Kewaunee County coronavirus update: Libraries encourage online use through InfoSoup
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.
The Nicolet Federated Library System, which includes the Algoma and Kewaunee public libraries, and Outagamie Waupaca Library System are encouraging people to sign up for InfoSoup to use library services while they're closed to the public because of the COVID-19 crisis.
An InfoSoup card grants patrons access to digital resources and services for all ages without leaving the comfort and safety of their homes, even when libraries’ doors are closed.Among the resources available are ebooks, audiobooks, digitized magazines, newspaper archives and genealogy research. All are free with the card.
Those who don’t have an InfoSoup library card can sign up for one online at infosoup.org/selfreg. Library staff will contact applicants with a temporary card number and PIN that will allow access to all the InfoSoup resources.
InfoSoup is brought to the public by OWLSnet, a consortium of 49 public libraries in the Nicolet and Outagamie Waupaca library systems. For more information, visit infosoup.org.
St. Therese to hold Time & Talent Raffle
St. Therese Parish of Denmark will hold its Time & Talent Raffle on April 26 as previously scheduled, although the usual public event will not be held because of state orders that groups of people not gather because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Raffle tickets are for sale and, with the drawing closed to the public, winners will be notified. Tickets are $1 each or 6 for $5.
To purchase tickets, call the parish office at 920-863-8747, Sandy at 920-655-3560 or Jan at 920-494-5291.
Roar Off the Shore refunds
The Kewaunee and Dyckesville Lions Clubs are issuing refunds to those who purchased tickets in advance for their annual Roar Off the Shore fundraiser, which the clubs originally postponed but have now canceled for 2020.
Those who purchased tickets online via Brown Paper Tickets will automatically have their refunds issued to the same payment method used to purchase the tickets. They will get an email similar to the one received when the event was originally postponed.
But those who purchased tickets from one of the clubs' in-person vendors must complete the refund form on the event website, then mail the completed form and the tickets to the address on the form. Refund requests must be received by May 15.
Next year's Roar Off the Shore is scheduled for March 27. To download the refund form or for more information, visit roarofftheshore.com.
Businesses respond to call for protective gear
The Kewaunee County Emergency Management Department has asked local businesses if they have personal protective equipment they can donate to medical and emergency responders, and at least two companies have responded.
The Agropur cheese making plant in Luxemburg donated 16 boxes of nitrile gloves, six cases of lab coats, four gallons of hand sanitizer spray and some polyethylene aprons.
And the Algoma plant of label printing company Multi-Color Corp. donated N95 respirator masks to the Bellin Health clinic in Algoma.
Zoo closed but trails still open
Although Bruemmer Park Zoo in Kewaunee is temporarily closed to the public in the wake of the COVD-19 pandemic, the rest of the park and its hiking trails remain open, the Kewaunee County Promotions & Recreation Department announced Tuesday.
Park visitors are asked to remember that pets are not allowed.
The county announced the closure in advance of the safer-at-home order issued by Gov Tony Evers on Tuesday morning that bans nonessential travel and closed nonessential businesses in Wisconsin to combat the spread of the virus.
Department director Dave Myers said more people were visiting the zoo in recent days after the closure of other public venues, which led to the decision to close the zoo. He also said park staff will continue to provide care and feeding for the zoo.
Kewaunee declares emergency, encourages absentee voting
The Kewaunee City Council passed a resolution Friday declaring a health emergency within the city as a protective measure in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The resolution authorized Mayor Sandi Christman to undertake whatever actions are necessary and expedient for the health, safety, protection and welfare of the public.
All city buildings and facilities are now closed to the public until further notice. The city will continue to provide operations where possible by phone, email, virtual meeting and possibly by appointment.
While the in-person election for April 7, 2020, remains scheduled, the City of Kewaunee will no longer provide early, on-site voter registration or on-site absentee voting and is encouraging absentee vote. To register to vote or request an absentee ballot, visit myvote.wi.gov or call 920-388-5000.
Utility payments must be made through alternative means, such as a direct payment plan, mail, internet or the drop box just outside the office door at 401 Fifth Street. Other municipal payments such as parking tickets or dog licenses should be made by mail or drop box.
