Baraboo Police Chief Mark Schauf was reassuring in his comments to the public and council members Tuesday during a special meeting.
“We will be staffed, we will be there, we are there for your emergency,” Schauf said. “For a lack of a better word: We got this.”
Schauf urged people not to give into fear because it can be the worst enemy to face. Tell people spreading misinformation on social media “to knock it off” when you see it, he said. And he has been heartened by stories of volunteers, of people looking to help others despite the extra stress brought on by a recent pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, Schauf said.
City Administrator Kennie Downing echoed the sentiment of capability while addressing Baraboo Common Council members and a few residents at the end of the meeting.
“To repeat what Chief Schauf said, ‘We got this,’” Downing said.
Downing reiterated statements made by Baraboo Fire Chief Kevin Stieve regarding daily joint meetings among city personnel with county officials regarding proactive measures for city facilities as well as collaboration among department heads to discuss the overall plan for handling the medical emergency.
There are changes at the city level as a result of precaution against the rapidly spreading new virus. Downing said all residents should perform as much business as possible with the city via phone to promote social distancing. The Baraboo Police Department entrance at the lower level of the city municipal building is now closed. She also noted the city plans to encourage early absentee voting to “discourage person-to-person contact during Election Day,” which is April 7.
Mayor Mike Palm said the city is currently operating as though the primary will take place in April. The state will decide if that changes, he said.
Alternate side parking, which was meant to continue until April 15, has been suspended. Palm said he was concerned about people being exposed if they need to consistently go outside to move their vehicle. There will also be an influx of vehicles on the street because a number of drivers will no longer be going to work or school, he added.
Jessie Phalen, public health nurse manager for the Sauk County Health Department, said there is testing pending, but no confirmed cases have been announced in Sauk County. In response to a public question, she said the department does not know how many people may have been tested in Sauk County.
Due to a “little bit of a delay” in the department receiving information about possible test orders from a doctor entered into a statewide communicable disease surveillance system, Phalen said the number is unknown.
“Sometimes we don’t know that someone’s being investigated until we get their results back,” Phalen said.
Stieve discussed collaboration among emergency officials and possible concerns for residents regarding everyday services. He said sanitation pickup will continue with management by the Department of Public Works. Bills can be paid online via check or credit card and the drive-up window at City Hall will be put to use for anyone who needs to come in person to make a payment, Stevie said. Anyone with questions can always call the fire department at 608-355-2710, he added. All officials encourage residents to sign up for NIXLE emergency alerts that can be sent to their cell phones or email addresses.
Stieve told everyone present that communication is most important for the whole city to succeed during the pandemic restrictions that have no determined end dates.
“Obviously this is uncharted territory for all of us,” Stieve said. “Protect yourself, protect those who may be infected, wash your hands, personal hygiene; and practice patience. Obviously, this is something new for us so we have to be patient, we have to be understanding and we have to cooperate.”
Follow Bridget on Twitter @cookebridget or contact her at 608-745-3513.
Concerned about COVID-19?
Sign up now to get the most recent coronavirus headlines and other important local and national news sent to your email inbox daily.