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City of Rincon following federal government's lead

— Effingham County schools are closed until further notice

— Savannah Tech is closed until March 28

— The Effingham Senior Center at New Stillwell Road in Springfield will remain closed through at least April 20 

— The Community Yard Sale set Saturday at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Rincon has been canceled

— Monday’s  Rincon City Council meeting has been canceled

— Tuesday’s presidential primary and $100 million bond referendum have been moved to May 19

— Rincon Municipal Court’s March 26 sessioin has been canceled

—   The Effingham County Job Fair, scheduled  April 1, has been postponed until at least the week of May 11

— All Effingham County Recreation and Parks Department sporting events, practices, special events and public gatherings have been canceled for an indefinite period

— The Rincon Recreation Department has also canceled all events

RINCON — Rincon City Council business has been infected with a great deal of uncertainly.

The culprit is the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. 

During a special called meeting Monday night, the council discussed potential actions in response to concerns about the respiratory illness. It was joined by city department heads.

The department heads recounted their plans for dealing with the virus. Their goal is to limit COVID-19 exposure for their workers and residents.

There have been more than 120 cases of COVID-19 in Georgia but none in the Coastal Health District, which includes Effingham, Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Glynn, Liberty and Long counties.

“As you know, we are receiving daily briefings and updates from other communities, our county, our state and the federal government,” City Manager John Klimm said. “As all of us know, all this is changing on an almost an hourly basis.”

On Monday, President Trump released strict new guidelines to limit people’s interactions in a bid to slow the virus. He called for avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people, which would adversely effect many businesses.

Some Rincon restaurants have already limited their service to drive-through customers.

 “If I could put it out to the public, it would be that we as a city want to be supportive of our local businesses,” he said. “However, most of this is being driven by the federal government and so we are following their direction and their lead. Whatever way we can help in that process with our local businesses, we want to do that.”

Chiefs Corey Rahn and Jonathan Murrell of the Rincon Fire Department and Rincon Police Department, respectively, talked about how the virus is impacting their methods.

“We closed all the fire stations from the public,” Rahn said. “There is no public access.”

Rahn also said that fire department personnel will try to avoid entering homes during emergency calls unless it is necessary.

“We are going to try to triage by the door unless it is life threatening and someone is in cardiac arrest and we have to take action,” he said. 

Rahn said two fire stations were quarantined last week after firefighters encountered a patient who had been on a cruise ship recently.. The patient, however, was diagnosed with Influenza A instead of COVID-19.

Murrell said his officers will remain in or near their vehicles during medical calls unless they are needed by fire and/or medical personnel.

“It’s kind of hard to restrict contact in law enforcement,” he said.

Rahn and Murrell said their departments and vehicles are sanitized regularly and they are working to acquire ample supplies of cleaning products and protective gear for their staffs. They noted that their is a shortage of masks and disinfectants.

Public Works Superintendent Tim Bowles said department is operating almost normally because his staff has little contact with the public. He mentioned a need for hand sanitizer and masks.

Recreation Department Director Mike Osborne announced that he had discontinued field rentals and postponed baseball/softball tournaments. After his presentation, the council opted to cease all department activities.

City Planner LaMeisha Hunter Kelly said City Hall workers are wearing gloves and clearing their work spaces regularly.

In order to reduce traffic in the building, the council, upon Klimm’s recommendation, voted to temporarily waive the $1.25 transaction fee for paying water bills online.

It was determined that Lost Plantation Golf Course and the Fairway Bistro will continue to operate as usual but their status will be evaluated daily.

The council canceled Monday’s regularly schedule meeting and Lee suggested limiting additional council gatherings to urgent matters until the COVID-19 threat subsides.

City Attorney Raymond Dickey said, “... that’s the trend I’ve been exposed to, especially for the next 14 days.” 

Klimm noted that the council faces one issue that will require quick action. It is considering bids for trash collection in the city and the current deal with Waste Management will expire May 1.