Many city of Independence facilities will be closed beginning Sunday, and several city services or events will be altered as precautionary measures to mitigate spreading the coronavirus.
The city also announced Friday it would not do any utility shutoffs – electric or water – until further notice, and the animal shelter will continue adoptions but by appointment only.
As of Friday afternoon, there has been no confirmed cases in the city or Jackson County, two in Missouri and six in Kansas.
Also Friday, Jackson County Executive Frank White modified his state of emergency to limit group gatherings to 250 people or less.
“This emergency is evolving, but it’s our social responsibility to help flatten the curve,” Weir said Friday, referring to the calculated tipping point where health care facilities nationwide could be overwhelmed with patients. The mayor noted how Italy went from 19 known cases on Feb. 21 to 12,500 in three weeks.
“It may be possible to limit the number of active cases at any one time,” Weir said. “I trust our citizens will use good judgment to take precautions.”
Travel for city staff has been suspended, and they will be able to telecommute as work allows. City Manager Zach Walker said staff will be meeting daily to determine any appropriate changes or additions.
Among the other changes and protocols Independence announced Friday as part of its state of emergency:
• Utility bills: Customers can continue making payments at the drive-through of the Independence Utilities Center or at the cashier windows inside. They are also encouraged to pay online, as all credit card and online transactions fees will be waived until further notice, pending City Council action Friday.
• The Palmer Senior Center is closed beginning Sunday until further notice, though the city is working with the Mid-America Regional Council to provide meals for those who have signed up for the onsite lunch program at the Palmer Senior Center for the remainder of the month.
• The Truman Memorial Building, Sermon Community Center, George Owens Nature Center, National Frontier Trails Museum and Uptown Market are closed beginning Sunday until further notice. All rentals, classes, programs, events and activities beginning Sunday have been canceled or postponed, and patrons will receive credits for future classes or refunds for canceled classes. Rentals at the Uptown Market are an exception, as the city does not provide an onsite-staff person for rentals at the Market and as such, those will be allowed to take place as scheduled. Memberships for our various city facilities will be extended past the expiration date for as many days as the facilities are closed.
• Municipal Court will be closed through March 27, though court clerks will still be taking payment at the windows. Further closures will be evaluated later. As the court dates are updated, individuals may check for the new date at: www.municipalrecordsearch.com/independencemo.
• City staff will continue to conduct normal inspections, following daily safety briefings. However, if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in Jackson County, departments will suspend in-person contact with individuals and will evaluate the suspension of inspections. Plan reviews and new business inspections will continue throughout this situation.
• The city’s household hazardous waste event scheduled for April 4 has been postponed, with a makeup date to be determined.
• The Japanese Sister City delegation exchange has been postponed until 2021.
• Food handler and food manager classes will continue normal operations with staff cleaning the area after each class, However, if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 in Jackson County, classes will be suspended.
• Facilities maintenance crews will increase regular cleaning rotations throughout the various buildings, including sanitizing regularly touched locations such as door handles, counters, elevator buttons and railings.
• The police and fire departments are adjusting operations. When requesting police services, continue to call 911 for emergencies and 816-836-3600 for non-emergencies and past occurred incidents. Call takers will assign a priority level and determine the best course of action. Fire crews will have enhanced vetting for 911 calls to determine appropriate responses, and the department says it will also be reducing some of our non-essential activities that require crews to leave their stations.
• To schedule an animal adoption appointment, call 816-325-7207.
• The Silverstein Eye Centers Arena had announced earlier that it will be closed for events through April 5. Public activities at the Community Ice Rink have been suspended through April 5, though private rentals will continue.
The city of Blue Springs also announced several precautionary measures Friday, including closing Vesper Hall senior center:
• Vesper Hall will be closed beginning Monday for three weeks, though senior home meal delivery service will continue.
• Municipal Court dockets for next Thursday and Friday are postponed to a later date. The court office will remain staffed and open for normal business, and all prisoner arraignments will continue as usual via video conferencing. Court staff will be working with both judges to set cases appropriately and notify attorneys and defendants of the new dates.
• The Blue Springs Fieldhouse will remain open for normal operation, as staff has enhanced cleaning and disinfectant routines, though operations could change depending on the emergency. Large event rentals are suspended, though practice and party rentals will continue for now.
Fieldhouse members will be allowed to suspend their membership for the month of April with no penalty, and staff will evaluate any future extension to our suspension policy as needed. Written notice of intent to suspend membership should be provided to the Fieldhouse by March 27. If one chooses to restart your membership prior to May, they will not be charged the application fee and will pay the prorated monthly fee based on the day of restart.