Updates on City Response to COVID-19 Virus Week of March 16, 2020

Scroll below for all postings regarding COVID-19.

MARCH 20, 2020: In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, the City of Staunton continues to enhance its response with the following actions: 

As of 5 p.m. on Monday, March 23, 2020 City Hall and the Irene Givens Administration Building in Montgomery Hall Park will be closed to the public. Citizens will have uninterrupted access to city staff for continued services to the greatest extent possible. A new online resource will go live Monday with streamlined access for the public to take care of their city needs.

Effective immediately the Police Department is suspending its ride-along program and significantly curtailing public fingerprinting services.  The department will still assist individuals who need fingerprinting for employment purposes.  Individuals are encouraged to call 540.332.3842 before visiting the police if they have any questions relating to fingerprinting.

Available Resources

  • For families in need of food, Staunton City Schools has prepared a list of places in Staunton distributing food.

Tips

 


MARCH 19, 2020: In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, the City of Staunton continues to enhance its response with the following actions: 

City Council Announcement. Read the City Council’s announcement on further response measures online at https://www.ci.staunton.va.us/Home/Components/News/News/1637/71 if you missed it this morning.

Meeting Recording. If you were unable to tune in to yesterday’s emergency City Council meeting or unable to hear the entire meeting, email communications@ci.staunton.va.us to request a downloadable mp3 file.

Parks and Recreation. The little league fields in Gypsy Hill Park are now locked. Please remember that events or activities with 10 or more participants, including team baseball practice, are prohibited.

Free Tax Forms. Since the Staunton Public Library is closed to customers, the tax forms usually available can be found in City Hall. They’re on the first floor right inside the main door, by the Treasurer’s Office.  

Voting. If you are planning to vote in the May 5, 2020 local election, you can vote by mail due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Visit our website, https://www.ci.staunton.va.us/departments/registrar, to find out how you can request an application for a ballot. If possible, please conduct business with the voter registration office by phone or email, or online.

Conducting Business with City Departments. City offices are presently open for business.  But with many city employees telecommuting, if you do need to visit city hall, you may see signs on doors advising you of a telephone number and an email address where you can reach a representative of the department. Below is list of some of our departments and how you can reach them for your needs:

  • Community Development asks for your patience as they continue to serve citizens without increasing risk to customers and staff. Visit their website, https://www.ci.staunton.va.us/departments/community-development, for temporary permitting and inspections procedures/policies during the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Office On Youth programs are currently canceled or postponed, but staff will continue to take referrals for future programs and classes. All court and school ordered youth services are continuing, but contacts may be modified. If you have questions, please visit www.officeonyouth.com, or call 540.332.3806 or 540.942.6757.
  • Blue Ridge Court Services. In an effort to reduce the possibility of transmission this highly contagious virus, effective March 19, 2020, and until April 3, 2020, Blue Ridge Court Services (BRCS) will no longer perform face to face interviews for pretrial investigations at the Middle River Regional Jail (MRRJ).In the interim, the office will provide bond memos and criminal history information and is working with MRRJ to set up video conferencing. BRCS will continue to be open and provide ongoing services to the courts and clients.  Based on guidance from the Virginia Department of Health, the office will be limiting face to face contacts with clients until further notice.  Staff are making liberal use of telephone contacts and collateral contacts with clients. 
  • Staunton Circuit Court, in order to help eliminate the need for people to come in person to the office, is encouraging everyone to visit the court’s website at http://www.ci.staunton.va.us/departments/clerk-of-circuit-court for more information on the services provided. If you have any questions, call the office at 540.332.3874.

We strongly encourage those who need to do business with the city, to use www.ci.staunton.va.us for online services or to transact city business by telephone or email.  A city directory is accessible at https://www.ci.staunton.va.us/government/contact-us.

Community Resources. There are a number of resources available in the area to businesses and individuals. We will try to share them here and on our social media as we find out about them. Some are listed below:

  • In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, BRITE Bus is offering free rides on all fixed and paratransit routes beginning Monday, March 23 and extending through April 31, 2020. Up-to-date information regarding any service or operational changes due to COVID-19 will be posted on www.britebus.org, and the BRITE bus Facebook and Twitter pages. During this time of uncertainty, BRITE bus is committed to assisting community personnel get to and from work and residents who must travel within the community do so.
  • The Staunton Downtown Development Association has assembled a list of downtown business operations and details. The list, available at https://www.stauntondowntown.org/business-openings-info/, will continue to be updated as new information develops.

