**JULY 1 UPDATE**
MAYOR STEVE ALLENDER'S WEEKLY MEDIA UPDATE
- · 48 New COVID-19 cases in the last 7 days
- · As of today, 523 total, cumulative cases in Penn County, 130 active cases
- · Active cases continue a decline with recoveries outpacing new cases
- · This is a simple statistical update – the reality is, we are not safe.
- · Wear a mask in public, please, at least crowded places where you cannot control the distance from other people.
- · EMS – respiratory calls are down this week about 10%
- · City workforce is healthy, still two out recovering from COVID-19.
- · By now, you are aware, there is not a near end in sight for the pandemic.
- · COVID funds procedures are being worked out. We do not have the funds yet, and will be required to apply for reimbursement.
- · Not a simple solution to the City’s financial woes.
- · A responsible plan is needed
2) CIVIC CENTER
- · Civic Center is hosting small events in July and August. Hoping for more public, ticketed events in fall.
- · We are watching other cities reopen venues, and studying their practices. At some point, we will have full-house, shoulder-to-shoulder events again, likely before the “end” of the pandemic. Some risk management will be needed, of course
3) RAPID TRANSIT
- · Transit – will likely have normal weekday hours starting the week of July 13th. Will not have Saturday service yet, as we are experiencing staff shortages
4) EMERGENCY CARE SHELTER
- · Emergency shelter census at 5. 3 with COVID.
- · Shelter move date is now July 7th. 725 N. LaCrosse St.
5) PRESIDENT'S VISIT
- · July 3rd events – will work with other local, state and federal agencies to insure security.
- · Please do not waste precious public safety response time by engaging in illegal activity. It could cost someone a delayed response, and possibly their life.
PARK SHELTERS, MOST RESTROOMS OPEN WEDNESDAY
RAPID CITY, SD (June 29)--Effective Wednesday (July 1), all of the City's park shelters and most park restroom facilities will be available for use. City Parks and Recreation staff are currently taking reservations for shelter use beginning that day.
Seven park shelters in the City's park system are available for use by reservation while nine other facilities are available on a first come-first serve basis.
Park restroom facilities opening Wednesday include three facilities at Canyon Lake, two facilities at Robbinsdale Park, Old Storybook Island, College Park, Mary Hall Park, Wilderness Park and Wilson Park. Earlier this month, closure restrictions for the year-round restroom facilities were lifted and additional restrooms in the City's park system were opened.
Five park restroom facilities will remain closed for the season: Horace Mann, 32nd Street, Storybook Island, Roosevelt and Thomson parks.
For a shelter listing and more information on park shelter reservations, visit the Parks/Rec page at rcgov.org or call 394-4175.
**JUNE 24 UPDATE**
MAYOR STEVE ALLENDER'S WEEKLY MEDIA UPDATE
- · Total COVID cases are on a slow increase
o The number of active cases in our community is on the decline
o West River hospitalizations now exceed East River hospitalizations.
- § The number is concerning, but consistent and manageable
o Oyate mass-testing revealed 3 positive cases out of 180+ tests
- · COVID Relief funding
o Too early to say how it will be used.
o For City Gov’t reimbursement only – supplies, marketing, public safety efforts
o Will not result in opening the pools
2) RAPID TRANSIT
- · Rapid Transit operating
o Will be closed for holiday July 3 and 4th.
o Will reevaluate the schedule after July 4th.
o Goal is to return to normal schedule
- · EMS calls of COVID- similar symptoms are declining
o This does not mean we are safe, or out of the woods.
o Protect yourself
4) INDEPENDENCE DAY
- · 4th of July City fireworks activities are in planning stage.
o Usual issues
o No fireworks in town
- · Extraordinary July 4th activities
o President at Mt. Rushmore
o Who pays for security? Provide what's asked, share responsibilities w/county-state-federal when a president visits
5) DOWNTOWN STATUES
- · Downtown Statues
o Calls to take down a most-hated president of the moment.
o Not going to happen.
o Valued well over $100k
o Will be protected from vandals or removal
**JUNE 3 UPDATE**
MAYOR STEVE ALLENDER'S WEEKLY MEDIA UPDATE
- · COVID cases continue to climb. Up 85 cases in the last week. 172 to 257.
- · COVID testing in Pennington County: 3,826 total tests. 6.72% positive rate.
- · Council approved extending the current COVID regulations. The Ordinance will expire at the end of July. The proclamation will expire June 19th
2) RAPID TRANSIT
- Rapid Transit still targeting June 15th for opening operations
• May be some adjustment to hours and schedules. Stay tuned.
• Employees are doing well.
• Airport is gaining about 5% increase in passengers, per week. Currently seeing about 20-30% of normal for this time of year.
**MAY 27 UPDATE**
MAYOR STEVE ALLENDER'S WEEKLY UPDATE
1) COVID Numbers
- · Pennington County Cases up by 87, or 100% in 7 days
o We are on the way up.
o More community spread.
o Native American population being affected to a greater extent.
2) Rapid Transit System
o Previously, two drivers have tested positive for COVID-19.
- § May 16th
- § May 24th
o Today, I am announcing a third driver has tested positive.
- · As a result:
o RTS will suspend service beginning this Saturday, until June 15th.
o Friday will be the last day of service for two+ weeks.
o Extensive cleaning, sanitizing will take place:
- § Busses
- § Buildings
o All RTS drivers will self-monitor for symptoms
o All busses will be evaluated for additional safety measures
o Drivers will be paid as a requirement through the CARES Act.
3) When service resumes
o Drivers will be better equipped with high efficiency masks and perhaps protective shields.
4) How did this happen?
o There is no way to know, however:
- § The drivers have had little, or no contact with each other.
- § More likely they contracted the virus at home, or from passengers of RTS.
5) So what’s the plan now that our COVID cases are rising?
o Back to the basics:
o Face covering if you are not able to control spacing or crowd size
o Practice protecting yourselves
o If you are more vulnerable: Take extra precautions / stay home
CITY SUSPENDING RAPID TRANSIT SYSTEM
AFTER THIRD DRIVER TESTS COVID-POSITIVE
Two-week suspension begins Saturday;
Will allow for thorough cleaning
of RTS buses, facilities
RAPID CITY, SD--The City's Rapid Transit System will suspend operations for two weeks effective this Saturday (May 30) due to a third positive test among the System's drivers. The announcement was made by Mayor Steve Allender at this afternoon's weekly press conference.
The suspension affects RapidRide, which operates buses on six fixed-route systems in the city, and Dial-a-Ride, which provides transportation services to local residents with disabilities. City officials indicate the suspension in services will allow for a detailed cleaning of RTS buses and facilities, including the Milo Barber Transportation Center and the RTS bus barn, located on Centre Street.
"We are obviously concerned with the string of positive tests affecting our RTS drivers," said Mayor Steve Allender. "All of the drivers who have tested positive have been wearing masks, social distancing and following hygiene protocols. There is minimal or no interaction between RTS drivers and passengers.
"The suspension will allow the buses and facilities to get a thorough cleaning. As with the previous two positive tests, we are sharing the dates, times and routes the driver took, which will allow riders to self-monitor for symptoms and seek medical advice or attention if they experience any issues."
RTS officials indicate the driver wore face masks during his shifts and his last shift was Thursday, May 21. He began experiencing symptoms last Friday and did not work after Thursday's shift. He was tested for the COVID-19 virus this weekend and was notified of a positive test result last evening (Tuesday). RTS officials were notified by the driver of the positive test this morning (Wednesday).
