Banks, other essential services still accessible

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In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Park County and the State of Wyoming have closed day care centers, bars, pools, gyms and theaters for at least two weeks. Meanwhile, other businesses like grocery stores, banks, pharmacies, laundromats, and car mechanics remain open, with restaurants offering curbside, take-out and drive-thru service.

Trace Paul, Powell branch manager of First Bank, said he’s concerned people will associate responses to the pandemic with the health of the bank. To maintain the safety of their customers and employees they have closed their lobbies, like all banks throughout the nation, but Paul said an institution insured through the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation is still the safest place to keep your money.

The FDIC is also trying to assure people that the banking industry is secure. The corporation pointed out in a statement on COVID-19 that no depositor since 1933 has lost money from any bank it insures.

While the social distancing guidelines are in effect, most banks in Powell are conducting business through ATMs, drop boxes, mobile apps, their drive-thrus or online. When face-to-face meetings are needed for things like notarized signatures, banks are doing so by appointment.

“Just because people see our lobby closed doesn’t mean we’re not working,” Paul said.

With interest rates cut, First Bank has handled 170 mortgages in the past week, and is sorting through a number of programs aimed at providing relief to hurting individuals and businesses.

“We’re fortunately well positioned to handle this,” said Ty Nelson, bank president. “I’ve never seen a response like this so fast.”

The ability to do banking during this time is especially vital for farmers, who are just now planning out the coming season’s crops. Paul said the bank is conducting ag lending services, utilizing appointments where necessary.

“It’s happening. Our ag lenders are working as hard as ever. That end of the business has not paused,” Paul said.

The other banks in town are also continuing operations in the same manner. The Bank of Powell is using its drive-thru and has a night drop box available. Where necessary, they’re seeing customers by appointment. Taunya Iverson, secondary administration for the branch, said they’re using good sanitation practices after customers leave.

“We’re still seeing people while keeping our customers and employees safe,” Iverson said.

Sunlight Federal Credit Union’s slogan during this time is “business as usual, just by appointment.” Whenever “wet signatures” are needed, they’re meeting face-to-face. All other members’ business is done online, and they’ve extended the hours of their drive-thru, which is open daily from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Pathfinder Federal Credit Union doesn’t have a drive thru, so they’re allowing members to use the lobby from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily. One or two members can enter the lobby at a time, and staffers are sanitizing all touched surfaces after they leave. They also offer online banking and mobile apps.

Pinnacle Bank, meanwhile, has limited lobby access to appointment only and has expanded its usual drive-thru services. It also offers online banking and staffers can provide assistance over the phone.

Pharmacies are filling prescriptions. The Powell Valley Healthcare pharmacy has a drive-up window, which people are encouraged to use if they can. PVHC workers are also sanitizing the counters frequently between customers.

Powell Drug is offering curb-side service and anyone can call the store to request it. They are also asking that anyone experiencing symptoms of the virus not to come in the store and utilize the curb-side service.

Grocery stores are open as well, and they’re doing what they can to respond to the panic buying that has cleared out stores across the country. Blair’s is limiting its hours and some items have restrictions on the number people can buy at once, such as paper products and canned soups. Brent Foulger, Blair’s co-owner, said they are frequently sanitizing doors and carts — anything people touch — throughout the day and after they close at night.

“We’re keeping our staff employed and our store running to supply the community with what they need,” he said. Blair’s said on its Facebook page that there is no need for customers to panic, as supplies are continuing to roll in.

Mr. D’s is open during its regular hours, but there are purchase limits on some items, such as toilet paper. The store is also offering a delivery service. There is a fee of $3.50 on all orders under $50. Customers can call, email mrdspowell@gmail.com, or place the order through the store’s Facebook page.

“We are here for the community,” said Kami Scott, Mr. D’s manager.

Since transportation is a vital need, dealerships and mechanics are also permitted to continue operations. Fremont Motors’ sales, parts, and service departments are all running during normal hours. They are also offering pickup and dropoff services for anyone who can’t get to the business.

“We’re going to do business until we can’t do business,” said Mike Hobbs, general manager.

Yellowstone Motors is also open and offering pickup and delivery service anywhere in the Big Horn Basin for sales and service matters. They’ve also increased weekend hours, offering sales and service by appointment.

“Right now, we haven’t reduced hours. We increased them to help people out a bit,” said Vince Smith, vice president of operations.

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