Beckley Mayor gives update on response to the COVID-19 pandemic

BECKLEY, WV (WOAY) – Beckley Mayor Rob Rappold has issued a statement to address many questions as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

 

I’m reaching out to provide an update on the City of Beckley’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak. As many are already aware, Governor Jim Justice has declared a Stay at Home Order for the residents of West Virginia.

Much has happened that is impacting the way we and private businesses conduct operations.

 

In defining ‘essential services’ the City has prioritized key functions including: police and fire protection, water/sewer operations and public works operations. In addition, the back office operations that enable us to deliver these services are also considered essential. We believe we have met the Governor’s mandate and will continue to allocate resources where needed.

 

At this time City Hall is effectively closed to the public. You may leave messages via voice mail, or email and staff will respond as we are able. Our code enforcement office is still open on the bottom floor of City Hall. Permits will still be issued from the office. Please limit to 1 customer at a time.

 

The Beckley Municipal Court will be closed. Payments will only be taken by mail until further notice. All recycling within the City of Beckley is suspended as of March 23, 2020 due to the suspension of recycling operations by the Raleigh County Solid Waste Authority. The Youth Museum has closed until further notice. All parks and trails remain open but their public facilities will be closed.

 

Fortunately, Raleigh County and the City of Beckley have not experienced the level of verified infection that some of our other West Virginia counties have. That, however, should not be taken as license to disregard the advice of medical professionals. It may simply be that we have not had as many people tested. It would be shortsighted to think that local rates of infection will not rise significantly in the days and weeks ahead. The precautions we are instructed to take are absolutely necessary to protect our vulnerable populations, including the elderly or those with existing health issues.

 

If you are uncertain of the precautions you should be taking, the Beckley Raleigh County Health Department www.beckleyraleighhealthdept.org and the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources https://dhhr.wv.gov has some very good resources on their websites. I would urge you to bookmark those site and refer back to regularly for updates.

 

Rumors and Misinformation

During this time when COVID19 is dominating the news, misinformation and rumors can spread online faster than a virus can. Always scrutinize information you read on Facebook and other social media sites. Before you share information you find, always check with verified sources like the Center for Disease Control (CDC), or the Beckley Raleigh County Health Department. We will continue to communicate important information to Beckley residents and families via our website and Facebook pages. Given how quickly change is occurring that information may be evolving on a daily basis. We will do our best to keep it current.

 

City Services

As previously mentioned, City Hall and several other city-owned buildings are closed to the public. Wherever possible and appropriate, staff will be working from home to continue to deliver many of the services that you expect of us. A number of non-essential services, however, have been curtailed. I would ask patience as we adjust to this rapidly-evolving environment. Our staff is working under unprecedented levels of difficulty and like you, they have families and children. Some services may be unavailable and many will take longer than normal.

 

Community

This public health crisis illustrates just how interconnected we all are. I am confident that we will get through this, but how well we get through this, and how quickly we recover from this, depends on the actions of each and everyone one of us in the days and weeks ahead. There has never been a more important time to step up for your community.

 

First and foremost: take care of yourself. You cannot take care of others if you don’t take care of your own health and well-being. Mind the precautions and recommendations and be easy on yourself and others during this stressful period.

 

There are numerous ways you can help relieve the stress and pain of others in the community. Some of our non-profits are offering meals to those who need help. Volunteers are often needed as well as monetary donations. They include the Salvation Army, Carpenter’s Corner, Raleigh County Commission on Aging, the Pinehaven Homeless Shelter and others. These organizations need your help more than ever right now. Reach out to them please.

 

Not sure where to turn or what to do? If you need assistant in finding food or medicine or other essentials – dial our local 2-1-1 to speak with someone who can help.

 

Of equal importance: the Red Cross is in desperate need of blood. If you’re healthy, I urge you to consider a blood donation now. It takes less than an hour and each donation can save up to three lives.

 

Visit https://www.redcross.org or call 304-255-1508 to find a time and location convenient to you.

 

Support our local businesses, they’re hurting. They are owned by our neighbors and provide great economic benefit to our city. Please continue to support them during this period of uncertainty. Many are offering special take-out or delivery options!

 

For more info on how you can support local businesses, please visit the website’s of the Beckley Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce www.brccc.com and /or the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority. https://nrgrda.org/

 

U.S. Census.

While much of everyone’s attention is focused on COVID-19, we also need to remember the importance of the 2020 Census. This once-a-decade count of every person living in the 50 states, District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories helps determine the distribution of billions in federal aid for local communities. By April 1, 2020, you will receive an invitation to participate in the 2020 Census. Once the invitation arrives, please respond either online, by phone, or by mail. Having a full and accurate count for the City of Beckley and Raleigh County is critical to ensure we receive our fair share of federal funding over the next decade.

 

For more information, visit http://www.census.gov

 

A week ago we could not have foreseen where we would be today, and we can expect more changes going forward. I urge you to regularly check the sites linked above for updated information.

Stay positive, stay compassionate and we will get through this.

 

Sincerely,

Mayor Robert Rappold

Tyler Barker
Tyler Barker is currently the News Director and Digital Content Manager for WOAY-TV. He was promoted to this job in Mid-November. He still will fill in on weather from time to time. You can Follow Tyler on Facebook and Twitter @wxtylerb. Have any news tips or weather questions? Email him at tbarker@woay.com