Lawrence County Recorder Dies of COVID-19; Everton Schools Go Remote

by James McNary, Articles Editor

More deaths have been reported from COVID-19 over the past week in area counties, with the disease taking the life of one Lawrence County’s elected officials.

The Everton R-III School District in Dade County also made the decision to move to remote instruction on Nov. 4.

Gary Emerson, Lawrence County recorder of deeds since 2018 and the longtime county clerk before that, died of complications from COVID-19 on Nov. 5 at Cox South in Springfield after having been hospitalized for several weeks. Emerson was 61.

Emerson’s was just one of three deaths reported in Lawrence County last week from COVID-19; the others were individuals in their 70s, neither associated with long-term care facilities.

On Nov. 5, as the LCHD announced the addition of 28 more positives to the county’s tally, the department updated the public on the situation via its Facebook page.

“Today has been a hard day. Losing another resident and hearing that many of our cases are extremely sick, hospitalized and not doing well is emotionally exhausting for us, so we can’t imagine what these families are going through,” read the LCHD Facebook post.

At last report on Nov. 5, Lawrence County had 32 confirmed deaths from COVID-19 and 141 positive cases in isolation, with 1,169 released from isolation out of 1,342 total cases.

In Dade County, which had largely escaped the initial onslaught of the Coronavirus-caused illness, the number of deaths and positive cases continued to rise.

At Everton schools, Supt. Mike Wallace said the district has had several staff members quarantined or otherwise not feeling well.

“After consulting with Dade County Health Department officials, the decision to move instruction from on-site/seated, to online was determined to be in the best interest of our school,” said Wallace.

The district has a number of mobile hotspots and laptop computers available for checkout; meal service will be offered in a similar format to that offered over the summer. Wallace said the goal is to return to in-person instruction by Nov. 19.

As of Nov. 6, there have been 18 deaths from COVID-19 among Dade County residents, including three reported on Nov. 4, with 58 cases currently active and one county resident hospitalized. Out of 268 confirmed positives in Dade County, 191 are considered to have recovered so far.

“We encourage practicing social distancing, wearing a mask, washing hands often and staying home if you’re sick or running a fever!” read a Dade County Health Department statement. “Please follow guidelines if you are in isolation or quarantine.”

“We all have to do our part and work together to stop the spread.”