Fresno City Hall image via wikipedia user Nightryder84
Written by Frank Lopez
Mayor Lee Brand and the Fresno City Council held a press conference following a special meeting Monday to update the public on efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Fresno County declared a state of emergency on Sunday after health officials confirmed a second case of COVID-19 in the county. Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for the entire state on March 4.
The city council unanimously supported the mayor’s call to declare a state of emergency.
Before Mayor Brand addressed the public, Councilmember Miguel Arias said the city is taking every precaution to mitigate the spread of the virus, and urged younger people to stay home.
“This is probably the biggest decision that I’ve made, or that this council will make, in the city’s history,” Brand said. “The situation seems to change by the hour. We want everyone to know that the leaders here today are doing everything we can do to help guide our city in this crisis.”
Brand said that while there are only two confirmed cases in the county, the number is expected to rise in the near future, according to health officials.
The declaration of the state of emergency for the city was made for the purposes of receiving federal and state assistance to respond and stop the spread of COVID-19, but it is not a fiscal emergency requiring a dip into city reserves unless the situation changes, Brand said.
The city is prohibiting any public event of more than 50 people, and effective today, the Convention Center, Saroyan Theater, Selland Arena and any bars that don’t serve food have been ordered to stay closed.
Restaurants will have to cut seating capacity levels by 50% and no special event permits will be issued until further notice.
There is a 30-day moratorium on trash services and utilities from being shut off to those who are affected by Coronavirus and the business tax deadlines have been extended to April 30.
The city has suspended interior rental inspections and will be investigating illegal price gouging that occurs during the crisis. An item can’t have its price raised by more than 10% during a state of emergency.
The city issued a temporary ban on evictions of people impacted by the virus, and the mayor promised that no one would be forced from their home during this crisis.
He is urging people aged 65 or over, and those with health vulnerabilities, to stay home as much as possible. The mayor said he will work from home when possible and limit in-person meetings.
Parks in the city will remain open and restrooms will be disinfected daily.
Community centers have been closed and meals for senior services will be moved to home deliveries.
The Fresno Unified School District will continue to offer hot meals for qualified students and offer a drive through system for parents.
“The well-being of everyone in our community is our No. 1 priority, Brand said. “We will continue to monitor the disease and support the governor’s office and Fresno County health officials, as they know what to do that is best for our community.”