CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC

Visitors to the West Plains Public Library on Wednesday were met with locked doors. Signs announced the library is closed until March 31 to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 illness. The drop-off boxes were also locked; signs reassured patrons late fees will be waived for the time being.

As Missouri’s count of confirmed cases of COVID-19 continues to increase, area communities have been taking proactive measures to help slow the spread of the virus.

Gov. Mike Parson announced late Wednesday afternoon the first death in Missouri of a patient confirmed to have the disease.

“The patient, from Boone County, had tested positive for a travel-related case of COVID-19,” said Parson. “Please join Teresa and I in praying for family and friends.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the State Department of Health and Senior Services showed 15 positive cases had been identified: four each in Greene and St. Louis counties, two in Cass County, and one each in Boone, Cole, Henry and Jackson counties and St. Louis City.

No cases have been confirmed to date in Howell County, but West Plains and Willow Springs officials are not taking any chances.

In West Plains, city officials announced the closures, effective Wednesday, of West Plains Public Library, Jimmie Carroll Sports Complex/West Plains Parks & Recreation, West Plains Civic Center, the Welcome Center and the West Plains Senior Center to the public.

The facilities will remain closed to the public through March 31, unless it is determined the closures need to be extended, said officials.

“While we recognize this decision affects many citizens in out community, our top priority is health and well-being on the community, along with public safety,” reads the announcement issued by City Clerk and Public Relations Director Mallory Snodgras. “Please know this is a rapidly-changing situation that requires frequent evaluation, and we will continue to follow the guidelines of national and local public health officials as this situation develops.”

Snodgras told the Quill that city workers will continue to work during the closures.

“There’s still a.lot of work to do,” she said.

Snodgras added the lobby in city hall will remain open to the public for the time being, however, city officials encourage the public to pay utility bills by using the drop box outside in front of city hall, or paying online at www.westplains.net and clicking the blue button reading “Pay Bill Online.”

At the West Plains Public Library, employee Marietta Caldwell said library staff have plenty of work to do, from catching up on paper work to cleaning the library to get it ready reopening.

“Right now the book drops are closed,” she said, “However, if you still have books due, we won’t charge late fees while we’re closed.” She added that library memberships will also be extended to cover the closure time.

MTN. VIEW AND WILLOW SPRINGS

On Monday, the Mtn. View city officials announced the temporary closing of R. Claude Treiman Senior Center until March 30. Hot meals will be served curbside during the closure and meals deliveries for homebound senior citizens will continue as normal.

The Willow Springs School District announced Wednesday classes are suspended until April 3.

According to Willow Springs City Administrator Beverly Hicks, Willow Springs City Hall will remain open to the public, but customers are encouraged to pay bills or fines by using a drop box in front of city hall.

The closures come after the Howell County Health Department and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued recommendations to limit public gatherings of over 10 people.

The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, for most people, but severe illness is more likely in the elderly and those with existing health problems. Worldwide, COVID-19 has killed over 7,800 people to date, while more than 80,000 have recovered, the Associated Press reports.

For more information about closures in Howell County cities, call West Plains City Hall at 256-7176, Willow Springs City Hall, 417-469-2107, and Mtn. View City Hall, 417-934-2601. 

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