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 The Utica Public Library sits closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Utica Public Library sits closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Photo by Patricia O'Blenes


Utica responds to Coronavirus pandemic

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published March 20, 2020

 A sign at Utica City Hall informs visitors that its lobby is closed.

A sign at Utica City Hall informs visitors that its lobby is closed.

Photo by Patricia O'Blenes

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UTICA — Following the recent announcement of the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak, the city of Utica has taken precautions to stop the spread of the virus.

Utica had to make quick changes following the announcement of two cases of the virus in Michigan March 10. Since then, the virus has continued to spread.

Schools were closed March 16, and many colleges and universities suspended face-to-face instruction. Stores also have begun facing a shortage of supplies.

“We are living in unprecedented times, which call for immediate action,” Utica Mayor Thom Dionne said via email. 

He said he was working closely with the Governor’s Office and Macomb County Emergency Management, and he had been encouraged to enact the measures to ensure the safety of residents and employees. 

“This is in effort to reduce the exposure, and limit the impact of COVID-19,” Dionne said.

In order to prevent the virus from getting worse, Utica decided to close City Hall.

“I am ordering City Hall closed to the public effective Tuesday, March 17, 2020. City Hall will use the drop box to receive all transactions. Online services are encouraged,” Dionne said.

Due to the virus, all water shut-offs were suspended until further notice, and all public meetings were canceled. All activities and events were canceled in the city of Utica until further notice, and the library was also closed.

The library was open for a while during certain hours. However, that changed after an executive order from the governor March 16.

Marsha Doege, the library director, said in an email that closing was not easy.

“Following the recommendation of the Michigan Library Association and the governor’s edict, the Utica Library will be closed from March 16, 2020, through April 5, 2020. We don’t make this decision lightly, but concern for the health and well-being of our patrons and staff in these uncertain times is paramount,” she said.

However, she said residents can still utilize the drop box outside the building if they want to return materials, but the deadlines have all been extended. 

Materials can be accessed online.

“All materials currently checked out will have the due date extended to April 8. You may keep the materials until then or return them in our drop box outside the front door. The drop box will be open 24 hours. You will accrue no fines or fees during this period. For those of you who use our wireless, it can often be accessed from our parking lot even when we are closed. Don't forget your online access to books, audiobooks and magazines through Overdrive and RBDigital,” she said.

All library programs and meetings are canceled during this period.

“Thank you for your patience, and I hope we all stay healthy,” said Doege.

In addition to the library, bars, gyms, and other gathering places have also been closed since the outbreak, and gatherings have been recommended to be limited to 10 people. The governor issued an executive order limiting gatherings to no more than 50 people.

“In the coming days, we expect additional facility closures, more limited public gatherings, employee absences to illness and or family matters, and continued supply shortages,” said Dionne.

On March 18, Dionne said the city of Utica declared a “state of emergency,” activating response and recovery elements of the emergency operations plan and making sure that city resources be utilized to the fullest extent possible.

For more information on the virus, visit www.cdc.gov.

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