Spencer area COVID-19 community updates

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Spencer Signal circle and tower logo behind text: COVID-19 Community Updates send updates to tim@spencersignal.com

While the community continues to respond to the evolving situation regarding the new coronavirus and COVID-19, the Spencer Signal is collecting information about area closings, cancellations and other updates.

As of April 10, the Iowa Department of Public Health has reported two confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Clay County. There have been 1,388 confirmed cases in Iowa and 31 deaths.

Please email updates for your business or organization to Tim Weideman.

View updates by day:

Helpful COVID-19 and new coronavirus resources

Spencer area updates

April 9

Mayor updates community via Facebook

Spencer city officials held another Facebook live video Tuesday to discuss community and city service updates amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Mayor Kevin Robinson discussed Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds’s most recent proclamation, which ordered the closure of additional businesses and other facilities.

Robinson clarified for the community the section of the proclamation that deals with mass gatherings. Gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited.

Robinson specifically mentioned outdoor church gatherings in which people stay in their vehicles and vehicle parades. Those are OK, as long as people follow certain requirements.

He read directly from the proclamation:

“A gathering of people inside parked cars, trucks or other enclosed motor vehicles shall not constitute a gathering of more than 10 people if: no more than 10 people are inside each vehicle, all people remain inside the vehicle at all times and the vehicles remains enclosed with all windows, sun roofs and convertible tops closed.”

Robinson also mentioned his request for cloth masks so that city employees can wear them while out in public. He had asked for 500 masks from the community at the city council meeting on Monday.

“We’ve had some very generous people step up and I believe we have most of those accounted for,” Robinson said.

Wearing masks, he said, is consistent with other steps the city has taken to protect employees.

“Every step along the way, we’ve taken measures to protect the safety of city employees because they are essential people in the community,” Robinson said. “We are an essential employer and they continue to make the services of the city available.”

Transfer station open Saturdays to Spencer and rural Clay County residents

The City of Spencer transfer station will now be open to Spencer residents in addition to rural Clay County residents beginning Saturday, April 11.

The station will be open Saturdays only until further notice to those groups from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for garbage and recycling drop off only.

Staff will limit the number of people inside the transfer station to 10 at a time.

The station is not accepting household hazardous materials, construction debris, appliances, furniture, etc.

The transfer station had been open for a few hours on Saturdays, but only to rural Clay County residents.

Residential curbside garbage and recycling schedules will continue as normal. The tree and leaf site also remains open.

April 3

Corridor open to assist businesses during COVID-19

The Iowa Lakes Corridor Development Corporation (Corridor) is open and helping businesses in the region during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Corridor exists to support economic growth in the four-county region of Buena Vista, Clay, Dickinson and Emmet counties. This includes serving as a resource for businesses during these times of emergency. Since the outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the Corridor has been monitoring news sources and communicating with partners about support and resources available to business.

The Corridor office will remain open during regular business hours, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., unless otherwise noted. A plan is in place for Corridor staff members to continue providing economic development services for the region while working from home as necessary.

A resource page for assistance and emerging programs is on the Corridor website. The page is updated daily with new information and emerging programs at the local, state and federal levels, including:
• Iowa Targeted Small Business Sole Operator Fund
• Small Business Association (SBA) Disaster Assistance Loans
• SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans
• Paycheck Protection Program

Corridor staff members are available to discuss and advise on these programs.

During this challenging time, the Corridor also asks residents to remember local businesses. Shopping locally is a great way to support our region, communities and the many local businesses that make this a great place to live and work.

To contact the Corridor, please call the office at 712.264.3474 or email info@lakescorridor.com.

March 26

Community Insurance working remotely, ready to serve clients

The Community Insurance team is working remotely. Clients can continue to have all of their needs met via:

  • Email – Our team members will be constantly monitoring emails during our normal business hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For quick access to our emails, click this link to our website or email us at info@insurewithci.com.
  • Telephone – Continue to call our office at 712-262-6444, and follow the prompts to connect with any member of our team, or you can also leave a voicemail, and we will return your call.

Community Insurance thanks everyone for their patience and understanding as we all navigate through these unprecedented circumstances.

March 23

Polaris temporarily suspending Spirit Lake plant operations

Polaris announced on Monday that it is temporarily suspending production schedules and plant operations for one one week beginning Tuesday, March 24, at its Spirit Lake and other plants.

