SPEARFISH — Following Gov. Kristi Noem’s executive order Monday, Spearfish Mayor Dana Boke is urging residents and local businesses to take the threat of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) seriously and help slow the growing threat of community spread infection by following the guidance within the executive order.
“While there are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Lawrence County, I urge everyone to be proactive in preventing the spread of this respiratory disease, currently known to be spread by person-to-person contact, among other methods,” Boke said. “This is a public health emergency, with the President declaring a national emergency and the Governor of our state declaring a state of emergency and now signing an executive order stipulating steps we should all take to help stop the spread. We need to take the recommendations for social distancing seriously.”
The city plans to hold a special a city council meeting scheduled at 4 p.m. today to discuss COVID-19’s impact on the city’s finances, to prioritize capital improvement plan, and to consider an ordinance to “implement certain measures which have been deemed necessary to slow the community spread of COVID-19.”
What those measures are, though, have not been decided.
Noem’s executive order states a number of items that every South Dakotan, employer, business, healthcare organization, and local and municipal government should be doing during the pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued guidance to state and local governments and all citizens recommending steps to prevent community spread and guard against COVID-19, including staying home when ill, practicing social distancing, washing hands, cleaning frequently-touched surfaces, etc.
The executive order encourages all citizens to review and practice the recommended CDC hygiene practices, know the signs and symptoms of COVID-19, and implement social distancing measures. These measures include suspending or modifying business practices that involve 10 or more people to be in an enclosed space where physical separation of at least 6 feet is not possible, as recommended by CDC guidance.
Boke urged every “enclosed retail business that promotes public gatherings” that fall into the following categories to take like measures: restaurants, coffee shops, bars/lounges, breweries, cafes, casinos, health club, recreational or athletic facilities, including gyms, bowling alleys, etc., theaters, venues, other similar businesses of public accommodation. Drive-thru, outside pick-up, and delivery services utilizing proper social distancing and sanitization techniques are encouraged.
“If you can find a creative way to continue with business, but (still comply) with the 10-people guideline, if you can encourage drive-thru and take out and anything like that,” Boke said.
The recommendation for business modification or closure to in-person business does not apply to grocery stores, markets, retail stores, convenience stores, pharmacies, drug stores, food pantries, room service in hotels, health care facilities, crisis centers, and nonprofits offering assistance programs. Boke stressed the importance of every resident taking COVID-19 precautions.
“We all must work together to ‘flatten the curve,’” she said. “Small businesses are our lifeblood, and I do not take lightly the impact that these measures are going to have on our community as a whole.”
Boke said that while officials continues to plan ahead and consider additional measures that may be needed in the future, for the time being, there is no need to mandate business closures, or quarantine measures.
“In this phase of the epidemic, for us, this is what is prudent,” she said.
“We are balancing the mental health and the well-being of our residents with the need to take social distancing seriously,” City Administrator Mike Harmon added. “We’re not ready to make that decision yet, but it is a consideration as we move forward and learn about the potential for (a) community spread (infection) in Lawrence County.”
Boke explained that the term “community spread” refers to a case or cases of the virus being positively identified within the community, which cannot be traced to an exposure source from outside that community. Such was the case in Huron, which caused the local government there to pass resolutions closing all bars and restaurants to the public Monday. Boke said while Spearfish officials are not yet to a point of having to make a decision like that, the guidelines laid out by Noem’s order are a good reminder of what we can all do to take ownership of our current situation and be proactive during this time; and hopefully, not come to that point at all.
“At this point we are giving guidelines in order to flatten the curve, and in order to protect our neighbors, this is what we must do to make everyone safe,” she said.
Although the governor’s executive order does make these guidelines official governmental recommendations, Boke said that many businesses and organizations have already taken many of these steps of their own volition.
“There are many, many businesses that took these steps way before the governor (or the city of Spearfish suggested) these guidelines. So I just want to thank them for that, they are being creative,” she said. “This is not going to be an overnight thing; we have eight weeks from what the governor said in her press conference that we need to be looking at to sustain these actions in order to reduce the virus spread.”
To that end Boke also praised the communication efforts being maintained between city officials and essential community organizations during this uncertain and ever-changing situation.
I want to thank Monument Health and all of our health care providers, the Spearfish School District, and Black Hills State, we’ve had great communication,” she said. “We are in constant communication ensuring that we are all on the same page and that we are providing for each other’s needs so that there isn’t anything missed.”
To help streamline the flow of information about the virus, the city has launched a specific COVID-19 webpage on its website, cityofspearfish.com, where residents can find out the latest information, request information about how to access needed resources, or find out more about how they or their organization can help with the needs in the community.
Visit the page at https://www.cityofspearfish.com/723/COVID-19.
To read all of today's stories, Click here or call 642-2761 to subscribe to our e-edition or home delivery.