Ely responds to coronavirus 2.0: Business updates; Schools offer free meals

by Tom Coombe

Here’s an update as of Thursday afternoon, March 26, as Ely area businesses respond following Gov. Tim Walz’s order to “stay at home” for two weeks starting Friday night.
Arrowhead Outdoors announced it will be closed until Friday, April 10.
The Ely Area Food Shelf has adjusted its distribution method to curbside delivery and posted, “If you are in need of food please don’t hesitate to call 218-235-8527. If you are newly laid off or unemployed we are here for you, contact us at the above number. If you are a senior or in the higher risk category and isolating we can make arrangements to deliver food to you in a non-contact method. Wash your hands, cover your cough, stay home and look for joy everyday!”
The Ely License Bureau was given notice from the state that all Deputy Registrar offices must close for the two weeks.
After going with a fun “Outsula” instead of Insula, Dan and Sarah announced the restaurant ended its take out service and announced they are closed until further notice.
Ely Drop and Shop has closed temporarily March 25.
The Ely Public Library will not be offering curbside service or taking phone calls until April 13. “When curbside service resumes, it will be no-contact.”
Ely Surplus and Mealey’s are closed until further notice but customers can shop online. “Thank you for your business and we can’t wait to see you soon!”
At Range LP the Ely storefront is closed until further notice. For propane deliveries, call 218-365-8888 Deliveries will be made as normal. They are currently doing emergency service calls only.
Studio North will be closed until May 1 following the governor’s order. “We will be shifting our in house services to online services. We are setting up online programs for each facet of our business - gym members, fitness class members and dance students.”
Motel Ely and Canoe On Inn have both closed.
Steger Mukluks’ retail store is closed until further notice. Customers can shop the website stegermukluks.com or call 218-365-6634 and leave a message.
“Sorry to say but Front Porch is closing until further notice. Everyone please take this seriously and be safe out there.”
Northern Grounds will be closed until further notice.
Voyageur Lumber posted that the construction industry is considered essential, including builders, electricians, plumbers, hardware stores and lumber yards. “We will be moving forward with business as usual to accommodate any needs. Stay healthy!”
Art & Soul Gallery will be temporarily closed until Friday, April 10.
Piragis Northwoods retail store is temporarily closed “but you can reach us by phone from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 365-6745.
D and D Accounting will be closed but accepting info by mail at 747 E Sheridan St., Ely MN 55731 or use the drop off and pick up box outside the office where papers can be left for us, but call 218-365-4853 if you are planning on dropping off. Email dndacc@frontiernet.net
The Ely Area Credit Union lobby is now closed by the drive through and ATM are open.
Wells Fargo has closed its office in Ely but the ATM is still open.
Klun Law Firm is open but the physical office is closed until further notice. For help call 218-365-3221, check out www.klunlaw.com or email: marylee.erickson@klunlaw.com.
Ely DQ Grill and Chill will remain open for business 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. They will have the drive through along with mobile ordering. Curbside pickup is also available by calling 365-5101. For a special treat they are offering a small shake for $1.99. Owner Paul Ivancich said, “We are happy to serve the community and pick up the spirits because that’s what Dairy Queen is all about.”
Grand Ely Lodge will be offering take out from 12-7 and the Lodge will remain open at this time. Orders can be placed by calling 365-6565.
Gator’s Grilled Cheese Emporium will remain closed until further notice.
Ely Steakhouse will remain closed until further notice.
Log Cabin Coffee drive through is open for business Monday-Saturday 7 a.m.- 4 p.m. and Sunday 8 a.m.- 2 p.m.
Boathouse Brewery and Restaurant is closed for remodeling at this time.
Organic Roots Bistro is open for groceries and take out orders.
Subway in Ely is open from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. you can walk in for take out orders, order on the app, or call in 365-2699.
Mike’s Liquor will remain open with normal business hours at this time but it is subject to change.
Ely Vision Center will be seeing emergency patients but asks if you have a fever and respiratory issues to contact your primary care physician. They will have reduced hours but can be reached at 365.4919 or for emergency cases at 218- 235-9242.
Lakeshore Liquor will remain open with normal business hours and offer curbside delivery along with delivery by calling 365-4011.
Napa Auto Parts will remain open with normal business hours.
J & L Hardware/Ben Franklin will remain open with normal business hours and are offering delivery along with curbside delivery by calling 365-6724.
Ely Flower & Seed is offering phone orders, free delivery along with curbside services. Call 365-6555
Gracie’s Plant Works will remain closed until further notice.
Northeast Title will remain open with normal business hours.
Northridge Community Credit Union lobby will remain closed until further notice. A drop box and ATM is available 24 hours a day.
State Farm Insurance lobby will remain closed till further notice. They will be working remotely and are available by calling 365-5104 or info@lindseykeen.com or lindsey@lindseykeen.com
American Family Insurance lobby will remain closed until further notice. You can reach them at 365-4258 or bberrini@amfam.com or mmikulic@amfam.com.
Merhar’s Ace Hardware will continue to be open with normal business hours and are offering free delivery by calling 365-3129.
Ely’s Old Fashioned Candy will remain closed until further notice.
Mike Motors will remain open at this time.
The Junction Restaurant in Babbitt will be open for food orders from 3-8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 2-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Orders can be placed by calling 827-3666.
Kell’s Kitchen will continue to offer orders to go and delivery in Babbitt. Hours are 9am-2pm daily. Call 218-827-3565
Lossing’s Building Supply will remain open with normal business hours 8 a.m.- 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday and with free delivery in town.

