In response to the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), the City of Watertown has been monitoring and communicating with key community partners to prepare should COVID-19 further spread to our area. This response is being led by the Carver County Public Health Department and the Minnesota Department of Health, working closely with the City of Watertown as well as local clinics, hospitals, and schools. On March 13, 2020, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz declared a peacetime State of Emergency. Governor Walz also issued an Executive Order closing all public, private, and charter schools in the State of Minnesota from March 18, 2020 until March 27, 2020. Additionally, Watertown's City Council enacted several measures at the Emergency Meeting on March 15, 2020 along with an Emergency Declaration for the City of Watertown.
Since that time additional Executive Orders by Governor Tim Walz have extended the school closure until May 4th, limited business at bars, restaurants, places of amusement, and personal service providers until April 10th, and generally directed residents to stay home unless engaged in accessing essential services. The Stay at Home order continues to limit the social interaction of residents and at places of work and worship.to help mitigate the spread of the virus.
Recommended Protective Measures
Community members are urged to do their part in preventing the spread of illness by doing the following:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Put distance between yourself and other people. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
- Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care.
- Cover you mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use use the inside of your elbow.
- Throw used tissues in the trash.
- Wear a cloth mask when out in public.
City operations are fully functioning and all business conducted previously in person at city hall can now be done via telephone at 952-955-2681, email, or via our website. City Hall is open for in-person service during posted regular business hours. To view staff and elected official contact information, please visit the Contact Page of our website. Public Works staff are working rotating shifts throughout the week in order to maintain and operate public facilities, sewer and water, and perform street and park maintenance while utilizing all recommended mitigation strategies. Public meetings of the City Council and other boards or commissions maybe conducted by the body remotely pursuant to Minnesota Statute 13D.021. Participants wishing to view and attend these virtual meetings can access log-in information on meeting agendas. Zoom Meetings will be the format utilized and can be accessed online or via mobile apps for free download on iPhone and Android. Notice of determination for electronic meeting will appear on the meeting agenda.
Precautions are being taken at the city to ensure that employees and visitors are protected when visiting City Hall. This includes enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of high touch areas, as well as the installation of a temporary protective plexiglass screen as well as a safe zone from which all city business will be conducted. All other City facilities, including the Fire Department, are closed to the general public and restricted to city personnel or government partners. Community center meeting room spaces in meeting rooms A, B, and C, as well as the kitchen, are closed for all non-city or governmental partner use. Additionally, all non-essential meetings, training, travel, and other non-critical city functions with the exception of regularly scheduled Council Meetings and training events on N95 respirator masks, self-contained breathing apparatuses, and other personal protection equipment for emergency responders are canceled. Residents are encouraged to contact the city via phone or email as much as possible. Contact information for staff and elected officials can be found on the Contact Page of our website.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that the "presence of the COIVD-19 virus has not been detected in drinking-water supplies and based on current evidence the risk to water supplies is low." Visit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or Center for Disease Control (CDC) websites for more details concerning drinking and waste water: epa.gov and cdc.gov. The city conducts rigorous testing and monitoring of water and waste water effluent to meet health standards as determined by the EPA. You can view the results of water system system testing and safety by reviewing our annual Consumer Confidence Report.
The City Council has temporarily waived all late payment penalties related to utility billing. This applies to all billing with a due date of March 15th and lasts through the current declaration of emergency period. This applies to all payments submitted in person, by mail, or online. The City has the ability to accept payment for utility bills and permits in many forms other than in person. Electronic payments can be taken over the phone by calling 952-955-2682. Utility bills, account set-up, and automatic payments can all be managed online as well.
Additionally, due to the COVID-19 outbreak concerns, there has been a well-publicized shortage of toilet paper on the store shelves. This may cause people to look for alternative products to use such as paper towels, facial tissues, baby wipes, flush-able wipes, and other similar items. These products are not designed the same and do not break down like toilet paper. This can cause sanitary sewer back-ups, which in turn can cause additional public health concerns. PLEASE DO NOT FLUSH ITEMS OTHER THAN TOILET PAPER DOWN THE TOILET!
If your business has been impacted by the community wide COVID-19 response as directed and recommended by state and federal public health officials, there have been many tools and legislative actions to support businesses in the community. We would encourage all business owners to review information provided by the various agencies in the quick links provided.