Sedalia Mayor John Kehde has issued a 30-day Civil Emergency Declaration due to the first positive case of COVID-19 in Pettis County and President Donald Trump’s order over the weekend.
“I just want to make it clear that it’s important that we abide by these basic, simple declarations and respect our neighbors and our fellow citizens and we’ll get through this, we’ll conquer this,” Kehde told the Democrat. “You know I’m in a position in my life, I’m 75, and I was faced with the tuberculosis and the polio epidemics and all the poxes.
“I’ve basically been through it, I’m aware of it,” he said. “Today, this is a different, scary time because it’s an unknown thing. The fact from a medical standpoint I guess once it’s in the environment it grows rapidly. We have to be cautious of it, no doubt about it.”
Kehde said the city is addressing the COVID-19 pandemic almost hourly since the situation is constantly changing. The city has not implemented as many restrictions as other cities but Kehde said city staff and officials are considering taking more steps.
“We weigh it every day, the gravity of it,” he said. “We have a task force that was set up with the county, public health, Bothwell Hospital. We meet on a daily basis and the hospital meets on a daily basis. (Pettis County Health Administrator) JoAnn Martin is a part of that. We kind of get together and focus on the meeting.
“There’s a lot of anxiety and people are unsure of the direction we’re going in,” he said. “I understand that.”
The emergency declaration is effective immediately through April 30. It largely follows the guidelines already established by Gov. Mike Parson and President Donald Trump:
• If you or any family members feel sick, stay home. Contact your medical provider or one of the following: Bothwell Regional Health Care Walk-In Clinic at 660-827-7900 or take the COVID-19 assessment at brhc.org; AFC Urgent Care at 660-951-1091; or Katy Trail Community Health at 877-733-5824.
• If someone in your household has tested positive for coronavirus, keep the entire household at home. Stay in contact with your medical provider.
• Older citizens or those with a serious underlying health condition that can put them at an increased risk should stay home and away from other people.
• Citizens who are young or otherwise healthy are asked to work or engage in schooling from home whenever possible; avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people; avoid eating or drinking in bars, restaurants and food courts and use drive-thru, pickup or delivery options; avoid gyms and other areas where people congregate and surfaces are difficult to keep disinfected; avoid discretionary travel, shopping trips and social visits; do not visit nursing homes or retirement or long-term care facilities unless to provide critical assistance; and maintain at least 6 feet of distance between all individuals that are not family members.
• Employees and their employers in a critical infrastructure industry as defined by the Department of Homeland Security such as health care services and pharmaceutical and food supply should follow Centers for Disease Control guidance to protect their health at work.
• Citizens should practice good hygiene by washing their hands with soap and water often for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains 60% alcohol. Avoid touching your face. Sneeze or cough into a tissue, or the inside of your elbow and then wash your hands. Disinfect frequently used items and surfaces as much as possible.
The declaration also includes information about various city services:
• Only city employees can access city facilities. The city has taken steps to increase air makeup and disinfection. Various departments have identified employees to work remotely.
• Parks have limited access: all facilities are closed to the public, all playground equipment is closed and the use of shelters is prohibited.
• Trash pickup procedures have been modified to contain any potential contaminants.
• For graveside funeral services, the use of nonessential surfaces such as chairs is limited and social distancing is encouraged among attendees.
• Municipal Court has been delayed.
• Technology is being used to conduct essential meetings virtually while providing access and transparency to the public.
For more information, find the COVID-19 section of www.cityofsedalia.com, call the city’s pandemic helpline 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 660-851-7686 or email firstname.lastname@example.org; the helpline may also be covered during evenings and weekends.
Kehde encourages people to follow the guidelines set by the declaration, take advantage of the city’s hotline and be conscious of others.
“Limit their shopping, use their good judgement on it,” he said. “Respect other people when they’re shopping, limit what they’re taking. Don’t be crazy about toilet paper or red meat. Realize there are other people that need those things also...
“Absolutely abide by the basic things of basically staying at home,” he added. “When they’re out, keep spacing as it’s appropriate. All of those routine things we see every day on television. Basic sanitation, limit their exposure to people and be kind to people and respect other people. We’re a smart group of people and I think we’re responsible enough to realize that to make this work we need the citizens' cooperation.”
Kehde also encouraged citizens to listen to the restrictions in the city’s parks. The Sedalia Parks and Recreation Department posted on its Facebook page Monday that if individuals do not stop breaking the parks’ temporary rules due to the pandemic, the department would be forced to close all the parks altogether.
“We’re just trying to get this through to people that we need their help so that we don’t have to close down the parks,” Parks and Recreation Director Amy Epple told the Democrat. “We want to keep the parks open and safe for everyone to use but this isn't a time to socialize and gather, this is a time to really take it seriously and do what needs to be done.”
Epple explained the department wants to keep the parks open and keep a safe environment for people to get exercise like daily walks or a bike ride. However, individuals should not be using the parks for socializing and only come with their immediate family or those they live with.
“We get people want to get out and about so just help us by following the CDC guidelines,” Epple said. “Use the parks for just some exercise not social gatherings or going out and playing a ball game or anything like that.”
Epple said all park playgrounds and bathrooms are closed and citizens should not use the shelters or picnic tables. There should be no groups larger than 10 and no ball activities.
“We’re having problems of large groups of 20 plus playing basketball, adult softball players out on the softball fields playing softball games. We can’t have that...” she said. “Keep your 6 feet distance when you're out and about in public.”