For municipal paperwork such as residential building permits, sign permits and re-zoning requests, visit the city website, cityofkewaunee.org, to print applications to fill out that can be mailed to the city or placed in the drop box.
Schools, restaurant offering free lunches for students
Kewaunee County's three school districts are offering free lunches for students, and at least one restaurant is joining the effort.
- North Water Bakery & Deli in Algoma began offering free lunches for students in grades 4K through 12 last week. The meal varies each day and includes milk provided by the Ebert Enterprises dairy megafarm. Parents can pick up the lunches between 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Mondays through Fridays or have them delivered, but they need to call ahead to place orders.
North Water Bakery is at 133 N. Water St. For orders or more information, call 920-487-5306 or visit facebook.com/northwaterbakery.
- The Algoma School District is providing free breakfasts and lunches to anyone ages 18 and younger starting Monday, March 30 (the school is recognizing its spring break this week). Pickup for a week's worth of meals will be at the cafeteria door of the high school; delivery is available and can be requested when ordering.
To order or for more information, visit algomawolves.org, click on the COVID-19 link at the top of the homepage and click on the link under the post dated March 15.
- The Kewaunee School District also is offering free breakfasts and lunches to anyone ages 18 and younger starting this week. Parents can pick up three days' of meals Mondays and two days' worth Thursdays. Registration for the first week has passed; for more, call 920-388-3230, Ext. 504 or visit www.facebook.com/KSDStorm.
- The Luxemburg-Casco School District began its free lunch program Monday. Parents who want a no-cost school lunch for their children must call or email the school between 8 and 10 a.m. the weekday before they need the lunch, although they may indicate their lunch needs for a week at a time. The district will need to know the child’s name, pick-up or delivery preference, address if delivery is chosen, and special dietary restrictions.
The menu will be for each week posted on the district website. Click on “District” and then “Food Service” in the drop-down menu.
Preferred time for picking up lunches is between 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. at the front entrance of the Intermediate School.
For specific information on ordering lunches, visit luxcasco.k12.wi.us and click on the "Lunch During COVID-19 School Closure" tab under "District News" on the right side of the homepage.
County buildings closed to public
All Kewaunee County government buildings and facilities are closed to the public, from 1 p.m. Friday until further notice in a precautionary step to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The order was signed Friday morning by Administrator Scott Feldt and County Board Chairman Robert Weidner under the county's current public health emergency.
The exception is the county courthouse, which is required by law to be open for at least selected hours. It will be open from 10 a.m. to noon Mondays through Fridays for critical court proceedings and to allow the public to file documents with the Clerk of Courts, Register in Probate or Juvenile Clerk within mandatory deadlines.
Members of the public should not expect to be allowed into the buildings, but limited access may be allowed on a case-by-case basis for court proceedings and by appointment only for other county departments. County employees will have access and will continue to work on-site or remotely.
As of Thursday night, Kewaunee County has not had a positive test for COVD-19, but cases continue to spread across Wisconsin.
Grocery stores try to keep stocked up
Grocery stores across Kewaunee County saw toilet paper and cleaning products vanishing from their shelves, as people stockpiled goods in fear of quarantines or shortage of supplies related to a steep uptick this week and last in the state's cases of COVID-19.
Local store managers said they're working to restock shelves as best as possible and make other changes on how they handle fresh foods.
Jason Haegele, grocery manger for Denny's Super Valu in Algoma, said Monday his store was cleaned out of toilet paper over the weekend and "definitely got hit" with a run on cleaning supplies and disinfectant products such as hand wipes. He said pastas and canned foods also saw their supplies dwindle in recent days.
"We're getting hit daily," Haegele said.
As of Monday, Haegele said Denny's hasn't instituted a limit on how much toilet paper or other products a shopper can buy each day.
The store announced one change on its Facebook page Monday, however, affecting its deli service. The full-service cold case is closing and the hot case will limit what it carries. However, the cold case will carry prepackaged salads, and hot items can be ordered for pickup.
