The Coronavirus threat has made its way to Douglas.
Local schools have shut down, churches have either nixed or are now live-streaming services; local businesses have temporarily closed or are limiting interaction with customers; residents are clearing out local markets, stocking up on food and toiletry items; and city officials are shutting down all public facilities and putting limitations on residents in public places all in an effort to avoid the potential spreading of this disease.
On Monday, March 16 Mayor Robert Uribe wrote an open letter to the community and also issued a proclamation limiting public attendance to 10 or fewer individuals at all places in Douglas.
As a result of that action, a special school board meeting as well as a special city council meeting that were held last week, were closed to the public and instead, streamed live over YouTube.
On Thursday, March 18 another press release from city leaders stated that “the city is instituting a full prohibition of public attendance at any meetings or business that must be publicly conducted. Alternative means of public communication and participation will be developed and communicated before such events which includes formal meetings of the city council, city commissions, use or admittance to the Visitor Center for any training or events as well as the walk-in traffic to the Visitor Center.”
Transit service will change to a modified schedule for essential trips only changing the fixed Douglas Rides routes to a Dial a Ride system throughout the Douglas Public Transit System.
This change will become effective Monday, March 23 until further notice. Riders may call the office at (520) 417-7400 to be picked up.
Closures have already occurred at the Douglas Public Library, Aquatic Center, city parks and restrooms. The Discover Douglas tours offered the second and fourth Saturdays reserved through the Visitors Center will be suspended at least through April, when it will be re-evaluated.
“The city strongly encourages non-essential personnel and travelers of all ages to stay at home and reschedule their visits to a later date, limit transportation to essential trips only and change the fixed routes to dial a ride,” according to the press release.
“The time is here, for each and every citizen, business, nonprofit and government to stop circulating, shelter in place where practical and not open opportunities of exposure and spread of this unpredictable virus,” Mayor Uribe emphasized. “Our team has heard directly from the medical community, from an experienced doctor who has been through other pandemics of 2009 and 2003, who is telling his own patients to stay home. His warning is that if we don’t take this seriously and don’t quit going to restaurants, public spaces and don’t practice full social distancing and sanitizing protocols with every interaction with other people, it will be too late when this is upon us.”
At the Haven of Douglas care facility on San Antonio residents there are no longer permitted to have visitors while Covid-19 restrictions are in place. A barricade is outside the main entrance with a notice on the door stating that Haven is a Coronavirus free facility and anyone visiting needs to contact the receptionist at (520) 364-7937.
Copper Queen Community Hospital is providing updates which are being posted on the Douglas Dispatch website.
Lt. Matt King of the Douglas Fire Department said the DFD is taking the same precautions other EMS providers are taking.
“One thing (we are doing) different is our working with our suppliers and the Cochise County Office of Emergency Management and Cochise County Health Services to help make sure we have plenty of the supplies we need,” he said. “Masks, gloves, and some cleaning supplies have become very popular and everyone is monitoring what they have on hand to make sure we all have enough. Douglas Fire is well stocked to meet all the emergency medical needs of the community and we want to keep it that way.”
King said another thing that has changed is the way calls are now received from the dispatch center.
“Public health guidelines have requested that all dispatchers ask if a medical patient has a cough or a fever,” he said. “If they do, that information is relayed to us in the initial dispatch. It doesn’t change our response in any way that affects the patient, it just gives us a heads up about what protective clothing we should wear. The rest of what we do for Coronavirus is the same as what we always do. We wear protective equipment on every medical call.”
King said for the patient protection as well as their own, they always clean and disinfect the ambulance and our equipment after every call and of course always wash their hands after completing a patient interaction.”
If someone will need to be tested for Coronavirus, King said they let the emergency room know prior to arriving so they can prepare appropriately.
“Finally, we encourage our members to limit the exposure at home by changing clothes and showering at work before going home,” he said “At the end of the day Covid-19 is considered a serious concern, but fortunately for us, the things that we can do to help limit the spread are, by in large, the same things we do to prevent the spread of most communicable diseases.”
For up-to-date local, state and national information on the Coronavirus and important reliable links, visit, https://www.douglasdispatch.com/news/coronavirus.