Suamico board approves COVID-19 emergency declaration
By Kevin Boneske
SUAMICO – A resolution declaring a 60-day emergency period in Suamico because of the COVID-19 pandemic was approved Monday, March 23, by the village board.
Suamico Fire Chief Joe Bertler, who is also the village’s emergency management director, provided the board with statistics related to COVID-19.
“Why is this a big deal? Of the 416 (testing) positive in Wisconsin, about 10-15 percent of those are actually in need of hospitalization…,” he said. “Out of that 10-15 percent, 25 percent of those require them to be in an intensive care unit.”
In comparison to the flu, in which there are about 35,000 deaths annually in the United States, Bertler said there hasn’t been a tremendous amount of deaths yet from the COVID-19 virus, but there is no vaccine developed for it at this point.
“There’s no proven medication yet for it,” he said.
In light of Gov. Tony Evers ordering non-essential employees to stay at home for a month, Bertler said with the aid of technology almost all of the village employees would be able to work from home after the declaration, if necessary.
“From a Suamico village standpoint, we are as prepared as can be at this moment,” he said.
Village Administrator Alex Kaker said the emergency declaration signed by Village President Laura Nelson in response to the COVID-19 pandemic is “no real reason for panic.”
“It’s something that we’re doing to make sure that we’re going to be eligible to recover any costs that the state and federal governments might be able to assist for our community for any expenses that we may incur due to COVID-19,” he said.
Bertler said management, control and reduction of immediate threats to public health, such as disinfecting public facilities, would be reimbursable expenses.
Because the emergency declaration is good for 60 days, he said it would have to be extended should the COVID-19 pandemic continue beyond that time.
Board members also approved a pandemic preparedness plan, which Kaker said is generic in nature to cover any pandemic the village could face in the future.
Except for voting activities, Kaker said the village hall is closed to all in-person business.
Though the board has a meeting at the village hall set for April 20, Kaker said all committee and commission meetings have been suspended until further notice, so bids for road construction projects would likely go directly to the board.
“That’s going to be something that the village board is going to get, and they’ll have to make a decision on themselves,” he said.
Kaker said some of the adjustments made by the village to promote the health and safety of all employees and residents include:
• Daily disinfecting of high-touch areas at the village hall.
• Separation of employee work areas as much as possible.
• Suspension of all water meter changeouts.
• Propping as many doors open as possible to reduce touches.
• Coordinating with neighboring municipalities to provide essential services should the village need assistance to monitor water quality, lift stations, etc.
• The fire department creating its own standard operating procedures specific to COVID-19.
• Having voting available in the village hall lobby with the construction of a Plexiglas barrier by department of public works staff to separate voters and staff.
• The department of public works staff building a large drop box to accommodate the increase in drop-off activity.
Kaker said he is impressed by the ability of village staff “to adapt in this very unique situation and how well they’ve taken on this challenge.”