The employee drove RapidRide on the following dates, times and routes:
DATE: TIME: ROUTE:
Monday, May 18 6:20 a.m.-Noon Coolidge Route
Tuesday, May 19 6:20 a.m.-2:20 p.m. Jefferson Route
Wednesday, May 20 6:20 a.m.-1:15 p.m. Lincoln Route
Thursday, May 21 6:20 a.m.-Noon Washington Route
Anyone riding the RTS system between today and Saturday will be notified of the two-week suspension in services. The City will also be communicating the suspension action through local media and online social media sources.
"While public transit services will be unavailable during this time, there will be a need for transportation in the community," said Megan Gould, Rapid Transit System manager. "If you know a family member, friend or neighbor who might benefit from a ride to the doctor or the grocery store, provide that assistance, or offer to run an errand for a disabled neighbor."
Today's decision comes three days after the City notified the public of a second driver testing positive for COVID-19. On May 16, South Dakota Department of Health officials announced the first positive test result among a Rapid Transit System driver.
City officials anticipate public transit services will resume Monday, June 15.
**MAY 20 UPDATE**
MAYOR STEVE ALLENDER'S WEEKLY UPDATE
1) Mask Donation Program
- City ordered 14,400 free cloth masks through US Conference of Mayors
**13 organizations have requested 9,345 masks.
**Use 211 to request masks
2) Summer reading program starting June 1st – Rapid City Public Library
**Get your packet in the drive-through windo
3) Recap of budget presentation
**Swim center and Ice Arena suspended until Sept. 1
**City pools closed for season
**All are financial decisions
4) Election season – please get out and vote
**Absentee ballots available
**Polling places open as usual – safety measures will be in place
5) National Public Works Week
**To bring attention and appreciation for those professionals and their work.
**We all use a public works function every day.
6) Police Dept positive test – officer is ill, although doing well
** Other work force is healthy
**Paramedics are transporting more patients with COVID-like symptoms
7) Emergency homeless shelter is turn-key ready to open
**Funding commitments made from City/County
8) Pennington County’s positive test cases are up.
9) Oyate Health Care – many positive COVID tests
**Running low on test kits
10) City Ordinance was approved on first reading Monday night, will have 2nd reading June 1st
**Resolution will need updating by June 6th, so presumably on June 1st also.
**I will be meeting with City Council members to update/exchange information in preparation for that.
**MAY 16 UPDATE**
RESPONSE FROM MAYOR STEVE ALLENDER
TO POSITIVE COVID-19 TEST OF RAPID TRANSIT SYSTEM DRIVER:
We were notified by the State Department of Health at 9 a.m. this morning that a driver within our Rapid Transit System (RTS) had tested positive for COVID-19. City officials have been working with State Health officials on this specific case and have determined the time lines for which the driver may have been able to transmit the virus to others. RTS Manager Megan Gould indicates the driver was wearing a face mask and followed established social distancing and hygiene protocols during his drive times.
City officials will continue to work with the State Department of Health on this matter. The State Department of Health has shared the possible exposure time lines as well as reiterated the COVID-19 risk factors, symptoms and the protocols that should be followed by the public.
Rapid Transit System officials indicate the public transportation system will continue to operate its RapidRide and Dial-a-Ride bus systems with no suspensions in service planned. All RTS employees are continuing to follow social distancing and hygiene protocols.
1) When was the City made aware of the positive test and who advised us? Saturday, May 16 at 9 a.m. by State Health officials
2) When did the worker test positive? The employee was feeling ill and was tested on May 12. The employee did not return to work after May 12.
3) Did the driver display symptoms at work and continue to work after testing positive? No symptoms were noticeable during the work time and the employee did not return to work after he was tested.
4) Do we know how many days the driver continued to work after exposure? We are not aware of the day the employee was exposed to the virus.
5) Was the driver masked while he drove the RTS bus? Yes, the driver was diligent at wearing a mask while driving, according to RTS officials.
6) What actions will RTS/City be taking to monitor conditions/symptoms of other workers? RTS has all employees monitor themselves and if they feel any symptoms to stay home.
7) Is there any risk to riders wanting to take RTS moving forward - are you continuing the hygiene protocols that were referenced early on and will that be adjusted in any way? There is no additional concern for riders at this time, all employees have been advised to continue to follow all hygiene protocols including wearing masks.
8) Will there be any change to RTS operations in the days/weeks ahead? As of right now there are no changes planned.but officials will continue to evaluate and make changes as necessary. Public transportation is essential for a number of the City's residents and it may be the only option for many to get groceries, visit the doctor and other essential trips.
STATE HEALTH DEPARTMENT RELEASE/MAY 16/2 p.m.
Potential COVID-19 Exposure in Rapid City
PIERRE, S.D. – State Health officials announced Saturday, May 16, that a Rapid Ride Transit driver has tested positive for COVID-19.
The individual worked while able to transmit the virus to others on these dates:
- Saturday, May 9th; 9 a.m. -5 p.m.
- Rapid Ride Jefferson Route
- Monday, May 11th; 1:20 p.m. -5:50 p.m.
- Rapid Ride Washington Route
Due to the risk of exposure, customers who visited this location during the specified dates should monitor for symptoms for 14 days after the date they visited.
A CDC screening tool is available at COVID.SD.GOV, which can help recommend when to call your medical provider if you develop symptoms.
State Health officials remind all South Dakotans to:
- · Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- · Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue.
- · Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- · Refrain from touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- · Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects.
- · Individuals at higher risk for severe COVID-19 illness, such as older adults and people who have chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease, should take actions to reduce your risk of exposure.
- · Create a family plan to prepare for COVID-19 and develop a stay at home kit with food, water, medication, and other necessary items.
If you develop symptoms:
- · Call your health care provider immediately.
- · Individuals who are concerned they have COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider via phone before going to a clinic or hospital to prevent spread in healthcare facilities.
- · Avoid contact with other people.
- · Follow the directions of your provider and public health officials.
For more information and updates related to COVID-19 visit the COVID.SD.GOV or CDC.gov or call 1-800-997-2880.
**MAY 13 UPDATE**
- · Downtown parking rules will return to normal on June 1st.
- · Rapid Transit’s City Trolley service will be suspended, perhaps throughout the summer season. (provides visitor tours of City sites)
Rapid City Regional Airport
**Activity is down, as expected
o April - 92% reduction in passengers
o YTD -30% reduction in passengers
Feeding South Dakota
**Feeding SD – 380 customers participated in food distribution May 6th
Meals on Wheels
- · Gaining 20-30 recipients per week
- · Serving 1,100 – 1,200 meals per day regionally
- · Challenges in providing canned goods, non-perishables
- · Rise seen in COVID-19 cases in Pennington County – and in State
--Let’s be honest, Smithfield numbers are not the cause for today’s rising cases.
- · Many positive tests coming from the Native community
WALMART Case Confusion
o Rumors of infected Walmart workers the week of 5-4-2020
o Lack of notice from Dept of Health (DOH) RE: Possible spread
o Lack of verified information provided to City
o Email sent by City to DOH on May 8th
o Response received May 8th, but didn’t seem to match our info. ---Seemed suspicious.
o Finally realized and concluded we were talking about two separate cases.
o Both cases were investigated, both wearing PPE and other precautions taken.
o No need for public health notice by DOH
o Both positives were from May 4th (9 days ago)
Reality of Public Health information
o One exception to HIPAA privacy law – State Dept of Health
o Any information City/mayor gets from sources other than DOH is akin to a rumor.
o The City will not report on a rumor.
o The City may report on information that has been directly communicated to us from a reliable source, when the information is in the public’s best interest.
