Kanawha health officials meet with community leaders to plan for potential COVID-19 outbreak


CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) The United States is starting to feel the impact of COVID-19 with six deaths now attributed to novel coronavirus in Washington State. Even though there have not been any cases in West Virginia public health leaders are working to get ahead by planning now.

“We updated the group as to where we are with the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Dr. Sherri Young, director of the Kanawha Charleston Health Department. The Kanawha Charleston Health Department assembled a COVID-19 Task Force to address topics such as quarantine procedures, keeping health care workers safe and how to distribute vaccines when those become available.  

“We are seeing it as a problem in other areas, that is why we want to be prepared here in Kanawha County,” Young explained.

The meeting brought people from multiple agencies to the table including city and county officials, homeland security, the American Red Cross as well as universities and public schools.

“It may be inevitable that we have COVID-19 in our area but what we want to be able to do well before it arrives is be ready for anything from one case to several hundred cases,” Young said.

The task force also addresses challenges such as containing COVID-19 in homeless populations that don’t have a place to self-quarantine and how to get resources to people who may live alone if they have to quarantine. They also plan to take a closer look at how to handle large gatherings if an outbreak were to occur.

“Certainly in Italy with the widespread disease they had they canceled several religious services, you’ve seen museums and other public places being shut down. We need to look at, is that going to be best for the public, is that going to help contain disease and all of the potential impacts for this moving forward,” Young said.

The task force will meet again in two weeks.

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice announced late Monday afternoon that he spoke with Vice President Mike Pence in a national briefing call. Justice plans to hold a roundtable meeting Wednesday at the state capitol to provide updates from the state on COVID-19 and preparations.

The Centers for Disease Control has in-depth information available for the public about how to prepare and stay safe. Learn more here.

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