Drew County Tax Collector Tonya Loveless and her staff were barred from the Drew County Courthouse, according to a story in the Advance-Monticellonian Newspaper Wednesday.

The newspaper reported that Drew County Judge Robert Akin made the decision after Loveless and her staff refused to take a COVID-19 test.

In a text message letter to Loveless Tuesday, Akin said that with the office closed, Drew County residents would not be able to obtain verification that they had paid their taxes to obtain or renew vehicle licenses. He went on to say that proceedings to remove her from office for nonfeasance may be initiated and said he hoped that she and her staff would reconsider.

According to the newspaper, the Drew County Courthouse is closed for the rest of the week after an employee of the UA Extension Service tested positive for COVID-19 and Akin said because of the exposure of other county employees to the extension service employee, he decided to close the courthouse so county employees could get tested.

Akin said he made the decision to bar Loveless and her staff after consultations with the Arkansas Department of Health.

In a text message to the newspaper Wednesday, Loveless said she and her staff are following guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and chose to have her employees self-quarantine for 14 days instead of being swabbed for COVID-19. She went on to say that although it is “constitutionally unethical’ to be required to take the test, she would take it so that she could return to her office and “do the job I was elected to do.”

She went on to say that COVID-19 guidelines, rules and regulations are very clear and accessible on websites, and she said she was following those guidelines, “it is unclear to me as to why Judge Robert Akin is having such a hard time following them.”