MPD, Mac council focus on COVID education

Chad Frey

The routine pullover of a car by the McPherson Police Department reinforced, to chief Mikel Golden, the need for education about COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

“Two people in the car were quarantined but still out at the bar,” Golden said. “You almost took out my whole shift. That is your safety that you are going to send home to be quarantined for 14 days. ... If you are quarantined, stay home.”

That incident came in the middle of a campaign — Kick Covid — launched recently by the city in an attempt to educate city residents on how to slow the spread of the pandemic.

The commission also enacted a mask ordinance, requiring mask usage anywhere that social distancing cannot be observed.

“No ordinance will beat he pandemic. People cooperating with each other and caring for each other is what will make the difference,” said Tom Brown, mayor of McPherson.

As he made that statement Nov. 23, Shalei Shea, director of the McPherson County Health Department was issuing her own.

“Our communities are going to be making difficult decisions surrounding how to proceed as cases climb and the healthcare system is strained,” Shea wrote in a news release. “Please note these decisions are not made lightly but are vital to the future of our communities. We want to keep “business as usual,” our children in schools, our workplaces functioning in person, and our healthcare system well-equipped. Each individual McPherson County resident plays an important role in our communities, part of which includes keeping our society healthy.“

The statement reported 68 new cases in a 48-hour time period for the county — down from previous reports in the 80s for the same period.

“We are off the high, but we need to go further,” Brown said. “... I know it is getting tiring.”

Brown discussed an effort by McPherson Police to be seen in downtown — not to enforce the city mask ordinance, but to monitor mask usage.

“We are not looking to bring down the hammer, but we do want to mnake checks see how things are going,“ Brown said.

The chief, and assistant chief, head downtown for a walk on Fridays.

Golden said his department concentrates on education — rather than fines and enforcement.

And he likes the results. On a recent walk he observed what he estimated were 98 percent of people wearing masks.

“There were only a couple people who did not, and they were socially distanced,” Golden said. “... It is good to see people shopping local and wearing a mask. A lot of the business said this year has been hard for them. They are stuggling. They are in a little bit of hurt. They need us to shop local.”