May 23, 2020
Due to on-going efforts to ensure that the Highlands works to comply with Phase I of the latest amended Executive Orders, the Highlands COVID-19 Task Force convened all members to discuss re-opening plans for governmental and non-profit organizations in the Highlands. An overview of the CARES Act funding that is expected to be dispersed locally to the governments was shared with participants. There was also an update on case counts from our local and regional Roanoke County Alleghany Health District (RCAHD), public health professionals. There was a also a revived discussion centered on expanding testing capacity within the RCAHD.
With regards to re-opening governmental offices, community support organizations such as, YMCA, DSS, CSB and other public interface operations such as visitation at the Alleghany Regional Jail; Task Force members have expressed a desire and willingness to commit to a unified plan for re-opening. This would entail working to mirror each other’s guidelines for serving the public and those in our community in safe and near unified fashion to foster a return to normalcy for the Highlands and promote ease with consistency. The City of Covington, Alleghany County and Town of Clifton Forge have been continuing these re-opening discussions outside of the Task Force Meetings weekly, by having scheduled calls to work through the many logistics. This planning process, will be done in consultation with the Virginia Department of Health’s Environmental Health Specialists in our health district, our regional Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) Office and by reviewing other localities plans in the Roanoke Valley to provide recommendations to the Task Force. To work through this planning process, the Task Force plans to meet weekly until the second week of June, at minimum.
Additionally, work is underway regionally with the local governments, Chamber of Commerce and Tourism as well as the Alleghany Highlands Economic Development Corporation (AHEDC), to apply for emergency funding to assist small businesses and non-profits through a Department of Housing and Community Development grant. The application is underway and Alleghany County anticipates filing a regional application for up to $1.5M in the coming week.
The Task Force remains united in its efforts for those living and working in the Highlands. All here in the region are not just strong, we are #HighlandsStrong. Now more than ever we all need to help one another in whatever way we can, big and small, even just checking in on others goes a long way. Working together is how the Highlands will recover from this pandemic.