Detroit officials halt water shutoffs over coronavirus outbreak concerns

Detroit officials halt water shutoffs over coronavirus outbreak concerns
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Detroit officials announced on Monday that the city would stop water shutoffs to residents who have unpaid bills amid fears of a coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. and the city.

The Detroit Free Press reported that Mayor Mike Duggan said the city would restore water services to residents who had lost access because of delinquent bills and would impose a moratorium on further water shutoffs. 

It was unclear when the about 3,000 residents currently without water would see their service restored, according to the publication.

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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) issued a press release Monday calling the decision "the right thing to do to keep families safe and protect public health.”

"We deeply appreciate Gov. Whitmer's support and leadership on this issue," Duggan added in his news release. "As long as COVID-19 remains a health concern, no Detroit residents should have concerns about whether their water service will be interrupted."

Michigan officials including Whitmer and Duggan, both supporters of former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden slams Trump in new ad: 'The death toll is still rising.' 'The president is playing golf' Warren to host high-dollar fundraiser for Biden COVID-19 makes Trump's work with black Americans that much harder MORE (D), had been hammered on the issue for days by local activists as well as Biden's 2020 primary opponent, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersWarren to host high-dollar fundraiser for Biden Julián Castro to become senior advisor for Voto Latino It's as if a Trump operative infiltrated the Democratic primary process MORE (I-Vt.).

Sanders supporters continued to slam Whitmer and other officials on Monday, questioning why the decision had not been made sooner and demanding action for the residents whose running water has yet to be restored.

“No disrespect, but I am still waiting to hear the plan that includes getting people’s water back on as this disease spreads,” tweeted Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibOvernight Defense: Pentagon memo warns pandemic could go until summer 2021 | Watchdog finds Taliban violence is high despite US deal | Progressive Dems demand defense cuts Progressives demand defense budget cuts amid coronavirus pandemic Overnight Energy: 600K clean energy jobs lost during pandemic, report finds | Democrats target diseases spread by wildlife | Energy Dept. to buy 1M barrels of oil MORE (D-Mich.), a Sanders endorser. “Please don’t forget poor families. They deserve protection and with no access to water we are putting them in jeopardy.”

“The notion that a City could shut off water on people in the midst of a potential infectious disease epidemic — really EVER — is unconscionable,” added the former executive director of Detroit's health department, Abdul El-Sayed, who appeared alongside Sanders at a roundtable discussion on the coronavirus outbreak on Monday.