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Shawnee proclamation: Shelter-in-place best defense against pandemic

Vicky O. Misa
A drive-through COVID-19 testing clinic was held Thursday in Shawnee. Another is scheduled from 10 am. to 2 p.m. Friday, April 3 (While supplies last). 
The event is at the Citizen Potawatomi Community Development Corporation, 1545 S Gordon Cooper Drive. 
Anyone 18 years of age and older, experiencing a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher AND a cough or shortness of breath can be tested.

As COVID-19 data continues to pour in and the world gets a better grip on what is being faced, each day brings added and/or stronger guidelines for cities, businesses and families.

When Shawnee Mayor Richard Finley released a second amended proclamation this week — which went into effect late Monday evening — the most significant new order was for Shawnee residents to shelter in place, refraining from all unnecessary travel from home. This edict mirrors those of Gov. Kevin Stitt and President Donald Trump.

It's an effort that works only as efficiently as the community follows it.

On Thursday Finley said people will have to use their judgement and understand that actions have consequences — for themselves and for others.  

“Make your choices and live with the results,” he said.

Shawnee Police Chief Mason Wilson said Shawnee is no different than other cities in Oklahoma.

“The police have the ability to warn, cite and arrest for failure to comply,” he said.

Wilson said the SPD will deal with each situation as it arises; the situation would dictate the outcome, he said.

“The police department is dedicated to the public safety of the citizens,” he said. “I would hope everyone cares enough about our community that we would not be forced to take the more punitive approach.”

And just like health care professionals, when the SPD must engage in direct contact with others, it has taken measures to protect officers and residents, alike.

“All of the officers are equipped with personal protective equipment (PPE) to include masks, gloves and eye protection,” he said. “Officers are urged to speak with citizens over the phone for simple reports, keep distance when possible, wear masks and roll down windows during transports and many other safety measures.”

He said his officers do not attend briefings, they respond directly to the streets, and briefings and assignments are given electronically.

“We have a special crew to sanitize the police department on a daily basis,” he explained. “Officers have the supplies to disinfect their vehicles and equipment.”

He said more officers are patrolling the streets right now.

“We are monitoring closed businesses and residential areas for possible vandalisms or thefts,” he said. “We are working with many other entities to monitor the ever-changing situation.”

He said the SPD's mission is to keep officers healthy so they can protect residents.

“We have adapted and changed our protocols daily since this started,” he said. 

Mayoral proclamation

As well as the shelter-at-home guideline, additions to Finley's declaration include a requirement that all essential grocery and retail establishments must provide at least one hour of controlled access to patrons age 55 and over.

All garage/yard sales are suspended through April 30.

City parks will remain open and residents will be allowed to use them for exercise, abiding by the CDC guidelines on social distancing, but all recreation equipment is to be considered closed to park patrons —including all playground or exercise equipment and sports/recreational courts and facilities.

All directives contained in Gov. Kevin Stitt's Sixth Amended Executive Order 2020-07 are being implemented by the city.

Extended date

Much of the original declaration remained the same except it added an extension to the date. The first state-of-emergency document was to expire April 6, but now the edict is to be honored through April 30 — unless another amendment or extension is added.

Several items in Finley's original declaration have been extended through April 30; they are:

• Shawnee Special Events Permits are suspended and no new permits are being granted.

• Events with 10 or more people on city-owned and operated properties — including streets and alleys — except for City Commission, Shawnee Municipal Authority and Shawnee Airport Authority meetings, are prohibited.

• City of Shawnee Advisory Board meetings are suspended.

• The Shawnee Municipal Authority is temporarily suspending utility cut-offs for customers unable to pay their utility bills through April 30.

• Shawnee Municipal Court hearings have been postponed; those affected by rescheduling will be notified.

Watch for updates.

Mayor Richard Finley's new directive to shelter from home:

“I DO HEREBY FURTHER DIRECT, effective March 30, 2020 at 11:59 PM, that all residents living within the corporate limits of the City of Shawnee, Oklahoma are required to shelter in place at their place of residence as provided herein:

A) Persons may leave their residences only for Essential Activities as defined herein, or to operate Essential Businesses.

a. "Essential Activities" shall include:

• Tasks essential to the health and safety of family members, household members, or pets.

• Obtaining necessary services or supplies for family, household members, or pets, or to deliver those services to others in need, for operation of a residence.

• Engaging in outdoor activity, provided that the individual, except family or household members, follow social distancing guidelines issued by the CDC and prior emergency proclamations.

• Performing work at an Essential Business.

• Caring for or transporting a family member or pet in another household.

• Moving to another residence either inside or outside the City of Shawnee, Oklahoma.

• To otherwise carry out activities specifically permitted by this Proclamation.

b. "Essential Business" shall mean those businesses identified by the Governor of the State of Oklahoma, or his designee, by the Governor's Sixth Amended Executive Order 2020-07, and amendments thereto, as critical infrastructure sector, including critical government workers as defined by the governmental employer.”

Information taken from Mayor Richard Finley's second amended proclamation.