FLINT, Mich. (AP) — More people in Flint, Michigan, are taking advantage of added health care services, while some still need to know what's available as the city continues to move forward from a lead-tainted water crisis, according to U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.
Murthy met Tuesday with community leaders and health professionals in his second visit to Flint this year.
"We want people to go to the doctor, not just when they're critically ill, but well before that so they can understand what steps they need to take to keep themselves and their families healthy," he said.
Murthy also was in town in February when he met with Flint residents, doctors, social workers and students.
"Since February, the water has actually been improving as far as its quality," he said. "It doesn't mean our work is complete by any means. But I think we can take hope in the fact that progress has been made."
Flint was under state financial oversight when it switched in 2014 from the Detroit water system to the Flint River to save money. But corrosion controls were not added to the river water, which caused lead to leach from old pipes into homes and businesses.
Tests later found elevated lead levels in some children. Residents also complained of skin rashes.
The city has since returned to Detroit's water system.
Results of a study by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in response to complaints about the rashes and Flint water are expected to be released soon, Murthy said Tuesday.
Still, he said the city's full recovery will be a long process.
A federal emergency declaration ended Sunday, which means the state of Michigan now has to cover the full cost of bottled water, filters and other water supplies provided to Flint residents. Federal resources, health programs and monitoring efforts will continue.
"I wanted to make it clear while the declaration is ending, our commitment to support Flint is not," Murthy said. "We will continue to be here to support Flint and it's recovery as long as it takes."
Since Jan. 9, more than 2.2 million cases of bottled water; more than 130,200 water filters; more than 287,000 replacement cartridges; and more than 52,600 at-home water testing kits have been distributed to Flint water system customers.