MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The Monongalia County Health Department has released COVID-19 related orders for residents and businesses within the county.
Last Friday, Gov. Jim Justice issued an additional order to counties with higher confirmed COVID-19 cases, which included Monongalia County. Since then, officials within the county released a new set of guidelines to be followed. This includes new business guidelines and an order that advised residents to wear masks while out in public.
According to a release from the Monongalia County Health Department (MCHD), all citizens in the county are recommended to wear a mask or face covering while out in public.
“Infected people with, or without, symptoms of illness may spread this virus by simply breathing, talking, singing or yelling,” the release stated. “All these actions will create aerosols of tiny airborne virus particles that can float suspended in air for three hours. Because people may not be effectively covering their sneezes and coughs, masks and facial coverings are more important to protect the public and each other from this disease.”
The release also explained that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending this change as well, especially at places where people congregate such as stores and public transportation. Health officials stressed that what the citizens of Monongalia County do now, will have a huge impact on how the county fares from the pandemic in the next few weeks.
Officials explained that to be effective, any cloth face covering should:
- Fit snugly, but comfortably against sides of the face
- Secured with ear loops
- be made with multiple layers of fabric
- allow for breathing without restriction
- be laundered and dried without damage or change to shape.
Health officials explained that for additional information, as well as instructions on making masks at home should go to the CDC’s website, which can be found by clicking here.
Business guideline order:
MCHD released an order that details how essential businesses still operating in the county are able to follow Gov. Justice’s executive order that went into affect Tuesday.
The release stated that the Governor’s order, “limits outdoor activities to a five-person gathering while maintaining social distancing of at least six feet from each other. All essential businesses shall order their employees and/or contractors, to the maximum extent possible, to work from home or residence, or to otherwise work remotely.”
The MCHD has been instructed to establish and enforce any precautions that will limit occupancy of any business that remains open to the public “on an individual-per-square basis.”
The release explained that the order also authorized MCHD to quarantine any individuals, to help prevent the spread of any infectious or communicable diseases. Any resident of Monongalia County who has a critical need for goods and services, and is unable to obtain them, is being encouraged by MCHD to call WV 211 United Way Information and Referral Line to seek assistance.
Here are the guidlines put into place by the MCHD for businesses that are staying open:
- Implement a plan to limit staff to essential personnel only.
- Implement social distancing practices within and around the workplace including remaining six feet away from others.
- Supply adequate disinfectant and hygienic supplies to employees, such as wipes or spray, hand sanitizer, soap and water, and, when at all possible, face masks and gloves.
- Provide protective barriers for employees exposed to the general public. These may include safety glasses, masks and plexiglass shields.
- Any businesses permitted or choosing to remain open and requiring employees to report to work shall establish access restrictions and follow these guidelines:
- No more than two individual members of the public may enter into the business per 1,000 square feet of public space at any given time.
- To ensure the number of people per square foot is not exceeded, the business shall keep track of the number of people who enter and leave the store on a one-in, one-out basis after capacity is reached.
- The business shall take actions to establish that social distancing among customers is enforced to the greatest extent possible, including but not limited to marking distances six feet apart, at any area where people are likely to congregate, stand in line.
- One-way aisles can be created to limit close contact with other people. Customers should be encouraged, when possible, to place orders ahead, that will allow them to pick up and pay without entering the business.
- Prominently display these regulations, including posting maximum person occupancy of each essential business under the square footage regulations established in this order, at no fewer than five locations.
- The MCHD also released the following information about quarantining individuals:
- Any person awaiting COVID-19 test results shall self-quarantine until the results are known and reported to the health department.
- Any person diagnosed with COVID-19 will self-isolate for at least 14 days in a portion of their home or residence that limits, as much as possible, contact with other members of their household.
- Whenever possible, individuals suspected of or having been diagnosed with COVID-19 should use their own bathrooms.
- Any person living in the same household as a person suspected or diagnosed with COVID-19 or who has had known contact with a diagnosed person should contact Monongalia County Health Department at 304-598-5100 for additional instructions.
The release explained that the West Virginia State Police are being directed to provide support in enforcing the terms of this order. If WVSP are not available, Monongalia County Sheriff’s Department and all municipal law enforcement agencies in Monongalia County may be called upon to enforce this order.
The West Virginia National Guard has been requested to support local health departments by
assisting with spot-checking businesses, according to MCHD officials.
MCHD Executive Director and County Health Officer, Dr. Lee B. Smith, stated that the steps are essential to Monongalia County to slow the spread of COVID-19.