Ely Public Schools is providing free meals during the School Closure Period. This is a combined breakfast and lunch and is free for anyone 18 and under.
Meals can be ordered by calling 218-365-1735. Meals can be picked up between 11 am and 1 pm near the front doors of the Memorial High School or delivery can be arranged.

Ely area churches have responded to the coronavirus as well. Here is the updated info:
First Presbyterian Church
226 E. Harvey St., 365-5130.
Rev. Corey Larsen Pastor
Streaming services for at least 2 weeks online at elypresbyterian.org/livestream

Berean Baptist Church (SBC)
2281 Old Hwy. 169, PO Box 149, Ely
365-5413, www.baptistchurchely.com
**Live streaming on Facebook

Ely Gospel Tabernacle,
(Eavangelical & Pentecostal)
Corner of S. Central & Allaire St.
Pastor Tim Cook, 365-5272
All our activities are cancelled at least through the end of the month. We are live streaming our Sunday morning service at 10 am. YouTube.com search Ely Gospel Church

Praise Fellowship
302 E. Boundary St., Ely, 365-6033
If you would like to enjoy the sermons please contacts us and we can send you copies of the sermon outlines. - Pastor: Bob Barclay

St. Mary’s Episcopal Church
715 S. Central Ave, 218-409-6870

LedgeRock Community Church
Suspended for three weeks in person. Facebook live stream and will put videos on YouTube. Check ledgerockchurch.com for details

Oasis Int’l
Meets at Ely Senior Center
Canceled until Sun. April, 5. Check Facebook page for live stream service, worship, and teaching videos.
Pastor Cherish Knudson, 235-1151

Grace Lutheran Church, ELCA
301 E. Conan St., 365-5605.
9:30 a.m. Worship Service, Staffed Closed until April 1st. No meetings, groups, or services. Facebook page has live streaming and daily devotions. Check for updates

First Lutheran Church, (LCMS)
915 E. Camp St., 365-3348,
Steven Breitbarth, Interim Pastor
Canceled for March 22nd and 29th

Ely United Methodist Church
305 E. Camp Street, 365-3355.
Pastor Craig Haberman will still prepare and preach sermons, which can also be found on our website, under the “About Us” tab. He will keep office hours for the time being.

St. Anthony’s Catholic Church
231 E. Camp St, Ely – 365-4017
All Masses are suspended as well as any gatherings until April 20. That date could change.

