony Manu. The shutdown is expected to last until at least Aug. 2.
“Currently, we have other staff members being tested to see how widespread it is in that division,” Manu said. “But as it stands now, there is not enough staffing to continue providing that service.”
All the employees who tested positive are symptomatic and “sickly,” Manu said.
“To what extent, I’m not sure,” the sheriff added. “Enough to raise concern, and to prompt them to stay home.”
Though the plan is to reopen the driver’s license division on Aug. 2, that date is tentative pending further testing and proper quarantining.
For the time being, anyone with a driver’s license that has expired or will expire soon is encouraged to seek assistance in other counties. Manu has contacted neighboring Power and Bingham counties, alerting them to a possible influx of Bannock County customers.
Residents with appointments already scheduled during the window in which the driver’s license division will be shut down cannot be helped in Bannock County. Calls will also be unanswered, as no one will be working in the driver’s license offices for these two weeks.
Manu is unsure at this time if the sheriff’s office will be mandating any safety precautions once the division is reopened.
“I think that’s kinda premature at this point,” he said. “I’m not an expert, but I’m gonna take precautions in the areas that we can control.”
As far as further infestation within the sheriff’s office staff, Manu will cross that bridge if and when he arrives at it, though the driver’s license staff and staff in other wings, he said, rarely interact if ever.
And while many of the functions carried out by the Bannock County Sheriff’s Office are essential, the driver’s license division is one that can be shut down, for safety of staff and public.
“It’s problematic, in my eyes, to put the public at risk,” Manu said. “So, I think it’s the only wise thing to do, to stay closed until we get them properly quarantined.”