Local businesses feel impact of COVID-19


ARENAC COUNTY— Local businesses in Arenac County are feeling the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. While many have shut their doors by the Governor's order, those deemed essential services have remained open, such as grocery stores, childcare, and laundromats. 

Dennis Whitney, owner of Whitney’s Laundromat said he is very concerned about having to shut down. He said they have been doing pretty well, but there have been days where they feel the impact more than others. One day, the laundromat saw only four customers walk through the door. Whitney said they have been receiving many calls to see if they are open and are operating on their normal hours. 

“It’s sad to see M-13 so dead at night,” Whitney said. “There are not many cars going through here.”

Also deemed essential are the childcare centers. Lorrie Foor of Li'l Sprouts Child Development Center in Omer said they are feeling the impact of the schools shutting as well as other businesses closing such as the casino and restaurants. Foor said they are losing children and experienced their lowest count of 35 children on Friday. 

“Next week we have even less kids,” said Foor. 

She said they were contacted to keep the daycare open and provide services for those who still need to work. Some parents have pulled their kids out of daycare due to fear.

The center continues to sanitize and disinfect services, sanitize toys, and increase hand washing. Foor said depending on what the Governor orders, they may need to start taking children’s temperatures before they enter the center.

“We always have to be cautious but life has to go on. We just need to be more observant,” said Foor. 

Grocery stores also remain open to the public, many seeing shortages in cleaning products and toilet paper. 

Rick and Teresa Spies, owners of Sunrise Food Market in Au Gres and three pharmacies located in Standish, Au Gres, and inside Town and Country, said they are experiencing shortages of hand sanitizer and rubbing alcohol, but are fully stocked with toilet paper. 

Rick Spies said they have enough toilet paper to be well-stocked for several weeks. Spies said their provider, IGA, provides services in China and has already dealt with the worst part of the crisis there, and is well-prepared to deal with it here. 

Spies said they are not seeing many food shortages, but are starting to see a shortage of eggs.

He offered some tips to the public to help them get through this unprecedented time. 

“Try baking instead of buying everything prepared,” he said. “Think outside of the box and try something new.” Now can be a time to experiment with different foods. “Think creative. If there is no bread, try tortilla shells” 

“Think nutritious. Think about what you need, not what your taste buds desire. Now would be the time to try organic milks. They have a longer shelf life.”

“Try to make less frequent trips to the store and get everything in one trip. Don’t hoard. Everybody needs to work together and be patient with each other,” said Spies. 

He encourages everyone to wash their hands, wash their fruits and veggies, and start taking multivitamins, especially vitamin C, to promote general health and build up immune systems.

As far as precautions being taken inside the store, Spies said they have introduced safe guards and are cleaning and sanitizing “touch surfaces” every half hour, including customer contact areas such as carts. They are also doing a daily deep clean before and after hours. 

Spies praises his devoted employees, who are working overtime to provide for the community, for their hard work. He asks that people be patient with pharmacists who are performing extra tasks and working with insurance companies during this period. 

Spies said Family Fare has set aside hours for at-risk people to come in and shop and his Standish Pharmacy will be implementing that at the same time as well. Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. will be set aside for those who are at-risk to pick up their medications. 

Pharmacist Julie Blust said to call in your prescription, don’t come in, to avoid congregation.  Spies said most insurances are allowing for early refills so people don’t run short. Should a medication be unavailable, consult with your pharmacist to get your prescription changed, do not go without. 

Spies thanks his customers for their support and pledges to do his part to help everyone get through this unprecedented crisis. Visit cdc.gov for more information and updates on COVID-19.


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