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Annapolis City Council to hold virtual meeting April 6; Buckley hosts online town hall on coronavirus pandemic

Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley hosted a virtual town hall Thursday as part of an ongoing effort to keep residents informed about the rapidly spreading coronavirus and to answer questions about how the city is handling the pandemic. Health Officer Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman, Office of Emergency Management Director Kevin Simmons and Annapolis Economic Development Manager Stephen Rice were also in attendance.
Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley hosted a virtual town hall Thursday as part of an ongoing effort to keep residents informed about the rapidly spreading coronavirus and to answer questions about how the city is handling the pandemic. Health Officer Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman, Office of Emergency Management Director Kevin Simmons and Annapolis Economic Development Manager Stephen Rice were also in attendance.(screen grab)

The Annapolis City Council will hold its first virtual meeting April 6 to discuss extending the state of emergency prompted by the coronavirus pandemic for 30 days.

Mayor Gavin Buckley declared a state of emergency March 12, which lasts 30 days and ends April 11. Any extension of the declaration must be approved by the City Council, according to City Code.

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A resolution extending the state of emergency another 30 days will be the main agenda item for the meeting which will still be broadcast on the city website, Facebook and on local television, as usual, spokeswoman Mitchelle Stephenson said.

Confirmed cases of the coronavirus have escalated in Maryland in recent days. The state reported 157 new confirmed cases Thursday,pushing the total to 580. Anne Arundel County has reported 41 cases.

Buckley’s declaration gives him a range of powers such as closing all city buildings and canceling all city-sponsored events as well as instituting a quarantine or establishing a curfew.


“It’s not looking like it’s anything that’s going to be resolved immediately,” Buckley said. “We have to be prepared for the long term."

The council was scheduled to meet in person March 30 but pushed the date back to iron out any final technological wrinkles, Stephenson said.

“We are trying to abide by the directives of not having more than 10 people in a room and we’re ramping up our technology needs and training to ensure that the public has complete access and transparency to council meetings," she said.

The system will be tested at a finance committee meeting on Wednesday.

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Buckley hosted a virtual town hall Thursday as part of an ongoing effort to keep residents informed and to answer questions about how the city is handling the problem.

Health Officer Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman, Office of Emergency Management Director Kevin Simmons and Annapolis Economic Development Manager Stephen Rice were also in attendance.

Buckley has hosted a handful of virtual “Curbside Chats” with city business leaders to discuss what the city is doing to help local businesses. He and Rice continue to encourage businesses to go to the city website where a host of resources on four different websites have been compiled including a list of low-interest loans for business owners, instructions for employees on how to file for unemployment and other benefits like SNAP, a map of restaurants offering curbside pick up and much more.

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“Annapolis is a city all about love. Annapolis is a city has faced hardship over more than three centuries and has found ways to bounce back,” Buckley said.



The meeting was live-streamed at 4 p.m. Thursday on Youtube and the Annapolis Facebook page had about 150 concurrent viewers whom the officials answered a range of questions from.

One asked how the city will prevent those who go outside during the warm weather from congregating in large groups.

Residents are encouraged to call Annapolis police who are responsible for reminding people of the state order banning crowds larger than 10, Buckley said, stressing the importance of maintaining social distancing while doing so.

“We just have to keep our distance when we’re around other people,” Buckley said. “Staying healthy and strong and getting Vitamin D and the psychology of getting outside and getting away from the news, that is just as important as all the other practices.”

The most common question Kalyanaraman said he gets is about testing.

Not enough tests were approved at the federal level and that shortage has had ripple effects locally, he said.

Buckley added the city is prepared for mass testing when tests are made available.

In response to whether any positive cases had been reported in the city, Simmons said he knew of one as of Thursday and was working with the county health department to separate the city and county numbers reported moving forward.


Rice encouraged those looking for work to visit the county’s workforce development site.



Stephenson added that the city has compiled a whole page of documents for non-English-speaking residents that can be printed and passed out. And a plan to help non-English speaking workers in the service industry will be announced soon.

One viewer asked for reassurance that ordering carryout was safe in case the virus remained on the hard surface. Scientists are still studying the virus and how long it lingers in the air and on hard surfaces.

Simmons recommended transferring food out of to-go containers and throwing them away immediately as a precaution.

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