Fayette County’s local emergency planning committee meets to discuss coronavirus prep

OAK HILL, WV (WOAY) -Fayette County’s local emergency planning committee is comprised of first responders, medical professionals and others who would be on the front lines of any type of emergency.

On Friday, the committee met as they began to discuss what to do if this area begins to see an outbreak of the coronavirus as 14 have now died across the United States. 

Teri Harlan, the administrator for the Fayette County Health Department, also serves as the chairman of the committee. She was the one who called the meeting.

“I thought it was a good idea to pull everyone together today just to make sure we are all on the same page with planning for the coronavirus and make sure we have that open line of communication,” she said. 

In a two-hour discussion the first responders and medical personnel threw out “what if” scenarios, talked about where to send people and how to keep those safe who will be on the front lines.

Although this was a brainstorming meeting, the room agreed that they need to get in front of this before and if the virus comes. 

One concern: making sure first responders have the correct personal protective equipment, or PPE, and has good stock of it. 

Fayette County Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Kevin Walker said supply and demand of these products in a crisis is always an issue but as of right now, the county has plenty of materials.

“You don’t want first responders to go in without the correct PPE because when you start getting your first responders sick, then you don’t have anybody to answer the calls for help for anyone in your community,” Walker said. 

Right now, testing from the state is still getting sent to the CDC but Harlan says that is set to change next week. 

“We were told today that the state will have the availability to do the testing in house hopefully by the end of next week, so the public health departments are in constant communication with the State Bureau for Public Health and the CDC and so as we get that information we’ll continue to put that out into the public as well,” Harlan said. 

In terms of advice for the public, both Harlan and Walker recommended following the CDC’s hygiene guidelines.

You can do that and keep up with their daily updates on the virus. Click here to access the CDC’s page on the coronavirus. 

Currently (3/6/2020, 5:30 p.m.), there are no confirmed cases in the state.

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Anna Saunders
Anna Saunders is a weekend reporter for WOAY. With a diploma from Princeton Senior High School and a mother from Fayette County, she is no stranger to the area. She received a degree in Media Arts and Design from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and wanted to return home to start her career as a reporter.