This update on COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, is being provided by a coalition of metro-Richmond localities: Chesterfield, Henrico, Richmond, Hanover, Goochland and the Central Virginia Healthcare Coalition.
Like you, local governments remain concerned about the spread of COVID-19. This week, regional cooperation and precautionary planning took a new step forward as 50-plus emergency managers, first responders, health experts, and public information professionals met to review roles and responsibilities. Leadership of the participating localities has authorized the activation of the Central Virginia All Hazards Incident Management Team to help guide the region’s preparations for, and response to, a potential local occurrence of COVID-19.
As a region, we are committed to working with our state and local partners to safeguard our residents and make sure we share the most current information available. As of this writing, Virginia has zero confirmed cases of COVID-19. The immediate health risk to Virginians is considered to be low at the current time.
Health experts say people of all ages are susceptible to the novel coronavirus. It causes mild illness in most people, though it can cause severe illness in some, including older people and those with pre-existing medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes.
For now, the region’s health experts and emergency managers agree on some simple steps you can take to slow the spread of the virus:
The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has been monitoring this outbreak closely since mid-January, and many of its communicable disease epidemiologists, all of its emergency preparedness staff, and others are spending the majority of their time on the COVID-19 response. They are in constant communication with local health districts, governments, school systems, states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other partners.
While this situation is changing regularly, the region will continue to work together to ensure the safety and health of its citizens. Together, we can work to keep our region as safe and healthy as possible.
Earlier this week, my leadership team met with principals to discuss monitoring and planning in the event COVID-19 makes its way to Virginia and Chesterfield County.
Cleaning of facilities, monitoring student and staff attendance, providing continuity in instruction and the delivery of food to students in need were points of that discussion. Our custodial teams focused on common touchpoints Tuesday during the student holiday, and our instructional team is working on options to support the continuity of operations as needed. Our goal is to have a solid plan so that we are prepared and ready in the event we need to take action.
The U.S. Department of Education has encouraged school divisions across the U.S. to address any harassment or targeting of individual students amid ongoing concerns about COVID-19.
In a letter to educators earlier this week, the department’s assistant secretary for civil rights wrote that local educators should monitor and pay “careful attention” to bullying, targeting and other unfair treatment of school students who may be perceived to be of Asian descent based on misinformation about the disease.
“Educational institutions should take special care to ensure that all students are able to study and learn in an environment that is healthy, safe, and free from bias or discrimination,” Kenneth L. Marcus wrote.