Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

Hunkering Down

Kimball Adjusting To The Reality Of Coronavirus Outbreak

The Nebraska Unicameral reconvened on March 23 after suspending its normal session due to the concerns of the coronavirus.

The legislators approved an amendment totaling $83.6 million to aid in the response to the coronavirus outbreak. Among other things, the money would provide gear for local health departments, set aside money for overtime costs in local health departments and the DHHS Division of Public Health, and provide money for lab equipment, software programing and personnel to the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Meanwhile, at the local level, Mayor Keith Prunty said the City of Kimball is continuing to observe the guidelines of Panhandle Public Health District.

An example of following the guidelines has City Administrator Dan Dean in quarantine for 14 days at Vista Villa. Dean had left the Panhandle and then returned, something that has become an issue as referred to in this statement from the COVID-19 Unified Command: "To limit spread in Nebraska, all travelers should self-quarantine for 14 days upon returning home and immediately report any symptoms consistent with COVID-19 to their health care provider or public health. This means that if you travel out of the Panhandle, you need to self-quarantine for 14 days upon return."

Prunty said, "A lot of people aren't taking this seriously, why take the chance?"

Even in this situation, the city is still functioning.

Tuesday, the Board of Public Works will meet – although the meeting will be conducted online through a Zoom session, and they will have arrangements for the public to be involved. Prunty stressed that residents should call the city office if they want additional information.

The Kimball City/County Park and Recreation Operating Board will meet March 24.

The Kimball Public Library is closed to foot traffic, but it is operating a curbside service for folks who want to borrow library books and other items during regular business hours. (For more details, see the Kimball Library Notes column on Page A5.)

Students in the Panhandle found out that schools will be closed through Friday, May 1, with the possibility of schools being closed for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year.

According to COVID-19 Unified Command, the closures are "a precautionary public health measure; there are currently no confirmed cases in the Panhandle; however, local health and school officials are monitoring the COVID-19 situation in Colorado, Wyoming and South Dakota closely."

Naturally, businesses have had to make some adjustments in this uncertain time.

Daniel Douglas, vice president at GRI, said, "I guess it's business as unusual."

Douglas certainly hit the nail on the head with that statement: GRI CEO Stephanie Risk-McElroy and her husband recently returned from Las Vegas, and they are following the guidelines of Panhandle Public Health District. They are in quarantine or self-isolation for 14 days.

Another one of GRI's leaders attended a funeral in Illinois and also is quarantined. Additional employees who were out of the Panhandle over the weekend were sent home and asked to quarantine themselves.

"We are trying to be smart," Douglas said.

Classified as an "essential" business, GRI won't close because it manufactures one of the switches used by a California company for the COV-19 testers. The company is still taking orders and still shipping orders out.

The plant is making every effort to comply with Panhandle Public Health District, while trying to educate people with the guidelines of staying 6 feet apart, washing your hands and sterilizing everything.

"It is day by day," Douglas said.

Local bars and restaurants have been asked to follow COVID-19 Unified Command state and federal guidelines, which include no more than 10 customers in the establishment at a time and to practice social distancing – keeping 6 feet away from others, especially the bartender and server.

Local housing units are also making adjustments.

Administrator Judy Perry confirmed that Vista Villa is on "lockdown" with only employees going in and out. No outside traffic is allowed. The food service at Vista Villa is still going on and packages are being delivered but caution is being used.

Perry said most all the residents are taking this coronavirus very seriously and are staying put in the facility. The residents are staying busy with shuffleboard, pool and other games.

The Vista Villa board will meet via Zoom in a meeting once set for the library.

A variety of activities have been cancelled throughout the area.

Kimball Concert Association canceled its final concert of the season, the Presidio Brass. The Easter Egg Hunt and church services have been canceled. The Kimball senior center is closed but is preparing and serving the senior population with curbside service.

While closings are up, Four Winds Golf Course planned to open March 25 and has a done a lot to make playing golf safer in this coronavirus spring.

Carts will be wiped down, counters and handles in the pro shop will be sanitized, and the pro will sign people in. On the course, the cup will be flipped upside down so you can leave the pin in and easily grab your golf ball without touching anything else. The course also is spreading out tee times so all golfers are safe. Pre-paying over the phone is also possible.