Anaheim City Hall will close to the public until next month, after city councilmembers held an emergency meeting Monday evening to declare a state of emergency in the city due to the spreading novel Coronavirus in Orange County.
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“Colleagues it is important at this time that we will all come together as a city … and show that we are putting any differences aside and focusing on helping our city out,” said Mayor Harry Sidhu in Monday’s teleconferenced Council meeting.
The emergency declaration allows the city to access specific state and federal funds, and Anaheim will be running an Emergency Operations Center. City employees will still come to work to provide the essential services like police, firefighters and public utilities.
Councilmembers Denise Barnes and Jose Moreno were the only two physically present Monday, while the rest of the Council phoned the meeting in.
The City Council will be meeting by phone for the foreseeable future to form plans on how to best curb the spread of the virus, while gutting its agendas of “non-essential” items.
“I will ask our city manager, city attorney and city clerk to delay all non-essential items,” Sidhu said.
Barnes said she’s been talking with senior communities like the elderly mobile home parks to ensure food and medicine are still being delivered to the residents. The elderly are among the most impacted by the virus.
“So it really is no surprise that our community of suppliers are stepping up. And Disney and the convention center, people who would have all had meals this week, are giving to Second Harvest (a food bank),” Barnes said.
City officials, through questioning by Moreno, said they are taking police, firefighter and other emergency service employees’ temperatures as people come to work. The virus causes a fever, so if people have a high temperature, they’re sent home in an effort to stop the spread.
Councilwoman Lucille Kring said she is self-quarantined because she wasn’t feeling well last week.
The Council also met last week.
Kring also advised against hoarding supplies and warned against
“Don’t panic, the worst thing you can do for your mental and physical health is panic,” she said.
Kring also told people to apply for unemployment if their jobs are shut down due to the virus.
Meanwhile, Moreno could be potentially looking to have The City of Anaheim step in to help residents and business owners to block rent collections, if the state doesn’t.
The City Council is expected to speak about an array of issues relating to the virus pandemic next Tuesday.
“Are we looking at ways that we might be able to support those local businesses, including potentially stopping the collection of fees,” Moreno said. “So is there any coordinating body looking at that in our city?”
“Is there a direct line for local residents experiencing loss of work or income for rental assistance … is there something in Orange County or something we can set up,” he said. “I would like to pursue some policies or learn from the city attorney, in a discussion, on what can we do as a city if the state doesn’t act or if what the state does is not enough.”
Sidhu said he’s working with business leaders and others to explore some potential options.
“I am looking forward to meeting with the stakeholders the next couple days and working with our staff to see how they can help,” Sidhu said. “There’s more to come. This is just the first emergency meeting … we’re going to keep in touch with you.”
Moreno also told city staff to simplify the virus updates on the homepage, especially making it more accessible for seniors.
And he suggested that city staff begin communicating with grocery stores and supplies to keep the community updated on inventory levels.
“So people don’t panic that supplies are low,” Moreno said.
Correction: An earlier version of this story said all Anaheim employees are getting their temperature checked. The temperature checks are only given to police, firefighter and other emergency response employees.
Spencer Custodio is a Voice of OC staff reporter. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpencerCustodio
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