In my first two guest columns, I addressed the priorities of the Leavenworth City Commission for 2020 in six major areas. I had intended in this month’s column to address the city’s priorities in the area of economic development and redevelopment. However, this was before the spread of the coronavirus in Leavenworth County. With this unprecedented crisis facing the county, including all residents in the city of Leavenworth, I will use this column to summarize the latest emergency order from the Leavenworth County Health Department and discuss steps being taken by your city government to deal with the challenges associated with fighting COVID-19.


To mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Leavenworth County, local health officer Jamie Miller issued an emergency public health order March 22. Simultaneously, the county’s Joint Information Center (JIC) released a two-page summary of the order, which took effect March 24 at 12:01 a.m., and remains in effect until midnight April 23.


The order contains the following language: “The order directs all residents to remain at their place of residence, except to conduct an essential activity, which is defined as an activity or task essential to an individual’s health or safety, or the health and safety of their family or household members. Individuals may leave their residence only to perform an essential activity. People at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 are urged to stay in their residence except as necessary to seek medical care. Individuals who are sick may leave their residence only as necessary to seek or receive medical care in accordance with guidance from public health officials. Everyone shall practice social distancing while performing essential activities by remaining at least 6 feet of distance from everyone other than household members.”


The JIC public release goes on to state the following about the emergency health order: “All businesses and operations in Leavenworth County, except essential businesses, which are defined as organizations that provide the goods and services needed for an essential activity, are required to cease all activities. For clarity, businesses may also continue operations consisting exclusively of employees or contractors performing activities at their own residences (i.e., working from home).”


Both the JIC release and the full order can be found on the Leavenworth County’s website, www.leavenworthcounty.gov/covid/default.asp


I urge residents to read both documents, especially the health order since it contains details on the specific essential activities that residents can undertake, as well as the type of businesses considered essential and therefore permitted to continue operations.


During the COVID-19 health crisis, the overriding priority of the City Commission, city manager and city staff is to do our very best to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all Leavenworth residents. In focusing on this priority, we will share pertinent and accurate information relating to COVID-19, adjust the delivery of city services to account for the social distancing requirements stipulated by the Leavenworth County Health Department, and as much as possible advocate for our small businesses, which are taking the brunt of government actions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.


Earlier this month, the city set up a one-stop site for pertinent and accurate information relating to COVID-19. This site is located on the city’s website, www.leavenworthks.org/ru/page/community-information-covid-19.


We post information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the state of Kansas, Leavenworth County Health Department and other credible sources. We also post information on city operations, events, activities and programs affected by the fight against COVID-19.


The focus here is not only to share information on facility closures, but to publicize how the city is adjusting its delivery of services. Another way to keep citizens abreast of COVID-19 information is conducting Facebook Live town halls, which I began doing March 20, and will continue doing for the foreseeable future.


Beginning March 16, city facilities were closed to the public until further notice. This includes not only City Hall and the community center, but facilities of all types.


However, trash pick-up continues and most city services are still available via phone, email or our website at www.leavenworthks.org


In general, we have extended deadlines, accommodated special requests and for residents already enrolled in the Senior Rebate Program, you will automatically be renewed for 2020. For residents not currently in the program, but who are considering applying, please contact the City Clerk’s Office at 913-682-9201 or by email at cwilliamson@firstcity.org and we will work with applicants, one on one, to find the best way to process applications.


I am cognizant of the economic difficulty, if not distress, that many residents and businesses are experiencing because of the current health crisis. With the closure of non-essential businesses in response to the fight against COVID-19, the livelihoods of many owners and their employees are threatened.


My message is simple: The city manager, my fellow commissioners and I, as mayor, will do everything we can possibly do to keep you abreast of federal and/or state legislation and programs that might provide relief. For example, once the economic stimulus bill currently under consideration by Congress is passed and signed by the president, we will include a link on the city’s coronavirus webpage so Leavenworth small business owners and residents at large can read the bill for themselves. Help with wading through the bill’s verbiage and filing any documentation needed to access benefits has also been offered by experts supporting the Leavenworth Main Street Program, www.leavenworthmainstreet.com


Please feel free to reach out to me or the city manager. Our contact information is on the city website. My email address is mgriswold@firstcity.org and my cell number is 913-240-1295.


Mike Griswold is the mayor of Leavenworth.