LOGAN — A “state of emergency” has been declared in Logan County in response to the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Logan County Commission President Danny Godby signed the declaration Tuesday, March 17, which, along with Gov. Jim Justice’s state emergency declaration, sets up measures to prevent the spread of the disease. One such measure the county is taking is the implementation of work schedules with each officeholder at the courthouse in order to reduce the workforce in the building.
The Logan County Courthouse initially began operating at a skeleton crew of around 50% staffing on a single day basis, but in an interview with The Logan Banner on Sunday, Logan County Administrator Rocky Adkins announced that the county will begin taking even further steps to prevent COVID-19 from becoming a crisis situation within the county.
Beginning Monday, March 23, county offices are urged to cut back even more, and screening is now taking place at the front door access of the courthouse.
“It is totally clear to everyone that this virus issue is going to continue to escalate, which tells us that it’s even more important for there to be social distancing,” Adkins said. “We’re asking the people to avoid foot traffic into the courthouse in any means they can.”
Adkins said that during the screening, you can be expected to be asked why you are at the courthouse. It will then be determined if your physical visit is necessary or if your business can be completed via telephone or other means. No visitor with a cough or any signs of illness will be allowed inside the building.
Visitors to the courthouse will only be allowed to enter for the specific purpose they intended.
“We want people to understand that they should be staying at home, if at all possible, and trying their best to help us manage this not becoming a crisis for our county,” Adkins said.
Employees not working in the courthouse on a given day are working from home instead.
“It lets them (county offices) rotate their employees, but also, the employees that are actually at home are also working at home,” Adkins said. “Just because they’re home, that means their workplace that day is at their home, and so we’re still managing everything that needs to happen.”
To limit the amount of people congregating in the courthouse, Adkins and the commission are urging the public to call county offices first to check if their business can be achieved via telephone instead of visiting in person for at least two to four weeks.
“If you have business here, please call beforehand to find out if it’s necessary for you to come to the courthouse,” Adkins said. “We may be able to limit where you might be going in the courthouse by someone meeting you at the front door with whatever information you are looking for, or printing out whatever you need and bringing it to you. It’s about trying to separate people. Social distancing is the key to slowing down or negating what’s happening.”
The Logan County Commission is updated by the Logan County Health Department and Logan Regional Medical Center on an hourly basis, Adkins said. The commission is also working closely with the Logan Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) and Logan County Emergency Services on the matter.
Additionally, the county is working to supply employees and the Sheriff’s Department with necessary items to keep them protected, such as gloves when handling money.
Phone numbers for county offices include:
- County Commission: 304-792-8626
- Logan Chamber of Commerce: 304-752-1324
- County Clerk: 304-792-8600
- Assessor: 304-792-8520
- Health Department: 304-792-8630
- Sheriff’s Department: 304-792-8590
- Tax Office: 304-792-8680
- WV Extension Office: 304-792-8690
- Circuit Clerk: 304-792-8550
- Probation Office: 304-792-8516
- Magistrate Court: 304-792-8650
- Family Court: 304-792-7038
- Child Advocacy Center: 304-792-6261
- Prosecutor: 304-792-8670
- Home Confinement: 304-792-8605
- Day Report: 304-792-8649
- Emergency Management: 304-752-0917
- 911 Center (Non-Emergency): 304-752-7662
Logan County Health Department Director Steve Browning said the county is prepared to erect up to four drive-through COVID-19 testing facilities — at least one in Man, Logan and Chapmanville — if necessary. Testing will be achieved by administering a regular flu swab and having the sample sent off to be tested by a separate lab, as there are no specific COVID-19 test kits currently available in Logan County.
“The plans are in place, and we have people in the right spots to be able to deal with it as it comes up and move forward with it,” Browning said. “We’re getting supplies, not quite what we wanted from the state, but we’re getting them in and we’re going to start to, hopefully, be able to get some of that out to the first responders that are in need of those things.”
According to Browning, test sites will, theoretically, allow an individual to drive up and be screened, and if they meet certain criteria, a worker will take their insurance or whatever they have and that person will be taken to a station to be swabbed inside their car. The swab will be carefully packed, sealed and sent for lab testing.
If a person does not meet the criteria, they will not be tested due to the limited number of swabs available. Browning said the criteria changes on a recurring basis, but currently includes showing of symptoms, travel history and age.
“That changes daily, and there’s a lot of different criteria, and as of right now, it’s one thing, tomorrow it could be slightly different,” Browning said. “They will have to meet what the current criteria is to be tested.”
Browning is hopeful that the county can acquire specific COVID-19 testing kits at some point, but does not expect it quickly due to West Virginia being the last state to identify a positive case.
“I’m certain that the federal government is going to ramp up the volume of tests that’s out there,” Browning said. “I don’t know the timeframe on that yet. Seeing that, as a state, we are the last to get a positive case, most of the other supplies are going to the states where it’s more prevalent. Ultimately, yes, I do anticipate us getting some, but I don’t know at what point that would be.”
Following CDC guidelines, Browning urges Logan County residents to:
- Regularly wash and thoroughly clean your hands; if soap and water is not available, use an alcohol-based cleanser with at least 60%-90% alcohol
- Maintain “social distancing” techniques of six feet or more of separation with anyone
- Avoid touching your face
- If someone around you is sick, make sure they are quarantined
- If you think you are sick, stay home; if you have to go somewhere, call ahead first for further advice
- Use proper techniques for covering sneezing and coughing
- Properly sanitize homes and workspaces