MIAMI – In the wake of the increasingly complicated efforts to halt the spread of the coronavirus, Ottawa County officials, businesses and organizations are taking the necessary steps to do their part to keep local residents safe.
Schools and businesses have closed, more restrictions have been enforced, and restaurants and bars are closed. However, establishments with a drive-through can still fill to go orders.
The order also affects movie theaters, gyms, entertainment venues, coffee shops and food courts.
Violations will be treated the same as any ordinance violation.
It’s hoped that a proposed $1 trillion emergency stimulus package to address the economic cost of the coronavirus and expressed support for making immediate cash payments to Americans would be passed by the Senate Wednesday night.
All Ottawa County schools are closed after the state enacted a mandatory closing through Friday, April 3.
The closure includes all activities, practices, and all school-sponsored or hosted events.
As of now, school is tentatively scheduled to resume on Monday, April 6, but that will be adjusted as necessary.
“We have a plan in place to provide means and are prepared to address educational needs. In the meantime, I strongly encourage you to practice social distancing and avoid large crowds and public places,” Miami Public School Superintendent Jeremy Hogan said.
Gov. Kevin Stitt said that authorizing Oklahoma's public schools to shut down "is the right thing to do based on current guidance. This closure will allow us to give students and staff a period of time to be protected from further spread of the virus," in a written statement.
"We know closing schools has a significant impact on families and we are committed to doing what we can to lessen that as we work to prioritize the health and safety of all Oklahomans,” Stitt said.
NEO has transitioned to online course delivery for approximately two weeks and will revisit the situation at that time. This affects NEO’s main campus in Miami as well as the Grove Center until further notice.
County officials met in an emergency meeting Tuesday afternoon and have now closed the courthouse in Miami to the public.
“We called an emergency meeting and sat down with the District Attorney and his assistants, the judges, other department heads, and officials and decided the best thing to do was to close the courthouse to the public, with all employees still working,” County Commissioner Russell Earls said. “Hopefully, 99% of people can take care of their business via e-mail, fax, regular mail, and phone calls.”
Courts will be doing arraignments and protective orders, but on a very limited basis, and they are pushing everything else out for about 30 days until approximately the first of May.
County commissioners will continue their regular meetings, but they will be closed to the public. Meetings will be livestreamed on Facebook for anyone that wants to watch.
A Chrome book was purchased for the Sheriff’s Office to do video arraignments, Earls continued.
“This is uncharted territory for all of us. We don’t want to panic folks, but are stressing social distancing and recommending people don’t go out if they don’t have to. We will get through this,” Earls said.
“The sheriff’s office will remain open and active regardless of whom, where, or what could potentially close,” Ottawa County Sheriff Jeremy Floyd said. “Unlike any form of government, the sheriff’s office is the only full service law enforcement that exists in the state and country. The deputies and myself took an oath and are accountable to the people, regardless what the outcome is with the coronavirus. Let’s all do our diligence and get through this time.”
The county jail, however, is closed to the public and no inmate visits are being allowed. The jail lobby remains open and friends and relatives will be allowed to use the kiosk there if needed.
City of Miami
The Miami Public Library has closed until further notice “out of concern for the safety of the public and library staff,” according to Marcia Johnson, Director of the Library, Arts & Culture in Miami.
She encourages the public to make use of “OverDrive” and “RB Digital” books available on the library’s website at http://miamipl.okpls.org.
The library is among a number of city facilities that have closed.
Casinos in Ottawa County — The Stables, Downstream, Quapaw, Indigo Sky, Outpost, High Winds, Prairie Sun, Prairie Moon, River Bend and the Lucky Turtle — all have closed or were to close at least until March 31.
The closure at Buffalo Run was to begin at midnight Friday, March 20.
“Like all of our neighbors, we have monitored the ever changing updates that are provided daily and hourly of the COVID-19 virus,” said Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma Chief Craig Harper. “At this time along with our tribal neighbors, the Miami’s and Ottawa’s, we take these steps to continue to insure safety and protection for our patrons, coworkers, families and friends. God Bless this great Nation and all the Tribal Nations within it during these trying times.”
In addition to Buffalo Run, Peoria Ridge Golf Course, which also is owned by the tribe, will close.
The Miami Tribe declared a State of Emergency on Tuesday and the tribe’s headquarters and other facilities are now closed to the public until further notice. Watch for updates on the tribe’s website at https://www.miamination.com/ or on the tribe’s Facebook page.
Chief Doug Lankford said in a release, “The health and safety of our tribal members, tribal employees, those in our communities, and patrons of our businesses and tribal facilities are of primary concern.”
For those tribal members and clients who have an immediate need for assistance, should call before going to a tribal facility.
Personnel at each location will explain the systems in place for dropping off applications and documents, if needed.
DOCSServices Inc. has closed its congregate nutrition sites, but still is offering a drive through options “so our clients will still receive their meals,” said executive director B.J. Mooney.
All social activities, classes and other things offered at each nutrition site have been cancelled.
However, DOCS home routes will continue, Mooney said.
“Our main goal is to continue caring for our clients while also taking care of our employees,” Mooney said.
Food programs operated by several tribes also have been altered.
Effect on events
Rodeo Miami 2020 has been pushed back to Aug. 27-29 since the original date of May 1-2 falls in to the critical dates of social distancing.
Persons with questions regarding vendor space or sponsorships should call the Miami CVB at 918-542-4435.
A scheduled mayoral debate that was to be hosted by the Miami Rotary has been postponed, as has the Sunny Side Up Film Festival at the Coleman.
The Dobson Museum & Home will be closed until Friday, April 3 to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and continued work on the museum’s roof.
What is coronavirus?
For most, the virus causes mild or moderate fever and cough, but can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, especially for older adults and people with existing health issues.
The majority will recover — those with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover, according to the World Health Organization.