CITY OF MUSKEGON HEIGHTS
City Manager’s Declaration of State of Emergency
Wednesday, April 01, 2020
At 9:00 pm
On March 10, 2020, Governor Whitmer issued Executive Order No. 2020-04, declaring a state of emergency across the state of Michigan under section 1 of article 5 of the Michigan Constitution of 1963, the Emergency Management Act, 1976 PA 390, as amended, MCL 30.401-.421, and the Emergency Powers of the Governor Act of 1945, 1945 PA 302, as amended, MCL 10.31-.33 in response to the first two presumptive-positive cases of COVID-19 in Michigan.
On March 13, 2020, in response to and in accordance with executive orders issued by Governor Whitmer, the City issued Emergency Notice 1, advising the public of the closing of City Hall and the Library to public access during normal operating hours Monday through Thursday and closing the entire facility for staff, Consumers Electric, and the public on Fridays. City employee attendance to out of county trainings was suspended, as well as rental inspections, staff entry into private homes, and water shut offs. Finally, this notice advised the public of immediate modifications to City Council Meetings to increase safety and welfare, while subsequent modifications to allow remote participation were pending. During this time the City continued and continues to conduct business with the public through telephonic and videoconferencing sources. Customer transactions have continued and are being conducted via the city’s drop box (check or money orders) and by telephone with the use of credit card payments.
On March 23, 2020, at 10:39 am. Governor Whitmer issued Executive Order No. 2020-21. This order, effective at 12:01 am on March 24, 20202, directed residents to stay at home to the maximum extent feasible. The order identified multiple areas of service that would continue as part of essential services. Although sanitation service was an essential service slated to continue, the status of services associated with bulk item pickup were not clearly defined.
On March 23, 2020, in response to, and in accordance with, executive orders issued by Governor Whitmer, the City issued Emergency Notice 2 advising the public of the change in the way City Council Meetings will be conducted during the state of emergency. The notice indicated, in the foreseeable future, Council Meetings will be conducted solely by electronical means to further minimize the chance for personal contact and inhibit the opportunity for the spread of COVID-19.
On March 26, 2020,realizing the imminent impact of forced joblessness on families in the community as the end of the month approaches, and acknowledging the disproportionate stress the virus has on the most vulnerable residents, the Mayor directed City staff to (1) begin plans to address food security concerns in Muskegon Heights and to (2) put into place a system to conduct remote wellness inquiries on senior citizens in Muskegon Heights. This effort is moving forward in collaboration with the school meal deliveries provided by Muskegon Heights Academy, volunteer space and services provided by local churches, and representation from Lake Newago County NAACP, as well as the HERCO 1191 Labor of Detroit.
To meet an unprecedented challenge, this initiative embraces is a unique and unprecedented collaboration between City Government, the Faith Community, the School District, willing Local Businesses, the Health and Wellness sector, and our Labor friends. The City is working to support the valiant efforts already underway by the School District and the Faith Community and seeks to provide leadership in bringing the other strategic partnerships to the table to raise up the New Heights. Through coordinated engagement and doorstep deliveries, together we can now begin to provide the best possible service to the most vulnerable in our community. We start by impacting critical food needs and essential supplies (toiletries – soap, TP, etc).
Seniors, senior caregivers, and those requesting assistance for door to door food and supplies delivery will be able to call the City COVID-19 Hotline (231) 733-8999 X5 to provide name, phone number, and address to receive food delivery and wellness phone call checks. We will continue to reach out to local grocers (Meijers, Target, and Walmart) to offer opportunities for prepaid orders to also be delivered to distribution centers and/or resident doorsteps. The distribution system is being designed to reduce single points of failure and provide redundancy in services.
On March 27, 2020, Republic Services, the City’s Sanitation service provider, notified the City that effective immediately Bulk Item Pickup is suspended due to safety and wellness concerns for Republic Services employees. The City is working closely with Republic Services to identify alternative solutions for addressing Bulk Item pickup in our community.