**MAY 8 UPDATE**
EMERGENCY SHELTER FOR SICK HOMELESS
IS OPERATIONAL AND READY FOR USE
Temporary Facility Is Collaborative Effort Among Numerous Entities;
Will Provide Services To Homeless Clients Who Are Sick With No Options
RAPID CITY, SD--Rapid City's Emergency Shelter for sick homeless individuals is entering the operational phase and ready for use.
The shelter, located in the Civic Center's Rushmore Hall, has been several weeks in the making and is a major collaborative effort among numerous community organizations. The purpose of the 100-bed temporary shelter is to provide a clean, climate-controlled facility with provisions for personal hygiene and meals and support the recovery of homeless persons who are ill.
"Shelter options for the homeless are often overwhelmed and over capacity," said Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender. "COVID-19 has challenged the limits of many community services and this emergency shelter will help address the needs of the homeless who are ill and have no other options."
Contributing agencies to the emergency shelter include Rapid City-Pennington County Emergency Management, Great Plains Tribal Chairmen's Health Board, Oyate Health Center, Pennington County Health and Human Services, Monument Health, Community Health of the Black Hills, Volunteers of America Northern Rockies, American Red Cross, Salvation Army, Pennington County, City of Rapid City, Rapid City Fire Department, John T. Vucurevich Foundation, the Care Campus, the Civic Center and members of the Black Hills Regional Homeless Coalition.
Some temporary renovations have been made to the Civic Center's 40,000 square-foot Rushmore Hall to include shower facilities. Civic Center food staff will prepare three meals each day, utilizing the Civic Center's kitchen facility to prepare box or bag style meals for the shelter's clients and staff.
The facility will house clients who are ill and provide services both day and night until the individual has recovered from their illness, been observed for the requested length of time without developing signs and symptoms, or other long-term or more appropriate housing solutions are found.
"This emergency shelter will provide a number of services and meet a very real need for our area's homeless, who are ill and who have no other options as we work through this COVID-19 crisis," said Jerilyn Church, Chief Executive Officer of the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen's Health Board.
Norma Rendon of Where All Women Are Honored will serve as the sheltering manager of the facility.
The facility offers 100 beds, divided into varying levels of service. Tents are set up at the Memorial Park band shell for staff to screen all clients for entry into the facility. In some cases, a patient may be referred if they have been identified as being COVID-19 positive.
The Oyate Center, Great Plains Tribal Chairmen's Health Board, Rapid City Fire Department's Mobile Medic, Monument Health and Community Health of the Black Hills will be overseeing the medical needs of the shelter's clients.
The Emergency Homeless Shelter is scheduled to provide care services until June 26.
**MAY 6 UPDATE**
- · A few more positive cases in recent days. Now 2779 total and 773 active. More deaths in SD. Now 29.
- · The goal was never to avoid the virus altogether.
- · The goal was and is, to protect our life-saving hospital resources. To slow the spread.
**Conducted facebook survey April 23-30, gauging opinions on COVID in community
- Seven questions/1,261 responses
- 77.4% have 'great deal', 'a lot' or 'a moderate amount' of worry about impacts of COVID
- Among top COVID challenges to residents: general anxiety about COVID impacts (61.15%), social isolation (48.36%), purchasing essential supplies (37.98%), lack of income/work (21.74%), traveling to the store (20.62%), traveling to care for a family member (9.63%), making loan payments (8.52%)
- Nearly half (49.44%) indicate they could sustain themselves for three or more months, 26.67% projected 1-2 months, 24.21% either a few weeks/one week/or unable to sustain presently
- We will adjust our City communications/messaging based on these results
Plan Easing Restrictions (Status Report)
- · Code enforcement busy helping businesses comply with new regulations
* Primary complaint – capacity
* Second biggest complaint – masks not worn by food service workers
- · The primary responsibility for your protection lies with you (the public).
* If you are not comfortable, do not enter a business.
- · Traffic seems to have increased
- · Retail activity at large stores appears high
Status of Yard Waste Sites
- · Volume of personally hauled trash has plateaued
- · We are making some adjustments in our workforce
- · We are planning to reopen the yard waste sites Monday May 11th.
- · Reminder of curbside pick-up
* Brown Bags
* Stacks of twigs bound by twine
- · 100 cars per day through drive-thru distributing 8,000 items
* One car every two minutes
- · 500 digital books checked out in April. 10% increase over March
Status of Emergency Homeless Shelter
- Intent is to provide a safe isolation area for chronic ill homeless individuals
- Start-up costs have nearly all been covered by the John T. Vucurevich Foundation.
- Additional costs will likely be reimbursed, but will likely need to be advanced by local government (city/county).
- The theory is COVID-19 will spread rapidly through this population
- Safer for everyone to isolate under supervision
- Currently, we are experiencing the vague nature of the bureaucratic funding platform.
- What exactly will be reimbursed, to whom etc.
- Demand for the shelter is low at the moment
- We are able to start up the shelter immediately for the short term, but longer-term solutions are needed and being worked on.
- · Brace yourself for a different summer and fall
- · Remember the goal
- · Protect yourself
- · Protect your vulnerable family, friends and neighbors
- “Together” means together, not separately
- · Stay positive
- · Monitor your mental health and do something every day to maintain it and improve it.
- · Reduce the national media blitz. Stay with local news sources.
**APRIL 29 UPDATE**
CITY ORDINANCE REVISION
- · City Ordinance Revision is in effect. Approved by Council Monday night.
o Seeing some openings of restaurants already
o Fielding phone calls and emails from businesses seeking clarification
GUIDE TO EASE RESTRICTIONS
The City has developed a 'Guide To East Restrictions' flyer detailing many of the guidelines from Monday's City Council action. This flyer is available on the City's website and will be provided by our CODE ENFORCEMENT staff to local businesses. The Guide has also been provided to Elevate Rapid City, Visit Rapid City and Destination Rapid City to share with business contacts. "Compliance is everyone's job -- businesses, employees and the public."
- · City fields/courts openings on the way.
o Press release this weekend
o Opening this weekend
- § Tennis courts
- § Basketball courts
- § Volleyball courts
- § Leased fields – baseball
**Lessees must submit COVID action plan for approval by Parks
- · Park restrooms will remain closed
- · Park shelters/playground equipment will remain closed
- · Swim Center/Ice Arena to remain closed
o ½ due to safety
o ½ due to financial
- · Decision on public pools will come later – mid to late May
- · All Parks special events are cancelled through June
- · RC Area Schools will open Sioux Park track and field and adjacent soccer fields beginning Thursday
o Meeting tomorrow with the district
- · Summer Nights will delay until July
OTHER CITY NEWS
- • Building permitting is strong
- • Construction is strong
- • City Workforce is healthy
- • Considering now when to reopen City Hall
CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE HUB
Produced by the City Geographic Information System, the Hub is an effort to keep the community updated on local impacts and information related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Hub can be accessed by going to the COVID-19 Updates page on the City's website. The Hub includes City government updates, COVID-19 virus updates, community resources information, maps of community feeding sites and donation locations, and active tweets from the City, from me, Monument Health and the Centers for Disease Control. Also information from the 211 Helpline Center, Emergency Management and other sources.