Amid an escalating national crisis over the potential spread of COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, activity ramped up Monday in Ely by both public entities and private businesses.
Among the most recent developments:
• The Ely City Council held an emergency meeting and approved closure of Ely's public library. See story on our website detailing that meeting.
• The Ely School Board held an emergency meetingMonday in the board room at Ely High School. See below for a report on that meeting.
• The Tuesday, March 24 St. Louis County Board of Commissioners meeting scheduled at the Morse Town Hall will instead by held via teleconference through the clerk in Duluth due to the coronavirus situation.
• Classes at Vermilion Community College are on hold until at least Mar. 30, and school officials are looking a delivering education by alternate means.
• Ely's ministerial association announced that all area church lenten suppers are cancelled until further notice.
• Ely's nursing home and Carefree Living assisted living facilities announced restrictions on visitors.
• The weekly Ely Tuesday Group luncheons at Grand Ely Lodge have been postponed indefinitely.
• Most businesses in Ely remained open as of Monday, including restaurants. That will change as of 5 p.m. Tuesday after Gov. Walz ordered bars and restaurants to close to the public for seating. However, take-out and drive-up service can still be offered.
• Local businesses, J&L Hardware, Merhar's Ace Hardware and Ely Flower & Seed announced they would begin delivery services for customers unable or uncomfortable with in-person shopping.
• Essentia Health has set up a COVID-19 hotline which can be called at 1-833-494-0836.

ISD 696: Ely preps for school closure
No classes through March 27, “distance learning” could follow
Ely school officials are wrestling with the unknown: the length of a school closure that begins Wednesday in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.
Schools across Minnesota will close March 18-27 following an executive order by Gov. Tim Walz (D), but staff will work during much of that period to develop plans to deliver education services via “distance learning” should the closure extend beyond that date.
In Ely, board members unanimously approved a school closure plan at an emergency session Monday night, but school administrators conceded that they’re entering uncharted waters.
Details of the distance learning plan will be crafted by administrators and teachers in the next several days, and superintendent Erik Erie said it’s too early to say how long students will be kept home.
“We’re all wondering that too,” said Erie, who in a communication to parents Tuesday added that the district “plans for an unprecedented potential extended break in school.”
A conference call with state officials, held just prior to the board meeting, offered no answer to the looming question - just how long will schools be closed?
“They would not give us a specific,” said Anne Oelke, principal at Washington Elementary.
Starting Wednesday, students will be on break but faculty and staff will be at work developing distance learning options which will begin March 30.
Board chairman Ray Marsnik, a retired teacher, said that school staff face a daunting task, particularly given language from the state that students will receive “daily interaction with their licensed teacher” during any extended closure.
“You have a lot of work to get this set up,” said Marsnik. “I don’t know how you go about doing it. There are a lot of unanswered questions.”
School staff began preparing Monday, by emailing a survey to parents, gaging student availability at home of internet access, and internet capable devices, for the communication of lessons electronically.
More than 200 responses had been received in the first day, according to Oelke, and the district will use the information as it crafts its plan.
As part of the school closure plan, the district has indicated that it might provide devices to students that need them.
Unidentified, alternate methods of providing distance learning may also be incorporated.
Oelke said the plan is purposely vague at this point “because we have not had six days of planning with our teachers, so that’s professionals we need to take guidance from. It’s their classrooms. It’s their services we are trying to develop in six days whether you’re five years old or 18 years old.”
The school closure plan includes numerous other facets, including compliance with the governor’s edict that the district provide school-aged day care for children of emergency workers, school employees and essential personnel.
Staff will be available to provide day care services, with school officials likely to use a ratio of one adult for each eight students.
Details of the day care plan, including where students will be located, will be developed during the planning period and the school is looking at using non-faculty staff to provide coverage.
At the end of the school day Tuesday, bagged breakfast and lunch for the following day will be sent home, and starting March 23, students will be offered bagged breakfast and lunch to be picked up at school or at an agreed-upon, yet to be identified location
Free lunch qualifiers will be covered at no charge while others will be charged regular school breakfast and lunch prices.
Community education courses are postponed starting March 18, and spring sports activities are also in a holding pattern, with practices, games and other activities scrapped during the school closure.
The annual senior class trip to Washington, D.C., set for later this month, has been postponed but officials were holding out hope that the trip could be rescheduled for May.
The district is communicating regularly with parents, with the school closure plan emailed Tuesday and posted to the school’s website and Facebook page.

