Coronavirus prep hits Custer

Jason Ferguson
“I just want to buy some for me and my boyfriends’ new apartment,” lamented a shopper at Lynn’s Dakotamart last Friday afternoon, as she looked at the barren shelves that once were  home to a wall of toilet paper. “What the heck?”
The scene at Lynn’s Dakotamart Friday was the same as the scene at Dollar General, as toilet paper had disappeared from the store. Family Dollar still had smaller rolls, but even it had been hit hard by the crush of toilet-paper seekers who bought toilet paper in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It really didn’t hit here until Wednesday,” said Lynn’s Dakotamart manager Barry Bowar. “Then we were selling a lot.”
Toilet paper wasn’t the only thing gone from shelves. Rubbing alcohol, gone. Disinfectant wipes, gone. Lysol, gone. Kleenex, gone. Bleach, gone. Bottled water, almost gone.
While the latter things make sense, nobody can figure out why everybody is buying so much toilet paper, even though hundreds of people are. Diarrhea is not a symptom of the coronavirus (COVID-19); those are runny nose, sore throat, cough, fever and, in severe cases, difficulty breathing.
“Our shelves are wiped,” Bowar said. “Just like you hear everywhere else.”
Dan Martin, who owns Pop’s Grocery Shoppe in Hermosa along with wife, Shelly, can’t help but laugh when he discusses the run on toilet paper. People call the store and ask if it has toilet paper in stock and people from Rapid City have started to travel to Hermosa to purchase it — so much so that the Martins decided to put a two-pack limit purchase on folks from the north. When they were still showing up repeatedly, it went down to one pack. They want to be sure their local customers are able to buy some.
“What everybody is trying to figure out is, what does the virus have to do with toilet paper?” Martin asked with a laugh.
The theory is that people buying up toilet paper are preparing for an eventual quarantine wherein they will be stuck in their homes for two weeks. Even if that is the case, someone who needs 64 rolls of toilet paper for two weeks may have larger medical or dietary issues going on than the coronavirus.
Water is another big seller, Martin said. Oddly enough, fewer people were stocking up on food, he added.
“They don’t care about food. I guess they just want something to drink and something to wipe with,” Martin said.
After watching the disease affect only people overseas, the virus hit home last week when the first cases of the virus were found in South Dakota. It was March 12 when the lives of Americans really began to change, as mass closings and travel bans became the norm.
President Donald Trump enacted a travel ban for Europeans coming to America and last Friday, Gov. Kristi Noem closed schools across the state for a week. The state high school basketball tournaments were postponed. In Wyoming, they were cancelled altogether. Later, Trump declared the virus a national emergency, a move that freed up more federal resources to combat the virus.
Universities have paused classes, the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and National Hockey League all suspended their seasons, the National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s and women’s basketball tournaments were cancelled and major entertainment venues — including Broadway and Disney World — closed up shop.
Princess Cruises has put a two-month moratorium on cruises and, in some cities, gatherings of over 100 people are prohibited. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and later the white house went so far as to recommend not having groups of over 10 gather. Restaurants, bars, etc., began to close. Even the U.S. Supreme Court shuttered.
On the heels of the World Health Organization declaring coronavirus a pandemic, the Dow Jones dropped 20 percent from its 11-year high earlier this year and officially tipped into a bear market.
Wall Street officially fell into a bear market with the S&P 500 dropping more than 20 percent from its Feb. 19 peak. The Dow, a smaller index than the S&P, also fell into a bear market. That officially ended the 11-year bull market — the longest in history — which started in March 2009.
On March 12, the S&P 500 closed down 9.5 percent. It was its worst day since Oct. 19, 1987, also known as “Black Monday.” 
The index dropped 7 percent in the first minutes of trading, which triggered a “circuit breaker” and led the New York Stock Exchange to suspend trading for 15 minutes.
The Dow was down 2,353 points, nearly 10 percent lower, in its biggest one-day percentage drop since “Black Monday.” The index did rebound some Friday, but took another nose dive Monday almost immediately and had its worst single day ever, dropping 12.9 percent.
In South Dakota, there are pending cases of the coronaviru sat the State Public Health Laboratory. By Tuesday, the state had reported 11 positive cases and one death. The age group for these cases is 30-69 and 88 percent of the individuals are male. All have a travel history outside of South Dakota. Noem said she is unsure where these patients traveled. They are currently all quarantined.
These individuals who tested presumptive positive have had contact with several people. A man who had the virus initially identified as having been from Pennington County had not actually been in Pennington County for two weeks and died in Davison County.. He also had underlying medical issues. There are no confirmed cases of the virus in West River. Affected counties are Beadle, Charles Mix, Davison, Minnehaha, Bon Homme and McCook.
