(City of Merced press release)
The City of Merced has declared a state of emergency due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. The action follows declarations by Merced County today, the President and an earlier declaration by the State of California.
The declaration gives the City:
- Expanded access to personnel, equipment, and facilities;
- The ability to waive local provisions and regulations that could hinder response to the emergency;
- Enhanced opportunities for mutual aid;
- Access to state/federal funding/reimbursement related to disaster relief.
“While we have declared a state of emergency, we want everyone to remain calm,” said Mayor Mike Murphy. “This is a situation that will eventually pass and we will work through it.
“The essential operations of the City will continue. Police and fire services will be there when you need them, your garbage will still be picked up,” Murphy said. “We are fine-tuning our operations to make sure that any interactions with the public are safe for all people.”
“We are following the recommendations and best practices that come from the health experts at Merced County, the State of California and the Centers for Disease Control,” said City Manager Steve Carrigan. “We urge everyone to avoid large gatherings of over 250 people and to practice social distancing.”
City staff has been meeting with groups and organizations throughout the community to discuss the coronavirus outbreak and its effect on their membership. State guidelines call for large gatherings to be cancelled, along with small ones where people can’t maintain social distancing.
The Monday night City Council meeting will take place as usual in the Council Chambers, however, people in the audience will be urged to maintain their distance from one another, Carrigan said. In addition, the Sam Pipes Room will be set up for people to watch the meeting, and chairs will be set up 6-feet away from each other. The meeting is broadcast on Facebook Live at City of Merced and also on Comcast Channel 96 for people who want to stay home.
All City operations have been undergoing a re-examination to see how the face-to-face interactions can be limited.
“We’re having more meetings by conference calls, we’re seeing if we can respond by text or email rather than meeting with people,” Carrigan said. “We’re trying to avoid non-essential contact.”
“For the health and safety of everyone, please practice good personal hygiene,” said Merced Fire Chief Billy Alcorn. Alcorn oversees the City’s Emergency Operations Center.
“Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, or use hand sanitizer if that’s not possible,” he said. “Cough or sneeze into your arm, and avoid touching your eyes, nose or face.”
Alcorn said people should clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects.
“And, if you are feeling sick, stay home. As a community we need to do our part together to limit the spread of disease,” Alcorn said.