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Port Huron updates COVID-19 measures, closes playgrounds, limits council meeting

James Freed, city manager of Port Huron. Photo courtesy of city of Port Huron
James Freed, city manager of Port Huron. Photo courtesy of city of Port Huron

By Jim Bloch

The city of Port Huron announced a number of measures on Monday, March 23 to help stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.

City Manager James Freed ordered people to stay off playground equipment, issued a number of enhancements to his COVID-19 mitigation measures and announced additional measures to make the March 23 regular meeting of the city council safer.

Playgrounds

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“Due to the threat of COVID-19 and recommendations from state and local health officials, effective March 23, 2020 all playground equipment in the City of Port Huron will be closed until further notice,” said Freed in a press release. “It is our priority to keep our families safe in our parks.”

COVID-19 mitigation measures

Freed announced 10 mitigation measures on March 12. On March 23, he updated them. They are scheduled to remain in effect through April 15:

1. County Emergency Operations Center now fully active as well as the Joint Information Center.

2. Municipal Office Center is closed to public and non-essential staff. City business should be conducted via U.S. Mail, Drive-Thru Window or online at www.PortHuron.org. City night drop-box will be processed continually. If calling the MOC, please leave a message with detailed information as those messages are sent to staff emails to be checked constantly. Previously, residents were discouraged from visiting the MOC.

3. All non-essential City Employees are in a “work from home” status. They report to sites as supervisors direct. Information Technology has allowed for much work to now be completed at home.

5. Via administrative directive, there will be no water shutoffs in the city. This had been announced March 13 after the original mitigation measures were issued. Freed announced that about 150 residents have had water service restored as well. Residents are encouraged to keep paying their bills.

6. Via administrative directive, on-street downtown parking has been converted into Drive-Thru/Pickup Lanes for foodservice businesses.

7. All Parks and Recreation sites are closed. Playground equipment is closed and should be avoided.

“There is no intention on our part to overreact to the Coronavirus (COVID-19),” said Freed in a statement. “However, it’s incumbent upon your local officials to plan for the potential community transmission of COVID-19 and to take the necessary precautions to protect our residents and staff, and to take the necessary actions to slow the transmission of this virus.”

Seven earlier measures remain in effect:

1. Police and Fire Operations are coordinating response plans for potential COVID 19 contact with emergency response agencies and healthcare agencies from across the county.

2. McMorran Civic Theatre and Arena events with over 100 people in expected attendance are canceled.

3. Palmer Park Community Center events are canceled.

4. Rental Inspection operations will temporarily pause.

5. Cemetery and Forestry Divisions have suspended in-person services. (same)

6. City Administration will be taking measures to afford paid sick time to employees who may become exposed to COVID-19. All City personnel will err on the side of caution.

7. Scheduled water meter appointments entering private property will be paused.

March 23 city council meeting

“We will put the council meeting on YouTube live tonight,” said Freed. “This will be a remarkably short meeting. Doubtful much discussion will occur as we have sent the agenda out early and (council members) have had time to review it. Some (council members) may be off-mic and out of camera range because of spacing.”

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Jim Bloch

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