Repercussions develop from virus response

Monday, March 16, 2020

Widespread cancellations, reschedulings planned across area

Intense meetings have been underway from schools to businesses and service providers in light of the changing responses to the coronavirus outbreak.

The ripple effect from the closing of public schools, beginning Tuesday, has impacted the operations of many service providers.

An emergency meeting of the Barry-Lawrence Regional Library board of directors was held at 3 p.m. Monday.

Following the meeting, the library released the following statement:

"The unprecedented COVID-19 (coronavirus) health crisis is changing daily life for everyone. The evidence points to early social distancing and helping to slow the spread of the virus.

In an effort to be proactive in protecting the health and safety of our patrons, staff, and community during the COVID-19 outbreak, the Barry-Lawrence Regional Library is closing all nine branch locations until April 6. This includes all classes, story times, activities, outreach, and meeting room use.

"The decision to close is a difficult one,” a press release said. We care deeply about serving our community, recognizing that the Library and its many services are an invaluable resource. But, we feel this is the responsible thing to do at this time.

"The library’s administrative team will continue to monitor developments and respond accordingly. Follow us on our Facebook page and check out our website (www.blrlibrary.org) for updates.

"All checkout periods, as of now, will be extended through April 6. All holds will be maintained until the Library reopens. Patrons are asked not to return books and other Library materials via our outside drop boxes during this time even if the items are due for return. There will be no penalty for overdue materials during this time. Patrons with a library card can still access the Library’s menu of digital resources 24/7, including e-books, e-magazines, downloadable audio books, streaming movies, music, and television shows, as well as online research and learning tools. For more information visit our web page at www.blrlibrary.org.

"Wifi coverage has been extended at each branch location from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. and can be accessed from outside each building. BLRL is encouraging patrons to stay informed on the outbreak through the Centers for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov), the World Health Organization (www.who.int), and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (www.health.mo.gov)."

Staff from the Monett Area YMCA were meeting today to update procedures. Silver Sneakers classes for senior citizens have been suspended. Other classes, usually not held when school is not in session, were under review. The sale of guest passes was suspended last Friday, and access to Y members from other parts of the country through the National Reciprocity program was suspended.

The Draw Pierce City reception, slated for Tuesday at the Pierce City Branch Library Community Room, has been postponed. Likewise, the Monett Ministerial Association cancelled its midweek Lenten service for Wednesday.

Jack Goodman, presiding judge of the 39th Judicial Court, scheduled a meeting for 4:30 p.m. today (March 16) with local judges and court clerks about rescheduling court cases, especially in the municipal divisions.

Following that meeting, it was announced the Missouri Supreme Court issued an administrative order, suspending all in-person court proceedings at all levels from March 17 through April 3.

"The Monett Municipal Division will not be in session on March 17, 24, and 31, 2020," announced Mechele James, Monett Municipal Court lcerk. "Defendants with any questions, may contact the clerk at 417-235-4677."

Prior to that, Pam Fobair, Lawrence County circuit court clerk, reported Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice George Draper III issued recommendations for the types of court cases that could be rescheduled. Fobair advised anyone with a court case scheduled between now and April 3 to check scheduling on Casenet or call her office to confirm whether or not specific court sessions would be held.

Federal district court has moved all civil and criminal jury selection until after March 29, as well as all non-emergency criminal and civil hearings. Criminal matters before magistrate judges, such as initial court appearances, arraignments, detention hearing and issuance of warrants, will continue on an ordinary schedule.

At the Monett Senior Center, 405 Dairy St., serving of hot meals at the center has been suspended. Director Mavis Schlessman said delivery of frozen meals to the present list of 66 homebound clients will continue, but drivers are asked to have no contact with clients. Schlessman said drivers are to ring the bell or wait for a verbal response, and leave the dinners on the doorstep.

Since the center is still preparing meals, Schlessman said there is a drive-up option for regular customers from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on weekdays. Clients are asked to honk upon arrival or call on their cell phones to the center's number at 235-3285. There will be no exchange of money. Schlessman said anyone who is not registered with the center as a regular client should call to make arrangements. Staff will take meals out to clients wearing gloves.

