Caswell leaders keep tight watch on coronavirus

From left, Donnie Powell, Environmental Health Director (Health Dept.); Marcy Williams, Health Department; Jennifer Eastwood, Health Department; Bryan Miller, County Manager; Caswell Fire Marshall Vernon Massengill; Barry Lynch, Management Coordinator Emergency Services; Kenneth Everett and Josh Benfield, 9-1-1 Emergency Communications were together Tuesday.

Caswell County Board of Commissioners called an emergency meeting on Monday at 1 p.m. and canceled their regular scheduled nighttime meeting due to the urgency of the coronavirus. 

Commissioners voted to declare Caswell County which includes the towns of Yanceyville and Milton in a State of Emergency until April 6th. During this time special measures will be taken to protect employees as well as the public from the rapid spread of the potentially deadly virus. This is in keeping with North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper declaring a State of Emergency a few days ago. 

During State of Emergencies, different rules apply for special funding or procedures in procurement of needed supplies. Lynch explained that it opens up resources. 

Gatherings of more than 50 people at any event are suspended in Caswell County for the next two weeks. 

Gunn Memorial Public Library and the Caswell County Senior Center in Yanceyville will be closed during this time. 

Working from home is recommended for any non-essential employee who is able to do this. It was approved to allow these employees to take up to 96 hours of advanced sick leave and vacation hours if needed. For employees who do not, the hours will be advanced to them and repaid with accrual time when they come back to work. 

 Miller has been in consultation with various leaders of various departments including the Department of Health, Fire Marshall, Emergency Management Services, Board of Education, 911 Communications, Sheriff’s Office, etc. 

Jennifer Eastwood, MPH, Health Director at Caswell County Health Department provided a lot of information and efforts being made. (See accompanying article on health department).

“So far one person has been tested in Caswell and proved negative. One other person is scheduled to be tested today,” she said. “No one has died in the state so far.”

Washing hands often for 20 seconds with soap and water is the best way to avoid getting sick and using hand sanitizer made up of 60-90% alcohol. “That includes washing under your nails.”

She also advised to avoid touching your face, eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands and using proper “respiratory etiquette” such as coughing or sneezing into your elbow and not reusing tissues. “Stay home if you’re sick or in high-risk groups,” she said. “Also keep a social distance of six feet.” 

She advised working from home if possible and keeping offices and homes as clean and sanitized as possible, especially “high contact areas” such as doorknobs and counters. 

Eastwood also let commissioners know that the health department is seeing well patients in the mornings and sick patients in the afternoons to keep them separated. Routine wellness appointments are suspended for now. 

Director of Emergency Services Barry Lynch also addressed the board and shared that specific questions are being asked to all calls coming in to determine their status. “EMS will be the only response to medical calls. Fire Department First Responders will not be responding to medical calls for service.”

EMS evaluations will be done over the phone when possible. 

Dr. Sandra Carter, Superintendent of Caswell County Schools also told the board that they are updating constantly. Students are being kept at home until March 30 or possibly after. Lesson plans are prepared for two weeks with online use considered. 

“Proactive guidelines and social distances are advised.”

At the time of the meeting, plans were still being set up to provide food for at risk students who are missing out on meals at school. (See accompanying article from Dr. Carter). 

The DAQ meeting on the Sunrock permits set for March 31 has been canceled and will be rescheduled. 

Public community meetings on zoning have been canceled and will be rescheduled.