GALLIPOLIS — Gallipolis City Commission met Tuesday evening for a special meeting in the Gallipolis Municipal building to discuss precautions taken with the COVID-19 Ohio outbreak and ongoing city business.
“COVID-19, the coronavirus, everybody is well aware of it,” said City Manager Ted Lozier. “This week I’ve talked a lot and studied a lot and talked to a lot of different people at the state and county level… We’re following the guidance that’s been given to us through the federal agencies and down to the state agencies and down to us. That’s why we’re asking people to wash their hands. As of yesterday, we implemented a response and a protocol that we’re currently utilizing in the (Gallipolis Municipal Building). We don’t allow visitors. Obviously mission critical visitors can come in but no general visits. Any business that needs conducted is being done through our drive up window. We have similar protocols at the water plant and wastewater treatment plant.”
Employees who leave buildings and return are being required to sanitize their hands. Individuals entering city buildings will also be screened with questions about travel and if they’ve experienced any symptoms relating to fever, cough, runny nose or sore throat.
Lozier said government guidance is constantly changing in regard to the outbreak. The city government is working through issues in how to maintain compliance with sunshine laws and public meetings as well as minimizing contact with employees for public health issues.
Lozier said he was researching public money potentially being released to assist the public and small municipal governments as outbreak concerns continue. City officials also discussed the possibility of suspending water shutoff orders during the outbreak but no formal action was taken other than City Solicitor Brynn Noe was asked to look at drafting such an ordinance.
“You’ll continue to pay what’s owed, but we won’t shut you off,” said Lozier. “That’s my recommendation.”
“I would like to implore that people follow the guidelines being passed down from the federal government, the CDC and the state,” said Commissioner Cody Caldwell. “ Don’t listen to rumors. Find your trusted sources and follow them. Practice social distancing and wash your hands. Be smart and safe.”
Caldwell also encouraged property owners to suspend eviction efforts in the interest of public health.
“We need to consider at some point in time once the (emergency states are lifted), we need to draft some kind of letter to the state or whoever…,” said Commissioner Mike Fulks. “We’re a small town and we’ve individual-based businesses and mom-and-pop businesses and to me the closures of those can basically be a death sentence on them. That affects a lot of employees and businesses that over the last few years we’ve really worked hard on getting in here…”
Fulks encouraged residents to consider supporting local businesses as they are able with takeout food options and the like.
City Commissioners also passed the second reading of the city budget for 2020.
Dean Wright is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing and can be reached at 740-446-2342. © 2020 Ohio Valley Publishing, all rights reserved.