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Here’s how local businesses, churches are dealing with COVID-19 concerns

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Opting for a little less face-to-face contact, holding church services via online video and encouraging customers not to panic are a few of the ways local businesses and churches are helping the community adjust to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

As the disease has canceled sporting events, left stores low on items such as toilet paper and hand-sanitizer and pushed both Gov. Brian Kemp and President Donald Trump to declare states of emergency at the state and federal levels, organizations in Forsyth County have had to find their own ways to cope with the disease.


Dutch Monkey Doughnuts

Arpana Satyu-Burge and her husband, Martin, owners of Dutch Monkey Doughnuts on Peachtree Parkway, experienced planning for serious events when they worked in New York during both 9/11 and the east coast blackout a few years later.

To combat coronavirus, Arpana said the restaurant hasn’t closed its dining area but has encouraged customers wary of groups to use their drive-thru.

“What we’re doing with it is trying to make people able to do what they want to do with the crisis,” she said. “So, there are some people who do want to come in and eat and be around other people, and our dining room is open for that, but we have kept our drive-thru open longer hours so that people that want to do that can get their doughnuts and coffee.”

She said the store has also asked employees to limit contact with each other, encouraged touchless payment and other measures.

Dutch Monkey has windows where customers can watch employees handle food, which, along with health guidelines, Arpana said has meant the store has already had a good foundation in cleanliness.

“Our hygiene practices are in play anyway because the Forsyth County Health Department is really strict with that on a regular basis, even when there’s not a health crisis, so we haven’t really changed anything to that extent,” Arpana said. “We’ve always used sanitizers on our tables and washed our hands between transactions and all of that.”

Arpana said while doughnuts are not a necessity, the business had not been impacted as of Friday, when they were running low on doughnuts early in the day due to high demand.

“It’s not life-saving medication that we serve here, it’s really an indulgence,” she said. “I know if they don’t need to be here then they won’t be.”


Mountain Lake Church

Each week, Mountain Lake Church offers online viewing of their Sunday services, but this week that will be the only way to view the church’s 9:30 and 11 a.m. services.

“On Sunday, it will be just core staff and volunteers in order to produce the service, but no one else there,” said Pastor Chris Emmitt.

Emmitt said the church was operating more on caution than fear by also allowing staff to work from home and canceling mid-week programs for the next week, a decision leaders came to after several conversations.

“We have an executive staff team that talked about it. I have a board of directors. I talked to different churches in the Georgia area and across the country, and just through the collective voice of wisdom, it seemed like the right call,” he said. “There are much smarter leaders in the church world and in the non-church world that were canceling church services, events and sporting games, so it just seemed the right thing to do to do our part and be socially responsible.”

Like most who are dealing with the fallout of the virus, Emmitt said the church is taking a wait-and-see approach before making any further decisions.

“We know what we’re doing Sunday, we know what we’re doing next week and probably mid-week we will start looking at what does next Sunday look like, so it’ll be week-to-week for us,” Emmitt said.


Fountain Financial Advisors

As the nation deals with the fallout of the virus, many have urged caution but not to panic.

According to David Fountain, of Fountain Financial Advisors, his firm has been working to make sure customers haven’t been doing anything drastic due to the outbreak.

“We always try to say, ‘um,’ and keep our clients thinking in longer-term versus reacting to the short term, so it’s been a calm week for me, but there’s been a lot going on around us,” Fountain said. “We’ve had a good number of more calls and interest in what to do next.”

Fountain said he had been talking with clients, particularly retirees, for several weeks about what could happen with the virus so “regardless of the movements of the market, they wouldn’t have to depend on an upmarket to get their distributions for living and all of that.”

“Since it is financial questions we get the most, we usually talk about the history of different viruses that we’ve been through, how they affected the stock markets,” he said. “I’ve kind of been relating to once we get containment or understanding of how to deal with the virus, kind of like a forest fire, once you get comfortable with how it’s being contained or taken care of, then things can get back to normal.”