Since well before the first case of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, was announced in our state, Hot Springs leaders were coordinating and planning our response should the pandemic reach our community. As testing continues and confirmed case counts rise, the early planning created a foundation that is allowing us to get a jump start on mitigation measures, such as the establishment of drive-thru evaluation clinics and the creation of a local hotline. I am proud of how our City and County leadership has coordinated with our area hospital first-responder representatives. As a hospital administrator, I provide regular inputs and receive daily updates from various healthcare related organizations. I can assure you that although this pandemic has introduced us to unique challenges, our local hospitals have emergency plans in place and are prepared for the unexpected. We cannot stress enough the importance of social distancing and hand washing practices.
The Board of Directors declared an emergency at our meeting last night, March 17. The City Manager has issued a written Proclamation of Emergency and has submitted to appropriate authorities. We will continue to stay abreast of all developments as we, together, weather this storm and see Hot Springs and our community partnerships come out on the other side stronger and more unified. We urge our citizens to stay up to date with all the developments by visiting www.cityhs.net/covid-19. This webpage will be updated with official information as we receive notifications from the state authorities, City leaders and our task force initiatives.
Our first priority is the health and welfare of our residents, visitors and employees. However, during this time, we also need to do all we can to support our local businesses. Our community has seen a tremendous influx of growth and small business successes, yet what lies ahead will challenge our tourism-dependent industries. We have been meeting with business owners, and it has already been a struggle for them and for their workforce. It will only get more challenging as we move forward, yet their will and determination remain strong.