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Metro Times - March 9, 2020

"U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, whose district includes a large section of Detroit, has been one of the most vocal opponents of water shutoffs."

Fears of a coronavirus outbreak have prompted the city of Detroit on Monday to begin restoring water to thousands of households and impose a moratorium on water shutoffs.

Mayor Mike Duggan and the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) made the announcement at noon Monday as the coronavirus rapidly spreads across the globe and U.S. As of Monday afternoon, there were no confirmed cases in Michigan, but health officials say it's only a matter of time.

More than 3,000 households were without water because of delinquent bills. It wasn't immediately clear how long it would take to resume service.

Health officials have emphasized that the most effective way to combat the virus is frequent handwashing.

“We know that washing hands is an important defense to this virus, so for the duration of the COVID-19 situation, DWSD is implementing this plan to help make sure every Detroiter has access to clean running water,” DWSD Director Gary Brown said in a news release.

The coronavirus began in China and has spread to 33 states and Washington, D.C., with about 550 confirmed cases and 22 deaths. Of Michigan’s 47 suspected cases, 36 came back negative, and 11 were pending, as of Monday morning. An additional 88 people who have not been tested are being monitored for the virus, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Activists, city council members, some lawmakers, and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders were calling on the city or Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to impose a moratorium.

“The notion that a City could shut off water on people in the midst of a potential infectious disease epidemic — really EVER — is unconscionable,” former Detroit Health Department Executive Director Abdul El-Sayed told Metro Times in a written statement. ...
Read full report at Metro Times