Weekly Highlands COVID-19 Task Force Touchpoint

April 28, 2020 – 1:00 p.m.

Krystal Onaitis, Covington City Manager, opened the conference call.  

Organizations/Representatives via phone conferencing: DSS, Carillion, VDH, Alleghany County, Town of Clifton Forge, Covington City, Iron Gate Town Clerk, Local Emergency Manager, Sheriff’s office, Covington Police Dept, Alleghany County & Covington City Schools, CSB, Salvation Army, Clifton Forge Police Dept, area elected officials, WestRock, Ingevity, Dominion Energy, Chamber of Commerce 

  • VDH reports that there are no new positive COVID-19 cases. Since the volume is low, there is no need for the testing site to be started. The Virginia Tech emergency rapid testing could be started if needed.  
  • LewisGale Alleghany Hospital reports that elective procedures may begin in May. They are preparing, on a small scale, to begin these procedure as safely as possible. On May 1 the hospital will change to Level 2. This will allow a patient to have one visitor after a pre-screening. They are continuing to take temperatures, encourage social distancing, and wearing a face mask. If a patient is having an ear, nose throat surgery, they will be given a COVID-19 test before the procedure.  
  • There were no new updates from WestRock, Dominion and Iron Gate. Ingevity is back to full staff, taking temperatures and providing masks.  
  • The Alleghany Emergency Manager noted that there are no changes. The County continues to provide services and some are doing telework. There is not a date set to reopen to the public. Payments/correspondence can be made via phone, e-mail and dropbox.   
  • Covington City continue services with some teleworking. There will be some office hours soon. The offices will remain closed to the public. 
  • The Town of Clifton Forge continues providing services. There was a murder in Town and the Town Police assisted by the VA State Police arrested the suspect.  
  • The Sherriff’s office operations are continuing their same process. They have been able to keep the jail population down. They are assisting with food box deliveries and will also be helping with hot meals next week.  
  • Social Services continues providing services. The emergency SNAP fund will be available soon. 
  • Community Services Board advised that the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) announced that Virginia has received a $2 million grant from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to begin to address the behavioral health impacts of COVID-19. Partners in this effort include Virginia’s 40 locally-run community services boards (CSBs) and the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association (VHHA) Foundation. The grant will help fund direct treatment services. 
  • Alleghany Schools and Covington City Schools have no new updates and are continuing planning. 
  • The Salvation Army is providing meal boxes and have been receiving calls for assistance with rent and utility bills. Even though there is a freeze on evictions, without assistance, tenants will get behind on bills without support.  
  • The Chamber of Commerce has received a $25,000 grant from the Alleghany Foundation to help organizations, such as the Salvation Army and Mountaineer Minuteman Militia (M3). This will aid those in the area with hot meals and food boxes.  The Chamber has been working with the Alleghany Highlands Economic Development Corporation to assist small businesses with planning, preparing & promoting their reopening.   
  • There was discussion on having these conference calls every other week. There was a suggestion and decision made that instead of every other week, there will be a call only if it is needed. If anyone has an update to share with everyone, to e-mail or call Krystal Onaitis each Monday by 5:00 p.m. The meeting day of Tuesday at 1:00 p.m. will be a placeholder if a meeting is needed. There will be an e-mail sent out to notify everyone if there is a conference call.  
  • Everyone was thanked for their time.