In a news release, the company stated that Polaris reduced shipments during the first quarter of 2020 in anticipation of weaker retail demand due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“As we confront the COVID-19 pandemic, we are focusing on the health and safety of our employees, dealers, customers and the communities where we operate, while also taking bold action to protect our business,” stated Scott Wine, Polaris’ Chairman and CEO.

Wine also stated in the press release that “with no near-term resolution to the COVID-19 related economic slowdown in sight, we expect these events to have a significant impact on our 2020 financial results.”

Polaris has created a new COVID program for its U.S. employees, in which they can choose to receive up to 10 days of pay. The benefit can be used to replace income if they experience COVID-related quarantine, illness or suspension of plant operations.

Century Farms, West O Beer team up to produce free hand sanitizer for people in need

Century Farms in Spencer and West O Beer in West Okoboji are working together to help local citizens combat the new coronavirus and COVID-19 by producing hand sanitizer and distributing it for free.

Public health officials advise that families can help protect themselves from spreading the virus by washing hands frequently and using hand sanitizer.

Amanda Bare, co-owner of Century Farms Distillery, stated in a press release that she was surprised by a shortage of hand sanitizer at local retailers.

“It is remarkable how our community has been turned upside down,” she stated. “In terms of hand sanitizer, some local retailers have been out for weeks, only to find their shelves empty again a short time after they restock.”

The businesses conducted research and trials to find the right ingredients for their hand sanitizer: denatured, unaged corn whiskey mixed with xanthan gum, essential oils and coloring.

“After over a week of feeling helpless, this is something both businesses can focus on and help out with,” West O Beer co-owner Michaela Matthiesen stated in the press release.

The businesses will be distributing hand sanitizer on March 23 at Century Farms Distillery, 2304 Highway Blvd. in Spencer, from 4-6 p.m. and on March 24 at West O Beer, 503 Terrace Park Blvd. in West Okoboji, from 4-6 p.m.

People are asked to bring their own containers.

Future distribution dates will be announced on the companies’ Facebook pages and on their front entry doors.

Read the full press release.

Find Century Farms Distillery on Facebook.

Find West O Beer on Facebook.

March 20

City, business leaders hold conference call to talk issues brought on by COVID-19

A collection of Spencer city officials and business leaders convened for a video conference call Friday afternoon to discuss issues businesses face when dealing with COVID-19.

While much of the meeting covered topics such as unemployment, tax and government assistance, Spencer Main Street Executive Director Nancy Naeve pushed support for the business community.

Nave said that all retail businesses in the Grand Avenue area are open, except for Pressed Studio and Store.

“We encourage you to support your local businesses,” she said. “They need you now more than ever.”

The retailers are offering to bring items to customers’ cars, as are many of Spencer’s restaurants.

Naeve said updated guidelines from Gov. Kim Reynolds state the restaurants and bars are now able to sell unopened alcohol containers to go. That lasts through March.

“It’s to-go time,” Naeve said. “Take everything to-go and we will get through this together.”

Kiley Miller, Iowa Lakes Corridor Development President and CEO, also conveyed a positive message to business representatives.

He said they “can draw comfort from the fact” that there are people in the government who are trying to develop ways to assist businesses and the economy.

March 19

As of the evening of March 19, the Iowa Department of Public Health has reported zero confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Clay County or in neighboring counties. There have been 44 confirmed cases in Iowa.

Find restaurant and business closing updates

To find updates on which Spencer restaurants and businesses are still open or providing some services, please read this post or check the Spencer Chamber of Commerce’s document for updates.

Several mall stores closed until further notice

Several stores at Southpark Mall are closed until further notice.

An update from the Spencer Chamber of Commerce listed the stores as JCPenney, Maurices, The Buckle, Claire’s and Christopher and Banks.

Some stores in the mall remain open, per the chamber’s business listing.

Pressed closes store, online shop still open

Pressed has closed its store to the public.

The studio and store is still expecting to launch products during this time. Its online store is also still accepting orders and being updated with new items.

More information can be found on Pressed’s Facebook page.

Grand Avenue Community Outreach locks doors to public

Grand Avenue Community Outreach is closing its doors to the public and offering some of its services while maintaining a 10-person limit inside its space.

