Tazewell County Courthouse ...

TAZEWELL, Va. — Tazewell County and the Town of Bluefield have both declared a State of Emergency.

The county Board of Supervisors held an emergency meeting Friday afternoon and found that, based on the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) throughout Virginia and neighboring states, “there is an imminent threat to the public health and safety of the residents of Tazewell County.”

So far, no one in Tazewell County has tested positive for COVID-19. But one test was positive in Roanoke, the first in Southwest Virginia, and another in contiguous Mercer County, W.Va.

The board said the county is preparing as though the disease will begin spreading through the community at any time.

The State of Emergency will help County Administration Eric Young to operate without normal procurement procedures and to spend without having board approval for the transfer of funds from one budget category to another.

“This declaration prepares us to react quickly in the event we need resources to combat the spread of the disease and treat residents who have fallen ill,” Young said. “At this point the declaration is another precautionary step we are taking. What we ask of our residents has not changed: The board asks that Tazewell County residents follow the Virginia Department of Health guidelines for our region.”

Those guideline include frequent and thorough hand washing, keeping a distance of six feet from other persons, avoid touching your eyes and nose, and not gathering in groups of more than 10 persons.

Residents also should frequently clean surfaces they often touch, such as door knobs, light switches, steering wheels, and countertops. The recommendations also include staying home if you are sick, and coughing into your elbow.

County offices and the Courthouse will remain open on the reduced hours determined by the board earlier in the week, which includes closing at noon on Fridays and not opening until noon on Mondays.

The county Visitor’s Centers, Animal Shelter, Public Library, and Building Inspections Office remain closed to visitors. Please check the Tazewell County website regarding internet access to these services.

“The board continues to remain in regular contact with federal and state agencies regarding the virus,” Young said. “The Board will re-evaluate these decisions on a daily basis in response to advice from the Department of Health and CDC and provide further public information regarding any other necessary COVID-19 related actions the board takes.”

The Town of Bluefield has also declared a Local Emergency in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and starting Monday town buildings will be closed to the public.

“What we doing is taking extra precautions to limit the spread of it,” said Town Manager Mike Watson. “We are trying to follow what the Virginia Department of Health is recommending to protect the public and our staff.”

The purpose of the declaration is to “increase the ability to provide continued access to critical services and to provide the authority and resources necessary.”

Watson said that means all buildings will be closed to the public starting March 23 and will continue to be closed until further notice.

“We will continue to operate as a normal schedule,” he said. “The doors will be posted with contact numbers and procedures to follow if you need assistance.”

Watson said the Bluefield Virginia Police Department will continue to allow access for emergencies, but non-emergency issues will be referred to other communications.

Events and activities scheduled by the town that involve more than 10 people are being cancelled or rescheduled, he said.

All payments ot the town should be made to the Treasurer’s Office and will be accepted by drive-through, online and mail.

Watson said that on Monday, Graham Transit will begin limiting passengers to seven on all routes.

“I apologize for any inconvenience, however, health and safety is our main concern,” he said.

More information will be available in the future as things change on the town’s website and Facebook page or by calling town hall at 276-322-4626.

— Contact Charles Boothe at cboothe@bdtonline.com

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