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Mayor's Office

Posted on: March 4, 2020

City Government Preparing in Case Coronavirus Impacts Winston-Salem

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NEWS RELEASE
Office of the Mayor
March 4, 2020

In light of the continued spread of the coronavirus, the city is taking steps to ensure that critical municipal operations continue to function if there is a serious outbreak in Winston-Salem, Mayor Allen Joines said.

"We are taking this situation seriously," Joines said. "City government is responsible for police, fire, sanitation and other critical services that our citizens depend upon, and we are working to ensure we can continue to provide those services in the event that an outbreak impacts our workforce."

City Manager Lee Garrity has ordered city departments to come up with contingency plans for continuing to operate if staffing levels were down 25 percent or 50 percent due to the virus. "That’s not necessarily because that many folks would be sick, but because we might also have employees who are unable to come to work because of sick children or parents," Garrity said. "I’ve asked our critical departments to aggressively determine how many employees could work from home if it were to become necessary, and to start making those arrangements now.

"We’re also making sure we have appropriate personal protective equipment for our first responders," he said. 

Critical departments include Police, Fire, Utilities, Sanitation, Information Systems, City Link and others.

"We are very confident in the pandemic plan for the community that the county has in place, so we are primarily focusing on our operations," Garrity said. 

Joines said that planning for a community-wide response is well underway. "All local agencies that would be involved, including the Forsyth County Public Health Department, local hospitals, EMS and others, are working closely so that the Health Department’s pandemic and isolation/quarantine plans can be implemented smoothly if it becomes necessary. There will be a detailed briefing on this work within the next week."

In the meantime, Joines said, "I urge all of our citizens to start practicing now those habits that can help protect themselves and others from catching or spreading the disease."

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services says residents should:

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water, and for at least 20 seconds each time.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are ill.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Do not reuse tissue after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched.

More information, including links with guidance for businesses, employers and schools, is posted on the website for the Forsyth County Public Health Department, www.co.forsyth.nc.us/PublicHealth/.

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