A Marion County employee has tested positive for COVID-19, Marion County Judge Leward LaFleur reported late Thursday.

LaFleur said he was notified Thursday that the employee had had direct contact with another individual who had tested positive for COVID-19.

“The employee has since also tested positive for COVID-19,” he indicated.

County officials said the employee’s department head took immediate action to protect the welfare and health of the public and county employees in two ways, by closing the office to the public immediately and by notifying the county judge’s office and the emergency management coordinator, which is also Interim Sheriff David Capps.

“I applaud those efforts,” said LaFleur.

“With this virus becoming something that we will have to deal with now and in the future, the transparency of that office will hopefully help save countless people from exposure,” said LaFleur.

The county judge did not disclose which department the infected employee worked in, but several hours before the announcement was made the county tax office posted a notice on Facebook that the tax office would be closed to the public until further notice.

All county employees were tested the same day.

“We didn’t wait for the state to let us know we had a positive test. The employee reported it to their department head today,” he said Thursday.

“We started immediately testing that department, the sheriff’s department, the staff at the courthouse (that the employee may have come in contact with); and we’ve gotten 80 percent of the test results back for the rest of the Marion County employees, and we’re still waiting on a few,” the county judge shared.

“The sheriff did a phenomenal job getting everyone on the same page, and scheduling people to be tested,” LaFleur applauded. “He took all the necessary steps. He’s done a phenomenal job at trying his very best to keep people as safe as possible.”

“The department head that reported it absolutely did the right thing letting the emergency management coordinator and my office know that it had happened so that we can take the necessary steps to prevent further exposure.”

LaFleur was happy to report that of the test results that have been returned, all have been negative, so far.

“We have not had any positive result from anyone that had contacted with the employee,” he said.

The county judge said the case of the county employee really hit home. He asked for continued prayers for the employee and Marion County.

“When the Texas Department of State Health Services calls and says you have another case of COVID 19, usually it’s vague information,” Judge LaFleur said. “It’s a lot different when it hits home and is someone you interact with typically on a daily basis, and you know them and you know their family and work alongside them.

“It’s hits a different chord and lets you know it isn’t over and we need to keep our guard up,” he said of the virus.”

The case served as a reminder that the virus doesn’t discriminate.

“With all the things that are happening in the world today, this virus, it doesn’t care about any of those things,” said LaFleur. “We’ve got to keep our guard up to some extent as we’re trying to open the state back up, we’ve just got to be mindful and be safe.”

LaFleur encourages county residents to continue following Centers for Disease Control recommendations to help prevent the spread of the virus.

He said urges anyone experiencing symptoms such as fever, coughing or difficulty breathing or think they have been exposed to a person with COVID-19 in the last 14 days to contact a healthcare provider immediately.