HENRY COUNTY, VA – Henry County Administrator Tim Hall issued a declaration of local emergency Monday to allow the county to better prepare and respond to any spread of COVID-19.
“This declaration is not in response to any positive tests or anticipated positive results in our area,” Hall said. “This action just gives us more flexibility as we respond in the coming days and weeks to this public health threat. It is important to remove any barriers to the County’s ability to mitigate the spread of this virus, and this will help us in this area.”
The local declaration of emergency relaxes formal procurement requirements to allow the county government to more easily acquire goods and services needed to assist in the response to the threat posed by the virus.
“These measures are not out of fear, but they are an act of preparation and compassion – compassion for our citizens and public servants,” Hall said. “We want to make sure we can continue to provide essentials services to our citizens during this time.”
The declaration also allows the administrator to modify standard employment rules, so that county employees can be reassigned to county operations involved in the response if necessary.
The declaration may also be a requirement for residents and businesses to obtain financial aid and emergency loans offered by the federal or state government.
The local declaration of an emergency follows the declaration of a statewide emergency from Governor Ralph Northam.
Residents that feel they have symptoms of the coronavirus should call their healthcare provider for medical advice.
Only call 9-1-1 for life-threatening emergencies.
As part of the preparation and response, the county is making some changes to services and programs during this time:
All county recreational events and activities are canceled until further notice.
Parks and other outdoor recreation facilities will remain open, but users are encouraged to practice social-distancing and good personal hygiene.
At this time, county offices will be open on their regular schedules.
Residents are strongly encouraged to use online services as much as possible and call before coming to the building. Many issues may be handled over the telephone or by email.
If you are sick, including coughing or running a fever, do not go to government facilities.
If it becomes necessary to visit government buildings, visitors are encouraged to maintain at least six feet from other individuals in the building. They are also encouraged to wash their hands and make use of hand sanitizing products.
All visitation to the Henry County Jail is suspended.
Staff is being reassigned to ensure more thorough and more frequent disinfecting occurs in public areas.
Additional equipment is being installed to extend the county’s public Wi-Fi to the parking lots at the administration building, Henry County Courthouse, and Jack Dalton Park. The equipment will allow anyone without internet access at their home or business to access internet resources from the parking lots without leaving their vehicle.
Other changes and updates will be made in the days ahead.
“We are in unusual times,” Hall said. “I hope we can look back in six months and think ‘we over-reacted.’ We will take that criticism at that time without hesitation because it would mean that everything is normal, and our community is safe.”