Members of the NMCA board participated in a conference call today (March 25) set up by Council member John DeWorken for District 1 Neighborhood Association Presidents to discuss what the City is doing regarding COVID-19. Also participating was Assistant City Manager Shannon Lavrin. The pertinent highlights are:
John began with a summary of COVID-19, with numbers showing the increase in cases and deaths in SC and the Upstate. Most of you know the timeline and if not, you can view the presentation given Monday night to City Council by clicking here. You can also find it on our website at https://northmaincommunity.org/video-of-special-city-council-meeting-wednesday-march-18/
A major goal of the city has been to encourage everyone to practice social distancing. On March 17, the Mayor declared a state of emergency, a tool to allow governing bodies to enact ordinances quicker and impose other restrictions. We have sent out guidelines that resulted from this and they can also be found on our website at https://northmaincommunity.org/city-takes-additional-steps-to-protect-citizens/ and on the city’s website.
The curfew in the Central Business District from 11pm to 6am was primarily to prevent folks from gathering in groups downtown. You’ll see more blue lights throughout as officers work to disperse groups of 3 or more that are not following social distancing guidelines. You will soon be seeing signs in Neighborhood Parks with guidelines about Park use to minimize risk. Falls Park was closed because people were not following social distancing guidelines. The Swamp Rabbit Trail is still open, even the portion through Falls Park, but the City asks that you please keep moving.
The City has an excellent website that breaks down this crisis into categories. One popular component is the community resource guide. As of today, 184 businesses and organizations have submitted their service information. It also provides updates on events, closures, postponements, etc. You can find the website at https://emergency.greenvillesc.gov/438/COVID-19-Emergency-Information. The upper left includes a COVID-19 red alert button linking to the latest information. At the bottom, there are 6 tiles with guidance on maintaining your health, and below that six green buttons you can click on for Greenville-specific topic(s) you may be most interested in. It is very inclusive with a lot of information. The city WANTS FEEDBACK. What can they add or change to improve this site?
Other topics included:
- Restaurants and Food Trucks: While encouraging citizens to help local businesses by ordering take out, they ask that you please pick it up and take it home to eat. Many businesses are doing all they can to ensure guidelines are being met, including putting up cones or surface markings to help customers understand what a safe distance is. Order and pay via credit card in advance, if possible, then pick up your food or have it delivered. Remove it from the bag, etc., then wash your hands well before eating. Discussions are ongoing about food trucks coming to neighborhoods to offer a variety of foods while making it very convenient for you in a responsible way.
- Homeless Community: The city and its many partners are defining practices to take care of our homeless, whether they are healthy, in environments vulnerable to exposure, or sick. While the South Carolina Supreme Court ordered a stay on evictions, this did not include hotels, so the city is continuing to work on that. Public restrooms are open and receiving increased usage while also being cleaned more frequently.
- Small Businesses: The city is trying to mitigate damage by delaying business license fees, hospitality taxes, waiving penalties for late payment, etc. They are closely following what other states and municipalities are doing.
- Construction and related offices: Construction is still continuing. The Deed Recording office is still open. Permitting and inspections are continuing. This includes requests for bids and ongoing work to restore the Bobby Pearse Center. The city is continuing budget meetings on schedule, while assessing reallocating funds for efforts related to COVID-19. The first budget meeting with City Council is April 13. (Please note that all city meetings, including council meetings, are being held remotely via teleconferencing. Some are livestreamed on the city website). Basically, the city is trying to continue day-to-day operations, but due to increased workload for all staff, there will be some delays. Please be patient.
- Hospitals: Similar to the City, the hospital system is under the gun to prepare for what some health care experts feel will be a potential surge in COVID-19 cases in April and possibly into May. They are in preparatory stages.
- Reporting: There was a question on COVID-19 case reporting. This is a DHEC function and there has been some criticism that the reporting is too broad with regards to location and demographics. They are looking at the possibility of reporting via zip codes.
- The Future: A city-led task force is working on a recovery plan. How to assist businesses, citizens, organizations, etc. and promote Greenville and our communities when the crisis is over.
Finally, City government and staff are working diligently to keep the community informed and safe. But the city can only do so much. It really comes down to you and me. All of us! Unless you need to go out for essential needs, please stay home. Follow the guidelines. It’s better to over-react now than to look back with hindsight at what we could have done better.