Letter to the community regarding COVID-19

JW Foster - Copy 

We are in the middle of cold and flu season as it is, and now we’re hearing about this new virus that may be visiting our community soon. Like many of you, I’ve been monitoring the information and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Thurston County Health Department. Here’s the status for Yelm.

As of today, we don’t have any confirmed cases of the Covid-19 virus in our immediate area. It is cold and flu season though and plenty of folks are sniffin’, coughin’ and generally waiting for Spring to get here – remember that not all that coughs is coronavirus!

At some point, we very likely will see the virus transmitted between people here in Yelm. The ‘good news’ is that this virus is generally tolerated well by the majority of people. The elderly and folks with weakened immune systems are more at risk for more severe infections and complications.

What should we do then?

We should do what we always do at this time of year—practice good hygiene by washing our hands often and thoroughly, especially after having contact with a potentially contaminated surface (shopping cart handles, stair railings, sick people’s hands), using hand-sanitizer if we don’t have immediate access to warm soap and water, keep our hands away from our face, nose and mouth (careful when eating/smoking) and keep our germs to ourselves by coughing/sneezing into a tissue or our elbow, that sort of thing. In addition, we have included a measure called “social distancing”—this means staying at least 6 feet away from someone else if you do not have any protective equipment on, closing large gatherings, encouraging telework from home and school closures. And please, if you don’t feel well, use your sick leave to stay home.

We understand that social distancing and other requirements put in place by the Governor and health departments have changed our lives, disrupted our routines, activities and our abilities to freely move and do what we want to do. Despite these disruptions, it is important to rememberthe responsibility is OURS, as a community, to help get rid of this virus.

In addition to encouraging everyone to practice healthy habits, we are doing everything within our power to navigate the abundance of information and misinformation by pointing to the facts provided by the CDC and Health Departments. We have also created a dedicated webpage with updates to city operations, along with helpful resources for community members and businesses impacted by the coronavirus. Learn more at: https://www.yelmwa.gov/government/mayor_s_office/covid-19_community_resources/index.php

As you hopefully have seen through updates on our website, www.yelmwa.gov, and on our city social media page, www.facebook.com/pg/CityofYelmWA/, we are keeping the parks open, promoting the use of online resources to pay bills and not shutting off anyone’s utilities for non-payment for anyone who cannot pay due to the impacts of the coronavirus.

We are also walking the talk and implementing social distancing by limiting City operations to temporarily focus on essential services only. We will continue to provide essential services such as water, sewer, police, and emergency management, building permit and inspection services. As of March 17, 2020, we have temporarily suspended the following City services until further notice: in-person utility billing payments, municipal court, passport services, and pet licensing.

During this unprecedented time where Governor Inslee has issued a statewide shutdown of all restaurants, we encourage everyone to support these local businesses who have done so much to support our community. These restaurants and their teams of employees are the same ones who hosted your family's big events, your little league parties, your company meetings, and community fundraisers! Keep supporting these businesses by ordering takeout, delivery and drive thru services while we navigate these extraordinary circumstances together.

In support of local businesses we are also partnering with the Yelm Chamber of Commerce to convene virtual conversations with business owners to listen to their needs make sure they know of resources available through the state and federal government, which are posted on our website: https://www.yelmwa.gov/government/mayor_s_office/covid-19_community_resources/business_resources.php

On behalf of the City, I have requested State assistance for people experiencing housing instability due to the Covid-19 response. We are also partnering with and supporting Yelm Community Schools to make sure no child goes hungry and talking with our federal elected officials to encourage them to increase the amount and accelerate the delivery of unemployment resources for employees and families who are impacted.

This is a tough and scary time and disruption is difficult. With your help we can get through this together by using common sense practices to keep healthy. In the meantime, go out in the fresh air, take a step back, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and take care of yourself and your loved ones.


JW Foster
Mayor, City of Yelm