Mayor’s Statement & Additional Measures to Mitigate Spread of COVID-19; Park closures, Sealed Garbage Bags, Store Signage, 6 ft Social Distancing & No Groups of 10+
CITY OF BUCKHANNON – MAYOR’S STATEMENT– PANDEMIC, COVID-19 VIRUS
April 2, 2020
UPDATED at 8:06 p.m. to correct and include the Dog Park in the list of park closures.
Good evening. Again, our City officials want to reassure the citizens of our B-U community that our City is working closely with county & state health department officials, & our primary healthcare providers regarding the threat posed by the coronavirus. I have spoken earlier this week with Skip Gjolberg, St. Joseph’s Hospital CEO, & Rick Simon, Community Care’s CEO. Testing for the virus is available at both facilities. We continue to have regular conversations with our school system & WVWC officials. Everyone in our City organization is committed to minimizing as much as possible the threat posed to our citizenry by Covid-19. The twice per week teleconferences with health department, healthcare providers, & county representatives continue, & City officials participate in those discussions. We continue to collaborate & interact as public officials as we collectively address this global health crisis.
I remind our residents that we are all working under declared state & federal emergencies. Our global, regional, & local situation with this virus is very fluid & issues with the pandemic change daily. We remain alert & responsive to federal & state directives & recommendations, processing & acting upon new information daily. We have had a positive test confirmed here in Upshur County. To that end, I am recommending the Council’s adoption of additional & admittedly more stringent measures this evening that will be implemented immediately upon Council’s approval. These measures are intended to further minimize the spread of the covid-19 virus. If followed, these measures will help prevent contraction & spread of this virus.
It is imperative that as an organization, that our City continue to offer our most essential services, delivery of utilities- water, sewage, waste collection; & first response from our police & fire departments. In order to assure continuity of all of these services, we need to protect the health of our employees first & foremost while they discharge these important tasks. Also, our citizenry will be better protected from this health threat if they’re not out & about tending to non-essential chores. To that end- I am proposing our Council approve the following additional, emergency measures until our state & federal authorities have determined that this threat has passed. These measures are in addition to those approved by City Council on March 13, 19, & 24 & are intended to be consistent with our federal & state mandates & guidelines.
(1) In addition to the closure of all City facilities announced on March 19, City playgrounds & parks shall now be closed to the public immediately until further notice. Science indicates that the virus survives for as long as three days on steel & plastic surfaces, both of which materials primarily comprise our playground equipment. We simply cannot guarantee that our residents cannot be infected as a result of visiting our playgrounds. These steps are being taken for the safety of our residents. Similarly, picnic tables & benches permit the contagion’s survival for several days. We will remove all picnic tables from Jawbone Park, although Jawbone Park & our River Trail are not included in the parks’ closures. The “parks” that are now entirely closed to the public include: (a) City Park on Park Street; (b) North Buckhannon Riverfront Park; (c) Fred Brooke Park; (d) Harley Brown/Rotary Park; (e) Stockert Youth & Community Center playground; & (f) the Buckhannon Dog Park. Our City police department will enforce this mandate, & those refusing to comply will be subject to citation for trespass &/or obstruction of justice. As long as social distancing is maintained, meaning a minimum of six feet apart, residents will be permitted for now to use the River Walk Trail & Jawbone Park. If you’re walking your dog, use the bags located there for pet waste disposal. If we continue to receive complaints of people violating the social distancing directive, we will have to close our River Trail, too. The parking lots of all of these parks are included in this closure directive. Anyone other than City or emergency vehicles parked in the parking lots at our parks will be deemed to be in violation of this directive & the law.
(2) Our City’s Waste Collection Board is closely adhering to the West Virginia Public Service Commission’s directive on waste, that is, garbage collection. To protect our waste crews, garbage must be placed in a toter or bin, & be bagged and tightly sealed. The virus that causes COVID-19 can linger on surfaces for up to 72 hours, thus any exposed, unbagged debris may be harboring the virus & potentially exposes our staff during collection. Garbage not meeting these criteria will not be picked up. This mandate is contained in the PSC’s General Order #262.2 entered on March 27, 2020, & is available on the PSC website.
(3) All grocery & convenience stores located within the corporate limits of our City shall each post signage to be displayed by no later than Monday, April 6 at their primary entrance points for patrons urging patrons to shop alone, while seeking to discourage as much as possible entry to their establishments by those under 16 years of age. This signage should also present a good opportunity to yet again remind store patrons that the elderly & those who have challenged immunity systems are the most vulnerable if they contract this virus. This signage shall direct social distancing of at least six feet between patrons while within the store. Those stores uncertain about verbiage for signage requirements may contact the City’s information coordinator, Callie Cronin-Sams at City Hall at (304) 472-1651 for assistance.
(4) All persons whomsoever within the corporate limits of Buckhannon shall practice appropriate social distancing of six feet one from another when in any public place. Those intentionally violating the social distancing requirement shall be subject to citation by the Buckhannon Police Department. This includes but is not limited to all public sidewalks, the River Walk Trail, Jawbone Park, & while retrieving pick-up orders in any restaurant. This measure is intended to minimize exposure, transmission, & contraction of the covid-19 virus thus maximizing the health & safety of our residents.
(5) Assemblage of groups of 10 or more persons is strictly prohibited in all public places. This directive will be closely monitored by our Police Department & first steps will be to order dispersal of any group exceeding 10 in number. Refusal to comply with this directive may result in citation issuance.
(6) Travel by residents of our community to places outside of our community is strongly discouraged. Similarly, visitors are strongly discouraged from coming to Buckhannon at this time. Simply stated, strong measures need to be taken by all of us to avoid transporting the virus to our community. We need to consider this as a lockdown moment to minimize the spread of the virus.
(7) Our City strongly recommends continued, self-quarantine measures by all of our citizens to the maximum extent possible until this health threat has passed. The more we isolate ourselves from others, the less likely we are to contract & spread the virus. Please try to limit trips to the grocery store to once per week.
We all continue to appreciate our excellent City staff, the hospital & healthcare employees who are on the front line of battling this threat, the staffs at our grocery stores who are working overtime to stock shelves so that we may all continue to be fed, & the restaurants that continue to offer delivery or pick-up food services.
We are all in THIS together, & I know as we get through the coming weeks, that we’ll remain strong as a community with minimal impact upon the health of our residents. Anyone having an emergency should contact 911 as you normally would. The best source of information about Covid-19 remains the Centers for Disease Control website.
Callie Cronin-Sams, email@example.com or (304) 472-1651.