MUSKEGON HEIGHTS, Mich. — The City of Muskegon Heights declared a state of emergency Friday, April 3 after a city resident died from COVID-19.
City manager Troy Bell said it was inevitable the virus was going to hit Muskegon Heights, but they were waiting to see at what level it would impact the city before imposing any local changes.
"As soon as I became aware there was a confirmed positive death, it was clear that we weren’t going to be able to avoid the situation," said Bell.
The state of emergency allows the city to access additional resources to address coronavirus. The declaration also imposes new measures for the next two weeks. The city says it will "aggressively pursue" enforcement of the measures, which started April 2 at 8 p.m.
One measure is a curfew for minors under the age of 17 and parents or guardians of children who violate the ordinance. The curfew runs from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.
"It is a strict enforcement of the current curfew code that is already part of our ordinance," said Bell. He emphasized that this is a message for children and adults responsible for minors.
"We had an episode in the community where there was an after-hours block party and families that were congregating in the street in total defiance of the governor’s order," said Bell. "That is just ridiculous under the circumstances, not realizing how powerful this virus is and how easily contagious it is."
The city said it wanted to get this curfew moving, but if they need to step up to a full-scale curfew, that will be considered.
Bell said the he thinks the community is removed from what the governor's office has been doing, and he's still seeing people out and about not practicing social distancing.
"I felt as though with the confirmed death in the community it was time to make sure that the community knew this was serious. This is one of those tools in the tool box to be able to do that," said Bell.
All public parks and city owned spaces have been closed under the ordinance.
Any violation of these measures could result in a $500 fine or jail time up to 90 days. But Bell said they are still figuring out how to address a first, second and third violation.
City leadership also stressed that this is separate from the Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's stay-at-home order and any violation of the state's order is also punishable as a misdemeanor and a city fine of up to $500.
The city is also suspending the placement of bulk items on the curb for pickup. Any bulk items that need to be disposed of should be coordinated with the Department of Public Works.
The closure of city hall has also been extended through April 13 at 11:59 p.m.
In order to help people stay home, the city is offering grocery delivery when you call their hotline, 231-733-8999 and enter the number 5. Senior citizens can also call that number to to have someone check on them over the phone from time to time to see if there's anything they need.
Muskegon County has 30 cases of the coronavirus and 2 deaths.
State recommendations for COVID-19
Patients with confirmed infection have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:
- Shortness of breath
The best prevention for viruses, such as influenza, the common cold or COVID-19 is to:
- If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19, call your health care provider. If you do not have a health care provider, call the nearest hospital.
- Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If not available, use hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or upper sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
- Avoid contact with people who are sick.
- If you are sick, stay home, and avoid contact with others.
- Stay at least 6 feet away from others when in a public setting.
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