Beginning at midnight Wednesday, public gatherings of 10 or more people will be prohibited in Mason City until further notice.
That proclamation came from Mason City Mayor Bill Schickel at a public address Tuesday afternoon that featured a mix of government officials working to aggressively prepare for and likely mitigate the possible spread of COVID-19 in the area.
According to Schickel, the move is part of an ongoing response from officials in City Hall and Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health and it could be amended with further restrictions if necessary.
During his time at the podium, Schickel asked the question: "Why do this?" and emphasized the imperative need to reduce a spike in COVID-19 by practicing as much social distancing as possible. In concert with that ban, to further social distancing, Schickel also announced that City Hall will be closed to the public after Tuesday.
Despite the closure, employees will still be around to field calls from local residents and essential services such as transit, sanitation and emergency response will continue to operate. In the case of transit, vehicles will be cleaned regularly and the city is asking that riders practice social distancing.
While announcing the restriction and the change in services, Schickel also acknowledged the tough decisions that vital city workers are having to make to ensure that things continue to function.
"City workers can't stay home and we owe them a special debt of gratitude."
As of now, according to Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health Director Brian Hanft, there are no confirmed cases in Cerro Gordo County but there's a likelihood of localized cases being confirmed.
With that in mind, MercyOne North Iowa will start offering tests tomorrow through its mobile clinic that will be stationed at the County Fairgrounds but Senior Vice President of MercyOne Medical Group North Iowa Dr. Teresa Mock reminded people to call ahead for an initial screening before showing up in-person.
"Coming to E.R. will strain resources," Mock said.
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ICYMI: Stories from the weekend
Plenty of weekend news to catch up on this Monday:
The city of Clear Lake may be considering another developer for a hotel and conference center project east of Interstate 35.
In the face of substantial community spread of the coronavirus, Forest City CSD and West Hancock CSD are closing for the next four weeks.
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Visit globegazette.com/extras/celebrations for online forms to submit your Celebration items. Deadline for Sunday publication is 5 p.m. Monday.
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Government bodies in Butler, Cerro Gordo, Floyd, Franklin, Hancock, Kossuth, Mitchell, Winnebago, Worth and Wright are getting up-to-date info to residents while staying in routine contact with state and national groups.
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City still confident it will hit March 31 deadline for financing and July 1 deadline for construction to start.
There are now cases spread across four counties: Carroll, Harrison, Johnson and Pottawattamie.
Here is a list of public events that have been changed or canceled due to the threat of coronavirus; keep checking back for updates. If you are hosting a local event and wish to get information out about it, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The City of Forest City organized plans and procedures for handling coronavirus with multiple various community entities - plans that include temporarily closing doors.
Reach Reporter Jared McNett at 641-421-0527. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @TwoHeadedBoy98.
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