The closure of the Pablo Center at the Confluence for a month because of coronavirus will result in a financial loss of $300,000 to the performing arts center and $200,000 to the local groups holding shows at the facility.

Pablo Center officials on Friday announced the facility would close its doors through April 14 in response to concerns over the spread of COVID-19.

“It just seems easier and cleaner to know the building will be closed,” Pablo Center executive director Jason Jon Anderson said Friday.

All performances, including national touring acts such as “Stomp,” Gaelic Storm and comedian Charlie Berens will either be canceled or rescheduled.

Local groups scheduled to have performances between now and April 14 include UW-Eau Claire, the Chippewa Valley Symphony Orchestra, O’Claire Irish Festival, Eau Claire Chamber Orchestra and the Eau Claire Children’s Theater.

All ticket holders will be contacted electronically for their options, which include receiving a full refund or moving their tickets to a rescheduled performance.

“It’s our building’s goal to re-present these groups,” Anderson said of the desire to reschedule as many of the shows as possible.

Anderson said because some shows will be rescheduled, “the final financial impact is unknown.”

“There is nothing more important to us than the happiness, health, safety and well-being of every person who comes through our doors,” he said. “The well-being of building partners, patrons, artists and staff will remain our absolute top priority.”

The decision was made to close the Pablo Center for a month because Gov. Tony Evers declared a public health emergency for the state and the Eau Claire City-County Health Department recommended that all events with more than 250 attendees be canceled through April 14, Anderson said.

Among the other prominent local cultural events to be canceled as a result of COVID-19 concerns is the 46th annual Viennese Ball. The event, billed as the largest Viennese ball outside of Vienna, was scheduled April 3 and 4 at UW-Eau Claire.

Information about refunding tickets holders will be made available by noon Wednesday, the university announced.

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Eau Claire-based home improvement store chain Menards has begun taking temperatures of employees and visitors to its corporate headquarters to determine if they are running a high fever.

Using a touchless forehead scan, every person entering the company’s general office is being checked to ensure their body temperature is under 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, according to spokesman Jeff Abbott.

Should anyone’s temperature register as 100.4 degrees or higher, that person would be directed to seek a medical evaluation that Menards would pay for. And if an employee does have a high fever, a health care provider would need to clear them before returning to work.

“Thanks to the Good Lord, thus far we have not had to send anyone for further evaluation,” Abbott said Friday afternoon in an email to the Leader-Telegram.

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Downtown Eau Claire co-working space CoLab will be unstaffed for the rest of this month and access to that shared office space will be restricted to members.

CoLab’s employees left the building at noon Friday and let members know that they will be available through email during normal working hours.

“This decision did not come lightly as our space and mission are dedicated to creating community and connectedness, but we truly believe that it is imperative to take these precautions at this time,” CoLab wrote in a statement posted Friday afternoon on its website.

Members that subscribe to use CoLab will still have access to their work areas by using their passkeys, but the general public will not be allowed inside the office space.

The workspace will be disinfected twice a week and there are sanitizing wipes, hand sanitizer and gloves available to CoLab members who continue to do their work in the offices there.

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Xcel Energy has plans in place to ensure critical positions are staffed to provide power to customers, according to the utility company.

That applies to power plant operators, line workers and customer care representatives, the company stated.

“The energy grid is a key part of the nation’s critical infrastructure, so we have a responsibility to take a well-planned, heightened approach to the threats that coronavirus poses. We’re focused on preparedness and have solid business continuity plans in place and are also working with government and community partners to ensure our operations are not impacted,” Xcel stated in an email to the Leader-Telegram.

Many of Xcel’s office-based employees already have the capabilities to work from home, when necessary — a contingency previously envisioned for severe weather events.

Like other businesses, Xcel has also been reminding employees to wash hands often, avoid touching one’s eyes, nose and mouth, and to stay home when feeling ill.

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Insurance provider Group Health Cooperative of Eau Claire has been working to keep up with multiple daily updates on coronavirus from officials as well as contemplating what the spread of the illness could mean for its own workforce.

CEO Peter Farrow said the cooperative does have disaster recovery plans in place that management and key employees practice a couple times a year. Those drills test the company’s procedures to continue operating even with a third of its staff unavailable due to a natural disaster or even a pandemic.

Group Health Cooperative is preparing for various scenarios that could develop due to COVID-19, Farrow said, but is waiting on implementing any different procedures until seeing reports of the illness in our area.

The insurer does have the ability to have employees do some remote work, Farrow said, but is reluctant to do that because taking sensitive health information out of the office poses the risk of a data breach.

Leader-Telegram reporters Dan Holtz and Andrew Dowd contributed to this report.

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