Iola city officials announced today they are closing City Hall to the public and taking other preventive health measures in light of the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Among the steps announced by Mayor Jon Wells and Interim City Administrator Corey Schinstock:
— City Hall, as well as the code enforcement and recreation offices will be closed to the public.
Those who pay their monthly utility bills may do so using the night drop box, or the drive-through window during normal business hours. City staff will implement “safe money handling” practices.
— All recreation programs and community building rentals are suspended until April 1. The suspension includes the spring youth soccer leagues slated to begin this month.
— Iola Municipal Court sessions are closed until further notice.
— Iola’s parks will remain open, but parents are asked to wipe down the playground equipment afterward.
Wells said the steps are being taken at the advice of the League of Kansas Municipalities, which has been working with several communities across the state.
He described the measures as “proactive,” to limit public exposure.
City services — trash pickup, water treatment, police and fire protection, etc. — will continue as normal. Wells said contingency plans are being put in place in case city employees fall ill, or are exposed to somebody who tests positive for COVID-19.
The city is encouraging residents to practice “voluntary social distancing,” Wells said.
There are no known cases of the coronavirus in Allen County. The number statewide grew to eight, including Saturday’s announcement of a positive COVID-19 test in Franklin County.
Health officials continue to stress the importance of protecting yourself against possible exposure, including avoiding large public gatherings, washing your hands frequently and avoid touching your face.
Those who are ill are discouraged from going to work or school. Stay home unless seeking medical care. Those who are seeking care for illness should call their medical provider first.
Wells encouraged groups planning public events in the coming days and weeks to consider the ongoing pandemic, and perhaps reschedule them until later in the spring.
THE CITY is huddling today with Allen County officials about postponing the court sessions.
On Friday, Kansas House Judiciary Committee members voted to give the Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Marla Luckert the power to delay court proceedings if she believes it’s in the best interest of health and safety.
Other city updates will be listed on its website and Facebook page.