By Jessie Wagoner
McPherson News-Ledger Staff
McPHERSON—With COVID-19 case numbers rising throughout the county and statewide, the City of McPherson has launched a “Kick COVID” campaign. Community members can anticipate seeing “Kick COVID” signs throughout the community in the coming days.
During Monday’s city commission meeting, commissioners heard from Dr. Michael Bloustine. Bloustine is a hospitalist at McPherson Center for Health and spoke to the capacity issues the hospital is already seeing. Small rural hospitals frequently experience surges in patients. When a surge occurs, patients are often transferred to larger hospitals in Wichita, Salina or Topeka. However, Bloustine said the hospital has seen situations arise recently where beds are not available at other hospitals.
Bloustine was clear: not all of the cases they are seeing at the hospital are COVID-19 cases. However, he said COVID-19 is one area where the community can actively take steps to prevent the spread of the virus. He encouraged city leaders and community members to continue wearing masks, practicing social distancing and having good hygiene practices.
Mayor Tom Brown, Commissioner Larry Weins and Commissioner Gary Mehl all indicated they would be willing to reinstate a mask ordinance if case numbers continue to climb. They will reevaluate the mask ordinance at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 21. In the meantime, the commissioners did approve a “Kick COVID” campaign to encourage and educate community members on how to combat the spread of the virus.
“I think we need a very robust campaign, a ‘Kick COVID’ campaign,” Mayor Brown said. “The city will do everything in its power to promote this. We need the chamber of commerce to actively solicit their members to put up the ‘Kick COVID’ sign. We need McPherson Main Street to solicit their members. We need MIDC to solicit their companies to become member. And hopefully, we need McPherson County Commissioners to at least support the campaign.”
Commissioner Weins expressed his disappointment in the low number of masks he has seen when visiting area businesses. He encouraged business owners and shoppers to wear masks.
“I was in six small businesses Friday and Saturday, and there was not one mask behind the counter, putting stuff on the shelves, waiting on people or people that walked in,” Weins said. “I never saw one mask except for the one I had on. That just disappoints me.”
Mehl has been a long-time supporter of educating community members rather than having a mask ordinance. However, he said Monday, his position was beginning to change.
“I absolutely despise the word mandate,” Mehl said. “I never have liked it. I like to think there is enough goodness in people that they will do what they need to do to take care of their fellow man. But the longer I’m into this thing, the more I’m seeing that just isn’t the case. People just don’t seem to care to some degree what happens to their neighbor. With that in mind, I’m leaning more towards a mandate than I have in the past.”
Also during the commission meeting the commission:
•held a presentation and oath ceremony for Firefighter Landon Everett.
•approved fire department purchases.
•received an update on road projects.
•approved the 2021-2022 holiday schedule.