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Meridian Twp Task Force Prepares For COVID-19

Meridian Township buildings
Kevin Lavery
Meridian Township has created a COVID-19 task force in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

In the wake of the national coronavirus emergency, the state of Michigan continues to impose restrictions on public gatherings.  Meridian Township has created a new task force to plan for and respond to the spread of COVID-19. 

Fire Chief Mike Hamel:


We do respond together for a lot of medical emergencies, and a lot of bigger emergencies. So when it comes to things like this, we just put our minds together and create committees like we have. And then we start working out the contingencies on how do we manage this locally and then supporting our neighbors also, as well as them supporting us.


Kevin Lavery:


Have we ever had anything in recent memory that's even similar to this type of scenario where it takes some long-term planning, and we may have to dig in for a long time to create long term safety for our residents?


Police Chief Ken Plaga:


You always plan for a bad scenario, (whether it’s a) specific disease or chemical spill.  You just make sure that you can handle whatever comes at you. And so there are mechanisms in place.




So that said, if COVID-19 becomes widespread in mid-Michigan, what can citizens expect to see in terms of what a response plan would look like on their behalf?


Chief Hamel:


Well, for medical emergencies, we already know that the hospitals are putting in place phone lines you could call to tell them about your potential COVID-19.  They’re going to talk to you on the phone and determine if you fit the criteria to be tested or stay home and isolate to see where  it goes.


In regard to services, we might do our services a little differently.  We won't be talking to the whole family; we would be limiting it to the patient. For the township in general, police are going to look at reducing some things where they don't have to respond (in person); they can talk to people on the phone to solve problems.


The big thing that we're going to try to continually do is keep the township notified with our social media and make sure the right information is going out so they can protect themselves also.  It will take a lot of coordination, a lot of communication and a lot of people.  We’ll be able to manage it, it will happen.




Obviously, we are all hoping for the best and hoping for containment and resolution.  But if it really does escalate in this community, the two of you are at the frontlines of preserving law and order; keeping calm in the community.  Chief Plaga, you’re a peacekeeper.  What would be your message?


Chief Plaga:


Well, what it boils down to is, we're responsible for our own personal safety; staying at home and following the directions that are provided. Classes at MSU got canceled and then all of a sudden there were a lot of college students that were out and about. So that social distancing wasn't really happening. It was happening in the classroom, but then out in the public, it wasn't. So, follow the directions that are provided. If law enforcement has to be involved in something, make sure that you listen to their directions. And if they don't, then we have avenues to make sure that we keep things safe.


Chief Hamel:


The CDC, state public health, Ingham County public health and local jurisdictions are putting out what can we do to prevent (the spread of coronavirus).  Wash your hands.  Use good etiquette when you're sneezing and coughing into your elbow; into a tissue.  Wash your hands…soap and water will kill this virus. I don't have to have alcohol to kill this virus.  Soap and water for 20 seconds minimum. Even on the surface you can kill this virus with soap and water.  Clean the surfaces constantly. One of the things we do that we don't even realize is we constantly touch our own faces. So be thoughtful on not touching your face, especially after you touch someone else.  The elbow bumps are the big cool thing now. So let's elbow bump, not shake hands. No big hugs. Not yet.  In a few months we're going to be hugging again.




Kevin Lavery served as a general assignment reporter and occasional local host for Morning Edition and All Things Considered before retiring in 2023.
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