Public health emergency declared in Mercer County; masks required to enter buildings

MERCER COUNTY, WV (WOAY) – Mercer County’s new public health officer declares public health emergency and crisis in the county.

The following recommendations are made to the Mercer County Board of Health, to be the initial recommendations with the highest regard:

● The Mercer County Health Department will remain open.

● All practicing physicians are asked to submit E-Mail contact information for
updates. If information is not received, please reach out to the Mercer County
Health Department for the most updated information.

● This article references SARS-CoV-2, also known as COVID or COVID-19.

● The Mercer County Health Department should hold businesses accountable for
following the guidelines.

Current Recommendations:

● Social distancing guidelines which are currently implemented are asked to be continually observed; a minimum of 6 feet between persons, with preferably more distance as appropriate.

● Mask use with appropriate particulate filtering design is required by executive order issued by Governor Justice. If individuals between 2 and 9 years of age are able to wear appropriate face coverings, this is recommended. Furthermore, those who cannot wear appropriate face masks due to medical conditions are asked to wear face shields, as appropriate. Those who cannot remove a mask/shield (unconscious or due to a medical condition), should not wear a mask, however should self isolate. This is per CDC guidelines.

● All public buildings are required to have signage regarding mask usage located slightly above the door handle, or if on an automatic door, slightly above where a door handle would be located.

● A greeter should be present at entrances of public places to request all who enter wear a mask.

● Masks should cover the nose, and sit under the eyes. When worn correctly, nostrils should not be visible. If glasses are worn, and fogging is an issue, a piece of tape can be placed over the bridge of the nose to prevent condensation formation.

● Masks with vents or exhalation valves are not appropriate and should not be used. This is not an effective filter device, and will spread particles into the environment.

● Eye protection is recommended to decrease spread and transmittance. Appropriate eyewear should enclose the eyes to the best possible method including the sides, top, bottoms of the glasses/goggles.

● Public places of business must enforce social distancing guidelines and capacity recommendations.

● Regularly used objects (door handles, sinks, chairs, etc.) should be cleaned frequently. Places of dining should clean tables/chairs/booths after each use with an appropriate cleaner. Reusable items for culinary purposes (salt/pepper), and menus should be single use. If these are not available, then extensive cleaning should occur between uses.

● Devices or procedures to open doors with minimal touching are recommended for commonly used public walkways:

○ Bellman or Bellwoman, Host or Hostess
○ Hands free door opener where one can use their shoe (commonly used, but
not limited to restrooms).

● Restaurant buffets, and self service items are suspended. Service employees may
provide food products, drinks/refills, and condiments in prepackaged/served
allotments.

● Regular hand washing with soap and water is preferred, however handsanitization is recommended after physical contact with any public object. It is recommended to not touch unnecessary objects as this can cause transmission of SARS-CoV-2.

● Emergency Medical Personnel and essential public services (EMS, Fire/Rescue, Law Enforcement, Utilities, etc), are to minimize time in citizen homes, and follow social distance guidelines unless necessary to intervene. Regarding 911 services:

○ EMS units will utilize exhaust/ventilation devices in ambulances to decrease particles and thus transmittance. Any individual in public service should wear at a minimum full mask, eye protection, and gloves. Personal protective equipment beyond the basic standards are recommended, however deferred to the responding agency and the level of risk of the response.
○ When multiple individuals are in a home, it should be asked that nonessential people relocate outside in affording responder safety and appropriate social distancing.

○ In settings where patients are stable, or in the event a patient needs transport out of a SARS-CoV-2 treatment/holding area, the patient should be moved to the appropriate exit; allowing prehospital providers to assume care of the patient with appropriate handoff. This prevents exposure to the prehospital providers to the SARS-CoV-2 holding area/unit. A patient with known SARS-CoV-2 should not be transferred through a “clean,” or SARS-CoV-2 negative unit unless no other route is possible.
○ After transport of a known or suspected SARS-CoV-2 patient, full decontamination should follow of the vehicle, stretcher, and medical equipment.

● A patient with known infection of SARS-CoV-2, or of high risk awaiting testing, should be isolated from the remainder of the population.

● Individuals assigned to work in a SARS-CoV-2 treatment area should enter and exit once daily with the strictest of Donning and Doffing procedure. Lunch and breaks should be taken within the SARS-CoV-2 area, however separate from patients in a safe and appropriate environment to keep employees safe and isolated while eating and drinking. Different sets of clothes should be worn and remain at the SARS-Cov-2 facility. An example is wearing regular attire to work, changing into scrubs to be worn throughout the shift, and leaving the scrubs at the treatment facility for appropriate cleaning. Head/hair coverings/caps are also recommended. Where there is known positive SARS-CoV-2, shoe coverings can also be considered. Showers are recommended prior to returning to their families. No cloth garments are allowed to be worn out of a SARS-CoV-2 dedicated unit to the general population. For dedicated SARS-CoV-2 units, shoes should be left on site and not worn in public.

● Any supplies required during the day should be left in a non contact holding area, by individuals outside of the unit. Individuals inside the unit will then be able to gain access once the exterior individual has left the area.

● Additional air filtration (such as but not limited to HEPA filtration) is recommended in SARS-CoV-2 high risk areas.

● Patients in a SARS-CoV-2 treatment facility, not in a treatment unit and not testing positive, should be relocated to the best of ability and isolated (isolation per CDC guidelines) with the assumption they have been exposed. This is to prevent further transmittance of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

● Bar service should be suspended, with encouragement to use tables and chairs.

● Regular and frequent temperature/health screenings should occur for general
wellbeing. If an individual does not feel well, they should be excused. Individuals should also be evaluated for potential SARS-CoV-2 exposure and possible testing.

● Employers should have travel guidelines in place regarding furlough should an individual travel to an area of high incidence of SARS-CoV-2. If travel occurs to an area, appropriate isolation should follow.

● Individuals should promote contactless service when available for daily essentials, which are provided by multiple local businesses.

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