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Franklin County declares a state of emergency

Franklin County declares a state of emergency

The Franklin County Board of Supervisors joined several other surrounding localities on March 17 in declaring a local state of emergency in response to COVID-19 and its impact on the community.

“We are at that point,” said County Administrator Chris Whitlow.

The declaration gives the county the ability to receive state and federal resources needed to deal with COVID-19, Whitlow said. It will also allow the county to be reimbursed for any funds used by the county’s public safety department to purchase needed resources.

Whitlow said the county is working to address the potential spread of COVID-19. The county has been working closely with the Virginia Department of Health and created a COVID-19 task force of various county department directors, emergency managers, personnel from Carilion Clinic and representatives from Rocky Mount, Boones Mill and Ferrum College. The task force holds a daily conference call to collaborate and communicate information on how to keep citizens and businesses in the county safe, he said.

Billy Ferguson, Franklin County’s public safety director, said local hospitals currently report that beds are available if needed. The task force monitors the number of beds available daily.

When Ferguson gave the report on March 17, there were no known cases in Southwest Virginia. Since then, there have been multiple people diagnosed with the virus.

Following the update from Ferguson, supervisors unanimously voted in favor of the state of emergency declaration.

Gills Creek District representative Lorie Smith asked that, as the emergency continues, the county would continue to be aware of local businesses. She said many are expecting financial losses in the coming weeks and months.

“If there are any strategies or measures that this board needs to consider. I would hope that we would be ready to take action as needed over the coming weeks and months,” Smith said.

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