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Mendota mayor says non-essential businesses may be closed to stop uptick of cases

Mendota mayor threatens business closures after wave of COVID-19 cases

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After an increase of 26 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours pushed the Mendota ZIP code area to more than 100 total cases among its residents, Mayor David Boelk said the city could issue an executive order to close all non-essential businesses in Mendota.

The Mendota High School District also called a special meeting for Wednesday to consider pushing back the start of the school year, which is scheduled to begin next week.

There have been 106 residents in the Mendota ZIP code area that have tested positive for COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic out of 1,063 tests – meaning just shy of 10% of those tested have come back positive with the virus.

In the past two weeks, Mendota has had 69 confirmed cases among its residents – 46 in the past week.

An outbreak at Heritage Health Mendota accounts for 47 confirmed cases among staff and residents, including two deaths from complications related to COVID-19, confirmed Melissa Beaver, vice president of community relations and marketing at Heritage Operations Group. Cases among staff will only count toward Mendota’s case total if they reside in Mendota. All positive tests among nursing home residents will count in Mendota’s numbers.

“I am urging you as the mayor, as a colleague, as a neighbor and as a father to take this seriously,” Boelk said. “We are in this together and you have an active role in the outcome.”

Boelk said the statistics in general show 15% to 20% of those infected have a severe case where hospitalization is necessary. Of those, 50% will need a ventilator, Boelk said.

“Of those, 50% could die,” Boelk said.

“We are a small community and chances are you will know the person or people who will suffer severely or possibly succumb to this terrible virus,” he said.

The nursing home will continue weekly testing until successive rounds draw all negative results, Beaver said. The nursing home continues to follow state and federal guidelines and is working with the La Salle County Health Department to slow the outbreak, Beaver said.

Boelk said the city could order the Mendota Police Department to issue fines for people not wearing masks or fine people holding gatherings of more than 10 people.

“Understand that we take no pleasure in what some may see as a threat,” Boelk said. “We, however, feel a moral responsibility to do what we must to keep our residents as safe and to quell this surge as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

Some businesses have already taken measures to slow the spread of COVID-19. First State Insurance and First State Bank closed their lobbies. Main Street Station Inc. and El Zarape Mexican restaurant have closed for indoor dining and continue with carryouts or deliveries only. Sullivan Foods said it will not serve customers who don’t wear a mask.

The city has closed the clerk’s lobby to walk-in traffic, as has the Mendota Police Department.

The mayor said residents should wear a mask in public, socially distance 6 feet or more, wash their hands frequently and stay at home as much as possible.

Mendota High School Superintendent Jeff Prusator said administrators will give recommendations during an emergency meeting 5 p.m. Wednesday at the high school for possibly delaying the start of the school year until COVID-19 numbers level off.

“If this is a trend, we could look at possibly giving ourselves more time before we return,” Prusator said.

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