Local emergency management implements pandemic procedures
Courthouse building closed to public due to coronavirus
BALDWIN -- Local emergency management departments are taking action to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus in their communities.
Lake County Emergency Management and Homeland Security director Patrick Maddox said although they have not yet declared a state of emergency, they are following the guidelines from the District Health Department No. 10 for dealing with a pandemic.
"We have been working to educate our employees and the public with regard to the coronavirus, and we are monitoring the situation closely as information is changing rapidly," Maddox said.
Precautions recommended by the Centers for Disease Control include:
• Learn about the signs and symptoms of COVID-19. Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.
• If you have respiratory symptoms, stay home. Call your health care provider's office in advance of your visit.
• Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, like doorknobs, keyboards, cell phones and light switches.
• Communicate and reinforce best practices for washing hands and covering coughs and sneezes.
• Be prepared if there is COVID-19 in your household or a disruption of daily activities in your community. For example, maintain a supply of medications, food and other essentials in your house. Consider alternative shopping options, such as curbside pickups or online deliveries.
• Access services as much as possible online or by phone.
In addition, central dispatch operators are being advised to refer callers to informational websites, inform them of the general precautions to take to protect themselves, advise them to go to their primary care doctor if they are feeling ill and provide them with information about the Spectrum Health virtual screening, which may be accessed at (616) 391-2380, Maddox said.
"Since Lake County contracts through Life EMS for ambulance service, dispatchers will be referring callers to their emergency response team, who will conduct screenings when calls are received for assistance," he added. "They are using precautions that were already in place to protect first responders, as well, such as, using proper respiratory equipment, masks, gloves and etc.
In addition, he said, the fire department will be using masks along with their other protective gear, and law enforcement officers will be using masks and gloves and sanitizing their vehicles and equipment regularly.
Lake County Administrator Tobi Lake posted an announcement on the county website March 16, notifying that the courthouse would be closed to the public, but operations within the courthouse would continue via phone and email.
Due to the recent presidential coronavirus guidelines on avoiding social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people, and the closing of the Lake County Courthouse to the public, it is required that all Lake County committees reschedule or postpone any upcoming meetings between now and April 5, the statement read.
Information on how to conduct business with county departments during the closure period, along with additional links to information and updates on the coronavirus can be found at lakecounty- michigan.com.
The Lake County Trial Court announced March 19 that they are closed to the general public except for "essential functions involving health and safety, and constitutional rights."
Access to courtrooms and other spaces is limited to no more than 10 people, including staff, the statement said.
"Courts statewide are taking this step in unison so that we send a clear message to the public that we are taking every possible step to stop the virus while continuing to provide essential services," Chief Judge Mark S. Wickens said.
Michigan Supreme Court Administrative order 2020-2 highlights specific essential functions that will continue. For additional information, call (231) 745-4614.
A message on the Village of Baldwin website stated that the village offices are closed due to the mandatory shelter in place order. They plan to reopen April 13.
In addition, the village council meeting scheduled for April 9 has been rescheduled for 6 p.m., April 14.
Osceola County closures
Osceola County Emergency Management Director Mark Watkins declared a local state of emergency for Osceola County following Governor Gretchen Whitmer's declaration of a state of emergency March 10.
The Osceola County Board of Commissioners closed the courthouse to the public and suspended all nonessential county services until at least April 21 at its meeting March 17.
Reed City City Hall is now closed to the public. Residents are encouraged to use online bill payment or the drop box at city hall, which will be checked regularly Monday through Friday.
In addition, city officials are implementing a plan to hold virtual meetings, city manager Ron Howell said. They have contracted with GoToMeeting, which will allow city council members and the public to join in meetings virtually via a computer or phone.
Information on how to join a virtual meeting will be posted on the city's website at reedcity.org.
To comply with the mandatory shelter in place order issued by Whitmer, Howell said the city staff will be split in half, with half working one day and the other half working the next day.
This will ensure that city services will continue without violating the public order.