Panic buying across the country has resulted in a problem keeping shelves stocked at grocery stores. This recent photo at Ken’s Food Fair in Britton shows a bare shelf usually occupied by milk choices. (Sarah Grupe Photo)
COVID-19 Ramps Up
Cases of the coronavirus outbreak continue to ramp up in South Dakota and across the country, resulting in additional changes for Marshall County area residents.
No coronavirus cases have been reported to date in Marshall County, but there was a case in Brown County this week. State-wide the number of cases stood at 30, 13 of those in Beadle County, with one death. That compares to 11 cases a week ago. Nationally, numbers took a big jump, going from 5,891 and 99 deaths as of 3 p.m. on March 18, to 52,546 cases and 674 deaths as of 3 p.m. Tuesday, March 23. There were 415,063 cases world-wide with 18,574 deaths.
Gov. Kristi Noem announced on Tuesday that she is recommending schools be closed through Friday, May 1. The South Dakota High School Activities Association has also cancelled all spring sports practices and competitions through Sunday, May 3. The SDHSAA Board of Directors will meet soon to decide on suspended/postponed events, including the state basketball tournaments.
City Passes Resolution
In response to the growing threat the City of Britton passed a resolution at a special meeting Tuesday to limit public interaction. Most local businesses had already made decisions to close on-site food and beverage services, but as of 5:30 p.m. Tuesday the city resolution prohibited all restaurants, coffee houses, bars, and other public places from offering food and beverages for on-site consumption.
The businesses may continue to operate in order to provide off-site service and should implement procedures to ensure social distancing and operate in compliance with federal and state health guidance.
Other businesses directed to close and cease operations in the resolution include all recreational facilities, athletic facilities, movie theaters, and music or entertainment venues.
The resolution does not include grocery stores, retail stores that offer food, convenience stores, pharmacies, drug stores, food pantries, or room service in hotels.
This resolution will remain in effect for 60 days at which time it will automatically be repealed. It may be repealed at an earlier date by resolution of the city council. Any violations of the ordinance are subject to penalties according to city ordinance. See the full resolution on page 9.
The Marshall County Commission also moved on Tuesday to lock down the highway shop, Community Building, and the Courthouse. Minimal staff will still be on hand to answer phone calls but all business must be done by phone, email, or mail.
Senior meals will still be served at the back east door of the Community Building. Those planning to must call by 9 a.m. and arrange a time to pick up meals for a recommended cost of $4.50. Meals are also still being delivered to homes. FunAfter Fifty is closed.
The Marshall County Food Pantry will continue with its usual Friday and Saturday hours from 10 a.m.-noon but will have a table set up outside with boxes of food for different size families. Those picking up food are asked to wait in their car until directed to pick up a box with only one person being served at a time and distancing of at least 10 feet.
Ken’s Food Fair in Britton is continuing regular hours and recommends that people that are more at-risk concerning the coronavirus shop during the least busy times between 8-9 a.m. and 8-9 p.m. Assistant Manager Blake Clarke encouraged people to buy what they need and not to panic.
“We did get put on an allocation of how many items we can buy per truck,” said Clarke, “and we do have a lot of items that are out of stock because of panic buying. There is plenty of food in the supply system, but if people panic it puts stress on everything from top to bottom. If people would understand that they should get only what they need, there will be plenty for everyone and it would be much appreciated by everybody.”
Clarke did say that the store has put limits on the purchases of potatoes and toilet paper. The store is also encouraging shoppers to practice social distancing and be mindful of surroundings.
“It’s tough in a store setting and there is no perfect way to do it,” concluded Clarke. “But we are wiping down tills between every customer and doing as much cleaning as we possibly can.”
Terry Price of the Price Funeral Chapel has also made changes. No gatherings of more than 10 people are allowed and activities are limited to immediate family. Gatherings can be livestreamed on Facebook and if a family chooses, a follow-up celebration of life can be held at a later date.
Lobbies of all area banks have been closed. First Savings Bank in Britton does still have a window in their front entrance open for business. Drive-through lanes are still open and online banking, or business by email or phone is as usual.
The Norstar Credit Union has taken the precautionary step of splitting staff into two shifts to eliminate possible exposure to all employees. The business is still open for business regular hours by phone or email and still seeing people by appointment and checking the night drop box several times per day. First State Bank is also seeing people by appointment.