LET IT SHINE
Rapid City will 'Let It Shine' Friday night, joining other South Dakota cities in honoring the state's health care and other workers on the front lines battling the COVID-19 pandemic.
The public is invited to join a number of Rapid City businesses and organizations in a 'Let It Shine' tribute Friday from 8:30-9 p.m. South Dakotans are expected to respond during the half-hour tribute - in small ways like shining flashlights, car headlights and porch lights, to larger expressions of support such as turning on stadium lights, Main Street business lights and illuminating iconic structures. I encourage residents, businesses and organizations to shine a light on their support!
The 'Let It Shine South Dakota' organization is hosting the statewide event, which will include helicopters, airplanes and drones flying over the state's 12-largest cities to film aerial footage of the light displays. Some 'Let It Shine' examples that will be on display:
- • South Dakota Mines - O’Harra Stadium lights will be turned on along with scoreboard messaging, lights around campus, and lights on M-Hill
- • Rapid City Police Department – Patrol vehicle lights
- • Rapid City Fire Department – Stations to participate by pulling fire trucks out on their station lots and turning on their emergency lights
- • Black Hills Energy – Horizon Point Building lights will be on
- • Visit Rapid City – Dinosaur Park illumination
- • Rapid City Area Schools – School parking lot lights; Sioux Park Stadium lights will be illuminated
- • Rushmore Plaza Civic Center – Parking lot lights illuminated
- • Black Hills Rapids Soccer Club -- Will turn on the lights at Dakota Fields Sports Complex
- • Harney Little League, Canyon Lake Little League, Timberline Little League: field lights will be illuminated
- • Post 22: Will illuminate Floyd Fitzgerald Stadium
- • Black Hills BMX Track --Will illuminate its track area
- • Post 320: Will illuminate Pete Lien Field
- • St. Thomas More High School: Will be illuminated
- • McKeague Field -- stadium lights will be illuminated
- · Public COVID survey concluding today – results out later.
o Very revealing in terms of communication preferences, major concerns during this time etc.
- · Stick to local news
- · Many un-vetted sources out there
- · Practice safety measures
CITY LAUNCHES CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE HUB
COVID Community Updates, Resources Information;
Feeding and Donation Maps, Twitter Connections Among Features
In an effort to keep the community updated on local impacts and information related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Rapid City has launched its Coronavirus Response Hub.
The Coronavirus Response Hub site was produced by the City's Geographic Information System (GIS) Division.
The Response Hub is a link providing City government updates, COVID-19 virus updates, community resources information, maps of community feeding sites and donation locations, and active twitter feeds from the City, Mayor Allender, Monument Health and the Centers for Disease Control. Other information on the site includes links to Rapid City-Pennington County Emergency Management, the 211 Helpline Center, Pennington Outdoors and important COVID information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
**APRIL 22 UPDATE**
**BUSINESS REOPENING PLAN
- •Details shared w/Council members
- •Presentation provided to media and
streamed live over Facebook and You Tube
*Council to meet Monday to take up plan
in special session
- •Visit COVID-19 Updates on City's website
to view presentation/details
**EMERGENCY HOMELESS SHELTER
- •Numerous organizations assisting in effort
- •Would be located in Rushmore Hall/Civic Center
- •Shelter for general homeless and homeless who are ill
- •More details within the week
- •Reviewing special event permits
and status for big City events in July
- •Gun thefts and burglaries and related
investigations keeping officers busy
- •Trend line on service calls remains
below average; departments remain healthy
- •Policy on 24-hour COVID hold on internal/
external mail has been lifted
- •Remote sites remain closed due to
staffing; volume of loads at Landfill
continue to be double normal traffic
- •Parks closed City tennis courts weeks
ago due to high usage/large #s of people
congregating at courts
**APRIL 15 UPDATE**
- · City Traffic study – traffic down 25-30% on major roads through Rapid City.
CLARIFYING LANDFILL ISSUE
o Yard Waste sites are not being opened due to workforce issues.
o Privately hauled trash volume has doubled
o Available employee time is limited.
o Landfill site is open and well managed
o Private haulers may bring 1,000 lbs for free with a City garbage bill.
- · The bike path is closed in places due to rising water (As of today, the crossings at Canyon Lake Drive and also Mt. Rushmore Rd).
- · Strong-as-ever activity with applications for building and land use permits (good sign)
o New cases since we last held a press conference: 721 additional cases for a total today of 1168. A substantial increase from one week ago.
161% increase in one week in state
o Our slow start here was not predicted.
- · Clarification of flattening the curve – what is the goal?
o To prevent the overburdening of our hospital systems.
o Consequences of NOT doing this are grave.
o It’s working, but it’s not done working.
o Social distancing is very important.
- · Talk of herd immunity lately
o In the context of the fastest way to get the community healthy.
o Recklessly causing a spike in infections will be deadly.
o COVID-19 is far less predictable than the flu.
o Might be the most ignorant and dangerous statement to date.
- · FAA Ruling – Airport passengers may not be screened by airport staff.
- · 11 porta pots out in parks. May seem controversial, but it is more sanitary from a Coronavirus perspective.
- · Temporary, emergency homeless isolation center is in the planning and could start up at the Civic Center.
o This shelter would be to allow for the temporary isolation for sick homeless individuals, who also need supervision.
o VOA and the Homeless Coalition is housing homeless families in motels/hotels.
**APRIL 8 UPDATE**
- · Positive test results
o The lopsided results from East River to West River cause questions.
- § This may shake confidence in testing or reporting.
o Inquiry to the Dept. of Health indicates testing is being done in a comparable fashion – multiple testing locations are submitting to various laboratories and the results are being reported back to the DOH.
o Monument Health indicates the low positive test results are consistent with their clinical caseload at this time.
o Conclusion: We are doing something right, let’s keep doing it.
o It should be understood, we are only delaying the spread, which is the goal.
- · City Council decision was to extend closures for an additional two weeks.
o Tough decision
o Not universally appreciated.
- · On-line reports about the virus being a scam or hoax.
- · On-line reports from “citizen reporters” showing empty hospitals in NYC.
- · On-line reports about Sweden doing it right, everyone else doing it wrong.
- · Why is this occurring? Because humans are gullible.
o Listen to the experts. The real experts.
- · There are some great examples of social distancing:
o Some stores are self-imposing a new occupancy limit.
o Some stores have floor markings or physical barriers to prevent people from penetrating the 6 foot distance.
o More stores are getting on board.
- · There are still some not-so-good examples.
o When the parking lot is full, don’t stop.
o Founders Park parking lot is an example of poor judgement. Grouping of people, playing contact sports etc.
- · CDC recommendation to wear masks.
o Should not create a false sense of security.
o You should follow social distance practices the same as before
- · Civic Center Events: A large portion of cancelled events are rescheduling for later in the year.
**Solid Waste issues addressed by Dale Tech and in separate press release (below):
CITY SOLID WASTE OPERATIONS ANNOUNCE
NEW COLLECTIONS, LANDFILL ACTIONS
RAPID CITY, SD--Effective immediately, the City's Solid Waste Division is implementing landfill and solid waste collection procedures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose of the actions are to ensure efficient solid waste collection, landfill operations and maintaining the health and safety of the public and City solid waste employees.