Social Security. Effective March 17, 2020 all local Social Security offices will be closed to the public for in-person service. This decision protects the population they serve—older Americans and people with underlying medical conditions—and their employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, their secure and convenient online services remain available at www.socialsecurity.gov and local offices will also continue to provide critical services over the phone. You can reach them at 1.800.772.1213.

Augusta Health. As of this morning, Waynesboro Urgent Care is now the COVID-19 Assessment Center.  The center will be limiting all ambulatory services to respiratory related illnesses and will be dedicated to seeing, assessing, treating, and educating patients who present with signs and symptoms potentially associated with COVID-19. 

If you think you or a resident may have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or shortness of breath, call your healthcare provider for medical advice or reach out to the Waynesboro Urgent Care COVID-19 Assessment Center. DO NOT just show up in ER unless there is difficulty breathing!  Augusta Medical Group providers and practices, along with the centralized call center will begin diverting appropriate patients to the Waynesboro Urgent Care/COVID-19 Assessment Center. The phone number for Augusta Health's Centralized Call Center is 1.833.242.4584.


 

Staunton City Council Announces Further Response Measures

MARCH 19, 2020: Staunton City Council is expressing continued resolve and appreciation as city staff, residents, businesses, and visitors respond to the unprecedented and rapidly evolving situation caused by the continued spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and is announcing several immediate actions to provide relief and support to the community.

Council is actively engaged in deploying all resources at the city’s disposal to protect, to the greatest extent possible, the health and welfare of its residents, businesses, visitors, and employees based on widely accepted guidance provided by trusted public health officials.  At Council’s meeting on Wednesday, March 18, Council voted to adopt a resolution confirming the city’s official declaration of a local emergency, which will provide access to federal and state level response tools.  New local measures were also approved, including discontinuation of parking fees for the Johnson Street and New Street parking garages and the Wharf parking lot.  Additionally, Council has discontinued water disconnections on delinquent accounts so that people have access to clean water during the virus outbreak.  These measures will be reevaluated on April 15.  Additional initiatives are under active review and will be considered at Council’s next meeting.

“While this is obviously a very concerning and significantly disruptive situation, I want to reassure our community that the city’s COVID-19 response team is working in close collaboration with local, regional and state partners to ensure a coordinated and seamless response,” said Mayor Carolyn Dull.  “We are evaluating and adapting our operational approaches and procedures, in some cases on an hourly basis, to ensure the best possible access to city programs and services especially for the most vulnerable in our community.”

The city anticipates a continuing need to communicate urgent and up to date information to the public and encourages community members to follow the city Facebook page and refer frequently to the Staunton website www.ci.staunton.va.us/COVID-19 to stay abreast of the latest developments.

“We are very aware of the anxiety and economic hardship being caused by this global pandemic and are extremely grateful for the calm and compassionate actions we see occurring in our community even as individuals struggle with their own concerns.  We are particularly grateful to city employees who are living the best values of public service in their day to day work,” said Mayor Dull.   “We encourage the public to continue to seek out trusted expert public health sources such as the CDC and the Virginia Department of Health for information to help with personal, family and business decision making.”


 

MARCH 18, 2020: In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, the City of Staunton continues to enhance its response with the following actions: 

Stay Tuned in to the City.  There are multiple ways to stay in touch with the city as the spread of COVID-19 continues.

  1. Sign up for e-notifications. You are able to sign up with your email and contact information and receive notification on topics of your choice (news releases, event updates, meetings, etc.). You can do that online at https://www.ci.staunton.va.us/residents/enotification-sign-up.
  2. Sign up for emergency alerts.You’re encouraged to sign up for the Staunton Alert Message to get notifications of emergencies in our area. You can receive text notifications, phone notifications and more. Sign up online at https://member.everbridge.net/892807736722939/login
  3. Follow us on social media.Staunton’s Facebook page is updated on a constant basis and often-times has the most up-to-date information. Make sure to like our page and follow us at https://www.facebook.com/CityofStaunton/.

DMV.  All of Virginia’s Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) offices and mobile units are closed to the public until April 2. Online services remain available at www.dmv.virginia.gov. If your license or registration expires before May 15 and you cannot renew online, DMV will grant a 60-day extension. Reminder: the DMV event at City Hall on March 31 has been cancelled.

Staunton Public Library. The Library is now offering curbside pick-up service. Pick-up service will be offered Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Saturdays from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. All items checked out via curbside pick-up will be due on April 16 at the earliest. For more information on their available resources during this time, please visit https://www.ci.staunton.va.us/departments/library/library-response-to-covid-19.

