Woodward Mayor John Meinders issued an emergency proclamation Friday morning to go into effect at midnight Friday night to help combat the spread of COVID-19.

 The proclamation effectively closing restaurants and bars to the public with the exception of curbside, drive-thru, takeout and delivery services. 

 “This is not a step taken lightly, but we must always take protection of the public health as paramount,” Meinders said. “These are very treacherous times as we address the general welfare or our citizens and we’re receiving advice from the healthcare community that unless we take extreme measures, we’re certain to see higher cases of COVID-19 in Woodward, than if we had not acted when people’s lives are at risk. We can’t afford to disregard the advice of these experts. Clearly this will have a tremendous effect on our community and I do not like that, but the impact of the virus spreading and overwhelming our healthcare system is unacceptable. We’re going to try to do everything we can to alieve that.”

 The proclamation also closes commercial establishments and places of public accommodation such as: 

  • Bars, taverns, pubs, clubs, and other places of public accommodation offering alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption.
  • Vaping lounges offering their products for on premises consumption.
  • Theaters, cinemas, indoor and outdoor performances venues, and museums. 
  • Gymnasiums, fitness centers, recreation centers, indoor sports facilities, indoor exercise facilities, exercise studios, and spas.
  • Amusement parks, arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, skating rinks, and other similar recreational or entertainment facilities. 
  • Restaurants and food courts inside grocery stores, convenience stores, truck stops and all other public accommodations that offer food and beverage for on-premises consumption. 

 Other than the areas that allow for on-premises consumption of food and beverages, the proclamation will not affect grocery stores, markets, convenience stores, pharmacies, and drug stores. 

 Local Doctor Kenan Kirkendall D.O. encourages residents to take the threat of this virus seriously before things turn dire.

 “Our infection rate is mirroring exactly what happened in Italy several weeks ago,” Kirkendall explained.”So we’re concerned that we’re going to be in the same place they are. Essentially their medical systems have been overwhelmed and just unable to provide adequate care for people. So because of that, you’ve got people that are not able to be on a ventilator…”

 These measures are being taken to slow the spread, or “flatten the curve”, of COVID-19, which would help alleviate some of the strain on medical facilities, and help avoid being in the same dire straits as Italy, according to Kirkendall. 

 Everyone needs to do their part to help slow the spread of the virus, which can threaten the lives of the elderly and those with preexisting conditions. 

 “We want to do really good hand washing and we want to minimize contact with other people, and we don’t want to gather in groups,” Kirkendall said. “We don’t want to go over and see grandpa and grandma. Folks that are older, we don’t want to expose them. It’s possible for younger people to have the infection and to have no symptoms, so you can’t assume because you don’t have a sore throat or cough or fever that you don’t have the infection. You can still spread the infection without any symptoms.” 

 Kirkendall asks that anyone with an unused CPAP or BIPAP machine, hospital beds, or oxygen concentrators consider taking them to Western Medical in Woodward to be used at the hospital if the numbers of those that need them increase. 

 AllianceHealth Hospitalist Keenan Ferguson D.O. warns that the conditions in Italy are a cautionary tale that all should consider. 

 “We kind of have one shot at trying to prevent as much spread as possible,” said Ferguson. “I think if we don’t take that seriously, we could be in bad trouble. But we do have the opportunity by learning from Italy to try to take the steps necessary. So just to encourage people to take it seriously.”

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