May 28, 2020

Alexander County declares State of Emergency March 17

Closures implemented, tips for staying healthy are listed

In a proactive move, the Alexander County Board of Commissioners declared a State of Emergency for COVID-19 (coronavirus). Commissioners held an emergency meeting with county staff on Tuesday, March 17 to discuss the virus and ways to contain the spread of the illness locally.

Commissioners heard reports from Emergency Services, Health Department, Social Services, and Administration, as well as information from a conference call with the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners which provided updates from various state agencies.

“Alexander County currently has zero confirmed cases of COVID-19, but we felt it would be a wise decision to be proactive and let our citizens know that we believe this could become a very serious health issue. The declaration also positions the county for potential state and federal funds if conditions worsen,” said Ryan Mayberry, Chairman of the Alexander County Board of Commissioners. “With this declaration, we are getting ahead of the game, and will hopefully increase awareness of this virus and save lives. Please take this seriously. The magnitude of this virus and its effect on our county, state, nation, and world is not yet known, but together we will get through this potential crisis and emerge even stronger.”

Leeanne Whisnant, Director of Alexander County Consolidated Human Services, informed the board that while there are no confirmed cases yet, there are five (5) households under quarantine after being tested for the virus. Test results are still pending as the tests require 12-72 hours in a lab. If positive, the test will then be sent to a CDC lab, which requires an additional 12-72 hours for results.

“The health, safety, and welfare of our citizens is paramount as we all work together to contain this pandemic,” Whisnant related. “We encourage our citizens to practice good hygiene and use common sense to help us contain this virus. The more we can all stay at home and have less interaction with others, the better off we will be and the less this highly-contagious virus will spread in Alexander County and beyond. We appreciate everyone’s cooperation.”

Following the emergency meeting, Alexander County Government has implemented a mitigation strategy to slow the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus), including the closing of certain facilities, reduced staffing, canceling meetings and events, and other measures.

Closings and other mitigation measures

Effective Wednesday, March 18, the following changes will occur at these Alexander County facilities to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus:

• All Alexander County parks, including Rocky Face Park, will be closed to the public.
• The Alexander County Senior Center will be closed to the public.
• Alexander County DSS Congregate Meal sites will be closed; however, meals will still be delivered.
• The Alexander County Library will be closed for customers; however, all three branches will be staffed to provide curbside book/movie delivery and utilization of the book drop at the back door. Due dates have been extended through April 1.
• The Alexander County Services Center will be closed to the public; however, tax payments can be made using the drive-thru and other departments can be contacted by phone for assistance.
• The Alexander County License Plate Agency will be limited to 10 clients at a time, per NCDOT restrictions.
• The Alexander County Cooperative Extension Center will have two people in the office each day on a rotating schedule, per guidance from the state. The center will continue farm and one-on-one visits while maintaining the recommended six-foot social distance at all times.
• No work-related out-of-county travel for Alexander County employees, with the exception of law enforcement and EMS.
• Signage will be placed on doors at county facilities to discourage those who are sick from entering.
• All North Carolina superior and district court proceedings will be postponed for at least 30 days, with some exceptions, effective March 16.
Alexander County staff is working to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) for health, EMS, emergency management, law enforcement, and other employees who could potentially have contact with citizens who have contracted the virus.

On a state level, NC Governor Roy Cooper announced an executive order in response to COVID-19 that closes restaurants and bars for dine-in customers but allows them to continue takeout and delivery orders, effective at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17.

On March 10, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued guidance advising against gatherings of 50 or more people. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency on March 10 to provide access to state funding. On March 11, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 virus a global pandemic. President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on March 13, which provides access to $50 billion for US states and territories. Since that time, the President has recommended avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people.
In North Carolina, 40 cases of COVID-19 have been reported with no deaths. In the United States, confirmed cases total 5,700 with 96 deaths; however, there has been a testing shortage coupled with the delay between testing and obtaining results, so officials believe the true figure could be higher. Worldwide, the virus has infected more than 195,000 people with approximately 7,800 deaths.

How to protect yourself and others

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises citizens to: avoid close contact with people who are sick; avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands; stay home if you are sick; cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue; and clean/disinfect frequently touched surfaces or objects (tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, sinks, etc.). The agency also advises citizens to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. In addition, avoid close contact with people who are sick, and put a six-foot distance between yourself and other people (i.e. social distancing). Learn more at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/prevention.html.

What to do if you are sick

If you are sick with COVID-19 or think you might have it, you should stay home as most people who are mildly ill with COVID-19 are able to recover at home. Wear a facemask when you are around other people. Do not leave, except to get medical care. Do not visit public areas. Stay in touch with your doctor but call before you get medical care. Be sure to get care if you feel worse or you think it is an emergency. If you in a high-risk category (age 65+, underlying health issues, or immune-compromised), you should get tested for COVID-19 by making arrangements with the local health department, doctor’s office, or hospital. Learn more at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/steps-when-sick.html.

What is COVID-19 and Coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause illness in animals and humans. Human coronaviruses commonly circulate in the United States and usually cause mild illnesses like the common cold. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a disease that was identified in Wuhan, China, and is now spreading throughout the world.

Statement from the Alexander County Board of Commissioners

Alexander County declares State of Emergency for COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

On Tuesday, March 17, the Alexander County Board of Commissioners held an emergency meeting to discuss COVID-19 (coronavirus) and how the county could play a proactive role in helping contain the spread of this illness.

After much deliberation, the Board of Commissioners believed it would be in the best interest of Alexander County citizens, businesses, and employees to declare a State of Emergency.

Commissioners heard reports from Emergency Services, Health Department, Social Services, and Administration, as well as information from a conference call with the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners which provided updates from various state agencies.

While Alexander County currently has zero confirmed cases of COVID-19, the Board felt it would be a wise decision to be proactive and let our citizens know that we believe this could become a very serious health issue.

With this declaration, we believe that Alexander County is getting ahead of the game by increasing awareness of COVID-19, implementing facility closings, ensuring employee safety, and minimizing contact between people — all with the goal of ensuring the health, safety, and welfare of our citizens, and possibly saving lives.

The declaration also positions the county for potential state and federal funds if conditions worsen.

Please take this seriously. The magnitude of this virus and its effect on our county, state, nation, and world is not yet known, but together we will get through this potential crisis and emerge even stronger.

Sincerely,

Ryan Mayberry, Chairman

Larry Yoder, Vice Chairman

Jeff Peal

Marty Pennell

Ronnie Reese

2 Comments

  1. Carol Greer on March 18, 2020 at 11:48 am

    What good is it doing to close restaurants,bars etc when a lot of factories are still running with 200 plus people crammed in one building?

  2. Doloros Bolick on March 28, 2020 at 3:58 pm

    My mom lives in Bethlehem and has a Taylorsville address. She has been receiving emergency messages by phone from the county. I live in Bethlehem but have a Hickory address and have not received any of these calls. Someone needs to make sure that people with a 495 phone prefix are getting these emergency updates, as we too live in Alexander County. Thank you

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