It's difficult for people to wash their hands often, as everyone is being advised to do, if their home's water has been turned off. So in the spirit of limiting the spread of the new coronavirus, Detroit is moving to turn the water back on for the more than 3,000 households whose water has been shut off for nonpayment of bills, the Metro Times reports. Officials said Monday they also plan to suspend shutoffs. The city and state governments were under pressure to keep water flowing for health reasons. "The notion that a City could shut off water on people in the midst of a potential infectious disease epidemic—really EVER—is unconscionable," a former Detroit health director said in a statement. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer rejected a moratorium on shutting off water last month. On Monday, she issued a statement saying restoring service is "the right thing to do to keep families safe and protect public health."
Under the plan, residents with a household income of 150% of the federal poverty level or below can have their water turned back on if they pay $25 a month for as long as the outbreak lasts. The state will pick up the tab for the first month, per WXYZ. So far, Michigan has no confirmed cases of coronavirus. "Shutting off water and telling people to wash their hands to stop #coronavirus at the same time is a special kind of oppression," the Center for Popular Democracy Action tweeted Sunday. (Water shutoffs have been an issue in Detroit before.)