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Grosse Pointe Woods City buildings close, activities canceled in wake of COVID-19

By: Maria Allard | Grosse Pointe Times | Published March 17, 2020

GROSSE POINTE WOODS — In light of COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, Grosse Pointe Woods officials are taking precautionary measures.

On March 13, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, recommended the cancellation or postponement of events with more than 250 people, a move Gov. Gretchen Whitmer reinforced. Since then, that number has been lowered to 50 people.

On March 13, Grosse Pointe Public Library officials made the decision to close all three library branches from March 14 through April 5, and the date could change. There are three branches: one in Grosse Pointe Farms, one in Grosse Pointe Park and one in Grosse Pointe Woods.

Grosse Pointe Woods officials also have closed City Hall, the Community Center, the Municipal Court and the Department of Public Works to the public until further notice. Employees continue to report to work to ensure the impact on city services at this time is minimal.

Upcoming Grosse Pointe Woods city events, including senior day trips scheduled for March 15 to the Birmingham Theatre and March 25 to MotorCity Casino Hotel, and the Easter Egg Stroll April 4 at Lake Front Park all have been canceled.

The Lake Front Park Activities Building closed March 14, until further notice, and all fitness classes and Toddler Tumble Time have been canceled. However, city officials want residents to know the park remains open.

At this time, the annual All-Pointes Daddy-Daughter Dance scheduled for March 21 at Grosse Pointe South High School in Grosse Pointe Farms has been postponed. The lifeguard training class that was set to begin March 23 has also been postponed.

“I think everyone understands the situation we’re in,” Grosse Pointe Woods City Administrator Bruce Smith said. “People are pulling together to make things work. In most of the departments, we’re in good shape. We will make accommodations and will still provide services.”

One recommendation at this time is for residents to use the drop box in front of City Hall to pay utility bills. The city asks that people use checks or money orders; no cash. The box is located in the circular driveway. It is the first white box on the left. Receipts will be mailed to customers upon request.

“We’re going to monitor the situation in our city. Everyone’s looking at it. They’re trying not to overreact, but do things that would have some meaningful effects,” Grosse Pointe Woods Mayor Robert Novitke said. “I don’t know of any time we’ve dealt with something like this. I’ve never seen anything like this.”

“Every effort” is being done “to make it a safe working environment for our employees,” Smith said. For instance, with the Activities Center closed down, there’s the possibility that those employees will be relocated to City Hall to use the proper cleaning supplies to disinfect surfaces, doorknobs, etc.

Another issue for the city is how to handle Gov. Whitmer’s mandatory three-week shutdown of all K-12 public, private and boarding schools from March 16 through April 5. With city employees who have children home, “We have to work with our employees to be able to get them to manage their lives at this time. Hopefully, we can make arrangements so we can keep working,” Smith said.

According to the CDC, coronaviruses are a large family of viruses common in people and various animal species including camels, cattle, cats and bats. COVID-19 first appeared in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, near the end of last year, where the CDC believes it originated from a seafood and poultry market.

Symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath, and they may appear two to 14 days after exposure, according to the CDC. To prevent contracting the virus, it is recommended that people wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds — especially after being in a public place, or after blowing one’s nose, coughing or sneezing.

If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Avoid close contact with people who are sick, and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

Novitke is reminding residents to wash their hands and look for signs of infection.

“Have people do whatever they can to reduce the contamination. If you feel sick, don’t come to work. That’s some of the things we are looking at,” Novitke said.

While the coronavirus has put the world on alert, Novitke, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, is remembering the discipline he learned in boot camp: “Adapt, improvise, overcome.”

“You got to make do with the resources you have,” the mayor said.

Additonal information about the city’s measures in light of the coronavirus, utility bill payments and more can be accessed at the Grosse Pointe Woods website, www.gpwmi.us. Access the website for public meeting notices because cancellations are likely.

Staff Writer Andy Kozlowski contributed to this report.