BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. – On Monday, Leaders in Bedford County announced the opening of a new coronavirus aid hotline for residents in the county and the town of Bedford.
Representatives of multiple Bedford County Departments developed a system geared to meet the evolving needs of the community. This new aid will focus on coronavirus situations that may impact diverse segments of the community due to social distancing, isolation, unemployment, and any other unforeseen events yet to come due to the pandemic.
This collaboration is representative of the local government and public safety community.
County Administrator Robert Hiss, Sheriff Mike Miller, Bedford Police Chief Todd Foreman and Bedford County Fire and Rescue Chief Jack Jones discussed the details, intent and capacity of this effort.
This new initiative will be for all Bedford County citizens and will also have a special concentrated effort for those 60 or older.
Bedford County officials said most people are prepared to ride out a snowstorm or weather event at home for a couple of days, but they do not know know how long this outbreak will last and how long people will need to stay at home and distance themselves from others.
“Our community is resilient in a lot of ways. We’re typically used to ice storms or other natural events, where our community members are trained or can shelter in place for three or four days, but this is not three or four days," said Hiss.
Due to that uncertainty, they don’t want people to not know how they’re going to get their next meal or prescriptions. That’s why they started the COVID-19 call center.
Leaders have set up a database compiling a list of all the available resources across the County and the Town of Bedford. They’re working with pharmacies, grocery stores, and local churches to see what’s available and who can pick up and deliver supplies or food.
“So let’s call and bring in all of our concerns and we will address it. We will find an answer,” said Bedford County Sheriff Mike Miller.
The call center isn’t just for people who need something to eat or need a prescription, but anyone who can donate supplies or wants to volunteer can call, too.
The county’s 911 center has also seen an uptick in calls and crime, like shoplifting, disturbances, domestic disputes and mental health calls. This new COVID-19 call center will not only connect people with available food or supplies, but it will relieve some of that pressure off police who still need to answer those emergency calls.
“To be able to take some relief off them, but also give some relief to our citizens,” Miller said. "To be able to call in and ask certain questions that they may not know the answer to.”
County leaders said they still don’t know all the needs that people have right now, so they’re encouraging folks to call the hotline and they will find a solution.
You can reach the Bedford County COVID-19 Hotline by calling: 540-587-0720.
It’s open 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
You can also reach the center by emailing: COVID19-BedfordHelp@Bedfordcounty.va.gov