By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: March 18, 2020 | 1:36 p.m.
PRINCE GEORGE – After closing to the public for two days, Prince George County offices reopened Wednesday but, residents are asked to limit in-person visits to departments to only critical business as the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 continues to rise alongside the number of Virginia counties and cities with coronavirus cases.
In a statement Tuesday leading up to Wednesday’s reopening, County Administrator Percy Ashcraft said operations would resume with limited office staffing in most departments, except public safety which will be in full force. Also, “alternative employee schedules will be used in the next couple weeks” for office employees to handle the county’s business, both internally and with the public.
“We don’t want to discourage citizens from taking care of their business with the County,” he explained. “However, we encourage when possible for citizens to contact offices by phone or even email when they know the County department or employee they want to contact. This will reduce physical contact between people, but still complete the citizen’s transaction.”
“Our aim is to protect the public, our employees and still keep County Government operating as efficiently as possible. People’s lives are being disrupted. We don’t want to compound that frustration,” the county administrator continued.
As the county reopened, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 rose to 77 Wednesday out of over 1,200 people tested, according to data provided by the Virginia Department of Health, up from 69 the day prior. With that rise, the first three cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the City of Richmond.
James City, Fairfax, and Arlington Counties continue to have the most cases of COVID-19 at just over a dozen positive cases each.
As of Wednesday, two deaths have been reported by state health officials.
Other departments in Prince George that will remain closed to the public are the Commissioner of the Revenue, Treasurer and Commonwealth Attorney. In regards to county courts, both the General District and Circuit Court clerks office are open but only two people will be allowed to enter at a time. Cases in both courts have been continued until April 6 or beyond, Ashcraft confirmed.
This month’s board of supervisors and planning commission meetings have also been canceled.
Ashcraft said he understands every locality has to handle its business in the best interest of its residents, saying he feels the actions taken by the county is the safest way to protect residents and still offer government services to the fullest extent possible in this critical time.
“We don’t want to put anybody in harm’s way,” Ashcraft said. “State health officials have made it clear that ‘Social Distancing’ is a top priority. We want to cooperate with that in mind but still respond to government concerns by citizens.”
Ashcraft also noted that all public meetings in County facilities will be canceled for the remainder of the month. All recreation activities have also been suspended until further notice.
To lower the risk of respiratory germ spread, including COVID-19, the Virginia Department of Health encourages the following effective behaviors:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based 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.
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Avoid non-essential travel.
Information about COVID-19 is being shared as it becomes available on the following websites: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus or www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/. Also, consult www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus for the latest number of COVID-19 cases in Virginia.
The Virginia Department of Health has also activated a public information line, 877-ASK-VDH3, for questions from residents about the novel coronavirus situation.
Copyright 2020 by Womack Publishing
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