County COVID-19 not confirmed, Mayor amends emergency
Editor's Note: Your TIMES will update this story if more information becomes available, or if it is confirmed there is a positive case confirmed in the county.
At this time, attempts are being made by Your TIMES to confirm a rumor as to whether or not Sequoyah County has had it's first reported positive case of COVID-19.
Calls have been made to Northeastern Health System Sequoyah, a doctor's office where it is rumored the case was discovered and Sallisaw Mayor Ernie Martens, who signed an amended state of emergency proclamation Wednesday morning.
Hospital staff deferred to Mayor Martens and the doctor's office had not returned calls as of this posting of this story. Martens said the city was waiting on confirmation from the state health department. The health department has been putting out daily situation updates on COVID-19 cases across the state. The situation update released by the state health department Wednesday morning about 11:30 a.m. did not list any positive cases for Sequoyah County.
“We are taking these steps for the health and well being of our citizens. We ask all citizens to follow the guidelines set out. It is incumbent upon us as a community to slow the spread of this virus,” Martens said.
In the mayor's amended proclamation declaring a state of emergency, the city is closing facilities such as the civic center, library, sports complex, soccer fields, McGee Sports Complex and rodeo grounds. Any events scheduled at those facilities is postponed and/or canceled until expiration of the emergency declaration.
The city manager is expected to revoke any pending permits and not issue any new permits or reservations for any public or private event on any city street, sidewalk, facility, park, pavilion or property.
All meetings of city commissions, boards or public trusts will continue as scheduled unless circumstances related to COVID-19 dictate the cancellation of meetings. If the meetings are held, they will remain open to the public, but steps will be taken to ensure no close contact, the declaration said.
All dockets of the City of Sallisaw Municipal Court, as well as juvenile court, will be rescheduled to after April 16.
The city manager will be taking action related to employees, implementing best practices for hygiene and social distancing, ordering self-quarantine of employees, implementing protocols for first responders, canceling job-related training, limiting employee travel for city business and discouraging off-duty employees from travel or attendance at crowded venues.
In-person gatherings for social, spiritual and recreational purposes such as community, civic, public, leisure, faith-based or sporting events, parades, concerts, festival, conventions, fundraisers are limited to 10 persons or less, unless otherwise dictated by any emergency declaration of the state. “Groups shall abide by the requirements of any current Declaration of Emergency issued by the Governor of the State of Oklahoma,” the declaration said.
Restaurants, bars and other privately-owned gathering places shall abide by the requirements of the governor's declaration and are encouraged to transition to take-out or delivery.
“All adults over the age of 65 and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions, collectively referred to as 'vulnerable individuals,' shall stay in their home, or place of residence, except for working in a critical infrastructure sector and the conduct of essential errands. Essential errands shall mean those errands which are critical to everyday life and includes obtaining medication, groceries, gasoline and visiting medical providers. The vulnerable population is encouraged to use delivery and/or curbside services wherever available.
“If Sequoyah County experiences an instance of a positive COVID-19 test result, as identified on the Oklahoma Department of Health website, all business sectors located in Sallisaw not identified as being a critical infrastructure sector, as defined by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, or other business sectors identified by the Governor of Oklahoma, shall close,” the declaration said.
The directive is effective until April 16 or as otherwise directed by the State of Oklahoma or the City of Sallisaw, according to the declaration.
The amended proclamation can be viewed on the city's website, www.sallisawok.org.