Public practices: Social distancing in Jamestown

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Red marks on the floor near the cash register are in place at Jamestown's TSC store as a reminder to keep a safe distance while shopping and waiting in line. John M. Steiner / The Sun

"Personal space" has taken on a whole new meaning the last three weeks.

In efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, people and businesses in the Jamestown community have taken precautionary social distancing measures. Central Valley Health District Director of Health Promotion Shannon Kaiser said she is pleased with practices adopted by community members.

"We have observed community members are doing their part by working from home, keeping their distance when out getting essential supplies and practicing accelerated hygiene and cleaning techniques," Kaiser said. "Many businesses have also adapted to the national and state guidelines in order to continue to serve the community, which has been great."

Menards is one of those businesses that is going above in beyond in preventative efforts.

"We are fulfilling all of the CDC regulations and going above and beyond," said Evan Davis, Menards assistant manager. "We are exceeding with enhanced cleaning procedures throughout the day and at night. In our closing period, being our hours have adjusted, we're extending past hours to enhance our cleaning to make sure there's a safe environment not only our team members but also our guests."


Down the way in the Buffalo Mall, Home of Economy has printed signs reminding customers to stay the suggested six feet away from other shoppers. General manager Robert Hallberg said shoppers have been respectful of others' space and work to follow the protocols in place.

"99% of the customers who come in here stay back the required distance," Hallberg said. "When they come up to the till they normally stay back if there is another person there since this started. I haven't had any customers grouping together or anything. They are following the distancing."

Kaiser said she thinks there has been an increase in social distancing since the start of the pandemic. As of Friday, April 3, there have been 159 positive cases and three deaths due to the virus in North Dakota. Kaiser said people have begun to take the practices seriously now that the coronavirus has infiltrated North Dakota. Kaiser advised families in need of essential supplies to send only one member of the family to the store if possible. Also, as the spring weather has people enjoying the outdoors, Kaiser asked community members to not gather in groups while out.

"I would say they are definitely still practicing social distancing," Davis said of customers. "I have noticed guests are wearing gloves, they are wearing more masks and they are definitely staying their distance so they are taking it seriously. We intend to make sure not only our team members but also our guests are aware that Menards is a safe place to follow those guidelines."

Kaiser said public health workers hope the members of the community continue to take social distancing practices seriously. Kaiser asked residents to play their part in flattening the pandemic curve and keep the six feet of distance between one another.

While many shoppers and retail employees are trying to stay within the guidelines, it can get complicated when maneuvering crowded store aisles. Davis said Menard's staff members are practicing the social distancing methods and remind shoppers occasionally to please respect the signs posted on the doors, throughout the store and in the yard. Hallberg said Home of Economy does have signs posted to remind shoppers of the protocol in place.

Hallberg said business has been slower since the beginning of the pandemic and added there have been no consistent peak days or times. Davis said he has not seen an influx or decrease of customers over the course of the last three weeks.

"We advise the community to only go out when deemed necessary," Kaiser said. "Anytime during the day is a good time to go and get food and essential supplies. Often times the busy rush times at stores are right after work around that 4:30 p.m. mark. Many stores have allocated the first hour of business for older adults and we ask that the community respects those guidelines to ensure all can safely get what they need."


Home of Economy and Dunham's Sports are the only two businesses still open in the Buffalo Mall. The two stores are open through their independent entrances. Menards has adjusted daily hours to 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The store is open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. Menards is also prohibiting all pets and children under the age of 16 from entering the building. If a child looks under 16, they will be asked to provide identification.

Kaiser said if people do need to run an errand, it can be helpful to log information to rule out contact with a carrier of the virus. As of 3 p.m. April 1, there have been no positive cases of COVID-19 in Jamestown.

"A way that all community members can help during this time is by keeping a daily journal of where they went and when they went there, and who they came in contact with," Kaiser said. "This will help immensely with contact tracing in the case that one were to test positive for the coronavirus. If you test positive for the coronavirus, you will be contacted by a local public health worker to document all of the close contacts you had in the 14 days leading up to your symptoms."

Kaiser said members of the public can follow Central Valley Health on Facebook for up-to-date information on the coronavirus.

"The way we are living now is going to go on for a little while," Kaiser said. "We want to make sure that everyone in the Jamestown community is taking care of themselves, mentally and physically, through all of this."

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Like other businesses in Jamestown the TSC store has a temporary change of hours and attempt to offer a convenient delivery service to your vehicle. John M. Steiner / The Sun

Gerber is a sports writer for the Jamestown Sun.
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