The last place Flint, Mich., wants to be is back in the headlines.
From lead-tainted water to Legionnaire’s disease and the coronavirus, public health challenges over the past few years have taken a big toll on the city’s morale.
Now, Rick Snyder, the former Michigan governor who oversaw the state when the water crisis devastated the city of Flint, has been charged with two counts of willful neglect of duty, according to court records.
Prosecutors in Michigan will report their findings in a wide-ranging investigation into the water crisis on Thursday, officials said, a long-awaited announcement that is also expected to include charges against several other officials and top advisers to Mr. Snyder.
“We are at the intersection of crises,” Flint’s mayor, Sheldon Neeley, said in an interview. “It’s hard to segregate the emotions. People are stressed with the overall feeling of trying to figure out how to increase the quality of their lives.”
The pandemic seems to be easing a bit in Genesee County, which includes Flint. The rolling seven-day average for new cases in Genesee hit a peak on Dec. 3, at 341 cases a day, but for the week ending Jan. 12 the figure was down to 130.
Even so, Mr. Neeley said the city was reeling from the continual public health blows.
For now, Flint officials are cautiously monitoring cases in the county and the city.
“We’re pressing forward with a proactive attitude,” Mr. Neeley said. “With the addition of vaccinations, we hope to really have a positive outcomes on the horizon.”
In 2015, Flint residents learned that the city water they had been drinking was contaminated with lead. Around the same time, the city suffered an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease that some suggested might be tied to the overall water problem.
Over the past summer, some city officials said they believed the lead exposure and the Legionnaires’ outbreaks might have put people in the city at an even higher risk of complications from the coronavirus, The Detroit News reported.
Mayor Mr. Neeley called the consequences of Flint’s water crisis, combined with the effects of the pandemic, a “perfect storm.”
He said that the community might be low on financial resources, but that it had “spared no expense in our battling of this virus.”
“My stance,” he said, “is this: The only deficit that we can never overcome is a death deficit.”