Palm Springs City Council To Ratify Local Emergency Declaration

The Palm Springs City Council Thursday is expected to ratify a local emergency declaration issued last weekend aimed at curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The declaration, issued Saturday by City Manager David Ready, paved the way for a series of emergency orders issued in recent days that have forced the closure of bars and night clubs, then gyms and cannabis lounges, culminating into a widespread shelter-in-place order approved by the council at an emergency meeting Tuesday that shuttered all nonessential businesses in Palm Springs effective 7 a.m. Wednesday.

As of Wednesday afternoon, three people had died in Riverside County due to complications stemming from COVID-19 — all in the Coachella Valley — and 16 confirmed cases were reported.

The council on Thursday is also expected to vote on an ordinance that would temporarily bar evictions due to nonpayment of rent.

The original declaration on Saturday cited a need to slow the rate of infections and exposure to the city’s more then 44,000 residents, workers and visitors with special concern for a population that includes 40% aged 60 or older and at least 10% with compromised immune systems.

The next day, another emergency order required all bars, night clubs and breweries within the city limits to close immediately, signaling a drastic departure from other cities in the Coachella Valley — none of which have taken similar steps to curb the spread of COVID-19 as of late Wednesday, although many have declared their own emergencies.

Then on Tuesday during its emergency meeting, the council directed staff to draw up an order shuttering all nonessential businesses within city limits.

“If the whole country were to shut down for two weeks this (the pandemic) could be over,” Mayor Pro Tem Christy Holstege said during the meeting.

The order also called on residents to limit activities to only those essential to their daily lives, demanding residents stay at least six feet away from each other and not gather in groups of more than 10 people.

Denise Goolsby, manager of the city’s Office of Neighborhoods, said the order will remain in effect until April 2 when council members will consider if an extension is necessary.

Thursday’s meeting will be held at City Hall, but will be closed to the public. Residents are invited to attend a remote viewing at the Palm Springs Convention Center where they can deliver public comments via teleconference.

A total of 16 cases of coronavirus had been confirmed in Riverside County residents as of Wednesday afternoon, which includes two people who were aboard the Diamond Princess cruise liner that docked in the San Francisco Bay.

One of those passengers has since returned to the county, while another remains in Northern California for treatment, according to Riverside University Health System spokesman Jose Arballo.

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