Roanoke city leaders looking to Virginia Department of Health for guidance

City leaders, police to follow Virginia Dept. of Health’s lead on enforcing 10-person order

ROANOKE, Va. – Roanoke city leaders are reassuring the public that they’re taking steps to protect workers, residents and businesses during the coronavirus outbreak.

Wednesday afternoon, the city manager, mayor and vice mayor held a teleconference to provide updates about the city’s response to the ever-changing situation.

All city offices will stay closed to the public until the end of the month, possibly later.

Police, Fire-EMS and solid waste employees will still keep working as normal, but their shifts may be altered to decrease the number of employees working at a time.

Currently, those employees have enough protective gear like masks, gloves and sanitizer. However, at some point, the city may have to access a national stockpile if they run out.

Crews are also cleaning buses. For now, there are no changes to bus service, but that may get scaled back.

There aren’t any confirmed cases in Southwest Virginia, but Mayor Sherman Lea said that people should not have a false sense of security and it’s important for everyone to keep taking precautions to stay healthy.

“Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face. Groups: 10 or less," Lea said. "If you have to meet with a group, personally, I’d say stay in as much as you can.”

The city also created an action plan to enforce the governor’s orders to restrict the number of people at gatherings, in businesses and restaurants to 10 or less:

“The Roanoke Police Department will assist the Virginia Department of Health as necessary regarding the recent Order of the Governor and the State Health Commissioner, Declaration of Public Health Emergency. Primary implementation and enforcement of this Order rest with the State Board of Health, State Health Commissioner, acting for the State Board of Health, and the local Health Departments. The Roanoke Police Department will be available to assist the Health Commissioner, the Board, and the local Health Department upon request, subject to the many other urgent matters that demand the attention of local law enforcement.”

City Manager Bob Cowell added, “We are not going to be going around restaurants and bars trying to enforce that effort proactively. It will be more in support of the Department of Health.”


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