Stodola's IGA in Luxemburg unloaded two trucks of supplies Monday morning. Owner Alex Stodola said the store now is stocked with toilet paper but remains low on cleaning supplies. It implemented several purchase limits Monday: one package of toilet paper, one package of baby diapers and two 24-pack cases of bottled water per family per day.
"Right now, what we're really out of is Clorox wipes, hand sanitizers, rubbing alcohol," Stodola said Monday. "Over the weekend, we got slammed pretty hard. We're mostly concerned with cleaning supplies and disinfectants."
Stodola said food supplies are in good shape at the store. Regular deliveries of merchandise come Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, although he noted on the store's Facebook page that some supplies can be routed by medical priority.
Ann Worachek of Kewaunee Piggly Wiggly said Monday that the store is out of products such as Clorox wipes and hand sanitizers but otherwise is "okay" on other supplies.
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Sheriff's department changes
The Kewaunee County Sheriff’s Department implemented the following measures Wednesday, March 18, to minimize the risk of exposure to its staff and the community:
Access to the Kewaunee County Safety Building is restricted to essential personnel only. There will be no visitation, fingerprinting or prescription medication drop-off services during this time. Those wishing to deposit funds into an inmate’s account can visit smartdeposit.com
All public presentations from department staff are postponed until later dates.
Unless lifesaving measures are necessary or if requested by EMS personnel, deputies will not respond to rescue calls.
Most minor damage property reports will be handled by phone.
Non-reportable accidents (under $1,000) may be asked to be self-reported through the Wisconsin Department of Transportation website.
The Sheriff's Department also asks that those contacting the Kewaunee County Dispatch Center for response to an emergency should, in addition to the standard information, provide the dispatcher with any information on anyone exhibiting flu-like symptoms at the location of the incident.
Cancellations, postponements, closings
- Bank of Luxemburg is closing its lobbies at all locations effective Wednesday, March 18, but drive-up windows will remain open. The closing includes the window at Stodola's IGA in Luxemburg. Branches will see customers in offices by appointment. Bank of Luxemburg has branches in Luxemburg, Casco, Algoma, Kewaunee, Dyckesvillle, Sturgeon Nay and Bellevue. All have 24-hour drive-up ATMs.
- Nicolet National Bank, which has branches in Algoma, Kewaunee and Luxemburg, is closing its lobbies to the public but will see customers by appointment. Its drive-up windows remain open. Also, banking services at the Kewaunee office at 931 Marquette Drive will move temporarily to the branch at 519 Main St.
- Fox Communities Credit Union, which has a branch in Luxemburg, is closing its lobbies to the public. Its drive-up windows will be open and its Call Center will remain available for members with the same hours as normal at 920-993-9000.
- Bird City Algoma canceled its World Migratory Bird Day Celebration scheduled for April 18.
- The Easter Bonanza scheduled for April 11 at the Luxemburg Community Center has been canceled.
- The Kewaunee and Dyckesville Lions Clubs postponed their 14th annual Roar Off the Shore Brewfest scheduled for March 28 but are working to reschedule it for a later date. The popular beer, wine and food tasting bonanza is the main fundraiser each year for the two Lions Clubs and the local programs they support, raising more than $10,000 annually for each club in recent years. For more, visit roaroffthehore.com or the "Roar Off the Shore Brewfest" Facebook page.
- The Aging and Disability Resource Center of The Lakeshore is suspending all community events through April 30 and managing home visits over the phone when possible. The ADRC is also closing the congregate senior dining sites throughout Kewaunee and Manitowoc counties. home-delivered meals are moving forward with extra precautions. The center remains open during this time and staff is available for information and assistance by phone; for Kewaunee County, call 877-416-7083.
- Algoma City Hall will remain open during standard business hours of 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., but customers are asked to conduct business either over the phone or online, and restrict their in-office business to only those items which are absolutely necessary.
- The Algoma Youth Club, 602 Lake St., will be closed to the public and all events there canceled until at least April 6. The Algoma Parks & Recreation Department also recommended on its Facebook page that people avoid park playgrounds because the COVID-19 virus can survive on its equipment. For more information, call 920-487-5480.
- St. John's Lutheran Church in Luxemburg postponed its Palm Sunday brunch scheduled for April 5 but is hoping to reschedule it.
