City drafting plan for coronavirus response

Safety precautions could be in place for April 7 election
Tim Ryan

SHAWANO — City staff have begun working on plans for how it will keep city operations functioning in the event the coronavirus reaches the Shawano area.

Those plans could include closing down nonessential services and having some city employees work from home, according to City Administrator Eddie Sheppard.

Sheppard said a plan will be presented to the Common Council within the next week.

In the meantime, the city is relying on guidance from public health officials, he said.

“Things are moving very fast,” Sheppard said, noting the mounting announcements at the national level of new coronavirus cases and cancellations of public events.

A key component for communities dealing with the coronavirus is limiting public gatherings and public interaction during the health crisis.

For the city, that has implications not only for City Hall, where the public is constantly coming and going for essential services, but also the recreation center, which, Sheppard said, would be considered nonessential if services have to be cut back because of the virus.

At this point, Sheppard said, coronavirus concerns among the public haven’t resulted in any noticeable drop-off in visitors to the recreation center.

City and county officials on Monday will participate in a webinar being conducted by the state elections commission on possible safety precautions that might have to be taken in the upcoming election on April 7.

“One of our top priorities is always the safety and well-being of our residents,” Deputy Clerk Lesley Nemetz said. “Because of this and the elevated concern surrounding COVID-19 (coronavirus), the city of Shawano is currently working on implementing different safeguards relating not only the upcoming election, but in all aspects of resident interactions.”

Nemetz said there would be more information forthcoming on possible health safety precautions for next month’s election after the webinar, but in the meantime some ideas have been discussed.

“Ideas that have been tossed around include providing each voter that chooses to utilize a paper ballot with a newly sanitized pen, and having them drop their used pen into a bucket to then be sanitized before it is used again, as well as having wipes to wipe down voting booths and touch screen machines in between voters,” Nemetz said. “The city of Shawano is looking into these types of precautions as well as other options.”