Here are the services that are still available:

  • Soup kitchen meals at regularly scheduled times through the drive-thru
  • Food pantry items for pickup at regularly scheduled times through the drive-thru
  • Birthright diapers by appointment only, curbside pickup
  • Counseling services by appointment only in cafe lounge area

See GACO’s Facebook page for more information.

March 18

As of March 17, there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 in Clay County or any of its neighboring counties.

Rock’n Bac’n Brew’n canceled

The Clay County Fair and Events Center has canceled Rock’n Bac’n Brew’n and all other events at the center until April 1.

Rock’n Bac’n Brew’n had been scheduled for March 28. Tickets purchased in advance can be refunded, less a $2.25 nonrefundable handling and processing fee per ticket that was in the overall price.

Charges to credit cards will be reversed within 7-10 business days by Midwestix. If tickets were purchased with cash or check, please mail tickets and a return address to: Ticket Refund, Clay County Fair, PO Box 527, Spencer, IA 51301 before March 31.

The events center is closed to the public until April 1. Fair staff will still keep regular office hours.

Game State setting up board game deliveries

Game State is working on setting up a system that will allow it to deliver board games to people’s homes.

The games will be available to rent or buy. The system is expected to be in place within a couple of days.

The store itself remains open with a new, temporary closing time of 9 p.m. However, nightly events have been canceled and the play area inside the space is being limited to 10 people.

“You love the store. We love the store. We’re doing everything we can to keep the community safe and the doors open during these wild times,” Game State posted on Facebook. “We appreciate your help in this, and remember, you’re welcome at the shop until you’re ordered to stay in your homes!”

Grocery stores adjusting hours

Two grocery stores in Spencer are adjusting their hours of operation to better manage store cleaning, restock shelves and provide employees more time to care for themselves and family.

Fareway announced that all of its stores will be open from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Monday to Saturday to people 65 and older, people more susceptible to serious illness and expecting mothers. The stores will be open to the general public 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday.

Hy-Vee stated that beginning today its new hours for all stores will be 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week.

Hy-Vee also announced that:

  • Convenience stores are operating under normal hours.
  • Hy-Vee Aisles Online shoppers may have third-party partners deliver orders. Customers may also find that their preferred delivery time is unavailable due to high demand. Customers who are able to shop in stores are asked to do so. That way people who are unable to shop for themselves or have been advised by health professionals not to go out can use this service.
  • Dining areas are closed to the public, although grocery shoppers will still be able to purchase prepared food to-go.

Anytime Fitness closed temporarily

Anytime Fitness in Spencer is closed temporarily.

A state of public health emergency declaration from Gov. Kim Reynolds ordered fitness centers, among other businesses, to close until March 31. restrictions put in place by Gov. Kim Reynolds’s health emergency declaration.

The fitness center in a Facebook post asked its members to support its staff by continuing their memberships if doing so does not cause financial strain. The business is independently owned and operated.

Billing will continue as normal, according to the post.

March 17

As of March 17, there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 in Clay County or any of its neighboring counties.

Spencer restaurants moving to delivery, to-go only options following governor’s health emergency declaration

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds today declared a health emergency that ordered closures of many businesses. However, according to the governor’s proclamation, restaurants and other similar businesses can still provide delivery and to-go services. Drive-thrus may also remain open.

Some Spencer restaurants and other establishments have already sent out updates with their intended plans of operation.

Many have decided to keep to-go and drive-thru operations available, although some will be closed completely at this time.

The restrictions applying to restaurants, bars and certain other businesses listed in the proclamation are in effect through March 31.

Spencer MOPS March 18, April 2 meeting canceled

Spencer MOPS has canceled its meetings scheduled for March 18 and April 2. A Facebook post stated the organization has not decided on the status of meetings beyond that.

The local group is exploring how it can create the MOPS community in Spencer in other ways.

Allstate Insurance offering assistance

Due to the concern of the new coronavirus and COVID-19, Allstate Insurance is offering assistance to seniors and those affected by the virus. We will gladly pick up groceries and prescription drugs and deliver them to your home free of charge.

“As we make an attempt to say thank you Spencer for your support for the last eighteen years let us know what you need,” said agent Dean Barnes.

March 16

Grand Avenue Community Outreach to continue community meals, food pantry

Grand Avenue Community Outreach is continuing to offer community meals. The dining room will be open for people to eat in from 5-7 p.m. Monday, Thursday and Saturday.

