While everyday life across the country has drastically changed amid the COVID-19 outbreak, the Dorale family wasn’t letting the virus stop them from enjoying their South Dakota vacation.
Pam and Jeff Dorale, along with their two children Jack and Julia, made a stop in Mitchell on Saturday to visit the Corn Palace and get a bite to eat. Despite the virus that prompted President Donald Trump to declare a national emergency on Friday and has caused South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem to have most state employees work from home and close schools for a week, the Iowa family felt safe enough to make their way to a skiing trip in the Black Hills.
“We feel confident to take the trip, and there are hardly any waiting lines anywhere we have gone,” said Jeff Dorale, who was with his family at Crazy About Cupcakes in downtown Mitchell. “We’re not letting this dictate everything in our lives. It felt perfectly reasonable to go on our skiing trip.”
Pam Dorale, who works in the healthcare industry in Iowa, said she has faith that the spreading of the novel coronavirus will eventually be under more control.
According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, as of Sunday, there were a total of 18 positive COVID-19 cases. As of Sunday, South Dakota had a total of nine positive COVID-19 cases, which includes the presumptive positive tests that are being confirmed by the Center of Disease Control (CDC).
Although the Dorale family was aware the state of South Dakota had several residents who tested positive for the virus, they entrusted the cupcake shop on Mitchell’s Main Street was practicing the adequate cleanliness and hygiene efforts to make for a virus-free environment.
Working behind the counter of Crazy About Cupcakes on Saturday afternoon was Nicole Wittstruck, who went about her day at work as usual. While she was serving customers cupcakes and sweets in the same fashion she always does, sitting next to the cash register were several hand sanitizer options available for all customers. Providing hand sanitizers at the register and thoroughly wiping down all surfaces throughout the day were just several methods the store practiced as a way to reduce the threat of spreading the virus.
Wittstruck said the Dorale family’s calm nature in the midst of the pandemic helped quell her own nerves surrounding the virus.
“I think the scariest thing about this whole situation is how much people are freaking out,” Wittstruck said. “It’s nice to see people like this who are remaining calm through it all.”
Just a few blocks south of Crazy About Cupcakes on Main Street, several bars and coffee shops remained open on Saturday. Big Dummy’s Bar was one of those local businesses that continued to operate on its regular business hours in the midst of the state and national emergency caused by the virus.
Jason Bates, owner of Big Dummy’s, said he always strives to maintain a very clean bar, while practicing proper food safety. That includes deep-cleaning bathrooms and the entire bar. Bates said he has been emphasizing to his customers and bartenders the importance of covering their mouths and noses when coughing and sneezing. Despite the fear of the virus spreading, Big Dummy’s has welcomed a steady volume of customers.
“Everyone is much more conscious of their cleanliness, and I’ve seen some customers have wet wipes and hand sanitizer in their purses, while they are enjoying themselves,” Bates said. “From what I’ve seen, a lot of our customers at the bar aren’t spending too much time talking about it, and trying to stay positive.”
Bates is hopeful that the virus will be under more control in the near future, but until then he is going to remain open unless things take a turn for the worse.
“The bills don’t stop coming when your doors close,” Bates said. “But we are doing what we can to keep the virus from spreading here, and I hope people are all being more careful about keeping things clean, especially for the elderly population.”
For Cornerstone Coffee House and Deli, the virus couldn’t stop the downtown business from celebrating St. Patrick’s Day on Sunday. An event included a live musician strumming guitar in front of a small crowd of people sporting green attire.
Tressa Wede, co-owner of Cornerstone, is well aware of the severity of the virus, but she said there are precautionary measures that can still allow for life to go on. Hand sanitizers and other hygiene products were located throughout the store, along with encouraging customers to wash their hands, were some of the ways the coffee shop approached combating the virus.
“Our business is always looking for ways to provide opportunities for community members to share each other's company, and even though it is a scary time, we feel confident that we can take the right safety steps to continue providing that,” Wede said. “We have had an all-staff meeting and talked to our employees about what needs to be done and what can be done to keep everything clean and safe.”