Clinton Township to extend state of emergency amidst COVID-19 increases

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published April 8, 2021

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CLINTON TOWNSHIP — An “alarming, recent, sharp increase” in local and statewide COVID-19 cases has led Clinton Township Supervisor Bob Cannon to issue a state of emergency declaration.

Cannon planned to invoke the seven-day declaration April 6, after press time, after consulting with the township’s emergency management coordinator.

He has that jurisdiction under Section 10 of the Emergency Management Act, Section 3a(1)(b), and Section 3(2) of the Open Meetings Act — the latter which states that procedures can accommodate “the absence of any member of the public body due to military duty, a medical condition, or a statewide or local state of emergency or state of disaster declared pursuant to law or charter or local ordinance by the governor or a local official, governing body, or chief administrative officer that would risk the personal health or safety of members of the public or the public body.”

Cannon’s intentions were to ask his fellow board members for approval to extend the declaration at the next township board meeting on April 12 — the same day the original declaration will expire.

If approved, board meetings scheduled between that date and June 7 will remain fully virtual. Cannon said an evaluation will take place at that time based on case numbers and prevalence.

This state of emergency strictly applies to governmental meetings, including Board of Trustees meetings, the planning commission and the zoning board of appeals.

Meetings have been virtual since essentially the beginning of the pandemic and have been conducted through the GoToMeeting platform.

Cannon, who was hopeful two months ago that board members could reconvene in person due to drops in cases, hospitalizations and deaths, cited rising numbers of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Clinton Township, Macomb County and the entire state of Michigan.

“We don’t think we can safely accommodate our board meetings, even though (residents) have been attending virtually,” he said. “We think the number would go up in person.”

He also referred to the recent death of Clinton Township Police Chief Fred Posavetz from the virus.

“(Posavetz) was so physically fit, it was just devastating. …I don’t want to lose anyone else, want anyone else to get sick,” Cannon said.

In-person meetings are different, of course, from virtual gatherings. Things like voice inflection and cadence and body movement are lost, he said.

“But we gain a lot more than we lose,” he added, referring to his own meeting attendance with the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments — normally held in downtown Detroit and requiring hours of dedicated time due to travel, parking, meeting times and returning home.

Asked whether the township has continued plans to aid local businesses, Cannon said the township will continue to relax rules for signage and allow for more outdoor seating as was the case at the onset of the pandemic.

He said the township has used relief monies to aid more than 300 community families with their rent and mortgage payments, as part of a government assistance program.

Cannon continues to advocate for citizens to get vaccinated, saying he is urging his own family members to get doses because “I’ve lost too many friends.”

“My plea is for everyone to get their shot the minute they qualify for it,” he said.