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“We will get through this,” Mayor declares
“We will get through this. I want our citizens to know that we at the city stand ready, willing and able to meet this challenge.”
Mayor William E. Cooper and council members expressed encouragement at Tuesday night’s council meeting as the city, along with the rest of the county, state and nation, faces the Corona Virus Pandemic.
Cooper assured residents that the city has been closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation in Alabama and the nation, and has met several times with department heads, Emergency Management Agency director James Brown, representatives of the Alabama Department of Public. Health, city school officials, and other agencies to discuss a plan of action as the situation develops.
“We want to ensure that our employees and the public are well taken care of,” he said.
The number of confirmed cases in Alabama had risen to 39 as of late Tuesday, with cases now in Baldwin, Elmore, Lee, Jefferson, Limestone, Madison, Montgomery, Shelby and St. Clair and Tuscaloosa counties.
“Enterprise has always come together through trying times,” said Council President Perry Vickers. “Enterprise has always come through. I know we can do it again.”
Council members Sonya Rich, Eugene Goolsby and Al Miller all encouraged citizens to practice safety measures and adhere to Center for Disease Control recommendations.
State and federal health officials have recommended no gatherings of 50 or more, with groups of senior citizens limited to 10 or more. Gov. Kay Ivey today prohibited gatherings of 25 or more in counties where infections have been confirmed.
“Remember that this is an ever-changing situation,” Cooper said, noting that although City facilities will remain open at this time, anyone who can conduct their business by phone, mail, email or online are urged to do so. Anyone who is sick should not come to City Hall or any other public facility, he said, citing CDC and ADPH recommendations.
For those who must come to City Hall, Cooper asked them to make sure hands are washed and to make sure they try to remain at least six feet from others.
Cooper earlier this week asked everyone to remain calm, and also to put the massive amount of information circulating about the virus into perspective. He suggested that people consider sources and rely on officials authorized to provide information on the subject, such as CDC, ADPH officials and leaders of the local governments.
“The Internet has lots of great information, but there’s also information circulating and being repeated on Facebook and other social media sites that could be unreliable or misleading. All I am asking is that you try to follow factual information and legitimate recommendations.”
Cooper said the city has cancelled some activities thus far and is weighing all the information available at this time to make decisions about upcoming events and city operation.
At this time, Municipal Court has been cancelled through April 16.
All City sports has been cancelled through April 4, and other programs such as Senior Aerobics, Weight Watchers, and the Friday night dance class have also been temporarily suspended.
The city parks have not been closed but people who utilize the facilities are asked to practice social distancing and other safety precautions.
Easter at the Farmers Market, scheduled for April 4, has been cancelled.
The Enterprise Senior Citizens Center has been shut down until further notice. Center patrons are able to pick up meals from 11:30 a.m. to noon at the center. Homebound meals are being delivered as regularly scheduled.
The Enterprise Public Library is closed to the public through early April.
All other city events are on hold and will be considered again as COVID-19 information develops.
EMA Director James Brown was at the meeting to give an update on the virus situation.
He told the council that a state of emergency would likely be declared in Enterprise and/or Coffee County should a case be confirmed here. That would make the county eligible for federal funds to reimburse costs related to preparation or response.
Brown described the possibility as more likely “when” rather than “if” cases will be confirmed here. At least two testing sites will be set up soon in the county, probably in Houston and Pike counties, but Brown said it’s possible a site will be established in Coffee County. Local CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) members are on standby to help with traffic and other security measures if a testing site is established here.
The purpose of the drastic safety precautions recommended by federal and state officials, Brown explained, is to slow the spread of the virus so that local hospitals are not overwhelmed by the number of cases.
Even though expectations are that only 2 percent of the population will have infections serious enough to be hospitalized, an increase of even 20 to 40 people in hospitals could have an impact.
“We are trying to prevent a big spike in the number of cases,” Brown said.
Currently, the CDC directives limit visitation to hospitals and nursing homes, restrict out-of-state travel for more susceptible residents and are ask restaurants and other businesses to reduce capacity by 50 percent and consider drive-by or take-out service.
In Enterprise, Zaxby’s announced Tuesday that it will close inside dining but it’s drive-through will remain open.
Brown said the EMA will continue to work closely with the city and all related agencies to guide the community through the health crisis so that the danger can be minimized.