MARION — Marion’s 14-member COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force is beginning to work on recommendations of how to get people back to work, while keeping everyone safe.
“It’s hard to know right now at the beginning the various outcomes that are going to come out of this,” Marion Mayor Nick AbouAssaly told task force members in a meeting held this week via Zoom.
“Community sectors will work independently and report to the steering committee with ideas, strategies or policy recommendations,” he said.
In turn, the task force will consider recommendations to the Marion City Council, and AbouAssaly said he will update the council on the task force meetings.
“Unfortunately, we have to accept that the virus is here to stay,” AbouAssaly said. “It’s part of our life for the time being. We have to be able to plan for getting back to doing things and leading our lives in a way that allows us to exist with the virus in our community.”
Elizabeth Cwik, a Marion resident who works for the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation, said there’s a “strong interest” among task force members to provide accurate information to the public about the virus.
“I see clear, consistent messaging from a variety of sectors from the schools, government, businesses and nonprofits. Then that message gets through,” Cwik said. “If that message is, ‘We care, and we want you to come out whole, and we want there to be a vibrant economy to be continued with every citizen’s effort,’ I think that’s a valuable contribution to the recovery.”
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In joining the task force, Dr. Jaclyn Price said she hopes to dispel inaccurate information about the coronavirus and help businesses find ways to safely bring their employees back to work.
“I anticipate businesses will be operating at reduced capacities,” she said. “Maybe doing appointments rather than walk-in business, and cleaning more routinely.”
If businesses require employees and customers to wear masks, it will protect others from asymptomatic spread of the virus, she said.
“We will still see virus activity until we get a vaccine or herd immunity,” Price said. “This is going to be a problem for months to come. We’re trying to find ways to open slowly, but also understanding if we reopen everything and have to close it again, that could be more detrimental to people’s psychology or finances of businesses.”
The Rev. Mike Morgan of Marion United Methodist Church said “greater conversation” with government, business, education and health care leaders will help.
“Marion has become a town that is proactive,” Morgan said. “We really seek to have good things happen to our citizenry rather than let things happen and we react to them. ... As a person in the faith community, it’s important for us to be tending to people’s emotional, psychological, spiritual and, to some degree, physical needs.”
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MARION TASK FORCE
Those serving on the Marion COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force, all Marion residents and volunteers, are:
• Nick AbouAssaly, Marion mayor
• Jill Ackerman, president, Marion Chamber of Commerce
• Shannon Bisgard, Linn-Mar schools superintendent
• Amber Bisinger, communications officer for the city
• Elizabeth Cwik, Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation
• Lee Eilers, executive committee member, Marion Economic Development Corp.
• Nick Glew, president, Marion Economic Development Corp.
• Amber Hoff, marriage and family therapist
• Steve Jensen, Marion City Council member
• Mike Morgan, pastor, Marion United Methodist Church
• Brent Oleson, Linn County supervisor
Lon Pluckhahn, Marion city manager
• Jaclyn Price, M.D., Mercy Clinic-Marion
• Brooke Prouty, program director, Marion Chamber of Commerce
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