O'Brien County's Bell-Times-Courier -

Stay Home


March 19, 2020

It doesn’t matter anymore what Covid-19 is or is not. The undeniable presence of the virus in, the U.S., and nation-wide spread is now wreaking havoc on this society for the foreseeable future. Questions about how the disease actually spreads, how it affects individuals and how potentially dangerous it may be remain. This uncertainty is driving many decisions made by the federal government, state and local governments as well that directly affect the lives of every one of us.

The number of persons attending a single gathering has met with restrictions. The number of people together in a single place started at 100 and quickly reduced to 50 and now is currently limited to no more than 10 persons.


All medical facilities are asking that you call before coming into either the ER or a clinic with cold or flu symptoms. They will tell you how to proceed. DO NOT just drop in on an ER or into a clinic with cold or flu symptoms. As always if you need emergency assistance call 911.

All long-term care facilities are on lockdown. It is standard for nursing homes to limit visitors during times of widespread outbreak whether flu or other contagious infections. Now is one of those times.


In Iowa, the K-12 system is shutdown through April 13. Many school districts in northwest Iowa have opted to follow the recommendation. Some districts have made arrangements for the collection and distribution of school lessons. Providing sack lunches for children has also found a system in many, but not all K-12 systems. All extra-curricular activities have been cancelled.

Local Government

Effective Tuesday March 18 access to the inside of the O’Brien County Courthouse will be limited. Most business including drivers license, motor vehicle licensing, vital records, and more can be completed online. A drop box is being installed in the vestibule of the east entrance to the courthouse. The west entrance will be locked.

For individuals with certain needs such as passports, veterans or court staff, special arrangements may be made. Anyone with an appointment must be screened at the public health office prior to entry to the office. The public is asked to call before going to the courthouse. Entry may be denied.

Most city offices have put into effect until further notice, no foot-traffic. Some O’Brien Count city offices have limited foot traffic by locking their doors. Government offices are open, but access is limited to telephone, mail or drop boxes. If you need to do business with your city, please call first. The city of Primghar has opted to utilize its city office and staff as a resource to residents in need. For any Primghar resident in need of assistance, groceries or medical, please call 957-2435.

Entertainment and Recreation

Although the state has recommended libraries close, not all have done so. Primghar and hartley libraries have closed to foot traffic. To check out any medium, you may call either library during regular hours and staff will gladly meet you at the library door with the requested items. Paullina library has limited its hours to M-W-F, 2pm to 6pm only until further notice. sanborn, Sutherland and Sheldon libraries are have meetings scheduled to decide how to best serve their clientele. No archer official could be reached at press time.

All large gatherings of ten or more people are prohibited. All social, athletic, educational, such as workshops offered through Extension or musical are announcing cancellations. Gyms and fitness centers and bars and restaurants have been ordered by Iowa Governor Reynolds to shut down. Prepared food may be ordered for take out or delivery, or for drive-through pickup. Theaters have been ordered closed, whether movie or live. The message is “stay home.”


Church services are being asked to cancel. Check with your place of worship for the latest information about their Schedule. There is no word on youth groups at press time.

Child Care

O’Brien Public Health is collecting information on child care needs by employees of essential services such as medical, government or grocery. Reports suggest the governor’s office is going to recommend the closure of childcare centers, leaving a huge challenge for parents with young children who must work. Some suggestions in the event of daycare centers closing and no available family members to check with schools for mature high school students to provide in-home daycare.

Financial Fallout

From the Governor’s office to small employers, a huge effort to minimizing the financial affect of this pandemic is underway. A wide variety of partial assistance programs are available or will be in the next few weeks.

Iowa’s unemployment insurance program is getting temporary rules put into place to allow for affected employees to receive unemployment.

General Relief asked O’Brien County Supervisors Tuesday to waive some requirements that could negatively affect some households as a direct result of college or child care closures.

O’Brien County Veterans’ Administration is considering some temporary rules changes. The O’Brien County Supervisors on Tuesday agreed to consider budget increases for the current fiscal year to meet the needs of certain agencies.

Food banks are revving up their supplies and making referrals they otherwise might handle internally.

Dollar General Stores as a corporation have announced “Elderly Hours.” Select stores are open for a period of time for shoppers at a certain age or older. The effort is for the most susceptible population to have time to get their shopping done with less exposure risk.

Banks are watching the landscape carefully. At press time, Savings bank of Primghar, hartley and Lake Park have closed their lobbies to the general public.

At press time, no known cases of Covid-19 are in O’Brien County. There are some test kits available, but testing criteria remains in place and is strictly enforced.

For information or Covid-19 questions you may call 211 for assistance. Or go online to obrienema.org


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