Cups, Flowers by Anita, and Snapper’s Dry Bean, who all served food, have temporarily closed. The VFW and Britton Country Club continue to offer take-out food, while food for take-out is also available at Holland’s C-Store and Cliff’s 1-Stop.
Horton, Inc. has adjusted its shifts to help protect workers. There is now a break between shift changes so that workers do not interact with one another when ending and starting shifts.
Farm Service Agency offices and Marshall County Conservation Service offices are closed to the public but workers continue to staff the office to handle calls and emails. Holland Bros. Oil is offering to pump gas for customers between 10-11 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursday.
Quarve Drug no longer requires patients to sign for prescriptions, eliminating that source of contact. Customers can call ahead and prescriptions will be delivered curbside or delivered to their homes.
Most churches have cancelled Sunday and Lenten services and many are now live-streaming those services. Check with your church for details.
Today (Wednesday) was the last day that the Britton Dental Center will be open until at least May 2. Dental work is still being done at the Aberdeen office. Vision Care is also closed indefinitely. Daycares have also announced closures.
The Britton City Council and Marshall County Commission have both held meetings in the past week and have set up video and audio conferencing capabilities so that area residents may still participate. That will likely be the protocol for all public bodies for the near future.
Leaders Host Call
A conference call that included Emergency Manager Todd Landmark, Marshall County Healthcare Center Administrator Nick Fosness, GLAD Executive Director Lindsey Kimber, County Auditor Megan Biel, and Britton Mayor Clyde Fredrickson was held on Thursday afternoon. Nearly 300 callers overwhelmed the conference call line that necessitated setting up a different line. Information was not available to all those callers to get on the second line but about 37 people participated. Future calls are planned.
Landmark said that the CDC and the South Dakota Department of Health web sites are good sources, and he said that the local hospital and emergency management are working on Facebook pages to get good local information out. He noted that residents may also call 211 for information.
Landmark stressed that there is no need for panic. “The numbers are going to spike because of the testing issues they were having, but there is no reason to panic. Our first responders are also all taking new precautions and we have worked on plans for situations like this and trained for them on a regular basis.” Fosness asked area residents to be accountable for their actions.
“It’s not the time to be social when we shouldn’t necessarily be social. What we do could affect a lot of people and we need to live responsibly. We should hold ourselves and our families accountable.”
Fosness also stressed the importance of continuing to support local businesses.
“It’s really good for the community to seek ways to be creative to keep supporting small businesses. They can do that by take-out orders or gift cards. Main Street businesses are fighting the coronavirus, but they are also fighting to keep their doors open.”
The City of Britton closed City Hall, the Britton Area Event Center, and the library last week Wednesday after initially planning to keep those facilities open in a limited capacity. Residents may still check out books at the library by calling ahead and picking up books at the door. Library hours remain the same from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturdays.
“It’s not fun sheltering in place, but we have to try to minimize the amount of contact we have with other people,” stressed Fredrickson. “An individual can affect 100 others very easily without even realizing it.”
Biel said that the county is waiving mailing fees for license plate tabs and can accept credit card payments over the phone. Kimber said she is working with programs that will help support businesses dealing with closures.
Several area residents have also stepped up to assist others and to provide activity for house-bound kids and families
Ṫhe Shane and Angela Alberts family of rural Hecla has committed to helping deliver groceries, pick up prescriptions, or doing other things that people cannot do for themselves. Anyone needing assistance may call 308- 991-4422.
“We’ve raised our children (Nathanial, Jonathan, and Elijah) to be very proactive with service, and this is a way to help,” said Angela. “We’ve worked it out with the grocery store so people can call in and give them a payment method and give them a list, and we will pick up the groceries. We’re also here to take people if they have places to go, run errands, or maybe just give a word of encouragement. We think that community spirit and people doing things for each other is what is important.”
Angie Hannasch and Amy Fox have worked together to provide some local entertainment with a stuffed animal hunt.
“Let’s keep everybody moving and getting fresh air, but at a safe distance (six feet is the guideline),” said the duo. “Just place a stuffed animal in your window for kids to “hunt” on their walks. If you find a stuffed animal in a window, post your favorite pictures on Facebook for fun.” Check out Angie’s Facebook page for a tracking sheet to keep a tally of the different kinds of animals seen.