Food pantry changes procedures
The Kewaunee County Food Pantry, 1528 Sunset Ave., Algoma, announced it is making changes to its food pickup procedures effective Monday, March 23. The changes remain in effect until the danger related to the virus's spread abates.
The pantry mailed a letter to clients who have picked up food at least once in the last six months explaining the new procedures.
Pantry volunteers and clients who may be sick in any way are asked to stay home.
The new procedure means clients cannot enter the food pantry or wait in its waiting room area. They were mailed order sheets for both the months of March and April listing the food items or types of food items available, and they were asked to check off the items they would like to receive and bring them when they come to the pantry for food.
The pantry will have a volunteer in the lobby who will check clients' IDs and take their order sheets. The pantry will check them into the system, gather their food items and return them to a table outside the door of the pantry. Clients can wait in their car and pick up their food items when they are ready.
The pantry also will have a procedure in place for new clients.
All pantry volunteers will wear disposable gloves at all times while working there, and carts, shelves and other surfaces will be disinfected on a regular basis.
"We want to ensure that both our volunteers and our clients are safe and yet make sure that the families who need food assistance in the county can still receive it," a press release from the pantry said.
"We realize this may not be 100-percent ideal since in the past clients could choose items for themselves off from our shelves, but it still gives our clients some choice in the food items that they will be receiving and is better than being given a pre-packed box with things that they might not want or use and then end up throwing them away. "
The pantry also canceled its annual Spring Rummage Sale fundraiser scheduled for March 26 to 28. It will consider possible rescheduling at a future date.
The pantry's regular hours are from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, as well as 5 to 6 p.m. the third Wednesday of the month, For more information, visit kcfpantry.org or facebook.com/kcfpantry.
Algoma Medical Center/Long-Term Care closed
Algoma Medical Center and Long-Term Care Unit is not allowing visitors effective immediately (Monday afternoon) and until further notice, following directions set forth today by the Wisconsin Department of Health.
The medical center initially announced precautions for visitors Friday, March 13, but the escalating number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state and new directives from the state led to the center going into lock-down.
The center noted in a Friday press release that coronavirus appears to impact elderly people more severely. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advised that people ages 80 and older with major illnesses have the greatest risk and should take extra precautions. At the Algoma facility, more than half of the center's 36 residents are 85 and older, and all have underlying medical conditions.
Administrator Jean Marsh said the center is informing residents' family members and encouraging them to make online visits by using video apps such as Skype or FaceTime, as well as making phone calls or sending emails. Marsh said staff has been assigned to help residents and family members use the online programs.
"Any way we can help," Marsh said. "So if it's to be a phone call, a virtual visit, anything to help them be comfortable."
Marsh said residents were expecting the lock-down for the most part.
For more information, call 920-487-5511.
County Board to meet as planned
As of Monday evening, the Kewaunee County Board meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 17 will take place as planned.
Board Chairman Robert Weidner asked the county's 20 supervisors Monday if they were planning to attend after a question from one of them. He noted the agenda contains several pressing matters but asked supervisors to balance that against their health risks.
Twelve supervisors said they would attend, with 11 needed for a quorum, so the meeting will run as scheduled.
No COVID-19 yet, but help prevent it
As of Wednesday, no cases of COVID-19 were reported in Kewaunee County, and the health department said it's continuing to monitor the situation, as well as virus test results.
The department is advising that residents, businesses, nursing homes and schools take preventative action immediately to help lessen the spread of the virus.
Those who feel they may have been exposed to COVID-19 or have questions about it should stay home and contact their primary care provider. The health department is also an available resource, but it has limited hours (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays) and staff who are working to educate themselves on the latest COVID-19 findings, so they may not be able to return calls as quickly as primary care providers.
To help prevent the spread, local health officials are echoing recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, which includes:
- Cover coughs and sneezes.
- Wash hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer that contains 60% alcohol.
- Stay home if sick until you are fever-free for 24 hours without medicine.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Wipe down and disinfect at home and work.
- Avoid large public gatherings and crowds, aka social distancing.
- Do not travel to highly infected areas outside or inside the United States.
