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Cleveland Extends Civil Emergency Proclamation Through April

Updated: 5:05 p.m., Friday, April 3, 2020

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson has extended the city’s Proclamation of Civil Emergency through the end of April, and is already bracing for the possiblity that mass gatherings and special events may be put on hold for the summer.

“We can expect to have social distancing and enforcement of that,” Jackson said at a Friday morning pandemic response briefing. “Anywhere that there is a potential mass gathering, we will not issue a permit for.”

Just a few weeks into mitigation measures, most city employees are working from home and the city is currently screening temperatures of some essential employees. Jackson said more thermometers have been ordered to expand that screening to more departments.

“What we know is really this small part of it,” Jackson said. “There is a part that we don’t know, except for the fact that we are projecting that there will be a surge, and that surge will happen in this month of April.”

The city is working with the Cleveland Clinic to plan for the projected surge in coronavirus cases. The Clinic is increasing its bed count from 3,000 to 8,000, according to Chief of Medical Operations Dr. Robert Wyllie, including 2,000 additional intensive care beds, Wyllie said.

“We’re starting to see a bend in the curve for the number of people being infected,” Wyllie said.

The Clinic is also working to increase available ventilators, he said, and working with other healthcare providers to prepare for the surge and address local needs.

University Hospitals is also planning to increase its capacity, said Chief Quality and Medical Officer Dr. William Brien. The provider is working toward the goal of a 300 percent capacity increase, he said, for a total of 6,000 beds. UH is also working with Case Western Reserve University on a potential plan to add 215 beds in CWRU’s field house.

“We actually don’t know which areas are going to get hit first or hit hardest, so we really need to be able to be adaptable,” Brien said.

Plans for expanded, off-site hospital capacity initially looked at options like nearby convention centers, but Jackson told The City Club during its Friday forum that healthcare providers determined it would be more effective to stay in place.

Discounted hotel rooms for healthcare workers are also being considered, he said, to keep them close to work and protect their families. Similar initiatives are already in the works to help Cleveland’s homeless during the pandemic and additional measures to protect the homeless are in the works from the Cuyahoga County Office of Homeless Services, Jackson said, with some help from the city.

“All this is happening at multiple different levels,” Jackson said, explaining that the county takes the lead on initiatives to help the homeless population, but the city supplies funding and resources.

But the city’s resources are already being hit hard by the coronavirus, Jackson said. The city budget relies heavily on income taxes, so as unemployment rises and incomes drop, the city will feel that financial strain. Income tax collections are usually about a month behind reality, Jackson said, the full impact of the virus-related losses is not yet known.

Cleveland has budgetary reserves in case of an economic downturn, Jackson said. City officials have been anticipating a recession, he said, and can now use that reserve in the face of the coronavirus’ impact on the economy.

“Those reserves were put in place so that we could weather the storm of the downturn of the economy,” Jackson said. “Of course, we didn’t know this was going to happen and it was going to happen this way and this quickly, at this magnitude.”

The city is also considering options for the West Side Market moving forward, according to Jackson. The market has implemented some measures to encourage social distancing, such as curbside pickup of groceries, and vendors are allowed to stay home to protect themselves.

“There are still social distancing issues that we need to address at the market,” Jackson said. “If you have the kind of congestion that’s usually there, that doesn’t allow for social distancing.”

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