By Lynell Morgan
Students, businesses and the general population across the United States – and countries all around the world – have seen their “business as usual” turned upside-down as the Coronavirus/Covid 19 pandemic sweeps around the globe.
Daily, we hear the drill over the radio, television, online and on social media: self-quarantine if you think you’ve been exposed to the virus, wash your hands with soapy hot water, avoid group events, etc. The latest suggestion from public officials is to restrict public gatherings to ten people or less.
Our safe corner of the world, Elgin, is listening and responding to the guidance and suggestions being made from health and other officials. Last week and especially this Monday, The Elgin Review was overcome by a blizzard of visits, phone calls and messages concerning postponements, cancellations, offices closing and questions about events and businesses.
A number – if not all – churches have temporarily suspended services. The Omaha Archdiocese issued a press release late Monday evening concerning area Catholic churches: “The CDC and Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts are recommending the cancellation of public assemblies with 10 or more people. Effective immediately, all public Masses and communal celebrations of the Sacraments or other liturgies are indefinitely suspended.”
Rev. Dr. Becky McNeil told The Elgin Review on Tuesday that Park Congregational U.C.C. Church has also heeded the calls to suspend gatherings. “With the new directives not to gather in groups of ten or more, we made the decision this morning to suspend our worship services and all other gatherings through the end of March and we’ll re-evaluate the situation then,” she said. She said they plan to use technology to continue fellowship among their members. “In the meantime we are looking into ways to gather on Sunday morning at 9:15 by conference call to share scripture, a devotion and prayers along with catching up with each other”.
At Elgin United Methodist Church, regular Sunday worship services will continue.
A large number of businesses have changed their operations to ensure public safety. Here is what has been implemented by some downtown businesses as of Tuesday:
Bank of Elgin – As the COVID-19 situation evolves, the Bank of Elgin will be taking aggressive steps to safeguard the health and safety of their customers and staff while continuing to deliver important financial services. According to bank president Gary Arehart, “The Bank of Elgin is open for business! Like all other employers, we’re taking common sense steps to keep people healthy.”
In order to minimize person-to-person contact and to encourage responsible social distancing, they began limiting lobby access on Tuesday, March 17th. They are asking customers to:
• Please use our drive-thru, online and ATM channels for transactional services.
• If you need personal or specific banker services, please call to set up an office appointment in advance.
Even prior to this notice, employees implemented enhanced cleaning and sanitary practices to help control the potential spread of the virus. They are also using a protocol whereas money being brought in is not being handed out to customers but fresh dollars and coins are being circulated.
Elgin Pharmacy & Gift – Beginning this past Monday, the pharmacy is encouraging their customers who feel ill to call in their orders and have someone else pick them up or pharmacy staff will meet their customers at the business door/curb and hand out their orders. According to manager Kris Starman, they are out of stock of disinfectant wipes and other similar items until further notice.
Dean’s Market – One of the Elgin businesses feeling the most impact by the uncertainty of the virus is Dean’s Market. Last Friday, the store saw an unprecedented run on several items. Shelves containing disinfectants and wipes have been “wiped clean”.
According to Kim Schrage, Proctor & Gamble sent notice to the stores that orders of their Bounty, Charmin and Puffs items will be handled on a Demand-Driven Allocation. This allocation is expected to ensure retailers “fair and justifiable access” to Proctor & Gamble supplies. In regards to paper supplies, specifically toilet paper, the store is limiting shoppers to one package. This comes after the toilet paper supply was depleted on Friday afternoon. Schrage said that there is toilet paper out there, the problem is getting it from the suppliers to the warehouses to the stores. The store may have to limit the numbers of other items if they detect shoppers storing up on them. They, like the bank and other businesses, are wiping down checkouts and other areas continually to ensure the safety of their shoppers.
Elgin Community Center – The Elgin Community Center will be closed until April 1, according to board member Max Bowmen.
Lordemann Insurance/Elgin Insurance Service – The two businesses are closed to the public but will continue as best they can with assisting their customers. According to owner Eric Lordemann, “We will open by appointment only for any business that is unable to be completed by phone or email. If you are unable to reach anyone at either office number 402-843-5323 or 402-843-5741.” Customers can call Eric at 402-649-5092 or Marla at 402-843-0111 or 402-843-2155. Lordemann said “you can reach us by email at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.” If you need to talk to Kathy or Bev, just contact the office and they will relay your information.
Events and Meetings – Everything planned from now through the end of the month is cancelled or postponed until further notice.