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Shelby Township responds to coronavirus pandemic

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published March 16, 2020

File photo

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — After the recent outbreak of the coronavirus COVID-19, the township is asking people to exercise discretion before attending township events and facilities, as the township follows the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Macomb County Department of Health and Community Services to limit gatherings of more than 100 people.

In order to follow the advice, once a township event or facility exceeds the 100-person threshold, access to additional patrons and participants may be limited.

Township Supervisor Rick Stathakis said it is important to come together as a community during this time and be understanding.

“It is important to work together to make sure those who need our support have access,” Stathakis said in a press release March 12. “For example, if you come to our senior center for a knitting group, you could be taking the place of someone who needs to receive lunch from the Meals on Wheels program. This is why, if you do not need to visit us, please stay home.”

Officials with the Shelby Township Fire Department are monitoring the situation to keep the community informed and safe during the outbreak.

“This is when it feels terrific to know we have the best trained, equipped and staffed public safety departments in the state of Michigan,” Stathakis stated. “Knowing that we have Acting Chief Rodney Scrutchen leading the men and women of our Fire Department and Chief Robert Shelide leading the Police Department makes any situation feel more secure.”

Most events and programs in the township will still take place as scheduled, the township stated March 12, but with the 100-person limit in place. For canceled events, registration fees will be refunded.

Those who do not want to come to a public place can find alternatives available to them.

For those who need to conduct business with the township, there are several options available online or by phone by visiting shelbytwp.org/online_services for links to various ways to pay bills, request services or complete applications. For a directory of department-specific phone numbers and emails, visit shelbytwp.org/local_government.

Some events have been canceled as a precaution.

Due to the current and potential threat of the virus, Macomb Charity Connect and the Utica Shelby Township Rotary Club have decided to postpone their upcoming gala, Scholars & Jazz, which was planned to be held March 20.

“Over 200 guests were planning to attend this event at Shelby Gardens on March 20 to support the new Shelby Township Library. At this time, the leadership of both (organizations) are most concerned with the well-being of our residents,” Lynn Wilhelm, who is a member of both organizations and a township trustee, said in an email.

“This was a mutual decision between our organizations. We will be contacting all sponsors and attendees to discuss details,” Macomb Charity Connect Director Bob Savo said in a press release.

“We appreciate and thank all who supported our efforts. We have decided to reschedule the event to Friday, Oct. 9,” Rotary President Kate DiLiddo stated in the release.

Katie Ester, the director of the Shelby Township Library, said the library was taking precautions following the announcement. Then on March 16, the governor issued an executive order that included libraries among other establishments that must close through March 30.


UCS reacts to executive order
On the night of March 12, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced an executive order that all Michigan public schools would close from March 16 through April 5. At press time, UCS said its spring break was scheduled to occur after that, so the district — under its current schedule — will close through April 12.

“School will be in regular session for a full day on Friday, March 13, to allow our students to meet with their teachers and prepare for the extended closure,” UCS said on Facebook last week. “Since students will be out of school for an extended period, we want to make sure they have a chance to connect with teachers and collect books, materials and any personal items. This full day of school will also allow families time to make arrangements for child care during the closure.”

UCS spokesman Tim McAvoy said on March 13 that the district communicated with families and staff its plan to continue providing services during the closure, including instruction, food services and other critical student supports.

“Next week, we’ll transition to online learning using our digital platforms,” McAvoy said.

Staff Writer Eric Czarnik contributed to this report.