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Clawson declares state of emergency to be ready for aid

At least two residents test positive for COVID-19

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published March 19, 2020

File photo

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CLAWSON — Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Reese Scripture declared a state of emergency in the city of Clawson, effective March 17, which will allow the city to use state and federal resources to directly address the public health emergency.

Scripture said she and interim City Attorney Renis Nushaj felt the move was prudent to protect the city’s rights. Many communities, she said, are declaring emergencies due to the uncertain nature of the situation in order to take the safest route.

According to a March 19 letter from Clawson Public Schools Superintendent Tim Wilson, a parent with two students in fourth grade at Schalm Elementary informed him that at least two people in her home had tested positive for COVID-19 March 18. Her children that attend Schalm do not have symptoms; however, the entire household is self-quarantining for 14 days, the letter states.

Wilson said the Oakland County Health Division could not share information with him because the students had not tested positive, but the parent requested that he share the information.

“In the coming weeks, we are expecting that we will have more positive tests throughout our state and school district,” Wilson said. “The OCHD informed me that since we are closed until April 13, we are not required or expected to share positive test results regarding family members of students.”

If the OCHD informs him that students in the district have tested positive, he said he would follow the OCHD’s guidance, as he has in the past when the OCHD gave him protocols to follow for informing parents of communicable diseases.

The state of emergency proclamation directs that city staff do all in its power to aid Clawson residents during the public health emergency.

It allows staff to seek assistance and support for local response and recovery efforts, including personal protective equipment, such as face masks, surgical gloves, eye protection, hand sanitizer and disinfectant, as well as overtime costs for first responders, public works crews and other employees involved in response activities and support though the recovery process.

“We are not at this time suspending public meetings,” Scripture said. “We’re in the process of getting the infrastructure in place to be able to do remote (meetings). We do not have that right now, but, as you can see, we are practicing safety with our distance.”

During the March 17 City Council meeting, council members and staff sat spaced out as far as possible and encouraged the sparse audience members to do the same.

“As far as I’m concerned, democracy will go on,” Scripture said. “We will work to make sure that can continue to go on if we really, truly cannot meet in a physical setting.”

Clawson Police Chief and Assistant City Manager Scott Sarvello, who also serves as the city’s emergency management coordinator, said neither the city’s nor county’s emergency operation plans include pandemics, but the city is working closely with the county’s Emergency Operations Center.

“(The center) has been in full throttle since it started,” Sarvello said. “We have had multiple conference calls so far. Now, they’re set every Tuesday and every Friday for the emergency management coordinators to listen to what’s going on and to ask questions.”

Internally, Sarvello said, he and interim City Manager Kathy Leenhouts have been staying in touch and meeting with department heads, and he plans to assemble a team in order to stay apprised of the city’s needs.

To receive text and email notifications from the city of Clawson regarding COVID-19, visit cityofclawson.com, select “Notification Subscription” and click the link to sign up for important city notifications.

“Since yesterday, 96 people signed up,” Scripture said during the March 17 meeting. “I hope the community can feel at least a little reassured that staff are thinking of (possible scenarios involving Clawson and being) ready as much as we can for whatever comes our way.”

Clawson City Hall, the Department of Public Works, Blair Memorial Library and Hunter Community Center are closed to the public through April 6. On March 18, the city closed Grant Park, Hunter Park and the City Park turf fields, track and skate park until further notice to encourage social distancing.

For more information, call Clawson City Hall at (248) 435-4500.

Patients with COVID-19 reportedly have had mild to severe respiratory illness, and there is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infection, as it is a new virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people who are ill with COVID-19, but not sick enough to be hospitalized, isolate at home during their illness.

According to a state count March 19, 336 cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed in Michigan, including 105 in Oakland County. On March 10, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the first two cases in Michigan, including one in Oakland County. As of March 19, hospitals reported three deaths due to COVID-19 — two in Wayne County and one in Oakland County.

On March 18, Beaumont Health released a free online risk assessment tool, available at beaumont.org/coronavirus, which allows patients to answer a series of questions about their symptoms to help them determine whether to stay home or seek medical attention.

“Many people who become infected with COVID-19 can stay home and treat their symptoms with over-the-counter medication, unless their symptoms become severe. The primary symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough and shortness of breath,” Dr. Nicholas Gilpin, Beaumont Health’s medical director of infection prevention and epidemiology, said in a prepared statement. “Everyone does not necessarily need to be tested. Most people who become infected with the disease will not experience complications and will recover.”

The Oakland County Nurse on Call — (800) 848-5533 — offers information about health and related resources. It is staffed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

The Oakland County Help Hotline — (248) 858-1000 — offers information about nonhealth needs, such as food and housing assistance. It is staffed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. 

For preparedness planning toolkits, prevention resources and confirmed exposure locations, visit oakgov.com/health. For text alerts from Oakland County regarding the latest COVID-19 updates, text “OAKGOV” to 28748.

Information about the COVID-19 pandemic is changing rapidly. Check for the latest available information at michigan.gov/coronavirus and cdc.gov/coronavirus.

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