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City of Mena and Polk County Dealing with COVID-19

Mena Mayor Seth Smith reported the City of Mena is actively monitoring the COVID-19 situaion in close coordination with Mena Regional Health System, the Arkansas Department of Health and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Smith stated rest assured, every precaution is being taken to ensure the health and safety of all the citizens of Mena.

Smith said the City of Mena staff has been meeting regularly with Mena Regional Health Systems.

MRHS CEO, Jay Quebedeaux, reported that extraordinary measures have been implemented to protect their patients, staff and community. He said any individual that believes they have been exposed to COVID-19 or currently experiencing shortness of breath, fever greater than 100 degrees, and/or cough is encouraged to go to Mena Medial Associates at 1103 College Drive to receive a respiratory symptom evaluation. Temporary waiting rooms have been appropriately divided for the protection of patients and the community. 

Quebedeaux stated Mena Medical Associates has extended their hours of operation to seven days a week from 8am-midnight. He said please do not present to the Emergency Department with symptoms relating to the Coronavirus. 

Smith said as of now, the City has postponed the spring soccer season two weeks to coincide with the local public schools closing.

Smith said the City is taking recommended precautions and is following the  guidelines outlined by MRHS, ADH, and the CDC. Smith also suggested residents limit their travel outside of the area, however there may be occasions requiring out of town travel and encourages residents to take precautionary steps that are listed  below in an effort to prevent the spread of ANY virus:

Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

Stay home when you are sick.

Cover your cough or sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

For more information please visit http://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/ 

Mena Public Schools Superintendent Benny Weston announced Monday afternoon that all Mena Public School facilities will  be closed to the public. This includes all buildings as well as Bearcat Stadium, Union Bank Park, playgrounds, etc. Deep cleaning will be taking place over the next few days and all facilities will remain closed until March 30th.

Weston said all buildings will be off limits and if a student or district patron has a need they should call ahead. For the Mena High School and Middle School call 479-394-1144; for Holly Harshman or Louise Durham Elementary schools, call 479*394-2943. You may also contact the central office at 479-394-1710.

Cossatot River School District Superintendent Jim Tankersley said the district is offering a grab-and-go lunch to students from 11 am to noon at the Wickes Elementary cafeteria through Friday, March 20th.

On March 15, UARM Chancellor Phillip Wilson issued the following statement concerning the Coronavirus.

“Again, let me once again thank everyone for their patience as myself and our Crisis Response Team has continued to closely monitor the very fluid coronavirus pandemic. Earlier today Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson made an announcement to close all K12 schools beginning Tuesday through March 30. While no member of the UARM community has been diagnosed with COVID-19, we do value our relationship with our K12 schools and recognize that we share many of the same students; therefore, we will follow the same mandatory closings for our students as issued by Governor Hutchinson beginning Monday, March 16 through March 27. We will assess current information available prior to classes resuming on March 30.

Until further notice is given, classes are moved to online assignments. All students must access their UARM issued email for the latest updates from your instructors beginning March 16. In an abundance of caution, our campus will be closed and doors locked to visitors and outside entities beginning Monday, March 16 through Spring Break, March 30.

All UARM employees will be working on Monday, March 16; faculty should report in by 9 a.m. We will then continue to monitor the situation on a day-to-day basis.

Feel confident that our custodial staff will continue to thoroughly clean/disinfect facilities as per CDC guidelines to provide the safest environment possible.

UARM leadership will remain in communication with state leaders, public health officials, our partner school – UAMS, the state’s leader in infectious control, to assess what has been an incredibly fluid and unprecedented public health threat to ensure that we take every precaution to best protect our employees and students. We strongly encourage you to stay connected through their email, social media outlets or our designated webpage CORONAVIRUS UPDATE for the latest developments affecting our campuses.

We are all swimming in unchartered waters and I sincerely appreciate everyone’s flexibility and understanding as we work to make difficult decisions in the best interest of our employees and students. We will get through this togetherOn Friday March 13, 2020, at 4:45 PM, a state of emergency was declared in Polk County. The primary reason for this decision was to give Polk County the ability to request certain items and resources from the state and federal governments that are not currently available locally. We have requested personal protection equipment (PPE) for our law enforcement and jail personnel from the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM). The declaration can give us some other benefits, if needed, as we navigate the uncharted waters of the COVID-19 pandemic. There are no confirmed cases of this virus in Polk County.

Over the last few weeks I have educated myself on the best strategies to mitigate the threat this virus brings to the elderly and health compromised in our county. According to many experts and lessons learned, social distancing and frequent disinfection are key in the reduction of spread of COVID-19. Our team will continue to learn as we give this subject proper attention. At this time, we plan to keep the courthouse open, as the people have important business matters to conduct. We are asking you not to come if you have fever or any symptom that might be similar to a characteristic of COVID-19. Also, many matters can be achieved over the telephone or online. In every instance at the courthouse or around the county, we should focus on limiting contact with each other until a safer time.

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