Virginia Beach officials say they are closely monitoring the latest conditions and developing plans to address the evolving situation with Novel Coronavirus COVID-19, according to a press release.
City officials say the Virginia Beach Department of Public Health (VBDPH) is the lead agency on COVID-19 and is working with and following guidance from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
The Office of Emergency Management is coordinating local agencies based upon their direction, including leading a local task force of agencies involved in developing the appropriate plans and preparations.
A third case of coronavirus has been confirmed in northern Virginia, state health officials said Monday. None so far in the Hampton Roads area.
City staff say they will provide a COVID-19 situational awareness update to the Virginia Beach City Council on Tuesday.
Over the next several months, the city has many indoor and outdoor events scheduled, from youth sporting tournaments and the March 22 Yuengling Shamrock Marathon to Something in the Water planned for April 20-26.
While a universal decision-making protocol for cancelling events has not been established, the City says it will be carefully evaluating each event based on a host of factors, including the size and venue of the event, whether attendees include international guests coming from places where the virus has spread, indoor vs. outdoor, age of participants, and degree of close person-to-person contact. According to the CDC, the most at-risk population still seems to be older adults and those with underlying health conditions.
“Our top priority is always the health and safety of our residents and visitors,” said Mayor Bobby Dyer. “Based on the latest information we have received from public health officials, we have not cancelled any events yet, but let me be clear: that may change. We are vigilant in monitoring and following the advice from the public health experts and if it is in the best interests of event attendees and our community to cancel events, we will do that. In the meantime, I urge individuals to follow the same health guidelines we do to avoid the flu and other communicable illnesses.”
The City has already taken a number of actions, including the following:
- VBDPH’s public health response focusing on multiple areas—including daily coordination with VDH and CDC, internal VBDPH preparation, working with community partners (local governments, hospitals, etc.), and traveler monitoring.
- Emergency Management – Convening COVID-19 City Task Force and establishing reporting protocols, updating Continuity of Operations (COOP) plans for the City organization, including telework options, supporting contingency planning for mass gatherings.
- Finance – Risk Management has ordered approximately $200,000 of supplies to assist employees with mitigation and prevention of COVID-19 contamination and developing supply distribution plan.
- Emergency Medical Services has initiated enhanced 911 call screening to help identify patients with a higher risk of having COVID-19, in conjunction with Emergency Communications and Citizen Services (ECCS), published reminders to all responders regarding proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Sheriff’s Office is developing contingency plans for inmates and jail cells.
- Virginia Beach Fire Department is providing staff to support Planning and Logistics for Emergency Management as well as Coordinating with Risk Management to develop supply distribution plan for Citywide resources.
- Communications Office will provide updates via VBGov.com and the City’s various social media platforms, including NextDoor, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Steps individuals can take to prevent exposure and illness from this virus as well as others:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Avoid shaking hands
- Keep from touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, throw the tissue in the trash and then wash your hands
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Stay home when you are sick
- Keep children who are sick home from school
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces such as doorknobs, cell phones, keyboards and mice, tablets, remote controls, light switches, door handles, etc., with disinfectant wipes/spray
- Get a flu shot, if you haven’t already done so
- Stay informed and listen to guidelines from health authorities
These simple everyday habits can help prevent the spread of a whole host of illness and viruses.