Among the actions being implemented:
*Per existing City ordinance, collections staff will no longer exit their vehicles to retrieve garbage (bagged or loose) outside of the City-issued containers. Residents are asked to keep trash materials bagged and placed inside the containers and to not dump loose trash material inside the container, or to place bagged garbage or other items outside the container for collection. Collections staff will no longer exit trucks to pick up items placed outside of the containers or collect loose garbage, etc.
*Per City policy, a valid utility bill issued within the last 12 months may be used for free disposal of a car load or pickup load of refuse at the City Landfill. Use of multiple utility bills for large loads will not be allowed. This action will reduce the number of vehicles using this service at the solid waste facility, thus reducing staff's exposure to the public.
"Vehicle traffic at our solid waste facility has doubled in recent days," said City Public Works Director Dale Tech. "If this increased traffic and increased staff exposure continues, the City may have to temporarily suspend use of utility bills for 'free' disposal until the crisis has passed."
*The City of Rapid City will continue to suspend yard waste drop-off service at the remote collection sites at Floyd Fitzgerald Stadium and West Boulevard North. These sites promote the congregation of large numbers of the public, which is a contradiction of CDC social distancing guidelines. Servicing these sites also increases the Solid Waste Division collection staff's direct contact and exposure with the public.
"Now more than ever, the City's solid waste services are essential to the functioning and health of our community," said Tech. "Minimizing any negative impact to the City of Rapid City's ability to continue to provide these services is critical. The expected increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases will impact our solid waste division staff the same as the rest of the community. It is likely the solid waste division will see a reduction in available work force through direct COVID-19 cases or self-quarantine requirements resulting from direct contact.
"Therefore, it is important and necessary the City take these steps to minimize impacts and exposure both to the public and to our essential staff members."
Tech emphasizes it is the City's intent to provide basic solid waste services to the public throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. To achieve and maintain that goal, officials indicate these steps are necessary to ensure the Solid Waste Division is in a position to meet the long-term needs of the community.
**APRIL 7 UPDATE**
- · City staff is working through the federal disaster relief funding legislation.
- · City staff continues to work with other organizations such as Monument Health, Emergency Management and Pennington County to develop response plans and strategies.
CITY SEES UPTICK IN NON-FLUSHABLE ITEMS
AT WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT
OFFICIALS: FLUSH ONLY TOILET PAPER
AS HEAVIER ITEMS CAN CAUSE SEWER BACKUPS
RAPID CITY--City Public Works officials have seen a slight uptick in the amount of non-flushable items showing up at the Rapid City Wastewater Treatment Plant. Officials remind the public to flush only toilet paper and avoid the use of alternative or heavier products that can lead to sewer main backups.
One of the results of the COVID-19 pandemic has been shortages of toilet paper on store shelves. This shortage can lead the public to consider using alternative products.
However, many of the issues involving sewer main backups in Rapid City involve the flushing of products such as non-disposable and disposable wipes, rags, tampons, paper towels and other heavy products. Only toilet paper should be flushed down toilets, according to city officials.
Rapid City Water Reclamation Superintendent Dave Van Cleave offers these helpful hints.
"Toilet paper breaks down in water but heavier products do not degrade and can be the main cause for blockages that lead to sewer backups. Flushable wipes are flushable only because they fit into the toilet but they can be a major cause of backups," said Van Cleave. "Products other than toilet paper should be placed in the trash and not down the toilet."
Common items flushed down the toilet that can lead to blockages and backups include shop and paper towels, cleaning and baby wipes, sanitary napkins and cotton swabs, wrappers, cigarette butts and condoms. Such items should be placed in the trash.
**APRIL 6 UPDATE**
- · The City is working on meeting options in the event we must hold virtual only meetings.
- · People are out roaming the City, especially at night and especially juveniles. This is not safe behavior. Many of those contacted by police are claiming to be COVID-19 positive just to cause trouble.
- · Marketing Data shows Pennington Co. behavior is changing.
- · A recent increase in non-flushables are being seen in the sewer system. This increases the likelihood of blocked pipes and a potential sewer back-up. As a reminder, only TP should be flushed. Nothing else.
- · Code enforcement continues to check on compliance with the emergency ordinance.
- · 150 SD mayors and I signed a letter to Gov. Kristi Noem, urging her to declare a public health emergency in SD. This will open more options to SD cities and counties wishing to take action to slow the spread of the virus.
- · Sioux Falls has issued a safer at home proclamation. To improve social distancing.
- · We have been meeting with Monument Health RE: the predictive model for the spread of COVID-19.
o Models are planning tools only
o There is evidence social distancing is working in the Rapid City area. Factors with the biggest impacts:
- § Closed schools
- § Business closures
- § Business restrictions
o After consulting with Monument Health, the recommendation to the City Council will be to extend the businesses closures two additional weeks.
- · My observations over the weekend:
o Some stores are doing a great job protecting their customers and slowing the spread of the virus. Target is one example.
o Some families still do not grasp the seriousness of the situation. Bringing all the kids to the store, touching everything, playing etc.
o More work is needed to take responsible action to slow the spread.
**APRIL 3 UPDATE**
- · After coordinating with other Parks and Recreation organizations, we have made the decision to close our public basketball and tennis courts. They will be locked or disabled to discourage use. Also signage will be placed.
- · Civic Center Arena project continues. Rumors of out of state work crews coming in to work are untrue.
- · We continue to work with Monument Health in terms of emergency planning.
- · Rapid Transit ridership is down 68%. Most trips are for appointments, employment.
- · Library is equipped to begin printing reusable masks for first responders
- · Emergency Community Development Block Grant funds have been made available. More info next week on allowable uses.
- · Gov’s press conference made available the apparent universally accepted projection model for SD, complete with worst-case projections for number of hospital beds, number of ICU beds etc.
o Mathematical/statistical context is needed to truly understand the process and to avoid misusing the information.
BASKETBALL & TENNIS COURTS
TO CLOSE IN CITY PARKS
New York Street Skateboard Park Also Included
In Latest COVID-Related closures
RAPID CITY, SD--In his daily press conference Friday afternoon, Mayor Steve Allender announced the City Parks and Recreation Department is closing basketball and tennis courts in the City's park system along with the New York Street skateboard park. The closures are in reaction to COVID-19 restrictions against large gatherings of the general public.
The closures will remain in effect until further notice.
Included in the closures are tennis courts in fenced areas such as Parkview Drive, North Middle School, Wilson Park and Quarry Park, and basketball courts in fenced areas at Roosevelt Park and Thompson Park and the New York Street skateboard park. Basketball courts in other City parks will also be closed to public use.
The City's parks and bike path remain open for public use and the public is encouraged to practice social distancing protocols in these areas. Park restrooms, playgrounds and shelters are closed for public use. Several portable toilet facilities have been placed along the bike path and some park areas.
Earlier this week, the Rapid City Area Schools closed their playgrounds as well as Sioux Park Stadium's track and field areas and the adjacent soccer fields to public use.
**APRIL 2 UPDATE**
- · Planning and development applications are up from this time last year.
- · We are working on the homeless services capacity issues. Lack of food and funds to the local mission has lowered their capacity. This can be solved with donations of food or funds to buy food.
- · Working on solutions for homeless isolation beds for those who are / will become ill.
- · We are coordinating with other Parks and Recreation organizations to stay informed on best practices on closures or limitations to parks.