The City staff anticipated that our community would eventually be impacted directly by COVID-19 cases, though we all prayed that our residents would be spared. As such, because of the nature of the powers enacted under emergency declaration, it was felt that the most sever measures to protect our community had to be reserved for activation when imminent danger was present in the community as evidenced by any confirmed positives within the city limits of Muskegon Heights. Unfortunately, on March 29, I received official notification of 2 confirmed presumed-positive cases. This fact has led me to conclude “that a large-scale disaster or emergency situation in the city or state is imminent.”
Thus, after careful consideration and concern, and as a next step in the City’s response to, and in alignment with, Governor Whitmer’s directives, under:
Section 3.04 Powers and Duties of the City Manager.The city manager shall be the chief administrative officer of the City, responsible to the city council for the administration of all City affairs placed in the manager’s charge by or under this charter.
Under City Ordinance Sec. 34-1 that defines “Disaster” to include “epidemic” and defines “State of Emergency” as a declaration made by City Manager,
City Ordinance Sec. 34-6(b) which states the circumstances under which the City Manager may declare “a state of emergency exists” are, (1) “Whenever, on the basis of information received from authoritative sources, he [she] feels that a large-scale disaster or emergency situation in the city or state is imminent. (2) “During any period of disaster in the city or state and thereafter as long as he [she] shall deem it necessary.”
And in response to the tragic news of confirmed positive (COVID-19) in Muskegon Heights, I have decided to declare a State of Emergency for the City of Muskegon Heights. In these uncertain times the City must be proactive in implementing all reasonable measures that can work to ensure the community is protected to the greatest extent possible and thus minimize any additional spread of COVID-19. As we strive to establish a more consistent and reliable channel of information with the state and county health and safety authorities, under City Ordinance Sec. 34-6(c) the City requests access to select any and all additional resources as may be appropriate and available through the state and regional disaster/emergency declaration.
Therefore,effective April 2, 2020 at 8 pm, the following measures will be enacted for the next 14 days (unless extended by subsequent Council Resolution), under this declaration of State of Emergency:
- To direct residents to remain at home or in their place of residence to the maximum extent feasible, the City will aggressively pursue:
- strict enforcement of the City’s curfew codes (Article VIII City Ordinance Sec. 58-251 (et seq.)) and the respective requirements to eliminate unnecessary night-time activities or gathering of adults and children outside of the place of residence and of people not part of a single household, prohibiting in-person work that is not necessary to sustain or protect life, except as required for essential travel or critical infrastructure works as described by the Governor’s Executive Orders.
- community engagement to encourage enhanced compliance with the 6’ social distancing practice, the increased use of hand washing and sanitization practices, the cleanup and sanitation of all common areas, and the use of all available personal protective equipment.
- The placement of personal Bulk Items on the curb for pickup is suspended. Do not place bulk items on the curb for pickup. Remove any Bulk Items improperly placed on the curb. Any bulk items that need to be disposed of must be coordinated and arranged in advance with the Department of Public Works.
- The closure of public parks and city owned spaces to leisure activities that involve team sports.
- The closure of Muskegon Heights City Hall to public access, by this notice, is extended to April 13, 2020 at 11:59 pm. This may be subject to further extension.
Within 14 days, a resolution will be presented to City Council for consideration – to confirm, expand or reduce the measures listed above, and/or extend the duration of the City State of Emergency.
Pursuant to City Ordinance Sec. 34-14, “[i]t shall be unlawful for any person willfully to obstruct, hinder or delay any emergency services forces in the enforcement or accomplishment of any rule or regulation issued pursuant to this chapter, or to do any act forbidden by any rule or regulation issued pursuant to the authority contained in this chapter.” A willful violation of any of the directives associated with this order will result in a civil infraction of up to $500.
And as stated in the Governor’s Executive Order 20-21 (COVID-19), “Consistent with MCL 10.33 and MCL 30.405(3), a willful violation of this order [20-21 (COVID-19)] is a misdemeanor.”
As we continue to “Set Our Sights on the New Heights”, even in isolation we must stay strong, remain vigilant, and seek to emerge from these challenging times stronger, better focused, and with greater resolve to reach our goal of a new, vibrant, and thriving community.