THOMASVILLE — Action taken in a 3-2 vote Wednesday deletes the emergency management chapter in the city code and replaces it with a ruling giving the city manager the authority to enact measures during a state of emergency.
In making the motion to delete the ordinance chapter, Council member Jay Flowers thanked Mayor pro tem David Hufstetler for spearheading the effort to make the change and for keeping the council informed about the various aspects of the matter.
Hufstetler, who provided the second to Flowers’ motion, said he worked with all council members on the proposed change. Council member Todd Mobley also voted to approve the change. Mayor Greg Hobbs and Council member Wanda Warren voted against it.
The new chapter gives the city manager the authority to limit gatherings to 10 people, among other measures for protection from the coronavirus.
“I believe you are going to make the right decisions for us in the city,” Mobley said to City Manager Alan Carson. “No one knows where the epidemic is going.”
Mobley pointed out the sharp rise in the number of known COVID-19 cases in the state Wednesday. In a 24-hour period from Tuesday evening to Wednesday evening, the state Department of Public Health’s number of COVID-19 diagnoses rose by 290.
The city declared a 30-day state of emergency Tuesday. The council can increase or lessen the number of days in emergency status.
The council can enact a curfew to be enforced by Thomasville Police Department.
In response to a question from Warren, Carson said “a soft approach” would be used to break up groups of more than 10.
The intent is not to arrest people, but to take precautions against spread of the virus, he said.
“This is not going to be a police enforcement tool,” Carson said, adding that he and Police Chief Troy Rich have talked at length.
Hobbs said he agreed with the curfew.
“This is an issue that will come out in the next election,” Hobbs added.
The proposed ordinance should be approved, Mobley said. The council can meet to make changes if needed, he added.