Ely Public Library:
Curb-Side Pick-Up: How It Will Work
And other important information about the Ely Public Library closure!
General Information:
Staff will answer the public phone the following hours on weekdays while we are closed:
9 am to noon
1 pm to 4 pm
The library's phone number is 218-365-5140. The library's website is elylibrary.org - we will post updates about changes to curb-side pick-up and when we will reopen on the website AND our facebook page.
As patrons call, we answer questions as normal. We will also take requests for "Beat the Bug Bags" over the phone ... please have your library card ready when you call, if you will be requesting specific items.
You may place requests online as normal (note that some of the other libraries in the region will not be sending their items during this period, so it may take much longer for items to get to us). We will check our pull list twice per day during our closed period.
Online e-circulation of books, audios, and magazines is working normally. If you have never used any of these services, now might be a great time to try them out! We can give you more information when you call.
At this point, loan periods have been extended region-wide to account for those libraries who are closed to the public. You will not need to worry about returning items while the library is closed to the public; however, our book drop will be available if you choose to make a return.
At this point, the library will be closed until at least 3/30/20 ... the closure period may be extended past that date.
Curb-Side Pick-up:
We will have a staff member watching for patrons the following hours on weekdays while we are closed:
9 am to 11 am
1 pm to 3 pm
Curb-Side service will only be available for items that are on hold and waiting for pick-up OR "Beat the Bug Bags". Please pull up directly in front of the building entrance, so we can see you. Please have your library card ready when you pull up (just like you would pull up to any other drive-thru window). A library staff person will be watching and will come out to collect your card. The staff person will bring your card inside and check out your items, and then bring your card and checked out items back out to your car. We will ONLY check out items that have been requested in advance with curb-side service as our goal is to keep these interactions as brief as possible for the safety of the staff.
Beat the Bug Bags:
If you don't have something specific to request but you need some reading material, please call us during the hours listed above and the staff will make you a "Beat the Bug" bag to pick up. These bags won't have specifically requested titles in them; instead, you can choose one (or more categories) of books that you like to read and we will pull a random assortment of titles that you might like. We make no guarantee that you have not already read the title; however, we will not grab a book that is in the middle of a series!
Bags will have 10 book titles included, and you may also request that we add 2 movie titles as well (please give us any rating restrictions for movies when you call). We will only check out one bag per card at a time; however, you may return all the titles of a bag and request a new bag.
These bags will need to be requested via phone BEFORE you drive up to the curb, so the staff has enough time to pull the items.

From Essentia Health-Ely:
Area residents:
As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds, we understand that our patients and communities will have questions. Please know that at Essentia Health we have been preparing tirelessly to respond to this threat. Our hospitals and caregivers are trained to manage infectious diseases, such as COVID-19, with a high level of care and compassion. We are now offering free E-visits to expedite pre-screening for COVID-19; other resources include a hotline (1-833-494-0836), as well as frequent updates on our website (essentiahealth.org).
Our top priority remains the safety and wellbeing of all our patients and staff, as well as the communities we are privileged to serve.
We recognize that this is a challenging time for everyone. But we all can take certain precautions to slow down the rate of transmission and reduce the risk of illness. Those include:
• Practice social distancing
• Stay home when you are sick
• Wash your hands often with soap for at least 20 seconds
• Cover your coughs and sneezes with tissue
• Clean frequently touched surfaces
• Avoid touching your face
Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Patients who are concerned about their symptoms should start an E-visit or contact their primary care provider.
At Essentia Health, we are collaborating with our partners across the health care industry, as well as state and local governments, to ensure a coordinated and cohesive response to COVID-19. We are following advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Minnesota Department of Health as we work to ensure the health of our patients, staff and communities.
Greg Jonas, Operations Manager
Essentia Health-Ely

