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Murray Journal

Amid COVID-19 pandemic, Murray plans next steps

Apr 27, 2020 02:29PM ● By Shaun Delliskave

Murray Police Chief Craig Burnett (far left) and his officers conduct a staff meeting and display donated masks in the City Hall parking lot. (Photo courtesy Murray City)

By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]

Murray community leaders continue to make adjustments to city services and the economy as the coronavirus pandemic remains. At the March 17 city council meeting, the council approved a second Emergency Declaration; the first one expired on April 12, 2020. The second resolution will allow the local emergency to continue for longer than 30 days and enable remote city council meetings to be held.

Joey Mittelman, fire marshal for Murray City and member of the Utah Emergency Operation Center, has been coordinating the city's response. The fire department participates in a group phone call every day at 9 a.m. where they get updates. They also receive a report with constant updates on where the virus is spreading and the other impacts it's having.

Because Intermountain Medical Center (IMC) calls Murray home, the hospital and Murray's Emergency Medical Services (EMS) have collaborated in the city's response.

According to Mittelman, "Murray has a blended response with our District 2b Protocols (Salt Lake County’s EMS policy) across the Valley. Every Salt Lake Valley EMS agency has blended their protocols to be consistent with all the hospitals. IMC is part of our protocol development and assists with how we respond. Medical Director Adam Balls also serves as the department chair for IMC's Emergency Department; he has played a large part in assisting Murray and IMC to blend their response."

Responding to emergency calls, where exposure to the virus is always a possibility, has been challenging for Murray's EMS and fire departments. As of mid-April, none of Murray’s first responders have had to quarantine.

"EMS and fire calls don't always offer the most protected situations. We operate as a family at the firehouse, so it's difficult to not possibly expose an entire crew once a single crew member has been exposed. Firefighters eat, sleep, clean and much more in a similar atmosphere as your house," Mittelman said.

Mayor Blair Camp stated in the April 7 city council meeting that Murray Police Chief Craig Burnett has resorted to holding some staff meetings outside in the parking lot to comply with social distancing efforts.

To date, Murray Parks and Recreation has canceled most recreation programs indefinitely and also, notably, the June Arts in the Park production scheduled for the Murray Park Amphitheatre. Salt Lake County parks, including Wheeler Farm, are also shut down. Parks department crews have also posted off limits notices at all playgrounds and pavilions, and they’ve locked restroom facilities—although the county and city parks themselves are open for visitation.

Golfers, on the other hand, were in luck as both the city’s Murray Parkway Golf Course and county’s Mick Riley Golf Course were open by reservation only.

The Murray Senior Recreation Center serves sack lunches Tuesday through Friday for Murray-area seniors. The center has provided a phone number for patrons to call, order, and pay for their lunch a day prior, and a sack lunch is delivered to the patron's car in front of the building.

Instead of lunches, the Murray Library delivered book check-outs to patron's cars in front of its building. Demand for books has been high, as Murray and Granite School District children are confined to distance learning. Library staff have also posted online readings of younger children's books for its patrons.

The economic fallout from the virus has impacted many Murray families; some have lost their jobs since many businesses are closed during the pandemic. An emergency pantry was created in the former Kids Eat Pantry space near City Hall. On April 19, the Murray Children's Pantry reported that it was running out of food and put out a request for donations of food, toilet paper, face masks, and money to meet the need.

Churches throughout Murray have responded to community needs, even though they remain unable to hold services: Murray Baptist Church held a food drive, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints churches have sponsored blood drives, and the Church of Scientology has helped sanitize public safety vehicles.

Local businesses have donated face masks, protective equipment and hand sanitizer to Murray's police and fire departments. The Murray Area Chamber of Commerce announced that it was creating an economic task force with Murray City. The task force will look for ways to develop resources, come up with policies to confront the economic damage, and find ways to assist those facing the effects of social isolation, quarantine and shelter-in-place orders.