- · We’ve gotten a number of calls related to businesses possibly out of compliance with our emergency ordinance. Compliance checks have revealed there is widespread compliance, and a couple of misunderstandings which were easily cleared up.
- · Unemployment has risen in Rapid City. We estimate an increase from 2.9% to 5% over the past month. Be prepared for additional increase.
- · The Sioux Park track, field area and adjoining soccer fields have been closed.
- · We are preparing for the regular city council meeting on April 6th. The emergency ordinance will be discussed at that time. The council will either extend the business closure dates, or allow it to expire.
- · Public comment emails will be taken through our public comment form found at www.rcgov.org/covid
- · Stick to the basics:
o Cough/sneeze safely
o Don’t touch your face
o Stay away from crowds and 6’ away from everyone except those you live with.
**APRIL 1 UPDATE**
- · Working through financial projections relative to the 2020 and 2021 budgets.
- · Solid Waste staff are struggling with the increased volume of private haulers to the landfill. Volume has more than doubled lately. We want to remain open for citizens, but at this rate we will have to alter service to focus on our primary mission, which is curbside pick up and commercial haulers.
- · Concern for City building inspector’s safety may lead to the discontinuation of some inspections. More information will be available from our Community Development Department.
- · RCPD arrested someone last night claiming to have been confirmed COVID-19 positive. An investigation revealed this was false.
- · TSA screening is down 90% nationwide. Today, Rapid City Regional Airport has 24 people scheduled to fly out.
- · Seems to be a growing concern for the homeless and their ability to access services. This is the time to donate to the human services organization of your choice.
- · School playgrounds and equipment are closed to the public. This is for your own safety, so please act accordingly.
- · City park facilities are closed, and playground equipment is closed and roped off. Please comply with this restriction.
- · There are cases of people in groups gathering in City Parks and engaging in close contact. Please stop this as closing City Parks is the next step.
- A series of City public service announcements have started on social media and in local media, billboards and other areas
**MARCH 31 UPDATE**
- · We are continuing our coordination with Monument Health.
- · New modeling is available – for health professionals’ use, and should allow for more accurate assessment of disease progression through our communities.
- · Minor ordinance compliance issues have been resolved.
- · Building permit and land development workload is nearly normal.
- · Construction jobs, contracts, bid openings are occurring normally.
- · Public safety workforce is healthy – more so that one year ago at the same time. Precautions have been an influence in this.
- · All public Civic Center events have been cancelled through April.
- · Library drive-through is open, 30K+ digital downloads available.
- · Feeding South Dakota is consolidating their food distribution efforts to 1 site
o Wednesday, April 1, @10 a.m. to noon, Central States Fairgrounds. 1 box per family, max of 2 boxes per car, ID req.
- · Noticeable surge in food assistance needed throughout our community.
- · If you can, volunteer with Feeding South Dakota or Meals on Wheels. Volunteer information can be found on their websites or by calling
Yesterday, the state legislature passed a number of emergency bills related to the COVID-19 pandemic, but did not pass SB 191.
- · SB 191 would have given authority to counties to declare a public health emergency and take actions only afforded to cities under SDCL 9-32-1, to impose regulations for the suppression of disease.
- · Also – it would have allowed cities and counties to pass an emergency ordinance with one reading (same authority as the state) but that was removed from the bill early on the advice of the governor’s office.
- · Several amendments were made, but the bill was killed in the House committee last night around midnight. Opponents of the bill do not believe counties should have that authority. It’s fair to say, the same legislators do not want the Cities to have the authority either.
**MARCH 30 UPDATE**
- · Positive test results continue to go up. Expect it. It only means the disease is acting as predicted.
- · In preparation for the coming weeks, we are preparing for changes within our workforce.
o Some will remain on the job in normal fashion, such as public safety, water, sewer, and garbage.
o Some will be on modified duty assignments, such as compliance, linking services to essential needs within the community etc.
o Some will continuing from home.
o Some will not be working.
- · The airport is not closed. This is of great concern to some. For consideration:
o A closure, means all passenger, cargo and military flights cease.
o The airport lacks the authority to close to a certain portion of customers.
o FAA has authority over airports.
- · Developing an email submission form for public comments relative to public meetings. No anonymous emails will be read. A character limit will keep reading the emails to a reasonable time.
- · We must understand the goal of social distancing, the emergency city ordinance and voluntary safety measures. The goal is to slow the spread of the virus, to protect the ability of our health care systems to treat us, without exceeding their maximum capacity.
o Grocery stores should mark off spaces, encourage space between customers.
o You should not have visitors over.
o Your kids should not have other kids over.
o Stay home if you can.
o 'DO THE FIVE':
--Hands (Wash Them Often)
--Elbows (Cough Into It)
--Face (Don't Touch It)
--Space (Keep Safe Distance)
--Home (Stay If You Can)
o We must take this serious.
- · The SD legislature meets today to consider several COVID-related emergency bills.
**MARCH 27 UPDATE**
- · The City is working on a compliance / enforcement plan in anticipation of passing the emergency ordinance at tonight’s special council meeting. Compliance is certainly preferred.
- · Many City departments are attempting to dispel rumors from the public. This is not productive and in most cases we will not devote time to fact-checking erroneous reports, especially from social media.
- · Employee stress is present and lowered morale and tensions are evident. City will be working on mental health maintenance among its employees.
- · Ambulance calls are in fact, trending downward. We will closely monitor this activity.
- · Our critical services workforce is healthy, and operations are in full swing. This includes: public safety, water, sewer and garbage.
- · Pactola Dam releases are increasing due to the recent moisture. Water levels in Rapid Creek are rising so caution should be exercised. More specific warnings will come from the Public Works Dept. as appropriate.
- · The County Care Campus is open and in full operation. A litany of enhanced sanitation procedures are in place.
- · The Rapid City Public Library has imposed a five day quarantine on returned library materials. This may cause a delay in availability, however on-line searching and holding of materials is available and encouraged.
- · Beginning April 1, City Hall will impose a mail quarantine of 24 hrs. on all incoming public and inter-office mail. This will slow the physical mail communication by a day but no customer late fees will be incurred due to this. Other arrangements for bid openings and similar procedural issues will be communicated separately by the City.
- · Known Pennington County cases are at two. We all suspect there is more, but we do have confirmation from the Dept. of Health of active infection here.
- · Marketing efforts will commence in the next day or two
- · Do the five: Hands, Elbow, Face, Space, Home
CITY INCREASES PARKING METER 'FREE TIME'
TO TWO HOURS BEGINNING MONDAY
Free Parking on Saturdays Effective April 4
RAPID CITY, SD--For the second time in a week, the City is adjusting its free parking feature on downtown parking meters as a way to promote support for downtown businesses.
Effective Monday, the free button on downtown meters will be expanded to two hours and parking will be free on Saturdays beginning April 4. The 'free button' must be activated by meter users.
Last week, the City adjusted the downtown parking meters 'free button' from 15 minutes to 30 minutes to promote food pickups and other short-term business-to-customer transactions as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic impacts on many local businesses.
The change will be in effect until further notice.
**MARCH 26 UPDATE**
Mayor Steve Allender will provide his daily media update at 1:30 p.m. today. It will be streamed live on City You Tube, go to rcov.org and click on Meetings, then Live Meetings.
- · Fire Department/Ambulance calls appear to be trending downward lately, however respiratory cases appear to be trending upward (no formal comparison available at this time).
