GRANITE CITY, Ill. ( -- The stay-at-home orders in Missouri and Illinois are having a huge impact on our area socially and economically. The orders are key to stopping the spread of the coronavirus but one thing has not stopped since the outbreak. 

Traffic along the roads and interstates in and around St. Louis is light but traffic on the Mississippi River at Lock 27 in Granite City has not stopped.

Jeremey Garzia is the lockmaster at Lock 27. Anything pertaining to personnel, locking boats and maintenance goes through him. 

He said the coronavirus pandemic has not impacted traffic along the Mississippi River, but has changed the way his team works.

"We just keep people away from each other, everyone has their own areas and when they are done with their shift, they clean it with a cleaning solution and the next person comes on to do their job,” Garzia said.

Five people who have no contact with anyone are those who work as a shift chief. Each rotate a 12-hour shift to handle the controls.

"For the water to drop out, to raise the pool, to lower the pool, lower the gate and move the gates,” Garzia said.

Kimberly Allen, like the rest at Lock 27, is essential personnel.

"It's very crucial," Allen said. "We do a lot of things that keep the city going like the coal for the electricity."

So far, this year, 1200 tows have moved up and down the Mississippi River carrying 11 million tons, ranging from agriculture to oils.

Allen guides in each barge and makes sure the people and equipment on them are in place.

"It's 110 feet wide. They have only an inch, rather a foot or two on each side, so it has to be very precise to get them in safely,” Allen said.

One barge holds the equivalent to 70 semi-trucks.

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