County to convene health task force

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Officials from local health, public safety, education and government agencies met yesterday to convene the Montgomery County Public Health Task Force, which will work to proactively provide local residents and communities with accurate, up to date and effective information about COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.

At this time, though there are nine confirmed or presumed positive cases of COVID-19 across Virginia, none are in Montgomery County, the New River Valley or anywhere in southwestern Virginia.

“The purpose of this task force is to keep our residents and communities informed of the best ways to identify risks and limit the spread of infectious diseases,” said Noelle Bissell, M.D., director of the New River Valley Health District. “We also will work together to manage any cases of infectious disease should they be confirmed locally.”

Task force members include the New River Valley Health District (Virginia Department of Health or VDH), area hospitals, the Towns of Blacksburg and Christiansburg, Montgomery County, local law enforcement and first responder agencies, New River Valley Community Services and educational institutions.

As COVID-19 is a critical health concern across Virginia and the U.S. and around the world, task force members provided these frequently asked questions:

Q: Who is at risk?

A: The greatest risk is to the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.

Q: Are emergency/medical services going to change in our area?

A: We will continue delivering all emergency services throughout this event. However, there will be some changes in delivery of those services in order to protect the community and responders from transmission of communicable diseases and viruses. You can monitor www.montva.com/coronavirus and those provided by your locality for any changes in the delivery of service.

Q: What should I do if I feel ill or have traveled to an area with widespread transmission of COVID-19?

A: Contact your health care provider or call the local VDH public health hotline at 540-267-8240. (VDH also has a statewide hotline at 1-877-ASK-VDH3, available weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

Q: What should I do daily to protect myself and my family?

A: Practice good infection control: wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer, keep household surfaces clean (including cell phones), cough or sneeze into a tissue (and discard it) or your elbow, avoid touching your face, practice “social distancing” and avoid shaking hands (consider using delivery services for necessary purchases), remain at home if you’re sick and avoid others who are sick.

For more information and local updates visit www.blacksburg.gov/coronavirus or the Montgomery County Public Health Task Force website at www.montva.com/coronavirus. For more information on the Virginia Department of Health and COVID-19 visit www.vdh.virginia.gov

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