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Monday morning, March 23, Freeman Mayor Sam Sorensen said he and city officials are continuing to monitor the status of COVID-19, as well as the local response to the pandemic sweeping across the world.

“This is going to get serious,” Sorensen told the Courier, noting that city officials have been meeting regularly with health care professionals and other community leaders. He said he has also visited with Dave Hoffman, emergency manager for Hutchinson County, who had earlier asked restaurants and bars to adjust their business practices to promote social distancing and focus on carry-out and limiting occupancy to 10.

“The restaurants have done what they need to do with carryout and delivery,” Sorensen said.

The mayor said he has also asked the police department to monitor group size and social activity in the bars and include that information in its daily reports.

Sorensen also said he appreciates what many businesses have done to minimize exposure and risk. That includes limiting the number of customers at a time, encouraging workers who are not feeling well to stay home, encouraging employees to work from home and closing their doors to the public.

And that includes City Hall.

City employees have been working as usual, but the building is closed to the public following action taken by the Freeman City Council March 18; see the story on the opposite page.

While no confirmed cases had been reported locally as of Tuesday, Sorensen fully expects that number to increase significantly. Should  that include Freeman, he said city officials will work in consultation with health care officials and respond as needed.

“If there’s a local outbreak, then we’ll have to tighten the reins,” he said. “We have to work together.”

One thing that remains unclear is the status of the joint city-school election scheduled for April 14. As of Tuesday, state officials said it was on as scheduled.

But Sorensen said he wouldn’t be surprised if the election was postponed; one suggestion has been to move it to the June 2 state primary.

Nevertheless, city officials are looking at what precautions to take if the election is held as scheduled. That includes limiting the number of people in the room, regular disinfecting and possibly using city employees as election workers.