Craig County staying “on the offense” of the COVID-19

Pam Dudding
Contributing writer

With the pandemic coronavirus (COVID-19) now spreading through the world, the United States has become plagued and that includes our neighboring counties.

Jim Cady, Craig County’s Emergency Management and Emergency Services Coordinator, has been busy as a bee in a sunflower farm to prepare Craig County to “stay on the offense” of this pandemic.

Darryl Humphreys using an electrostatic gun known for spraying a bleach solution in the air.

“We want to make sure our citizens receive exact information and not the posts or messages that are tweaked or become misunderstood and passed along,” Cady said. “Within our county, people just have to have patience for our systems to work.”

Craig residents respect the EMS teams that care for the county. The EMS team is working diligently to keep the community informed, so everyone can be as safe as possible, as quickly as possible.

Cady has a new Emergency Services Webpage designed for the county to keep citizens informed with the most recent information. The webpage, https://craigcountyva.gov/coronavisus-covid-19-information-2/, is also an avenue to communicate with the EMS department concerning citizen’s questions.

Current information includes the most updated reports from the Governor, local information and many reference links including DMV closures and online guidelines, Court non-emergency cases, utility disconnections, CDC guidelines, questions about animals and much more. “We are going to keep this website up to date for our community,” Cady assured.

Currently, there are four major individuals that are heading different avenues of Craig’s team.

Cady is directing the calls and information that comes from the Governor, as well as implementing precautions and designing protocols for the county. “No one enters any of the buildings without being immediately screened,” he said. “Each will be asked imperative questions as well as have their temperature taken before entering.”

“Mike Jones is a pharmacist and our information center,” he added. “We don’t want hearsay; he conducts extensive research and reports back to us.”

Humphreys, the Infectious Control Officer, has had formal training on Infectious Control Virus for the last four years. He and Jones oversee the environmental virus division, doing as much preventative maintenance as possible.

Humphreys explained they are using an Electrostatic gun (this borrowed from the school) that sprays a fine mist of a bleach solution into the air. “Once you spray, it electrostatically attaches to places under tables, into crevasses and the charge draws the bleach in. Spray a room and it gets everything covered. It then takes ten minutes to kill whatever virus is in the room.”

“We can’t thank the school enough for allowing us to use one of their guns,” Cady said. “These guns are in high demand and our order has still not been delivered though they were ordered weeks ago.”

The schools had been using this system since last year when they purchased the guns to combat flu viruses. Superintendent Jeanette Warwick said it had helped them to cut down on the flu outbreak at the schools.

Humphreys has sprayed the EMS offices and buildings, Courtroom, the Board of Supervisors, some police vehicles and many others and is currently setting up schedules to complete other offices.

Also being sprayed are the EMS units and they will be sprayed after every call as well.

“This spray will be used in the public places only,” Humphreys said.

They cannot spray individuals’ homes. People are encouraged to use disinfectants or diffuse sage oil or boil sage, which is a natural substance. The Emporium carries natural disinfectant sprays as well.

“We have no idea of who is a carrier with no symptoms,” Humphries stressed. “It is already in the area, so we are going to do it after every EMS call. This way we eliminate the possibility of transmission if that person is a carrier and we do not know.”

Kermit Daniel recently came on board to assist the team with his expertise. He is a retired Vice President of BB&T, and Cady asked him to help track all of the expenses for the county, as the county has to apply for FEMA money at the end of the pandemic.

Cady shared that there is a multitude of expenses the county has that is related to this epidemic protocol, including many expenses beyond standard operations.

Daniel will also work with small businesses and citizens in surviving during this time, for survivability and recovery for small businesses.

“We’re not just sitting here waiting for it to hit us,” Cady expressed. “We are busy in trying to be ahead of this.”

Cady added, “We have a severe shortage of PPE (personal protective equipment) but so does the whole nation. We were one of the first ones to put an emergency plan together at the state level and as soon as the Governor declared an emergency, we declared one here and requested equipment.”

However, due to the extreme need, the government has received most of the equipment first because they are in need of masks, gowns and gloves.

Cady said that Humphreys has been diligent in finding items and some volunteer organizations have shared theirs. He also ordered some suits from Lowe’s which is what they call overkill, but they can’t get the gowns they need so they are improvising as much as possible.

“If we do not get some help with the Federal Government in a week or two, we may run out of ways to protect ourselves as everything is on backorder,” Humphries said. “We may not receive our orders until after the peak.”

A recent message noted that the federal government is giving the state some equipment. They hope it will be distributed to the EMS services.

“We are trying to stay ahead of it right now,” Cady said. “We do not want this to spread throughout Craig County.” Anyone who tests positive for the coronavirus is encouraged to contact their local office immediately.

“We know it’s coming,” Cady said.

Added Humphries, “It could possibly already be here, just not identified yet.”

Cady also noted that if UPS brings you a package, allow it to sit for at least 30-60 minutes and then bring it in.

Humphries shared, “Try to maintain your six-foot distance and if you cannot find the Clorox wipes, combine two tablespoons of bleach to 32 ounces of water. However, after about a 12 to 24-hour period, it degrades.”

“These next couple of weeks are critical,” Cady informed. “People need to isolate themselves and be serious about it.”

He explained that true isolation means that one doesn’t run to the grocery store or convenience store to pick up things. People are encouraged to get items they need to stay in your personal home for two weeks.

It’s proven that all it takes is one person to go into one of the stores and touch things such as the buggies, ATM machines, checkouts, bathroom or doors and for the next several hours, the people who touch that service has now been infected with the virus.

“This is a serious time,” Cady stressed. “This thing is real. Please stay home, clean and self-isolate.” Take care of your parents and the elderly people. The younger people almost have a 100 percent recovery.”

However, he also stressed to be attentive to a very important fact that “anyone can be a carrier.” There is still hope and with much cooperation and prayer, this comm-UNITY will survive well.

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