Last Thursday, Monument Health closed its care centers to visitation, which included both the assisted living and senior care centers in Custer.
“This is a really difficult decision because we know how important family is for our residents,” said Conner Fiscarelli, senior director of long-term care services at Monument Health. “However, for older people, COVID-19 is an especially devastating virus.”
Phone calls or online applications such as Facetime, Hangouts and Skype can be an alternative to in-person visits. If residents need help arranging access, caregivers will be assist them. In addition, Monument Health advises its residents to avoid leaving the care centers or assisted living facility.
Previously, Monument Health announced it would limit the number of visitors to patients who have potentially infectious conditions to conserve vital personal protection equipment such as masks, gloves and eye protection, which is in short supply worldwide.
Patients whose visitors must wear gowns, face masks or other protective gear are asked to designate one support person who can visit them. Monument Health will work with families of pediatric patients and patients with special needs.
Prior to Noem’s mandate to close schools, Custer School District nurse Becky Hove sent out a letter saying the district is working to stay ahead of potential problems associated with the COVID-19 virus. 
“The Custer School District is working with local and regional emergency response coordinators to determine the role the school will play regarding the plans being developed,” Hove wrote in the letter. “Infection control is taken very seriously in our schools. Hand sanitizer/ soap dispenser placement has been evaluated and adjustments are being made to optimize accessibility. Classes have been instructed to utilize sanitizers when entering and exiting the classroom. Students are monitored and educated daily on proper hand-washing techniques.”
Hove said the school has adequate supplies and is working to ensure it will have plenty in the future. This includes disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, hand soap and gloves. Supplies do not include face masks, as it has been the recommendation of the CDC to refrain from ordering these products to ensure adequate supply for hospital workers.
“We continually seek to review and revise our practices to improve our current systems,” Hove wrote.
The Michael J. Fitzmaurice State Veterans Home (Home) is taking preventive measures to ensure continued care for residents. All activities provided by outside volunteer groups have been cancelled until further notice.
“We are asking people to be understanding and will work with families to ensure they can still see their loved ones through video conferencing options like Skype,” said Brad Richardson, superintendent for the home.  “Requests to see family members will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and decisions will be made based on what’s good for the resident and the Home as a whole.”
Before entrance to the home is permitted, visitors will be surveyed about their health and recent travels as well as having their temperatures taken.
Locally, closures started with the postponement of the daddy/daughter dance at the school and on Friday the Custer Area Chamber of Commerce pushed back last Thursday’s scheduled mixer to September. The Friends of Search and Rescue fundraiser was postponed, as was the U.S. Air Guitar Championships scheduled for last Saturday at Custer Beacon. Postseason AAU wrestling was cancelled, the Custer YMCA and Custer Center closed and the Town of Hermosa closed its offices for at least a week. Allied Concert Association pulled all concert dates and the U.S. Forest Service has begun severly restricting visitation to its offices.
As for Custer County, the Custer County Commission released a report saying the county wants to support the health, safety and well-being of the public doing business at the Custer County Courthouse, Library and ancillary locations while protecting employees and keeping the community safe. Cleaning of public surfaces such as handrails, door handles, counter tops, keyboards and restroom facilities as increased and taped lines to delineate a safe social distance from service windows, etc., have been added. Employees who exhibit symptoms or have come in contact with infected individuals, they will be instructed to stay home and follow the CDC’s recovery guidelines.
“Our goal is to keep conducting business even in a limited fashion,” the release said.”We ask that you be patient as we all work through this unique and unprecedented situation.”
More announced cancellations or postponements Monday morning were the Aurora, Colo., touring choir concert March 31, “Collusion with the Russians” piano concert March 15, the Hot Springs Area Community Concert on March 22, the South Dakota Humanities Speaker, Phyllis Schrag  April 1 and the                    Switzerland Travel Program on April 2.
Globally, coronavirus cases have spiked to over 189,231 and there have been 7,513 deaths as of Tuesday. Over 80,000 people have recovered.
As for the toilet paper, Bowar said Lynn’s is trying to keep it in stock as best it can and feared last weekend’s snowstorm, which was only an impending storm Friday morning, was exacerbating the issue. Warehouses could have trouble keeping up, he warned.
As for Pop’s in Hermosa, they are stocked up, Dan said.
“We don’t have much for cleaning supplies, but we have toilet paper.”
For the latest, most accurate information available, refer to the CDC website at

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