Resources available. There are a number of resources available in the area to businesses and individuals. We will try to share them here and on our social media as we find out about them. Some are listed below:

  • The Greater Augusta Regional Chamber of Commerce has a resource page set up on its website that links to more resources for businesses and also lists many of the restaurants in the area that are offering curbside service. You can find that page at https://www.augustava.com/covid-19-resources.
  • Mutual Aid SAW is a citizen-created place for the residents of Staunton, Augusta and Waynesboro to give and receive volunteer, person-to-person assistance for logistical issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can learn more about them at http://mutualaidsaw.com/.
  • The Virginia Department of Health Hotline for questions related to COVID-19 is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. The toll-free number is 1.855.949.8378.

City Offices and Staffing Adjustments.  City offices are presently open for business.  However, city hall may look a little different to visitors.  Starting tomorrow, Thursday, March 19, many city employees will be authorized to telecommute.  This measure is taken in accordance with federal guidelines released yesterday encouraging individuals to work from home whenever possible.  If you do need to visit city hall, you may see signs on doors advising you of a telephone number and an email address where you can reach a representative of the department.

We strongly encourage those who need to do business with the city, to use www.ci.staunton.va.us for online services or to transact city business by telephone or email.  A city directory is accessible at https://www.ci.staunton.va.us/government/contact-us.


 

March 17 Update on City Response to COVID-19 Virus 

MARCH 17, 2020: In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, the City of Staunton continues to enhance its response with the following actions: 

Events (Updated).  To reflect updated guidance from the federal and state governments, no events or activities with 10 or more participants are permitted on city property or in city facilities through April 15.  The city will reassess conditions in mid-April to determine whether an extension of this restriction is warranted.

Public Meetings.  The following public meetings have been cancelled:

            Planning Commission – Thursday, March 19

            Historic Preservation Commission – Tuesday, March 24

Public Bathrooms at City Parks.  Public bathrooms in both Montgomery Hall and Gypsy Hill parks will be closed effective Wednesday, March 18, at 7:30 a.m.  While the parks remain open, their use has increased significantly.  As a result, it has become difficult to maintain an appropriate standard of cleanliness in the restrooms that will keep both the public and our employees safe. 

Staff Assistance with Restaurant Takeout.  In coordination with the Staunton Downtown Development Association, the public works and police departments will work together to expand loading zones downtown to accommodate what is expected to be an increase in takeout business at restaurants.

Visitor Center.  Consistent with recent closings of state welcome centers and other visitor centers in the region, the Staunton Visitor Center, located at 35 S. New St., will be closed from Wednesday, March 18, through Wednesday, April 15.  For more information, please contact Staunton Tourism at 540.332.3865 or tourism@visitstaunton.com, or visit the website at www.VisitStaunton.com 

City Offices and Staffing Adjustments.  City offices are presently open for business.  However, city hall may look a little different to visitors.  Effective Thursday, March 19, many city employees will be authorized to telecommute.  This measure is taken in accordance with federal guidelines released yesterday encouraging individuals to work from home whenever possible.  If you do need to visit city hall, you may see signs on doors advising you of a telephone number and an email address where you can reach a representative of the department. 

We strongly encourage those who need to do business with the city, to use www.ci.staunton.va.us for online services or to transact city business by telephone or email.  A city directory is accessible at https://www.ci.staunton.va.us/government/contact-us.

 

 


 

City of Staunton Declares Local Emergency

MARCH 16, 2020: Following decisions by the President of the United States to proclaim a national emergency and the Governor of Virginia to declare a state of emergency in the Commonwealth of Virginia, in response to the continued spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the City of Staunton has officially declared a local emergency as of 1:30 p.m. on March 16.

The emergency declaration enables Staunton to draw on additional resources to prepare for and coordinate the city’s response to the potential spread of the virus.  Specifically, the declaration will allow the city to pursue reimbursements that may be available from the federal and state governments as a result of their declarations, among other response tools.

Staunton’s emergency declaration does not change any guidance or protocols previously issued by the city.  Residents should continue to consult trusted and verified sources like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Virginia Department of Health at the links below for guidelines on preparedness:

To the city’s knowledge, there have not yet been any positive tests for the virus in our area.  Our emergency services community continues to work collaboratively with other key partners and the city’s COVID-19 Response Team to coordinate efforts and monitor evolving conditions in these dynamic circumstances.

The public is reminded that this is a rapidly developing situation and is encouraged to follow the City of Staunton’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/CityofStaunton) or to visit the city’s website at (https://www.ci.staunton.va.us/COVID-19) frequently to stay abreast of new information.

The city’s declaration of local of emergency is expected to be confirmed by City Council on March 26.

Read the full text of the declaration.

