By Tom Travis
In a press conference today, it was announced that essential city services will remain in place, that water is being distributed at Help Centers in the city, that residents can have their water reconnected and that locations, times and distribution sites have been set up for learning packets and meals for school children.
Speaking in the Dome auditorium behind City Hall, Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley along with Dr. Lawrence Reynolds and Flint Community Schools Superintendent Derrick Lopez offered updates for the city as the coronavirus pandemic unfolds.
The mayor began by saying so far there are no confirmed cases within Genesee County. Neeley asked residents to check the the city’s website. for accurate and up-to-date information.
Neeley assured residents the city’s essential services of fire, law enforcement and paramedics are at full strength. “Do not panic,” he said, “those services are still available.”
Neeley explained that city hall staff has gone to a “skeleton crew.” EVM asked the Mayor how many city employees are working from home at this time. The Mayor said about 60 city employees are working from home. He added, “Trust me, this is not a vacation. They are working hard.”
Neeley said the city is restoring past users of city water by reconnecting all water to occupied residences. Anyone living within the city of Flint who wants to inquire about how to be reconnected to water should call 810.766.7015, he said.
Neeley reminded residents there are help centers throughout the city that are “still up and activated doing water distribution.” A list of these locations can be viewed here.
Neeley further explained, declaring a state of emergency last week for the city means residents can enter city hall by appointment only. “We are encouraging residents to use our website to make payments online,” he said.
Also, Neeley announced that help is coming for small businesses. He said city officials will be reaching out in the days to come to residents and small business owners as to how they can access those programs. He said the city will be partnering with county, state and federal authorities for these programs.
“We are in a pandemic, which means that we must do things differently,” Lawrence Reynolds said.
“If you do not have to go out, do not make unnecessary trips. That’s to protect your health and the health of others. Wash your hands frequently. If you have a fever, cough, or trouble breathing, call your physician first. Do not rush to the emergency room. Call your physician.
One of the most important things we can do during this time is to self-isolate,” he said. “In other words, stay at home if you do not have a necessary trip. That will make it easier for all of us to manage this situation.”
The mayor reiterated, “if you are feeling ill do not rush to the emergency—call your physician first.” In addition, Neeley announced a number to call if you are feeling ill 888.535.6136 the Hurley Hotline.
Coming to the podium next, Flint Community Schools Superintendent Lopez encouraged residents with school age children to see their website flintschools.org for important information.
Lopez said there are 24 meal distribution sites open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. throughout the city for children up to the age of 19.
Lopez said there are 24 meal distribution sites in 3 different zones of the city for any child up the age of 19. He emphasized children do not have to be students in the Flint Community Schools because this is a federally funded program. There are 8 sites in each of the 3 zones, north, middle, and southern zone of Flint.
Lopez said the meals are funded by a USDA Summer Feeding Program. He said yesterday the district served 3200 meals and today were up towards 4000 meals served.
As with the city, Lopez said the FCS also has gone to a skeleton crew.
However, he said, each building has a building leader on site and it’s open during this time so that parents can call and ask questions if additional assistance is needed. If there are questions the Flint Community Schools can be reached at 810-767-6111.
He explained parents can expect “wellness check” phone calls from school staff during the coronavirus pandemic.
Also, learning packets for each student will be available online this week. And next week physical packets will be available for the parents. For juniors and seniors, Chromebooks and laptops will be made available so they can continue to earn credit toward graduation.
Lopez ended by saying, “While we are in an uncertain time, we are doing everything we can in partnering with our Mayor and and the city of flint to make sure our families and our community are safe around the educational and nutritional needs of our families.”
The mayor said, “We have many silos of information.” He encouraged again all residents to make sure they are getting good information. He further stated that residents should check The Centers for Disease Control website for accurate and good information.
Neeley added, “Please make sure you reach out to family members and neighbors and friends and those around you to make sure they have everything they need.”
Though City Hall is closed to the public, residents can still call the public health office at 810-410-2020 to have water filters and water test kits delivered to their homes, Neeley said.
EVM Staff Writer and Assistant Editor Tom Travis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.