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Feb 28

Coronavirus Information and City Planning Efforts

Posted on February 28, 2020 at 5:43 PM by Don Mann

Through extensive media coverage, I am sure you are aware that outbreaks of a respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus are occurring internationally, including cases in the United States. The virus itself has been named “SARS-CoV-2” and the disease that it causes has been named “coronavirus disease 2019” (abbreviated “COVID-19”). 
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in  many different species of animals and which, rarely, can infect people and then spread between people (person-to-person spread). Some countries are also reporting “community spread” which means that an infected person does not know how or where they became infected.  Because this is a new virus to humans, no one has developed immunity and vaccinations to prevent or lessen impacts have not yet been developed.  
The severity of the COVID-19 disease is not yet fully understood. Reported illnesses have ranged from mild to severe, including illness that has resulted in death. For the general American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to the virus at this time, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low. However, the potential for this disease to become widespread in the future means that it is important that we escalate our planning and preparedness efforts.  
Up until now, individual departments have been reviewing and updating plans and initiating preparedness activities. To ensure that our efforts are cohesive and as efficient as possible, I have appointed a Task Group which will be meeting regularly to coordinate our efforts and ensure that updated information is regularly distributed to our staff and citizens. This Task Group is led by the Office of Emergency Management and includes representation from key operational departments.  

Now is the time that we need to begin making personal preparations as well. Similar to how we prepare for hurricane season, our emergency management professionals recommend that we:
  • Store a two week supply of water and food.
  • Periodically check stock of regular prescription drugs to ensure a continuous supply.
  • Have any non-prescription drugs and other health supplies on hand including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, fluids with electrolytes, and vitamins.
  • Get printed copies and maintain electronic versions of health records from doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and other sources and store them for personal reference.
  • Talk with family members and loved ones about how they would be cared for if they got sick, or what will be needed to care for them in your home.
As we wait to see what impact SARS-CoV2 will have in our region, there are simple things that we can each do to help keep ourselves, our families and others healthy and protected from not only this latest virus, but also from influenza and other diseases:
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
I have provided links below to the websites for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Virginia Department of Health, and Ready.Gov where you can find more detailed information. 
We will continue to work together to address the concerns that the coronavirus poses to our city and our city staff.  I would like to stress that our current risk remains very low, which means that this is the best time for us to plan and prepare, both as an organization, and as individuals.
- Mary


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