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Springfield city leaders put next phase of "Road to Recovery" on hold; masking order under discussion

(KY3)
Published: Jul. 2, 2020 at 10:31 AM CDT
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Mayor Ken McClure and Springfield-Greene County Health Department Director Clay Goddard announced Thursday the city of Springfield will continue with the Phase 3 Road to Recovery guidance that was announced in early June.

"Our rush to return to normalcy is making us sick," Goddard said. "It's not only making us sick, it's making our neighbors sick, our families sick and possibly even strangers that we don't know sick."

The order took effect June 15 and expires July 15. As of right now, they plan to stay in phase three through that date. Before the order expires, officials will announce whether the city is ready to move into a new phase of reopening.

“We know that this virus is still circulating in our community, and in the communities around us. Due to the metrics tracked on the Springfield-Greene County Health Department’s COVID-19 Recovery Dashboard, information we have received from our health care partners and partner public health agencies, as well as what is taking place in neighboring counties, we have elected to continue with Phase 3 in our Road to Recovery Plan through the current order’s expiration date of July 15,” McClure said.

Goddard said they've seen more community spread, which means they can't definitively point to where and how people got sick.

"Be that something like a little league game, a church service, or a family gathering," Goddard said. "While we understand people are looking to return to normalcy, a trend that we're seeing among our cases is that they aren't doing this safely."

3.5% of cases in May came from community spread. In June, that number jumped to 18%.

County health leaders are discussing with infectious disease experts about a possible masking ordinance. Mayor McClure says leaders will focus on the data and that input from health officials to make a decision. Both Goddard and Mayor McClure say masking is important to help prevent the spread of the virus.

"Unfortunately, we have seen masking become a divisive political issue," Mayor McClure said. "It should not be. It is not a political issue. It is a public health issue and it is a common sense issue and it is a personal responsibility issue."

Mayor McClure says there are a lot of questions with the enforcement of an order like this. Other local residents are also skeptical.

"I feel like if you require people to wear it, most of them won't because everybody's like children," Hannah Woodruff said. "You tell them to something they're not really gonna do it."

The Phase 3 order increased the percentage of occupancy restriction in most categories to 50%, which is a formula created to maximize physical distancing.

“We must continue to take thoughtful steps in our measured phase approach to reopening our community. Reopening too quickly will not serve us well, as we have seen in other cities and states. We do not want to go backward,” McClure added.

The city’s Road to Recovery Plan document maps out the next few phases, based on data gathered throughout the phase.

The plan maps out the area’s next phases in reopening the local economy. The individual components and phases of the plan are subject to change based on local and national COVID-19 data as well as by measures tracked on the Springfield-Greene County Health Department’s COVID-19 Recovery Dashboard.

The Phase 3 order increased the percentage of occupancy restriction in most categories to 50%, which is a formula created to maximize physical distancing.

According to the order, all businesses shall carry out to the greatest degree possible Centers for Disease Control & Prevention-recommended social distancing and cleaning guidelines in all situations, including, but not limited to, when customers are standing in line or when individuals, including employees, are using shared indoor or outdoor spaces, except as otherwise provided. If a business cannot comply with CDC recommended social distancing, then the business shall carry out to the greatest degree possible social distancing of at least 3 feet and require persons in areas open to the public to wear a mask or other facial cover at all times.

The formula is: (Square footage) / 30 x 50% = Occupancy limit.

For example, religious services, conferences, exhibitions, attractions and other enhanced-risk activities will be able to accommodate additional people, given certain safety parameters are followed. Occupancy allowances are determined by measuring the space where the activity is to occur, divide it by 30 and multiply that by 50%.

Entertainment venues that are ready to welcome back patrons, may do so by using the 50% occupancy formula and employing the CDC guidelines for physical distancing and hygiene.

Swimming pools are limited to 50% of the bather load of the pool. Playgrounds, parks and trails are open.

Non-contact and contact sports practices and games are allowed with a 50% occupancy limitation based on the square footage of fixed seating in the spectator area.

Essential retail establishments and businesses considered nonessential can continue operating with 50% occupancy based on square footage of indoor and outdoor seating areas. This number does not include employees.

Restaurants and bars, entertainment venues and museums, gyms and fitness centers, religious services, weddings and funerals can continue operating with 50% occupancy based on square footage of indoor and outdoor seating areas, or with 35 people, whichever is greater. This number does not include employees.

Personal care services can continue operating with a 50% occupancy limitation based on square footage. The occupancy limitation includes employees, and masks are required on the part of the patron and the service provider if the distance between them during the service is less than 3 feet.

Gyms and fitness centers can continue operating with a 50% occupancy limitation based on square footage. Fitness classes are allowed with 50% of the occupancy limitation or 35 people, whichever is greater.

Day cares can continue operating with no limitations. Day camps can continue operating if the primary role is child care with limitations of stable groups of 25. Private schools can reopen.

In-person religious services, weddings and funerals can continue operating with 50% of the occupancy limitation based on the square footage of the facility.

The city is permitting special events on public property with a 25% occupancy limitation based on the square footage of the area designated as the event site. Event organizers are asked to provide a mitigation plan that includes answering a few questions about how they plan to socially distance participants and organizers.

All residents should encourage senior citizens and vulnerable populations should stay at home. Working from home, if possible, is also encouraged. Physical distancing, increased cleaning and hand hygiene are also encouraged. Wearing masks is encouraged. Quarantine is encouraged upon return from high-risk travel.

The goal of the phased recovery plan is to reopen the community as quickly and safely as possible, while monitoring the spread of disease and taking action to keep the spread of disease to an acceptable level.

The Road to Recovery Plan is a “living” document that serves as a framework for Mayor Ken McClure’s future reopening orders. The plan allows community members and organizations to have a firmer understanding of what recovery looks like, when the spread of the disease is controlled and healthcare, public health and testing capabilities are strong.

Within this framework, community leaders will make decisions approximately every three weeks on whether the community is ready and prepared to take the step into the next phase or if it is prudent to remain in the current phase. Phases are fluid and based on dashboard indicators and state orders. To a large extent, the virus will dictate the timeline of recovery.

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