By Jan Worth-Nelson
This story has been updated as of 5:30 p.m. Monday
City of Flint officials confirmed today that two city hall employees have now died of COVID-19, and 11 other city employees “are known to have tested positive,” according to a statement released late this afternoon.
The first death, that of neighborhood safety officer Paul Forster, was announced April 17. The second, not yet identified by city sources, appears to be Deputy Treasurer Roderick Duncan, whose death from COVID-19 was made known on several Facebook pages today.
“The City of Flint family, like many others, has suffered under COVID-19. We have lost two co-workers and an untold number of friends, retirees, and loved ones,” Mayor Sheldon Neeley said in a prepared statement. “These times are challenging, unprecedented and heartbreaking,
“We continue to work proactively both inside and outside City Hall to slow the spread of this deadly virus and keep people safe,” Neeley said.
A statement issued by Director of Communications Marjory Raymer said a total of 11 employees are known to have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the City of Flint Human Resources Department.
Raymer said as of today Neeley has not been tested.
“He does conduct a daily health self-assessment, is feeling well, and continues to work to serve the residents of Flint each and every day,” she said.
The statement indicated the city is instituting “a series of policies based on guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration.”
Employees who are able to work remotely are encouraged to do so.
Increased cleaning and disinfecting with special attention given to high-touch surfaces.
All employees who are medically able to wear a mask must do within all shared spaces including hallways and restrooms.
When a COVID-19 positive case occurs, there is deep cleaning of the entire department and any other department(s) visited by the infected individual. Co-workers and others who may have come in contact with the individual in the past 14 days are notified, screened for symptoms, and potentially sent home. A medical professional is consulted for diagnosis and treatment.
Earlier today Raymer indicated city administration is galvanizing for contact tracing and affirmation of its COVID-19 in-house protocols
Raymer has so far declined to offer details of the second death in accordance with city human resource protocols. However, she said city officials are accumulating information on who might have been exposed to an employee who had the virus.
According to a post from an out-of-state family member on a Facebook page, the person who died was Roderick Duncan, listed on LinkedIn as deputy treasurer for the city. The post stated “He had the best care, several different treatments including the convalescent plasma treatment.” The post stated family members did not know how he got the virus, adding he had appeared in a virtual family celebration two weeks ago and was fine, “and now he is gone.”
The City sent out a brief notice Sunday stating the city’s customer service would stay closed today, May 18, “after being impacted by COVID-19.”
At the time of the death of Forster, the first city employee to die, only three City of Flint individuals had tested positive.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.
EVM Editor Jan Worth-Nelson can be reached at email@example.com.