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City joins other municipalities in declaring emergency
Duquesne Mayor Nickole Nesby has declared a state of emergency in the city, calling the novel coronavirus responsible for COVID-19 “a threat to public health and safety, with the potential to cause serious illness or loss of life.”
The proclamation does not require city council approval but was reviewed by Solicitor Myron Sainovich at Nesby’s request.
“I wanted to make sure that I’m doing things right, and the solicitor is here to advise city council and the mayor on what is correct and what can and can’t be done,” Nesby said. “I asked Mr. Sainovich to give me the legal aspect before I released it.”
Other municipalities have made similar declarations. The emergency declaration was important if funding for coronavirus and COVID-19 response is available, and the city needs to be reimbursed, Nesby said.
“As mayor, I am the chief law enforcement officer and safety is one of my top concerns, I am responsible for the safety of our residents within our city limits,” she said.
Nesby also confirmed that a police officer who tested negative for coronavirus is self-quarantined at home for 14 days. The officer’s girlfriend, an employee at a local hospital, tested positive for the virus.
The mayor said the police department is operating under new guidelines as a result of the coronavirus threat, changing how police officers and city officials interact with the public. “We are recommending social distancing to limit the spread of the virus,” Nesby said.
The city council meeting that had been scheduled for Tuesday was canceled and Duquesne City Hall is closed to visitors until further notice.
Nesby said residents should correspond with city hall departments via email or regular mail. Duquesne is hoping to stream meetings on the Internet to “ensure transparency in city business.”
The mayor said she is concerned for the safety of first responders and fire department personnel who may not be aware if the person they are treating has tested positive for coronavirus.
Tammy Pratt, emergency coordinator for the city of Duquesne, is in regular contact with Allegheny County officials, according to Nesby.
“Ms. Pratt has participated in webinars, phone calls and emails to relay information back to council and the city manager as to what is transpiring within the county and the services that may be available to Duquesne,” Nesby said.
Richard Finch Jr. is a freelance writer who covers news from a variety of communities for Tube City Almanac. He may be reached at email@example.com.
Originally published March 25, 2020.