- · Citizens appear to need more clarification on new ordinance. More communication efforts will be made.
- · RCPD arrested a robbery suspect yesterday and now have cleared the recent rash of robberies. Meth was present.
- · There are very few flights in/out of the airport now. United Airlines cancelled many of today's Rapid City to Denver flights.
- · Some Porta-Pots have been placed in and around parks. There are easier to disinfect than park restrooms.
- · Special meeting tomorrow night RE: City ordinance to close/regulate certain businesses.
- · A new ordinance revision will be placed on tomorrow night’s agenda allowing a more expedient revision process, in the event changes need to be made in the next few months.
- · Council chamber audience will be strictly limited. Public comments may be emailed. All meetings are streamed live on YouTube.
- · Finalizing our compliance/enforcement plan for the emergency ordinance.
- · City strategic teams will be reporting progress at tomorrow’s 10;00 am department directors daily COVID-19 meeting.
PARKS DIVISION UPDATE/9:30 a.m. Thursday
The City's Parks Division is adding five portable toilet locations, bringing the number of portable restrooms to 11 that are now located along the bike path and in various Park locations. The portable toilet facilities will be sanitized daily by Parks crews and will be service weekly by the provider. Due to COVID-19 safety concerns for the public and City maintenance employees, the Legacy Commons permanent facility will remain closed until further notice.
The new locations of portable toilet facilities:
*Memorial Park Bandshell
*West Memorial Park
*Canyon Lake Park West Restroom
Existing location of portable toilet facilities:
*Canyon Lake #3 Shelter
*Jackson Park Disc Golf
*LaCroix Disc Golf
*Sioux Park Tennis Court area
**MARCH 25 UPDATE**
- · State test result are posted to the DOH Website. SD now at 41 cases, new one in Meade Co.
- · Ambulance continues to transport sick patients
- · Sorting out work-at-home employee issues and digesting the fed legislation pertaining to FLMA and emergency sick leave.
- · Hotel robbery last night. RCPD is investigating.
- · We are working on alternative lodging space for first responders.
- · City/County now communicating regularly.
- · County is considering an ordinance based on the City ordinance
- · Our first daily press debrief is scheduled today at 1:30. Live stream.
CITIZEN OPTIONS WITH CITY HALL CLOSED DUE TO COVID-19:
City Hall offices are closed to the public.
Department staff are available by appointment only. The City Hall lobby is open for limited access as residents can drop off payments and documents, including development plans and permit applications, into a locked drop off container. This option is also available for prospective candidates wishing to drop off petitions. The City Finance Office will be open to accept petitions in person one-half hour before the filing deadline, 4:30-5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 31.
Residents are strongly encouraged to use the City's online services for payments as well as utilize the night depository box on the west side of the City Hall building, which is available any time of day. The public can also call or e-mail questions by contacting the individual City department. Contact information can be found on the City's website at rcgov.org .
**Utility Bills: Residents are encouraged to use online automatic payment of utility bills by visiting https://selfservice.rcgov.org and clicking on Citizen Self Service on the left hand side for utility bills or by using the City's Utility Billing "Sure-Pay" system. Call 394-4125 or visit the Water Division's page on the City's website at rcgov.org . If you visit the self-service portal, you will need to know your account number and customer number to register, both of which can be found on your most recent utility bill.
In addition, residents are encouraged to mail in their payment or use the night drop box on the west side of the building, which is available any time of the day.
**Parking Tickets: Residents are encouraged to pay parking tickets online by visiting the 'How To' section at rcgov.org or https://rapidcity.citationportal.com/
**Shut-off Notices: Residents facing shut-off notices from the City will not have their utility services and solid waste collections suspended, however late fees for non-payment will continue to accrue.
**General Business: Residents with general questions about City services, should call or e-mail the individual City department rather than making a personal visit to the department office.
**MARCH 24 UPDATE**
- · Attended a conference call today with the Governor and DOH.
- · Listened to the Governor’s press conference this morning- two new cases.
- · Escape from the women’s prison in Pierre. Nine isolated inmates, one of which came to Rapid City and was arrested by RCPD.
- · We are answering dozens of questions on effects of new ordinance.
- · The ambulance transported three patients consistent with COVID-19 symptoms.
- · Strategic teams are formed, making early progress now. Weekly reports will occur on Fridays.
- · Digesting new FMLA expansion and emergency sick leave legislation now. There are many questions. Each employer should be doing the same.
- · First day of City Hall closure went ok. Will get better with practice.
- · The Airport is working with its tenants to understand losses and find a way to help. Airport flight activity at about 18% now.
- · The City is working on financial loss projections in preparation for priority budgeting.
- · RCPD mitigated a robbery last night with a robbery strike force. 302 E. Blvd. Vehicle pursuit and foot pursuit, led to the arrests of two people and the recovery of a firearm.
- · Receiving many calls about suspension of utility payments or forgiving payments. Working through this and not ready to report anything yet.
- · Assessing the park restroom closure issue. We may reevaluate and make an adjustment in Memorial Park.
- · Communicating with EAFB today as well as Pennington County and emergency management.
**MARCH 23 UPDATE**
March 23 Update
- · Fielding hundreds of messages relative to the proposed city ordinance closing or limiting certain businesses for public health reasons.
- · Civic Center is now locked-down.
- · The ambulance services continues to transport patients with symptoms consistent with COVID-19. Five such patients yesterday.
- · Casino robberies continue to be a problem. If the business closure city ordinance passes on 3-27, casinos will be closed. RCPD will reevaluate strategy when this occurs.
- · The Parks and Recreation office is now closed to the public, as are all public works buildings.
- · We are creating work-arounds for licensing processes, usually requiring a City Hall visit. Update will follow when available.
- · Cross-training is occurring between City divisions to ensure critical services remain consistent for the duration.
- · Rapid Transit volume is down, but now consistent. Best practices are being evaluated concerning continuation of service.
- · State Dept of Transportation has allowed work to resume on East Blvd reconstruction.
- · Rumor control continues to be a challenge. No, the airlines are not increasing air travel to Rapid City.
- · Strategic teams are being built to address or coordinate information on:
o Grocery and supply store supply chain and consumer activity.
o Food distribution from non-profit and other food sources.
o Emergency planning relative to medical providers
o Health services to establish points of contact and capacity.
o Financial, to include city budget status and federal disaster funding.
o Employee support to include benefits, day care and mental health.
o Communication to include consolidation and dissemination to/from City, County, State, health officials and public.
**MARCH 22 UPDATE**
Mayor Steve Allender's COVID-19 City video update:
- · Monument Health, our primary medical advisor advises the City to take restrictive action beginning this upcoming week.
- · Governor Noem’s press conference today indicates community spread is occurring in Beadle County. They will confirm through Dept. of Health investigation by Tuesday.
- · Safe to assume community spread today in state.
- · Following CDC Guidelines, Rapid City will pass an emergency ordinance restricting or closing certain businesses. This is necessary due to unacceptably low compliance with social distance recommendations.
- · Press conference held today at 2:30 to explain situation and gave notice of special council meeting tonight at 6:00 pm.
- · At special council meeting, two items will be addressed:
o Repealing a resolution limiting the use of electronic attendance for council meetings.
o 1st reading of the emergency ordinance.
- · In City messaging, special emphasis will be given to the topics of:
o Social distancing
o In-home isolation
o Our responsibility to our neighbors
o Remaining calm
- · Beginning tomorrow we will begin aligning our mission and employees with high-priority community needs.
