Aledo Corona Cruise back on despite COVID-19

Cala Smoldt, Correspondent

ALEDO — The Aledo Corona Cruise is back on starting May 6, 5-7 p.m. and will continue every Wednesday in May. The town-wide event is put on by the city of Aledo in collaboration with Aledo Main Street.

Residents are encouraged to use curbside delivery at area restaurants. Folks “cruise the loop” in vehicles, honk and wave at each other throughout the town — and curbside restaurant users are automatically entered into a contest with Aledo Main Street to win "Main Street Moola;" $100 was sponsored by Aledo Police Chief Chris Sullivan for this round. According to a flyer, he challenges community members to donate for the following Wednesday's Corona Cruise events.

The event was done on two Wednesdays, April 1 and 8, but was halted when the Mercer County Health Department asked organizers to hold off.

After deliberation between the city and the health department, Mayor Chris Hagloch decided to resume the event in May.

"We called the health department. They agreed that if we social distanced, we would be following the rules. They weren't exactly on board with us doing it, but they wouldn't stop us. So we are going to give it a try again and monitor things as we move forward," he said.

Aledo Main Street Executive Director Dana Murphy said they had an overwhelmingly positive response the first two rounds.

"We just felt that the timing was right, and our local businesses need the curbside support. Along with the community really enjoying it."

Murphy said the idea came from Aledo resident Sue Hiscocks.

Corona Cruise flyers promote social distancing of six feet and wearing a mask when appropriate.

"When it first happened (Corona Cruise), we weren't on board, it was very early in this process," said Mercer County Health Department Administrator Carla Ewing.

She said they took issue when they saw pockets of people gathering in groups downtown, disregarding social distancing protocols.

"We just felt that at that point we needed to pull back on that — that was early on," said Ewing.

She said moving forward she still did not give her, "stamp of approval," however, "We're starting to see different guidance come out — a little bit of a lift on the executive order. Chief Sullivan and I talked a lot about it. We've talked about all the things they would have to comply with, social distancing, masked if picking up food, those types of things — we're not going to see it as any different than those things we're doing," she said.

Ewing and Chief Sullivan, who is also city of Aledo Administrator, work well together, according to Ewing.

"We're trying to come down in the middle; this is a moving target," she said, "We want to do the best we can to keep the community safe, and allow people to make some choices."

"We understand how hard the community is dealing with this, especially our local businesses. They've assured me they are monitoring (social distancing), by and large, most people did a great a job on that (last time)," she said.

Ewing said Mercer County restaurants have done a, "phenomenal job," complying with the orders," We applaud them. They've worked hard to keep people safe and we appreciate that greatly."

She said her department is doing everything they can to help businesses.

"I think these local businesses are trying really hard ... it's been a difficult thing for folks, and we know."

"We will always err on the side of caution, because at the end of the day, I want to keep the community as safe as we can," Ewing said.

The Mercer County Health Department reported 10 positives and 169 negatives in Mercer County as of Monday, May 4. Administrator Ewing said the numbers come from only a few local sources, and are likely not a complete picture.

"We may not be informed if it's not a state public health test. We work very hand in glove with Genesis, they let us know if they have a test.

She said those who go to other medical systems won't be counted among the negative results. "Unless they're a positive we're not going to be notified."

The 9th and 10th positives are two females, between the ages of 20-40, and 40-60.

"Due to Federal privacy restrictions, release of any additional information on this case is prohibited. Public Health Officials are identifying and contacting all close contacts of this case," the release said.

Ewing has said previously they are not able to report on those who have recovered from the illness — or how severe their symptoms are.

"We’ve had many questions about recovery status of positives. We're not going to give out personal health information, if those folks want to talk about it that's their choice not ours.

We're doing our due diligence, we talk with folks in quarantine twice a day, and those positives twice a day — we always refer them back to their provider."

Ewing said as more testing is made available throughout the state, "We're probably going to see more positives, just because of the averages."