Meals may later be provided on a to-go basis through the drive-thru window if circumstances change.

The outreach’s food pantry will still be open on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month.

Intake of clothing items for His Hands Extended has been temporarily suspended. However, the outreach is still offering its Say Yes To A Dress program for prom dresses.

Grand Avenue Community Outreach is asking anyone who may want to volunteer to contact staff via its website, email, Facebook or showing up at 605 Grand Avenue.

Anyone who may want to give is asked to consider donating online. Staff can also take questions about other ways to donate by email or by calling 712-580-4732.

Spencer Municipal golf Course membership drive postponed

The City of Spencer is postponing the Spencer Municipal Golf Course’s membership drive that was scheduled for March 28. The city will announce a new date when one is determined.

Mardi Gras, fish fry at Spencer HS postponed

The Mardi Gras celebration and fish fry that was scheduled for Friday at Spencer High School has been postponed. A new date has not yet been determined.

The Spencer High School Activities Department, Fine Arts Boosters and Daybreakers Kiwanis will provide more information regarding future plans.

Spencer Hospital puts visitor restrictions in place, suspends some services

Spencer Hospital has put in place temporary visitor restrictions to protect patients, families and healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic and to slow the spread of the disease.

Only one primary caregiver is allowed to visit or accompany a patient at this time. Those primary caregivers must not display certain symptoms, including fever, sore throat, cough, diarrhea, vomiting or running nose.

The hospital has stated that primary caregivers include parents, step parents, spouses, significant others or a patient’s regular care giver. Caregivers must remain consistent throughout a patient’s stay. They can not rotate.

Spencer Hospital has also temporarily suspended the following services:

  • Cardiopulmonary rehab services
  • Athletic enhancement
  • Weekly free blood pressure checks in Spencer Hospital’s lobby
  • Volunteer services (includes volunteer staffing of gift shop. Shop may be open on a limited basis. Online gift shop orders for patient deliveries is available: Send a gift)
  • Valet services have been suspended

Visit Spencer Hospital’s website for more COVID-19 response and preparedness information.

Spencer schools closed until April 13

On March 16, the Spencer Community School District announced its schools are closing until April 13 following a recommendation from Gov. Reynolds that all Iowa schools close for four weeks.

Families and students can visit schools to pick up supplies and personal items until Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. Families needing to pick up student medications should refer to information sent out by school nursing staff.

All school activities and use of facilities are also suspended during this time.

Beginning Thursday, the district will provide grab and go cold breakfast and lunch for all children ages 18 and under. Both meals will be available for pickup Monday through Friday from 8-9 a.m. at Johnson Elementary, Fairview Elementary, Lincoln Elementary and Spencer High School.

Teachers may also reach out to students to provide them with optional activities that will allow them to engage in learning during the closure.

Visit spencerschools.org for more information.

Spencer Public Library closed until March 22

On March 13, city officials announced the Spencer Public Library will be closed through Sunday, March 22.

Library items can be kept until the facility reopens. They also can be returned through the book drop slot behind the library.

All items due after February 15 will be renewed through April 15, including DVDs, audiobooks and video games.

Spencer Family YMCA closing temporarily; childcare, kids club remain open

The Spencer Family YMCA is temporarily closing its facilities and suspending programming and events. Childcare and kids club are still open.

The Y staff stated on Facebook that it will “reassess and evaluate future plans” on Sunday, March 22.

The Y currently will only accept children who are already registered in its childcare and kids club programs. However, the Y is looking into “alternative ways to meet community childcare needs in partnership with health officials and other community leaders.”

During the closure, Y staff will be deep-cleaning the facility. The Y will also provide additional offerings to members virtually through social media and digital platforms.

The Y will provide updated information to its members on Sunday through its website, social media accounts and email.

St. Luke Lutheran Home and Riverview Assisted Living takes steps to protect residents and tenants

St. Luke Homes and Services is taking steps included in its emergency plan to keep residents and tenants safe as the COVID-19 and new coronavirus situation unfolds.

Those steps include restricting visitors except for essential health care staff and visits for end-of-life situations, canceling group activities and dining, screening for fever residents and tenants daily and staff at the beginning of shifts, and serving Riverview Terrace tenants lunch in their apartments.

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