County officials declare State of Emergency

by Kate Shunney

Morgan County Commissioners last Wednesday declare a county-level State of Emergency at the request from the Morgan County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

Dick Myers, who leads that office, said the move would allow the county to

Dick Myers, Morgan County Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

request supplies and manpower to prepare for and meet any local cases of coronavirus disease COVID-19.

“We’re not in a state of emergency per se. This lets us prepare, request supplies and change procurement processes. We don’t want to alarm anyone. It’s a preparedness step,” said Commissioner Joel Tuttle during discussion of the move.

The declaration will remain in effect for 30 days.

Myers said Monday he had already asked the state to supply personal protection equipment for county first responders who have direct contact with the public. That equipment includes 300 protective suits, booties, 300 boxes of protective gloves, 300 protective glasses, masks and gowns. Myers said he has also asked for 400 containers of hand sanitizer and 75 thermometers for first responders.

Because the situation is changing hourly, Myers said those assets could be supplied by the state or other entities if they are available. Supplies are first being routed to hospitals and health practices.

“Their primary mission is to make sure healthcare providers have what they need,” he said.

Myers said the local Emergency Operations Center has been activated at a Level 1. At this point, it means local agencies are checking in with each other regularly and sharing needs and information. The area Health Department is lead on responding to the coronavirus spread, said Myers.

More testing centers are being set up in the Eastern Panhandle. Myers said he doesn’t think the Emergency Management role will change as local cases are confirmed, but he will continue to coordinate with health and first responder officials.

“We do have a small hospital. I don’t think they’ll be capable of handling a lot of patients. That’s the point of what we’re doing now,” Myers said of prevention measures.

He emphasized the importance of the public being prepared and following the steps widely circulated about how best to keep the virus from spreading and infecting other people.

Where this virus has been kept under control the following actions were important:

  • Stay home
  • Only venture out to shop for essentials like food, gasoline, and medicine
  • If you feel sick, call your doctor and follow instructions
  • If you must go out, maintain a six foot separation with others
  • Avoid meetings, parties, family gatherings, etc.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water, avoid touching your face with unwashed hands
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.

For questions about COVID-19 you can call the WV Hotline at 1-800-887-3145 or the Morgan County Health Department at

1-304-258-1513.

Other resources available for what you can do to help with the spread of COVID-19 can be found on the state DHHR website and www.cdc.gov.

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