 


 

Staunton Provides Update on City Response to COVID-19 Virus

MARCH 16, 2020:  The City of Staunton’s COVID-19 Response Team convened on Friday, March 13, for its first formal meeting to initiate specific actions to address the rapidly evolving public health situation involving the virus and potential impacts to the local community.  The team comprises senior managers from critical areas of local government.  In consultation with the Virginia Department of Health, the city announces the following changes to its operations: 

Events.  In response to recent developments, including yesterday’s guidance from the Centers for Disease Control to cancel or postpone events with 50 or more participants, no events or activities with 50 or more participants are permitted on city property or in city facilities through April 15.  Events with fewer than 50 participants will be evaluated by city staff on a case-by-case basis.  The city will reassess conditions in mid-April to determine whether an extension of this restriction is warranted.  While the city regrets the inconvenience and disruption that may be caused by this announcement, significant concerns about public health and safety require that this action be taken. 

Public Access to City Offices.  City offices are presently open for business.  However, to minimize the risk of transmission of the virus, we strongly encourage individuals to use www.ci.staunton.va.us for online services or to transact city business by telephone or email.  A city directory is accessible at https://www.ci.staunton.va.us/government/contact-us

Staunton Public Library.  Through April 15, the Staunton Public Library is closed.  Library staff will provide separately a summary of digital resources and will remain available to assist patrons by telephone and email. 

HEART Programs.  As announced previously, Staunton Parks and Recreation’s HEART before and after school programs are suspended and will resume when Staunton City Schools reopen. 

Staunton Parks and Recreation.  All other programs, activities and events conducted in facilities managed by Staunton Parks and Recreation are suspended through April 15.  City parks, including Gypsy Hill Golf Course but excluding indoor facilities, remain open for use by individuals.   

 The city continues to encourage the public to consult trusted and verified information sources in making decisions for themselves, their families and their businesses. 

The public is reminded to continue checking the City of Staunton website (https://www.ci.staunton.va.us/COVID-19) for further developments concerning the city’s response to COVID-19.

 

 


 

March 12, 2020:  The City of Staunton is sharing additional information concerning the city’s preparations for the COVID-19 virus.  This information was provided to City Council on March 12, following a presentation by Dr. Laura Kornegay, Director of the Central Shenandoah Health District. 

While significant uncertainties continue, the city’s planning is motivated by a desire to protect, to the greatest extent possible, the health and welfare of its residents, visitors and employees based on widely accepted guidance provided by expert public health officials. 

The city has formally established a COVID-19 Response Team to ensure that preparations are comprehensive, reasonable and based on the most accurate and up-to-date information available.

 Initially, the city’s efforts are focused in two areas—continuity of operations and public gatherings.  In the area of continuity of operations, the city’s intention is to maintain core, essential services, such as law enforcement services, emergency services, refuse collection and water and sewer services.  The city will ensure that employees who provide these essential services are properly equipped to ensure their own personal safety.  Planning is also underway to facilitate work-from-home arrangements for as many city employees as possible, should that become advisable.  The city will consult with the Virginia Department of Health before implementation, and will continue to use expert public health guidance to inform decision making. 

In the city’s second area of initial focus, public gatherings, city officials are aware of guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control, recommending—when there is a minimal to moderate level of community transmission of the virus—the cancellation of events with more than 250 participants.  Each year, the city permits numerous special events on city property, and conducts its own events and programs, many of which exceed this threshold.  Once the virus becomes present in or near the city, the city will consider cancellation of events and programs, again in consultation with the health department. 

While addressing these operational issues, city officials are also aware of the potential economic impact on local businesses and the resulting fiscal impact on the city.  In the short term, they will evaluate those potential impacts and plan for them. 

The City of Staunton website is the city’s central communication vehicle and will continue to serve as a portal to verified information sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and the Virginia Department of Health to help in individual and business planning and decision making.  The public is encouraged to stay informed and engaged as the situation continues to develop.

 

 


MARCH 6, 2020:  The Coronavirus Disease 2019, otherwise known as COVID-19, is a respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus that was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and has now spread to multiple countries, including the United States.

The City of Staunton government is actively monitoring the situation in coordination with public health and emergency management officials in order to be well prepared if any response becomes necessary in our community.  The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Virginia Department of Health are the best sources of information about coronavirus, and members of the public and the business community are strongly encouraged to review this information, evaluate their particular situations and take precautions as recommended. 

The Virginia Department of Health has established a call center for questions related to COVID-19, 877-ASK-VDH3 (or 877-275-8343).  You can also call the local office of the Virginia Department of Health at 540-332-7830.

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