By Jan Worth-Nelson
Editor’s Note: THE CURFEW STARTS THURSDAY NIGHT. Sorry for our earlier statement that it was Tuesday.
Stating there are groups of people in Flint not taking the coronavirus crisis seriously enough, Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley Wednesday evening announced at citywide curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. starting Thursday, April 2.
Violating the curfew, set for the next 30 days, is a misdemeanor punishable by 90 days in jail and up to a $500 fine.
Neeley said he did not envision the city’s law enforcement teams spending a lot of time tracking down violators of the curfew.
“We want you to be self-governed through about this crisis–we want YOU to follow the letter of the law,” he said.
However, he said there would be a “real level of enforcement” at convenience store parking lots and other places around town where he said people have been congregating in violation of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s statewide “shelter in place” executive order.
Noting that the latest numbers on the virus’s spread in the state Wednesday totaled 9,330 cases, and in Genesee County, 249 with 8 deaths, Neeley said, “We had to step it up a notch–this is real, this is about providing solutions.”
Neeley was accompanied for the livestream announcement by Dr. Lawrence Reynolds, the mayor’s new health advisor.
“Neighbors, understand and get this in your mind: we are living under new rules. Whatever you did two months ago, whatever you did two weeks ago, does not apply now. This is a pandemic. This is life and death,” Reynolds, a longtime pediatrician and health advocate who has been deeply involved in recovery efforts from the Flint water crisis.
Reynolds noted 64 percent of COVID-19 victims in the state so far have been males; most of the local deaths have been males over the age of 60.
He said of the Genesee County cases, 56 percent did not require hospitalization and 82 are known to be in the hospital.
“Gentlemen…please pay attention to your family. If you smoke or you vape, stop, because your lungs are what keep you alive,” Reynolds said, emphasizing that those with pre-exisitng lung conditions are often the patients hardest hit by the virus.
Calling it “a moment of inconvenience,” Neeley said “we have to do everything in our power to save lives in the City of Flint.”
Reynolds repeated the guidelines for virus-related behavior: “Stay at home, wash your hands with soap and water, use a sanitizer, drink plenty of water, and please cooperate with this 9 p.m. curfew. ”
This doesn’t speak to people having to get to work for essential needs. Pharmacies closing at p.m. no drs offices open at 9 o’clock. Responsibility to our most vulnerable population. Make sure to do things that keep us safe.
Neeley confirmed home water delivery will begin next week for those that cannot get out of their homes. Those in a vulnerable position or population can apply by calling 810-410-2020. He noted the city also has committed to making sure all Flint residents have connected water for the duration of the crisis.
He affirmed neighborhood “Help Stations” which had started during the water crisis are still in place, Bethel United Methodist, Mondays 10 a.m.-12:30; Asbury United Methodist, Tuesday 10 a.m. 12:30; Greater Holy Temple,Thursday, 10 a.m-12:30 p.m.
“This is about preserving life, this is about helping one another,” Neeley said.
EVM Editor Jan Worth-Nelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.