As a general procedure, Schlessman said no seniors will be coming into the building during this period. A deep cleaning will take place Anyone wanted text messages or email alerts about news or updates from the center should call the center's office about getting on the alert list.

Similar restrictions could be found at other facilities run through the SeniorAge Area Agency on Aging.

The Monett Community Kitchen has been developing plans for drive-up service this week, beginning at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Pick-ups can be made at the kitchen door of the First United Methodist Church, 1600 N. Central Ave.

Brown Bag, 600 Dairy St. in Monett, has opened the option to have meal orders delivered to vehicles that drive up.

Drew Forsman with Life360 Community Services reported that his organization is in talks with school districts exploring options for continuing after-school snacks to children, even if school is not in session. Details were still in the planning stages, he said.

Health care facilities announced new restrictions on Monday. Cox Monett Hospital was limiting visitation to patients at one person per day. Chaplains were asked not to visit expect in crisis situations.

Mercy Hospitals, based in Springfield, operating hospitals in Aurora and Cassville, announced it would begin screening all visitors for temperature and travel history. The same patient number restrictions were applied as with Cox.

Mercy indicated no one under age 18 would be permitted in the hospitals or clinics. Pre-natal classes were cancelled.

Businesses are responding to the situation in different ways. Walmart in Monett announced it has suspended its 24-hour service and will close at 11 p.m. and reopen at 6 a.m. to provide time to clean and restock. Friendly Supply, 205 E. Main in Pierce City, has suspended normal walk-in business.

At the Monett Area Extended Employment Workshop, Director Mica Plummer said as long as OATS continues bus service and she can get her people to work, the Workshop will continue to operate. Plummer has contacted businesses providing work and plans to carry on.

Banks in Monett have been in discussion with each other. UMB Bank and Community National Bank have chosen to close their lobbies to walk-in traffic.

“We’re still evaluating the situation,” said Randy Henderson, president of First State Bank of Purdy. “We will still allow access to lock boxes and for debit card transactions. There will be loan customers who have to get in. We want people to get access to their money. We just want to limit person-to-person contact. We don’t want people to think banks are closing.

“We’re consulting each other and should come to a decision in a day or two.”

Beginning Tuesday, the Monett Fire Department announced that its two stations will be closed to public access until further notice.

“We also suspend all station tours and PR events until further notice,” said Fire chief Tom Jones. “The Fire Department will continue to operate and respond to fire emergencies as normal. If you have questions we can assist you with, please contact 417-235-7799, or 911 if you have an emergency.”

Jeff Meredith, executive director of the Monett Chamber of Commerce, said he had a call from a major industrial manufacturer in Monett exploring what options were available for child care once schools close.

"My concern is that if those in the food industry are not making food, if you stop the food supply chain, then we have a bigger problem," Meredith said. "The work force was not prepared for this."

He reported Life360 was working with Kiddie City, a large local daycare, to develop some options to help large employers with child care.

The Chamber has a number of events scheduled in the coming weeks. Sessions involving less than 50 people were expected to continue. Holding events such as the Easter egg hunt on April 11 and the Eggs and Issues breakfast on April 24 would be decided closer to the actual date, he said.

Additional cancellations include:

• The Barry County Democrats mass meeting on Aoruk 6 at the Barry County Courthouse in Cassville.

• The Miller Lines Club’s bingo games.

• The general meeting of MO SWITCH at 10 a.m. on March 19.

• The Lawrence County Tax Board for the Developmentally Disabled’s board meetings. and the board’s Community Center at 403 E. Elm St. in Aurora. For questions relating to the Community Center, people may call 417-678-6079. The case management office at the Community Center is also closed.

• Driver road testing at all locations offered by the Missouri State Highway Patrol, which includes the Monett Justice Center, the testing center at Sho-Me Plaza, 404-7 Highway 248 in Cassville, at Aurora City Hall, and at the old city hall in Mt. Vernon, 319 E. Dallas St.

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