Officials review new COVID-19 procedures

By: Andy Kozlowski | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published June 4, 2020

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WEST BLOOMFIELD/ORCHARD LAKE — While society is transitioning out of its pandemic-induced stasis, there remains the possibility of a second surge in COVID-19 cases —so officials remain vigilant.

In West Bloomfield Township, Town Hall closed to the public March 18 to achieve compliance with the governor’s executive order aimed at slowing the spread of the virus.

“Of paramount importance to the township board is that West Bloomfield Township staff members and residents remain safe and healthy,” said Steve Kaplan, the township supervisor.

Since then, essential workers have remained on site at Town Hall, including the six information technology employees, the payroll and pension manager, the six code enforcement officers, the assessing director, and the water utilities employees. Public safety personnel such as police officers and command officers, firefighter-paramedics, and 911 dispatchers have also remained active.

On May 1, the township board approved a plan for resuming operations in full, establishing a set of guidelines to maintain a safe environment.

To this end, the township has installed plexiglass windows at the main counters in Town Hall and marked the floors to indicate 6-foot spacing. Staff have been provided personal protection equipment and are required to wear facial coverings. This requirement of facial coverings extends to visitors to Town Hall, as well. The township hired a company to conduct a deep cleaning of facilities. The furnace filters have been changed, and daily cleaning procedures have been adjusted.

The department heads and supervisory staff members resumed working at Town Hall May 11, and the remaining employees reported to the building May 18. Procedures are in place where staff take their temperatures twice a day and sanitize their work spaces on a regular basis.

“During these trying and uncertain times, residents should know that we are here to serve them to the best of our ability,” Kaplan said.

The plan is now to reopen Town Hall to the public June 15, unless the governor issues another executive order preventing this. In the meantime, residents have been able to conduct business with the township via telephone and mail, as well as through the township’s website or by dropping items off at the 24-hour mailbox, located on the east side of Town Hall, in the traffic circle.

“We appreciate that our employees and the public have self-quarantined, and we appreciate their understanding during these unprecedented, treacherous times,” Kaplan said.

In the city of Orchard Lake Village, employees have been issued a set of guidelines that include donning face coverings before entering the workplace. The masks can be removed upon reaching their work station but can be off only while sitting there.

Employees must immediately apply hand sanitizer upon entering the workplace. A self-screening procedure is in place for COVID-19, and employees regularly sanitize their equipment. Breaks cannot be shared with coworkers, and social distancing of 6 feet must be maintained.

Garry McCallum, the director of city services for Orchard Lake Village, said that City Hall remained closed to the public at press time, but there is always someone there during normal hours to take phone calls and provide services to residents and customers. Others such as the city clerk, the police chief and McCallum himself have remote access to their desktops, which has allowed them to work from home when not in the office. City Hall has been staffed every day during the shutdown but with limited numbers, and the Department of Public Works personnel have been rotating days.

“We are trying to do most of the business via electronic format,” McCallum said.

Like West Bloomfield Township, City Hall in Orchard Lake Village is anticipated to reopen June 15. However, once City Hall reopens, visits will be by appointment only for some time.

“I’m in the process of establishing protocols for residents and customers, but it will be very similar to the employee expectations,” McCallum said. “We have installed sneeze-guards at all of our counters and will be monitoring anybody that needs to come into City Hall to conduct business. We continue to wipe down all surfaces every day and sanitize City Hall at least twice a week. … We have been able to maintain a good level of service to our residents while staying safe ourselves.”