A growing list of businesses and organizations in Beaver Dam have pledged to take action against the spread of COVID-19 as cases spike in the ongoing pandemic.
The city of Beaver Dam and the nonprofit Beaver Dam Area Chamber of Commerce collaborated to encourage organizations to join the Beaver Dam COVID-19 Business Coalition.
The effort is an outgrowth of the Stop the Covid Spread! Coalition of various industry and healthcare groups in Wisconsin. Businesses and other organizations who join the Beaver Dam coalition pledge to have staff and patrons wear masks, encourage social distancing and hand washing, and avoid large social gatherings.
Organizations joining the coalition signal their commitment to keeping community members safe, businesses and schools open, hospitals in a better position, and government operations running. Over 65 businesses and other organizations have signed up as of Nov. 23.
Mayor Becky Glewen said she is concerned about the rise in the number of COVID-19 cases deaths in the area. She said it’s important to keep businesses going, protect the health of children and keep them in school, and the hospital has put out a call for help. Glewen said there is hope about the coronavirus vaccines on the horizon, but it’s important to take steps now before they are rolled out.
“We’re asking people to really buckle down and help each other for the next six months so that we can remain open and do all of the things we’re doing as far as keeping businesses open, keeping kids in school and protecting people as much as possible,” Glewen said.
Chamber Executive Director Tracy Propst said she is an advocate for all businesses, but she also wants people to be safe. She said she hears from people that they’ve received the message about shopping local, but they don’t know where they can do so and remain safe. Glewen said that somebody visiting Beaver Dam from out of town emailed her after visiting a local business where nobody inside was wearing a mask or distancing. The person left the business and then left town.
“I don’t want people to stop shopping in Beaver Dam,” Propst said.
It’s not just businesses joining the Beaver Dam coalition but also nonprofits, health care organizations and educational institutions. Wayland Academy Head of School Jason Warnick said the private school’s own safety measures helped students complete the semester, and the school wanted to give that back to the community. He said Beaver Dam has been very supportive of the school and of him as the new leader of the school, and Wayland wanted to throw it back.
“For us, the reason we’re joining the coalition is to support our partners in our community in keeping everybody safe and healthy so we can keep our businesses operating and not only be healthy in terms of our wellbeing, but in terms of our fiscal health here in the community,” he said.
Moraine Park Technical College President Bonnie Baerwald echoed the sentiment.
“First and foremost, MPTC has taken responsible steps to minimize the health risk to our students and employees by following these scientific standards,” Baerwald said. “As an employer in this community and a trainer of essential workers, we want to operate with a high level of responsibility, empathy, and commitment to ensure the Beaver Dam community stays healthy and economically viable.”
A form to join the Beaver Dam coalition is located on the city website and the chamber website.
Dodge County has reported 8,069 positive cases of the coronavirus and 70 deaths as of Nov. 25. Marshfield Medical Center-Beaver Dam reports being near capacity and large numbers of staff out due to illness or quarantine.