The Lincoln County Commission has declared a formal State of Emergency for the area as testing continues and local precautions against the novel coronavirus increase.
Joseph Kaimann, presiding commissioner of Lincoln County, announced the declaration on March 16 to support efforts to slow any potential spread of COVID-19 in the community.
This action allows the county the option of implementing measures deemed necessary for protection of life and property and the effective overall management of the emergency.
“The local (i.e. County) State of Emergency doesn’t really change anything, for us or for the community, at least not on a day-to-day basis,” Lincoln County Emergency Management Director Jim Sharp said in an email. “It does not commit us to any course of action, or require any specific measures, but it does open up some options that would not normally be available. For example, it gives me the authority, within reason, to re-assign people from their day-to-day jobs into positions relevant to the emergency. It gives me the authority (again, within reason) to request County assets like vehicles, equipment, etc., and re-assign them to an emergency capacity.”
There have been no positive test results in Lincoln County, as of March 23. One person is being monitored, three people have completed monitoring and 19 tests are currently pending. Three tests have come back negative.
Sarah Valenza, public information officer with the Lincoln County Health Department (LCHD), said social distancing is still heavily encouraged, as well as the other precautions set out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We would say playing it safe is really the right thing to do, especially when there’s any type of virus spreading in the community, especially one that’s new like this one,” Valenza said. “Reducing those social gatherings as much as you can and reducing that face-to-face contact is really going to help to reduce the spread of any disease in the community.” Older adults and people with underlying health conditions like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes are among the most at risk from coronavirus, Valenza said, and those groups are especially encouraged to practice social distancing.
The LCHD also advises the following:
• Restaurants close their dining rooms and move to drive through, carry out and delivery options.
• Events and social gatherings with 10 or more attendees should be cancelled.
The LCHD is still meeting daily on the situation and coordinating weekly with partners like the school districts.
Those meetings are running smoothly, Valenza said, and serve mostly to update the various stakeholders on how things continue to develop.
Meanwhile, local organizations and businesses are taking precautions as well. Mercy Hospital Lincoln has enacted a restricted visitor policy, with no visitors allowed with only a few exceptions:
• One visitor per OB patient
• Two visitors per NICU patient
• Two visitors per pediatric patient and only the same two visitors are allowed for the child’s length of stay. If the child is positive for COVID-19, they would then only be allowed one visitor. No sibling visitation is allowed for pediatric patients (includes newborn population).
• One visitor for urgent procedures
• Exceptions will be made for compassionate care circumstances
• Generally, adult behavioral health patients will not be allowed visitors, child/adolescent patients are limited to one visitor and supervised video visits are encouraged.
The Mercy hospital system also has opened a test collection site in Chesterfield, and SSM is offering virtual testing visits. For information on testing options, visit lchdmo.org/covid19-testing.
Toyota’s Troy plant has announced it will suspend production operations starting March 23, with production resuming on April 6.
“This action is being taken to help ensure the health and safety of our employees, and due to an anticipated decline in market demand related to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” a press release from Toyota stated. We will conduct a thorough cleaning at all of our manufacturing facilities during the shutdown. This also will allow Toyota employees to prepare and adjust family plans in relation to regional directives to close schools. The safety and security of our employees, stakeholders and community are a top priority and we will continue to monitor the situation and take action in a timely manner.”