Kanawha County issues new restrictions after Justice executive order

Published: Apr. 5, 2020 at 4:49 PM EDT
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New restrictions and guidelines are being issued for people and businesses in Kanawha County after W.Va. Gov. Jim Justice issued an executive order for more strict procedures in the county to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Kanawha-Charleston Health Department director Dr. Sherri Young says one of the new guidelines is a "stay in your place" order for people to stay home unless for essential needs like going to the grocery store.

The health department is also advising against groups larger than five in engaging in outdoor activity.

"The main message here is we are trying to keep people safe," Dr. Young said Sunday. "And with that, we do have to issue some additional restrictions."

Health and county leaders say they will also be enforcing orders with grocery stores, pharmacies, and other essential businesses that are still open.

Those businesses are being advised to wear face coverings while working, and supply disinfectant products for cleaning throughout the day.

For public access businesses like grocery stores, the department is issuing restrictions of two people per 1,000 square feet inside.

Businesses will be held accountable to enforce the procedure and have signage notifying customers of regulations.

Young says a problem that has been seen over the weekend was people clustered in some stores and not standing six feet apart.

For people who are not able to leave their home because they are quarantined, they can call United Way at 211, who will help them get food or any other needs.

"We are grateful to Gov. Justice for the ability to enact new restrictions for businesses and individuals that will help stop the spread of COVID-19 in Kanawha County," said Dr. Sherri Young, KCHD health officer and executive director. "We encourage people and business owners to follow this new guidance and reach out to the health department at 304-348-1088 if they have questions."

Saturday, Dr. Young issued an order after a family was not complying with isolation orders after a relative tested positive. County leaders say moving forward, anyone else who does not follow those orders could face penalties such as fines and even anklle monitor devices.

County Commissioner Ben Salango says commission has been talking to the prosecuting attorney and other law enforcement officials saying they are at the health department's disposal.

"We've had situations where patients have tested COVID positive and yet they feel okay, and they're out and about. We can't have that, said Salango. "Whatever means it takes to enforce the order, we will."

Salango says he hopes it doesn't get to the point of enforcing the ankle monitor, but they can get a court order if needed to enforce that.

The following guidelines are under the new order:

For residents

• Stay at home as much as possible. If you must leave, it should only be for essential activities like grocery shopping or picking up prescriptions. Trips should be limited, and people should go when stores are not crowded.

• People should limit family visits and maintain social distancing. Instead, develop ways of connecting with friends and family without face-to-face contact.

• Judicial Annex employees who have tested negative should continue isolation for 14 days since their last exposure.

For businesses

• Have employees work from home if at all possible.

• Limit access to two individuals for every 1,000 square feet of public space.

• Carefully control access with a strict one-in, one-out policy when the maximum number of patrons is reached.

• Require employees and customers maintain a distance of at least six feet.

• Put down tape strips at entrances and checkout areas or develop some other practical method to ensure distancing. It is important to maintain distancing outside a business as well as limiting access.

• Prominently display the number of people allowed at any time along with the fact customers must maintain a distance of at least six feet. This should be displayed at a business's entrance as well as at four other locations throughout the business.

• Make hand sanitizer available for customers and employees. Employees must wash their hands often with antibacterial soap and water.

• Clean surfaces, including doors and countertops, with a hospital-grade disinfectant several times a day.

• Send home any employee who has symptoms of cough, fever, shortness of breath.

• Businesses that use a non-invasive thermometer to measure the temperatures of employees and customers should not admit anyone with a fever of greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Referral to their health care provider is suggested.