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April 3, 2020

Salinas Valley cities declare local emergency over coronavirus threat, as Monterey County confirms first two cases

Shelter-in-place order takes effect countywide at midnight

SALINAS VALLEY — The South Monterey County cities of Gonzales, Soledad, Greenfield and King City each signed proclamations declaring a local emergency Monday due to the current threat of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“The potential spread of the virus does pose a risk to our community and this proclamation will help the city qualify for reimbursement of costs associated with efforts to prevent the disease in the community,” stated the City of Gonzales news release about the proclamation.

The Monday announcement preceded a Tuesday release by the Monterey County Health Department confirming that two patients in the county have tested positive for coronavirus. This resulted in a countywide shelter-in-place order from Public Health Officer Ed Moreno for all residents.

Area city managers reminded the public these responses are not reasons to panic. Effective Wednesday, March 18, all residents are asked to comply with this directive and remain home unless leaving for essential needs.

“Temporarily making these drastic changes to our lives and routines may be frustrating, but it is critical to slowing the spread of this virus,” Moreno said.

The shelter-in-place order is expected to last for three weeks, until midnight on April 8.

“We understand this is a time of great uncertainty, and the safety and wellbeing of the community of Gonzales is our top priority. We appreciate the contributions and patience of our community,” said Gonzalez City Manager Rene Mendez.

Michael McHatten, city manager for Soledad, said, “While this is a very difficult time for everyone, it is also an opportunity to show why Soledad is such a special community by supporting and helping each other, particularly those that are most in need.”

The city leaders stated they are taking this step to keep their communities safe.

“We thank everyone that is working together with such dedication for the well-being of our community,” said Steve Adams, city manager for King City.

Decisions are being based on guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and Monterey County Health Department.

Protocols include adhering to “social distancing” to keep at least 6 feet away from others and event postponement or cancellations. Numerous events, clubs, classes and activities have been affected.

“The City is also concerned regarding the overall physical, mental and economic health of its residents and businesses,” stated the City of King news release about the proclamations. “The City will be reaching out to local community and faith organizations to determine how we can best work together to address community needs if the emergency becomes prolonged.”

The four cities are also working with their area school districts as well as state and federal partners to monitor the virus situation. This coordination includes the County of Monterey Office of Emergency Services, County of Monterey Health Department, Mee Memorial Hospital, California Water Service, American Red Cross and Fort Hunter Liggett.

In addition, the cities are evaluating non-essential services, with some to be suspended or limited to appointment, phone or online over the next several weeks. 

All essential services will be provided, including water and public safety. Utility bills will continue to be processed and citizens are encouraged to use online bill pay. Based on the governor’s order, water will not be shut off for any reason until the emergency is over.

Sean Roney
Sean Roney
Sean Roney is the reporter for King City Rustler, Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers education, government and general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.

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