by Erin Freeman
On Tuesday, March 24 Mukilteo Mayor Jennifer Gregerson addressed a stay at home order for the city during a virtual town hall meeting. Mukilteo Fire Chief Chris Alexander and Police Chief Cheol Kang joined Gregerson to address the city’s public responder action and contribution to the proclamation. Mukilteo’s stay home, save lives announcement followed Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay home, stay healthy order on Monday, March 23 requiring all of Washington to adhere to a stay-at-home order.
“The directive to stay at home is a state-wide order. All Washingtonians are facing the same instructions,” said Gregerson.” “It’s serious, and it’s why we now have this order in place from our governor.
As of March 31, there have been 31 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Mukilteo.
Mukilteo’s emergency stay at home order excludes essential businesses and activities, like going to the hospital, picking up food or providing care to family members. Outside activities including running and biking are allowed under Gov. Inslee’s proclamation, as long as public health social distancing guidelines are followed.
Gregerson agrees with the importance of continuing regular physical and outside activity but has closed park entrances to enforce social distancing in the community after public areas saw an influx of large group gatherings. All city facilities are also closed to the public to avoid contamination.
During the minimum 14-day stay at home order, the Mukilteo City Council has canceled committee meetings and will be conducting necessary business meetings and work sessions virtually. Gregerson has also been participating in joint emergency operations conference calls three days a week with other mayors in the immediate area.
“There are lots of decisions to be made, and it’s really good to know what practices other cities are taking so that we can be working together and sending the same messages to our communities,” explained Gregerson.
In addition to the city government’s collaboration, Fire Chief Alexander has been the Mukilteo representative in the Snohomish County Emergency Coordination Center for the past three weeks, where different public responder disciplines work together on issues at a countywide level.
“We’ve been able to bring a lot of resources together. We’ve been able to share a lot of information about the best practices or changes in government regulations. It’s been a very good communications medium,” explained Alexander. “Just so you know, we are practicing social distancing there… we’re not trying to infect our co-workers.”
The stay at home order provides law enforcement with an enforcement tool for non-essential workers and activities. Mukilteo Police Chief Cheol Kang says that any violation of the order is considered a gross misdemeanor and is chargeable under state law. However, he emphasizes that the police department will not be randomly stopping people and hopes the enforcement tool will only be utilized on rare occurrences.
“We want to take a reasonable approach to this. We understand that we are facing a public health crisis and if we were to take an [extreme] approach to enforcement, that would create a public health safety crisis. That’s not what we’re here to do,” explained Kang. “I truly believe that the general public and our residents in town will be very compliant to do their best and do their part.”
If you witness a community member not abiding by social distancing requirements, Kang asks to refrain from reporting these non-emergency incidents through the police department’s emergency line, so that urgent calls have an immediate opportunity to speak with a dispatcher. Kang says the appropriate channel to utilize is the police department’s non-emergency line or through the State Department of Health’s COVID-19 hotline.
Gregerson expressed how proud she was of Mukilteo’s commitment to protecting one another.
“Everyone is working as hard as they can to keep everybody safe, and we ask all of you to do the same, even though I know those sacrifices are hard,’ expressed Gregerson. “I’m proud of everything everyone has done so far and encourage you to just keep it up. If we can be really serious about it, then we’ll get through this.”
Mukilteo residents can sign up to receive a daily email update from Mayor Gregerson regarding the city’s response to COVID-19 by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, you can also visit the city’s COVID-19 page at https://mukilteowa.gov/covid-19/.
Town Hall Video