- · Many City programs and non-essential services will be unavailable indefinitely.
- · All essential City services are guaranteed to remain in operation:
o Wastewater treatment
o Drinking water treatment and delivery
o Solid Waste pick-up
o Public safety
- · Some city services will remain available through appointment:
o Community development
o Public Works
o Others as needed, on a case by case basis
**MARCH 21 UPDATE**
MAYOR STEVE ALLENDER'S COVID-19 DAILY UPDATE:
*The City's 36 parks, bike paths and scenic trails are open for use however park playground and restroom facilities have been closed effective Friday, March 20 in an effort to limit the potential for transmission of the COVID-19 virus.
*Residents are encouraged to use online automatic payment of utility bills by visiting https://selfservice.rcgov.org and clicking on Citizen Self Service on the left hand side for utility bills or by using the City's Utility Billing "Sure-Pay" system. Call 394-4125 or visit the Water Division's page on the City's website at rcgov.org .
*Residents can also mail in their payment or use the night drop box on the west side of the City Hall building at 300 Sixth Street.
*Residents are encouraged to pay parking tickets online by visiting the 'How To' section at rcgov.org or https://rapidcity.citationportal.com/
**MARCH 20 UPDATE**
MAYOR ALLENDER'S DAILY COVID-19 CITY UPDATE:
CITY HALL OFFICES TO CLOSE BEGINNING MONDAY
Beginning Monday, City Hall offices will be closed to the public.
Department staff are available by appointment only. The City Hall lobby will be open for limited access as residents will be able to drop off payments and documents, including development plans and permit applications, into a locked drop off container. This option is also available for prospective candidates wishing to drop off petitions. The City Finance Office will be open to accept petitions in person one-half hour before the filing deadline, 4:30-5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 31.
Residents are strongly encouraged to use the City's online services for payments as well as utilize the night depository box on the west side of the City Hall building, which is available any time of day. The public can also call or e-mail questions by contacting the individual City department. Contact information can be found on the City's website at rcgov.org .
CITY POSTPONES APRIL CLEAN-UP WEEK; DELAYS OPENING OF REMOTE YARD WASTE SITES
As part of its COVID-19 response, the City is postponing the annual City Clean-Up Week activities and also delaying the opening of remote yard waste collection sites at two locations in Rapid City.
The annual City Clean-Up Week was scheduled for April 20-25 and City Public Works officials will evaluate if the event will be rescheduled later this year. The week-long event provides for free drop-off of many items to the City's Landfill and is highlighted by the Community Clean-Up Day where the City encourages groups of volunteers to work in assigned areas.
"We know the clean-up week and Community Clean-Up Day are very popular among people of all ages," said Jancie Knight of the City's Solid Waste Division. "There is considerable small and large group interaction as well as exposure to waste products during the Clean-Up week activities. With the COVID-19 outbreak, the best option is to postpone efforts until later in the year."
A new date for Clean-Up Week has not been determined.
In addition, the City is delaying the April 1 placement of yard-waste containers at the two remote locations at Floyd Fitzgerald Stadium and West Boulevard North. The remote sites often attract dozens of people at a given time dropping off materials. As part of social distancing protocols during the COVID-19 outbreak, the City wants to minimize the potential of large-group interaction.
Residents on city solid waste collection service are encouraged to place their yard waste in brown disposable bags for curbside collection beginning April 1. Yard waste can also be dropped off at the City's Landfill on Highway 79.
**MARCH 19 UPDATE**
- The City saw 100+ walk-in customers yesterday, mostly for utility bill payment. Staff is encouraging customers to mail payments or create an on-line payment account.
- City Hall will likely close to public access beginning Monday, March 23rd. All services related to building permitting, inspections, utility payments etc are being made available through telephone, mail and on line services. When necessary, City staff will meet a customer at the door to receive or deliver documents. This is necessary to help prevent unnecessary or frequent physical contact with members of the public.
- · Parks and Recreation will close playgrounds and park restrooms immediately. This is necessary to discourage the use of public and frequently-used facilities.
- · City Hall – specifically the HR Dept. is finalizing employee sick leave use policies, in light of the pandemic. This is necessary to protect City employees and their families.
- · All Civic Center events have been cancelled through April 8th and more closures are imminent. This is largely at the behest of event promotors and is necessary to limit crowd sizes.
- · The Public Library will remain closed through April 8th. This is necessary to reduce the opportunity to gather in public settings.
- · Ambulance staff report many calls for service with symptomatic patients. In addition to emergency transport, isolation recommendations found at the CDC website is the advice of the day.
- · The Rapid City Police Department is advising the public to use their on-line reporting site whenever possible. Emergencies are still handled through calling 911. This is necessary to reduce unnecessary or frequent contact with members of the public, and to keep our 1st responders as healthy as possible.
- · The City is bolstering our ability to host conference call or video conferencing for meetings. Some public meetings may take a more virtual attendance theme. This is necessary to allow those who have business with the City to interact in a long-distance manner, to reduce the possibility of contamination of staff and officials, as well as members of the public.
- · We are attempting to change the 15 minute free parking downtown, to 30 minutes, to encourage carry out/pick-ups and quick trips. The timeline is on our parking vendor and we will announce when this is complete.
CITY INCREASES PARKING METER 'FREE TIME' FROM 15 TO 30 MINUTES
The City is increasing its free parking feature on downtown parking meters from 15 minutes to 30 minutes to promote food pickups and other short-term business-to-customer transactions as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic impacts on many local businesses.
The change will be effective on all meters by tomorrow (Friday).
When they were installed in downtown Rapid City last summer, the new downtown parking meters included a 15-minute free parking feature to allow for business deliveries and customer pickups. The feature has proved a popular one among businesses and patrons. City officials are encouraging the public to utilize the feature and the increased free parking time to patronize local businesses.
The change will be in effect until further notice.
CITY CLOSING PARK SYSTEM PLAYGROUNDS, RESTROOM FACILITIES
The City's Parks and Recreation Department is closing park system playgrounds and restroom facilities to public use and will stop taking reservations for Park picnic shelters. The actions are being taken to limit spread of COVID-19 by minimizing the size of public gatherings as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.
The actions are effective Friday (tomorrow) and will remain in place until further notice.
The City is making the decision based on Centers for Disease Control recommendations for social distancing, limiting the size of public gatherings and managing the cleaning of the park equipment and facilities. The restroom facilities at Canyon Lake West Park Shelter, Legacy Commons in Memorial Park, Founders Park and Skyline Wilderness Park are year-round facilities and will be closed. Other park restroom facilities were scheduled to open in April but their opening is delayed until further notice.
Parks staff will be surrounding Park playground equipment with caution tape and orange fencing and placing closure signage in the affected areas. City officials indicate the City's 36 parks and bike path remain open for public use.
**MARCH 17 UPDATES**
CITY TO DISCONTINUE UTILITY SHUTOFFS EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY
The City of Rapid City announced Tuesday it will discontinue utility shutoffs of water, sewer and solid waste collection until further notice to allow for proper sanitation during the COVID-19 outbreak.
"Our primary goal with this action is to keep the community and the public healthy," City Public Works Director Dale Tech said in making today's announcement.
City officials remind customers to pay their utility bills on time to avoid late fees and to not impact the City's ability to provide these critical services.
The action is effective immediately.