People Attempt To Adapt To A Temporary Normal

The Mahaska County YMCA temporarily closed its doors on Tuesday. Childcare remained opened.

Oskaloosa, Iowa – It’s no secret that the COVID-19 virus has significantly been impacting everyday life for people around the world, and here in Oskaloosa.

On Tuesday morning, many people headed off to work, conscience of things like social distancing, and remaining in small groups less than 10.

On March 15th, 2020, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds recommended that Iowa schools be closed for four weeks to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

Shortly after that announcement, Oskaloosa Public School Superintendent Paula Wright announced the closure of their schools beginning on March 16th, 2020.

The District was just starting its spring break and would miss three additional weeks if the closure lasts. “The closure affects all school programming, including before- and after-school activities, all athletic and extracurricular practices and competitions, all facility rentals, and all weekend events.”

William Penn began to implement e-learning, and most students were no longer on campus.

Many shelves ran bare at local markets as people stockpiled things like toilet paper and hand sanitizer among others. Grocers assure the public that there is plenty of food in stock to replenish the shelves.

Things in Oskaloosa began to slow down, as both academic, and athletic events were no longer happening, and student-athletes saw their hopes for a national title, or inaugural season evaporate before them.

Early Tuesday morning, March 17th, 2020, the Legislature passed a series of resolutions to pause the legislative session for 30 days while the state works to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“The decision to pause session was difficult, but after many conversations with public health experts, I know it’s the right one. The last thing we want to do is put the public, press, staff, or legislators at risk,” said Speaker Pat Grassley (R-New Hartford).

Also Tuesday, Governor Reynolds issued a State of Public Health Disaster Emergency, requiring the closure of restaurants and bars, except for carry-out or drive through, and curbside.

It closed all fitness centers and health clubs, closed theaters and other performance venues, and casinos.

It also put an end to other social gathers of over ten individuals, and many places of worship then turned to live streaming to help their congregations stay connected.

Public Health and Mahaska County Officials met on Thursday to discuss how to best protect county employees during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Mahaska Health started screening all individuals who were seeking admittance into the building, and there were no visitors allowed for those who were admitted for treatment.

All of these changes made for a very uncertain time for many individuals. The closed sign went up at the YMCA, and director Matt Larson was busy making all visitors had left the facility by the noon deadline.

The closure didn’t impact the YMCA’s child daycare, and those facilities remain open. “We’re working to staff those (daycare) appropriately for those in the community that are still required to work.”

At Julies Cafe on South Market, the closure took place in the middle of their busy time, serving lunch to all the folks who utilize restaurants throughout the week.

There was the option of utilizing carry-out and curbside service. Still, owner Julie Wells said, “I’m not sure that it will be for business like ours, because the majority of our customers want to come in and socialize with their friends, they have coffee, you know, being together, that sort of thing.”

“It’s gonna be hard for our staff,” Wells said, considering the future of her employees. “That’s probably what bothers me more than anything because as a small business owner, if just a few employees, they become like family, you feel responsible to take care of them. And when you don’t have the profit coming in, that’s harder to do.”

Deann De Groot shared a story from moments before restaurants were closed down. “I walked into Smokey Row at 11:40 today (Tuesday) with the workers announcing they were closing at noon. Many of these young workers unsure, like many, of what the next days will bring. With four of us still in line, the gentleman ahead of me finishing up his payment said, “Can we just pause and pray a minute- for the impact this has on workers and the community.”

Former Oskaloosa area resident Kathy Silvers is in a small village on the east coast of Italy and has been under a lockdown situation since finding refuge in an Airbnb. “I was supposed to come next week, but Claudia made room for me a week early because the other places I tried to secure kept canceling and closing down. The two grocery stores here have closed (along with all restaurants – no take out available here). She [Claudia] also is giving her time and efforts to go to the slightly bigger town 8 km away to buy groceries for me. Without her kindness, I would be on the street and without food. I am completely dependant (a very strange experience for us independent Americans). And I am extremely thankful.”

Theaters were also ordered closed by Governor Kim Reynolds to combat the spread of COVID-19.

The Mahaska County Courthouse and Oskaloosa City Hall closed their doors to walk-in traffic, and are advising constituents to utilize electronic options if possible.

The Oskaloosa Public Library closed its doors as well. With school no longer in session, there were far more patrons in the facility than allowed by the CDC mandate.

The Mahaska County Law Center is closed, but a large portion of business is being conducted outside the building. Some services are not being offered at this time.

On Sunday, more businesses were closed by Governor Reynolds, which included hair salons and barbershops, among others.

Not all was doom and gloom, businesses like Muse Music Store were getting lots of new customers as individuals stopped by to buy a guitar or other instrument. Many say they always wanted to learn to play and figured this would be the perfect time to learn.

Stay with Oskaloosa News and other reputable news outlets at this time as the situation continues to be everchanging.

Posted by on Mar 23 2020. Filed under Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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