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Committee outlines recommendations to fight virus

On Monday, the Selma City Council’s Public Safety Committee met with local healthcare leaders, nonprofits, school representatives and more to lay out a list of guidelines to protect the city from the growing coronavirus pandemic.

So far, the virus hasn’t touched down in Dallas County, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), but local leaders are looking to proactive and take action before the virus hits the area.

Among those joining the Public Safety Committee, which consists of Selma City Council President Corey Bowie and Selma City Councilwomen Susan Youngblood and Jannie Thomas, included Vaughan Regional Medical Center (VRMC) CEO David McCormack, Edmundite Missions President and CEO Chad McEachern, local physician Dr. Park Chittom, Selma-Dallas County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Sheryl Smedley, Selma-Dallas County Economic Development Authority (EDA) Director Wayne Vardaman, as well as representatives from Alabama Power and the Dallas County Health Department.

“We want to put into effect some safety measures and we though it would be better if we put these policies in place for the citizens,” Bowie said. “This is our way of moving forward to put some legislative action in place as it deals with this virus.”

The committee recommended implementing the following measures to fight back against COVID-19:

• A “soft closure” of city hall;

• Suspension of rentals on all public buildings;

• The cancellation of the March 23 council work session and the March 24 council meeting, with meetings set to resume on April 13;

• The allocation of funding for two part-time code enforcement officers;

• A contract to have all public buildings cleaned and sanitized in the city;

• Airing public service announcements on local radio stations.

Bowie noted that there will likely be further recommendations as the virus makes its way across the state, adding that the closest coronavirus testing sites were located in Montgomery and Marengo counties.

“With this virus spreading like it is, we’re going to look at additional means to ensure the citizens are safe,” Bowie said. “It just recently hit Alabama, so we are looking at trying to get one here.”

Bowie noted that roughly $8 million had recently been handed over to the state to respond to the virus and he expects that some of that money will find its way to Selma.

In the meantime, he said city leaders are trying to be proactive.

“This still is basically unknown,” Bowie said. “We’re learning and trying to get ahead of it. This is a challenge, but it’s something we can do.”