Staunton: Information, resources available on COVID-19

stauntonThe City of Staunton is sharing additional information concerning the city’s preparations for the COVID-19 virus.

This information was provided to City Council on March 12, following a presentation by Dr. Laura Kornegay, Director of the Central Shenandoah Health District.

While significant uncertainties continue, the city’s planning is motivated by a desire to protect, to the greatest extent possible, the health and welfare of its residents, visitors and employees based on widely accepted guidance provided by expert public health officials.

The city has formally established a COVID-19 Response Team to ensure that preparations are comprehensive, reasonable and based on the most accurate and up-to-date information available.

Initially, the city’s efforts are focused in two areas—continuity of operations and public gatherings.  In the area of continuity of operations, the city’s intention is to maintain core, essential services, such as law enforcement services, emergency services, refuse collection and water and sewer services.

The city will ensure that employees who provide these essential services are properly equipped to ensure their own personal safety.  Planning is also underway to facilitate work-from-home arrangements for as many city employees as possible, should that become advisable.  The city will consult with the Virginia Department of Health before implementation, and will continue to use expert public health guidance to inform decision making.

In the city’s second area of initial focus, public gatherings, city officials are aware of guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control, recommending—when there is a minimal to moderate level of community transmission of the virus—the cancellation of events with more than 250 participants.  Each year, the city permits numerous special events on city property, and conducts its own events and programs, many of which exceed this threshold.  Once the virus becomes present in or near the city, the city will consider cancellation of events and programs, again in consultation with the health department.

While addressing these operational issues, city officials are also aware of the potential economic impact on local businesses and the resulting fiscal impact on the city.  In the short term, they will evaluate those potential impacts and plan for them.

The City of Staunton website is the city’s central communication vehicle and will continue to serve as a portal to verified information sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and the Virginia Department of Health to help in individual and business planning and decision making.

The public is encouraged to stay informed and engaged as the situation continues to develop.

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