In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cambridge City Council has enacted an emergency action plan to be utilized across all departments. This plan was unanimously approved by the council during their March 16 meeting.
According to City Administrator Lynda Woulfe, the city has five primary objectives during the pandemic.
1. Maximize the protection of life and property in Cambridge.
2. Ensure that the response effort be organized under the National Incident Management System.
3. Delineate roles and responsibilities for other local governmental and non-governmental agencies participating in the response.
4. Assure that the City of Cambridge Pandemic Influenza Supplement is coordinated and consistent with the Isanti County Public Health Department, MDH Pandemic Influenza Plan and the plans of other local public health departments in the state.
5. Assure that the City of Cambridge Pandemic Influenza Supplement is coordinated with the Isanti County Public Health Department and their pandemic influenza response activities identified in the Isanti County Emergency Operations Plan.
Woulfe said there are several critical services that the city must provide during this pandemic. Naturally, the first is the protection of life and property. To that extent, Woulfe said in the event of a snowstorm, city streets will still be plowed in order for first responders to be able to get where they need to.
Also of top priority, especially considering one of the best ways to prevent COVID-19 is washing hands, is the continuation of water distribution and sewage treatment without disruption.
Woulfe said city council meetings are critical, however the agenda might be streamlined to “only do mission-critical things such as approving of bills or anything that is time-sensitive related to expenses for COVID-19.” She added that if the situation became dire enough, the council could resort to conducting meetings via digital means such as Facebook Live.
She said the city will discontinue doing rental and code enforcement inspections, unless it can be performed without making contact with other people.
According to Deputy Fire Chief/Emergency Management Director Will Pennings, the department has canceled all drills and meetings. Members are still required to respond to calls as best as they can. They are instructed to wear turnout gear, medical gloves and face shields when responding to vehicle accidents.
For fire alarms, the department is to limit the number of members entering the building to determine if the alarm is false. He concluded saying the fire department will be closed to the general public.
Police Chief Todd Schuster said the police department will continue to serve the general public as best as they can. However, he said it has been a long-standing policy that officers not to respond to routine medical calls where the caller “doesn’t feel well.” He said the department will limit their responses to the senior living communities since they are most susceptible to the virus. They will continue to respond to all medical emergencies.
Schuster also mentioned the Isanti County Courthouse is limiting the number of cases they will be seeing, so they are requesting the department to limit in-custody arrests, if at all possible.
“Granted, there’s people that need to go to jail, and certain offenses are required to,” Schuster said. “But if we can limit it to a citation or submit a report to the county attorney, we will do that.”
Woulfe said the Public Works offices will be closed to the public. If a person needs to purchase a meeter, they must make an appointment ahead of time. Sewage haulers must also make an appointment before coming to dispose of their sewage.
Woulfe announced that effective at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17, City Hall would be closed to the general public.
“Calls will still be answered and we are encouraging people to drop off utility payments in the payment box located outside of City Hall or sign up for direct pay through their bank,” Woulfe said.
The council decided they would not close Northbound Liquor at this time. Woulfe said the staff is diligently cleaning all surfaces. Plus, she added that most of the shopping is done quickly.
The council noted if things get worse, they can call an emergency meeting in order to close the liquor store, or Minnesota Governor Tim Walz may mandate it himself.