From Vermilion Community College:
In this rapidly changing situation around COVID-19 Minnesota State has taken numerous actions at the system level for all of our 32 colleges and universities. In addition Vermilion have further clarified our actions as they apply directly to our college constituents. As this situation continues to evolve recommendations and actions are certain to change, but the two guiding principles to all of our actions remain,
To safeguard the health, safety, and welfare of our faculty, staff, and students
To enable students to complete the spring semester and progress toward their educational goals
Currently the following actions have been taken,
• Spring break has been extended for all Vermilion students until March 30, 2020
• When instruction resumes on March 30, 2020 all Vermilion classes will be delivered in a distance learning format through the remainder of spring semester. There will be no face-to-face instruction during this time.
• Students have been informed that although the dorms and college food service currently remain open, there are very few reasons why students should return to their residence halls as classes will be delivered via distance learning and practicing social distancing will be more conducive outside of our campus residential living environment.
• All spring sports and athletic related activities have been canceled for spring semester
• Vermilion has closed the college weight room facilities and is beginning a systematic closing of certain academic spaces that will not be in use as a result of moving to distance learning for spring semester. This action will create a smaller physical footprint for our staff to clean and maintain during this crisis.
• Vermilion has canceled all scheduled group events and activities, both sponsored by the college and hosted by the college for the remainder of spring semester. This includes the college’s in-person spring new student registration sessions.
• Vermilion staff will be rolling out a process for new student registration sessions to be conducted remotely this spring.
• Vermilion staff will be reaching out to all current students to assist them in remotely scheduling their class for fall semester 2020.
• Vermilion has established an information page on our college website for current information regarding this rapidly changing situation. https://www.vcc.edu/covid-19/

Northern Lakes Arts Association:
It is with a very heavy heart that we announce the cancellation of the 2020 Ely Community Spring Musical, Fiddler on the Roof, set to open on March 26 and run through April 4.
Based on the recommendations of the WHO, NIH,CDC, Minnesota Dept of Health, and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System Office and Chancellor Malhotra, we will cancel this year’s spring production.
For those of you who have already purchased tickets or who were thinking of purchasing tickets to attend this spring’s musical, we ask that you consider using your ticket money as a tax-deductible donation to Northern Lakes Arts Association (NLAA), as we have already incurred many expenses to prepare for the presentation of the show. If you choose to not make a donation to NLAA, please contact us by email at contact@northernlakesarts.org, through our website at www.northernlakesarts.org, or call us at 365-5070 and we will work with you to refund your money.
There is nothing we enjoy more than gathering with our friends, neighbors and supporters to share quality musical theater. We thank you for your years of support to the Ely Community Spring Musical, and we look forward to returning to the stage of Vermilion College next spring for our annual college-community collaborative production.

From: BJ Kohlstedt, Lake County Emergency Manager, 218-220-7811, bj.kohlstedt@co.lake.mn.us.
In response to Governor Walz's announcements on March 13 and March 15 Lake County continues to work with Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and partners to support the health and wellbeing of our communities. This includes reminding us all that we are our own best defense against the transmission of COVID: wash our hands, cover our coughs, keep a social distance, and stay home when sick.

The situation is rapidly evolving and we’re updating our strategies to provide essential services, protect the health of our staff and emergency workers, and maintain economic stability.
Currently Lake County is open for essential business. The public is encouraged to conduct their business remotely rather than in person at County facilities. Please call 218-834-8300, use email, or use the dropboxes at the Two Harbors or Silver Bay Service Centers.
By closing schools, limiting exposures, and protecting our senior citizens, we are fighting back. Schools, businesses and governments are planning not only for education of our students, but also for parents to keep working, and to help cover expenses while caring for children or sick family members. We all need to share the challenges caused by these uncertain and trying times.

The MN Dept of Health (MDH) has set up a hot line for questions about COVID at 651-201-3920 or 800-657-3903 from 7AM to 7PM every day of the week. The MN Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) also has a hotline for questions about Governor Walz's orders at 651-297-1304 or 800-657-3504, also from 7AM to 7PM every day of the week.

The Ely Echo will continue to provide updates as circumstances warrant.

Updated 5:30 p.m. on 3/17/2020