The global COVID-19 pandemic that started in China has landed in Peoria.
“We were made aware that a city of Peoria employee tested positive for the COVID-19 virus,” Jennifer Stein, a city spokeswoman, said Tuesday, March 24.
“This employee was last on the city premises on March 11. All known city staff who have recently interacted with the employee have been notified.”
She added that instructions and exposure protocols from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were provided to staff members.
“Also per CDC protocol, the city has undergone a deep cleaning of potentially affected areas. Similar cleaning measures will be undertaken in various city facilities, and we will continue our elevated efforts to disinfect and sanitize,” Stein said.
Stein declined to say when the city was notified or give other details. “To protect the privacy rights of the employee, the individual’s name and department will not be released,” she said.
Following the mayors of many other West Valley cities, Peoria Mayor Cathy Carlat declared a state of local emergency in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic Thursday, March 19.
“The safety and wellbeing of our residents remains our highest priority,” Carlat said. “There are many challenges related to this pandemic, but one thing is clear—it will take each and every one of us working intentionally to reduce physical contact, to slow the spread of this virus.”
The announcement came hours before Gov. Doug Ducey ordered strict measures, including banning eating in restaurants. Ducey closed bars, health clubs and movie theaters but allowed restaurants to remain open for takeout, curbside and delivery service.
Carlat’s announcement came as county and state reports of positive tests increased significantly. Maricopa County started last week with nine COVID-19 cases. The number increased to 199 cases reported Tuesday, March 24.
Carlat’s action “allows the flexibility to deploy emergency management measures as necessary, and ensures those within Peoria city borders can readily access state and federal assistance, as it is made available,” she said.
The next day, Carlat announced in-person participation at Peoria City Council meetings will be limited “due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“Members of the public are encouraged not to attend the meeting in person but instead to attend and listen to the meeting remotely by viewing the meeting via the live stream broadcast,” Carlat said.
Comments and questions regarding agenda items are now to be submitted via Facebook or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for questions was 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 24.
In addition to viewing online, Peoria residents may also view the meeting live on Cox Channel 11 or CenturyLink Channel 8509.
For the time being, public access to the council chamber will be restricted. A separate meeting room in the Pine Room of City Hall will be equipped to allow a limited number of persons to view and listen to the live stream broadcast of the meeting at that location.
“Social distancing practices will also be used within this separate meeting room in order to protect public health,” Carlat said.
The Pine Room is at 8401 W. Monroe Street.
In her local emergency declaration, Carlat urged community members “to adhere to social distancing guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” including:
Restaurants, bars and dining establishments in areas of known community spread, which includes Maricopa County, should discourage dine-in customers and encourage curbside pick-up or drive-through service.
Businesses should encourage telework, staggered shifts and alternate work solutions for their employees.
Gatherings and events of 10 or more people should be canceled.
Citizens should maintain a 6-foot distance between each other to reduce the risk of transmission.
Citizens are encouraged to stay home and avoid discretionary travel, shopping trips and social visits as much as possible.
“It is time for each of us to do our part. It is time for us to remember that we are all Americans, that we are all in this together and that, with the spirit we have exhibited time and time again throughout our history, we can overcome any challenge by the unity of our shared conviction,” Carlat said.
All city events have been canceled and public facilities such as the Rio Vista Recreation Center, the Peoria Community Center, the Peoria Center for the Performing Arts, the West Valley Art Museum, three city pools and both libraries will remain closed until further notice, Carlat said.
All city buildings will be closed to the public “to take further action to protect the health and safety of Peoria residents and mitigate the effects and spread of COVID-19,” C
“We will do everything necessary to assure a continuation of essential services for Peoria residents, as we strive to protect and preserve public health and prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Carlat said.
Peoria previously canceled city-sponsored events, programs, sports and classes and closed some city facilities. With the closing of all city facilities to the public, limited city staff will be onsite and other city staff will be telecommuting.
City Hall will have service counters for the city clerk and cashier “by appointment.”
Carlat also noted Peoria water customer shutoffs will be suspended through May 10, “In an effort to support our residents during this exceptionally difficult time.”
For more information on the city actions, call 623-773-7000 or visit peoriaaz.gov/covid19.