- Those who have traveled to highly infected areas should self-quarantine for 14 days, monitor their body temperature at least twice a day and be aware of COVID-19 symptoms that also include coughing and trouble breathing.
The health department also is advising that local nursing homes limit visitors, schools report on spring break trips, residents report on leisure- and work-related travel to highly infected areas (including cruise ships) and then self-quarantine, and all businesses stay on top of daily cleaning procedures to cut down on the risk of exposure to employees and the public.
“The best thing that we can all do is be mindful of our everyday actions to limit exposure," said Cindy Kinnard, director of the health department. "For example, go to work and then go home, disinfect, take care of errands like shopping for groceries and essentials during off-peak times and consolidate trips to the stores.
"The Kewaunee County Public Health Department is closely monitoring this rapidly changing situation involving COVID-19. We will continue to update the public and advise that everyone follows federal, state and local recommendations by us, the CDC and DHS.”
The county government website, kewauneeco.org, now has a COVID-19 tab in the left-hand column on its homepage that provides links to resources at the CDC, DHS and World Health Organization. For more on the local front, call the health department at 920-388-7160 or visit the "Kewaunee County Public Health Department" Facebook page.
School closure plans
The Algoma, Kewaunee and Luxemburg-Casco school districts firmed up plans they announced Sunday to provide virtual instruction to students in the wake of an order from Gov. Tony Evers on Friday that all public and private K-12 schools will close from March 18 to at least April 5.
All extracurricular activities and events such as concerts at the schools also are off, which the schools announced before the directive from the state Department of Health on Monday that prohibited mass gatherings in enclosed spaces of 50 or more people, with limited exceptions including stores and hospitals.
The Luxemburg-Casco district closed its schools Monday to allow time for staff and administration to prepare for teaching remotely. School resumed Tuesday so students can learn what remote instruction will be like and how to use the technology, then close per Evers' order starting Wednesday.
According to the COVID-19 page on Luxemburg-Casco district website, luxcasco.k12.wi.us, virtual classes for high school students will begin Wednesday, March 18, with instruction for grades 4K through eighth grade starting Monday, March 23. The high school has used a virtual instruction platform for some time, so it was able to implement classes right away.
The district is contacting families Tuesday whose students receive free or reduced-price meal plans to make arrangements.
Clerical staff will continue working during the closure and be available to answer questions. Students who find they forgot to bring needed items home for the closure will be allowed to go to the school to pick them up.
The Kewaunee district will begin its online or at-home learning Monday, March 23. Superintendent Karen Treml said Tuesday that surveys completed by students' families resulted in the district preparing Chromebooks to virtual classes. Families with internet connectivity issues will be offered assignment packets.
Also, Treml said the district received approval to offer free breakfast and lunch to any person under age 18 in the community; they do not have to attend school in the district to receive these meals.
"Our staff will be collaborating in the coming days and when students are home to ensure they are ready to offer a new kind of learning experience," Treml said in an email response.
The Algoma district started online classes Tuesday, March 17. Schools were open Monday to equip students with necessary resources. Superintendent Nick Cochart said the district is packaging family food boxes for families to begin picking up Tuesday afternoon, and those unable to pick up will have them delivered.
Classes will not be held during Algoma's previously scheduled spring break during the scheduled spring break from March 23 to 27.
A post Friday on the COVID-19 page on the Algoma website, algomawolves.org, said each student will be issued a Chromebook and it's prepared to transition to online classes through a platform such as Google Classroom. Cochart said Tuesday that students without internet connection or with limited or slow connections are being supplied a variety of options to meet their specific needs, depending our their situations.
The decisions by the school districts came after meetings March 13 and 15 of superintendents, principals and other school team leaders with the county health department.
"The hardest part of all this is the information changes so rapidly," said Luxemburg-Casco Superintendent Glenn Schlender. "So, we're trying to be very vigilant about keeping the information updated … We're trying to reach that balance between being responsive and not panicking and making rash decisions."
Contact Christopher Clough at 920-741-7952, 920-562-8900 or [email protected].
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: Kewaunee County coronavirus update: Libraries encourage online use through InfoSoup