STURGEON BAY, Wis. (WFRV) Normally around this time of year, Door County is getting ready for people to head out on the water, dine at restaurants, shop at stores, and take in the beauty of one of the most beautiful places in the state.
Unfortunately, that’s all taken a backseat due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
However, Mayor Dave Ward remains optimistic that city residents will get through this tough time together.
“This is a small town, but we have a big heart,” Ward said.
Mayor Ward says he’s impressed with city residents helping each other out. Whether it’s getting groceries for their neighbor, rallying to support healthcare workers, or simply obeying Governor Evers’ ‘Safer at Home’ order.
There have been a few bumps in the road along the way however. The Spring primary election is coming up on Tuesday, and Ward says the clerk’s office has been swamped with absentee ballots.
“We are concerned about the clerk and the clerk’s office they have been working tirelessly here – overloaded,” Ward said.
However, voter turnout in the city is currently over 40%. Ward hopes that the unusually high number means less people at the polls on April 7th.
“We’re not expecting a lot of folks on the election day itself,” Ward said.
Meanwhile, the first case of Coronavirus was confirmed in Door County this week, and Ward says it did not come as a shock.
“We were told by our medical professionals [that] we are going to have a case,” he said. “It’s in virtually every county in the state.”
With a plea to avoid Door County altogether to prevent the spread, Ward says Sturgeon Bay is simply not worth visiting right now.
“For the time being, what I’ve been telling people is, ‘look, everything is closed up here,'” he said. “There’s nothing to do, so you’re probably better off staying at home because you’re not going to find any entertainment here.”
However, some essential businesses are keeping the city afloat.
“Our ship building here does defense work, so [Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding] is operating,” Ward said. “In our manufacturing and industrial areas, those plants are still running. That’s going to provide needed economic support here.”
But with the weather warming up, Ward says the tourism industry is expected to take a hit.
“There’s no question, there won’t be a full tourist season,” said Ward. “We’re hoping by the summer this will pass.”
Looking forward to the future, the Door County Maritime Museum is constructing their 10-story tower that they plan to have open to the public by October.
The city is also planning their first-ever Maritime Parade set for the first week in August. The event would be in connection with the county’s annual Classic and Wooden Boat Festival.