County of Accomack officials are closely monitoring the latest conditions with Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 including the recent executive order signed by President Trump that orders meat and poultry processing facilities to remain open during the COVID-19 national emergency. Lines of communication previously established with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) Eastern Shore District, who is the lead agency on COVID-19, remain open and active. The County has and will continue to use this line to express its COVID-19 related concerns including those regarding the health and safety of workers in both poultry plants located in Accomack County and our local health system’s limitations to support significant surges in clinical demand.
Since the local outbreaks began, County officials have participated in multiple conference calls with executives of both poultry facilities who have conveyed their commitment to the well-being of their workers and their implementation of employee safety guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Under the President’s executive order, poultry processors that affirm they will operate in accordance with CDC and OSHA guidelines will remain open to ensure continuity of the national food supply chain.
The County will continue to lobby state officials and local businesses, such as poultry processing facilities, to take action to protect employees and citizens from the spread of the virus. The County lacks the authority to do more than voice these recommendations. No authority is granted to the County by the Code of Virginia to order a private entity such as a poultry plant to cease operations due to a public health issue. That authority only rests with the State and Federal Government and is reinforced by the President’s executive order.
The County is also closely monitoring demands for prehospital services such as EMS transports, which are currently below normal levels. Call volume for the month of March and April has been well below normal levels. Much focus is currently devoted to ensuring County first responders and other essential personnel have appropriate PPE to keep them protected now and in the coming weeks.
The County continues to encourage all citizens to practice the following behaviors to lower the risk of respiratory germ spread, including COVID-19:
▪ Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcoholbased hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
▪Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
▪Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
▪Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
▪Stay home when you are sick and avoid contact with sick people
▪ Wearing a non-surgical mask could help prevent a sick person, exhibiting no symptoms, from accidentally infecting others.
Questions from residents about the novel coronavirus situation should be directed to the Eastern Shore Health District’s coronavirus public information line at (757) 787-5880.