An update from Prince William County Chair at Large, Ann Wheeler and County Executive, Chris Martino, concerning Prince William County's Coronavirus (COVID-19) response.
Chair Wheeler: Hello, I’m Ann Wheeler, the chair of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors. As we all know, the Novel Coronavirus, or COVID-19, is impacting all of us at a very local and personal level. We here in Prince William County have been diligently working to ensure the health and welfare of our residents and our employees, and we need your help.
We have taken a number of precautionary measures to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the community. This includes cancelling all outside meetings, events and gatherings scheduled at county facilities. We have closed our senior centers and several of our parks facilities, including our recreation centers. We have cancelled programming at the libraries. And we are strongly encouraging residents to do business with the county online or over the phone.
We have also made some changes to the way we are doing business operationally.
Christopher Martino: Prince William County employees will continue to provide services to our community, albeit in a different way for some agencies.
First, I want to assure everyone that our public safety functions – police, fire and 9-1-1 – are all operating normally. We have procedures in place for 9-1-1 call takers to determine whether or not the call may be related to COVID-19, so that they can then share that information with first responders who can take the appropriate steps to protect themselves.
We are continuing to offer essential services, like public benefits and care of the mentally ill, as well as permitting and inspection services. The landfill is operating normally. We are delivering home-delivered and congregate meals to seniors. And we are continuing to keep our outdoor parks open, so that the community has a place to go during this time.
However, we have made some changes to the way we are doing business right now in order to promote and exercise social distancing. Residents will notice these differences, as we are encouraging the use of technology where applicable, as well as the use of the phone or mail service. If those tools aren’t available and the meeting is non-essential then we are asking employees to cancel them and reschedule for a later date.
We are shifting to situational telework, and looking to have all employees who are able telework do so this week. We have asked agencies to manage that while maintaining appropriate coverage for public service. This means that there will be fewer employees in county facilities, so residents are encouraged to do business with the county online or over the phone. If they must come in, they are encouraged to call ahead before doing so.
I think it is extremely important to note that Prince William County has done a lot of work on its emergency management planning and coordination over the past few years to be prepared for any type of emergency. We have a Continuity of Operations Plan in place that outlines the essential functions of the county, and we are working under our Emergency Operations Plan to maintain our Continuity of Government.
We are working very closely with the Prince William Health District, and coordinating closely with our community partners, to include the schools, the cities and towns, other regional jurisdictions, transit partners, utilities and others. Our number one priority is the health and welfare of our residents and employees.
Chair Wheeler: We know that these changes may be an inconvenience for our residents. We also know that social distancing will help slow the spread of the virus and help our health system provide critical services to those who need them. That is where you come in. Please help us in our efforts for social distancing, and practice social distancing in your every day routine as much as you can. In addition, we continue to implore you to help stop the spread of germs and respiratory diseases by:
• washing your hands
• covering your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough with a tissue and then immediately throwing the tissue away
• not touching your eyes, nose or mouth
• staying away from those who are ill, and
• staying home if you are sick.
As you are aware, this is a rapidly evolving situation. We will continue to provide the latest information to the public on our social media accounts and on our website, www.pwcgov.org/emergency.
We are all in this together. And together we can help keep our community safe. We appreciate all of your support. Thank you.
Prince William County Social Media