None of the presidential libraries operating under the National Archives and Records Administration are open, according to Dawn Hammatt, director of the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum (EPLM).
“We are currently closed to the public and staff is under a 100 percent telework capacity,” she said.
Hammatt talked to Dickinson County Commissioners online during the public comment portion of Thursday’s meeting to answer questions about the possibility of reopening the facility after being closed due to COVID-19.
At last week’s county meeting, rural Abilene resident Laurie Megan Armstrong asked if the commission had made any inquires about reopening. She noted the importance of the Eisenhower facility to the Abilene and Dickinson County community and how its closure was affecting local businesses.
Hammatt explained that before the EPLM could reopen, certain steps must occur.
“As a federal agency, we are mandated by the White House to follow this three-phased approach to normalized operations,” Hammatt explained.
First, each site’s community must meet two COVID-related data points:
• New cases must be under 200 per 100,000 residents during the past 14 days; and
• The positivity rate must be under 10 percent during the past 14 days.
“Once those two data points are met, the archivist of the United States then decides if each individual site can enter phase 1,” Hammatt said.
Phase 1 sets out certain duties that need to be performed and specifies the number of staff allowed onsite in the buildings, she said.
“Once those duties are done and the data points remain the same, the archivist of the United States will then approve each site moving in phase 2 and 3,” Hammatt said.
During phase 3, each site must provide a plan to the U.S. archivist exemplifying how the public will enter the buildings in a safe manner. This includes social distancing plans for each floor plan at the site, data on access and interaction with guests.
“It will not be until phase 3 that any public will be allowed into our buildings,” Hammatt said. “And at that point, it will be with social distancing in place and all those sorts of factors.”
Data lags behind
“I’m sure you wonder where we are getting our data points,” Hammatt said, explaining it comes from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and it “is a little bit lagged.”
The information currently available to her is from Feb. 3 and it shows 732 new cases per 100,000 and a positivity rate of 17.74 percent.
“Both of those numbers have been trending down for about three weeks, maybe four weeks actually,” Hammatt added.
Commission Chairman Lynn Peterson asked Hammatt to clarify again that no presidential libraries are open.
“Not within the national archives system,” she replied.
Peterson said the community recognizes the importance of the Eisenhower facility not only to the city, county and state, but also nationally and internationally.
“We hope for the best and certainly all of us want to see things open up,” he said.
Contact Kathy Hageman at firstname.lastname@example.org.