South Lyon officials and the Cambrian Senior Living Center in the city made changes to benefit the health of the community after last week’s surge of COVID-19 cases in Michigan.
Older adults, as well as those with pre-existing health conditions, are more at risk of becoming severely ill from COVID-19. Within the past two weeks, COVID-19 cases in Michigan have gone from single digits to more than 5,000 with one confirmed case in the South Lyon area in Salem Township.
South Lyon’s response
Over the phone, South Lyon Mayor Daniel Pelchat said when this all started, the city urged people to drop off their bills to limit interactions at city hall, even though many in South Lyon enjoy coming in to see the staff. Moving forward, electronic bill payments will be encouraged.
Pelchat said after the governor’s executive order yesterday, many of the ‘gray-area’ businesses in the area will close, thus slowing traffic in the area. He said by keeping nonessential businesses open “you’re quite possibly putting a dollar sign on human life.”
The new executive order has already made an impact on the South Lyon community, Pelchat said. If people weren’t taking social distancing seriously, they are now.
The South Lyon Fire Department
“Everything we do has changed in two weeks, dramatically,” said over the phone, Chief Robert Vogel of the South Lyon Fire Department. The fire department now responds to every call wearing full protection.
In response to the virus, the fire department has limited how many people respond to a call. Vogel said the department has a third party do their medical transports, unlike many fire departments in the U.S.
The hours when they get the most calls are normally 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., but now those ‘peak hours’ are at night. Another big change has been not receiving or responding to any calls from businesses, he said.
The South Lyon Police Department
As more information comes in locally regarding the virus, Lt. Doug Baaki of the South Lyon Police Department said over the phone that he assesses information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the governor’s office to make decisions to ‘stay ahead.’
The Police Department has personal protective equipment available for its officers at the station and in cars. Initially, Baaki advised the department to only use the equipment if it was needed. As of Friday, he instructed officers to always use their personal protective equipment. The department is preparing to conserve this equipment, as the country begins to face shortages.
Baaki said the Police Department moved shifts to minimize interactions. Officers also no longer eat lunch together or double up in cars.
As a police officer, Baaki said it’s always important to err on the side of people’s rights, but lately, he’s been taking public health into account as well. He said the public does have their freedoms to go shopping or for a walk, but asks that public safety also be taken into consideration. “It’ll work itself out, it’s just going to take a couple weeks,” said Baaki, asking residents to stay patient, and to keep checking the Facebook page. If residents have any questions, he said to call the governor’s hotline: 888-535-6136.
A senior living community
Cambrian Senior Living of South Lyon is on lockdown and has been for a while. Pam Henley is the hospitality liaison who handles marketing at Cambrian. She said over the phone visitors are not allowed unless a resident is in hospice. Cambrian has also worked to accommodate residents by offering video calls online to their loved ones, said Henley. Some residents really like using technology to communicate and others really don’t.
All employees who work in the building are screened prior to entry and have their temperature taken. The residents in the assisted living section are not worried about the virus, but are bored, said Henley.
Mayor Pelchat said South Lyon has a large percentage of seniors in its community. Seniors are a top priority when it comes to limiting exposure to the virus, he said.
Lt. Baaki said, specifically at Cambrian, if police officers are not necessary for life-saving measures, then they do not enter. Baaki also said the Police Department is no longer responding to hospice deaths inside the facility.