CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia’s most populous city has declared a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 outbreak globally.
Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin and City Manager Jonathan Storage signed a proclamation on Sunday evening which will allow the city to be immediate in its response to this global pandemic.
Although as of Sunday evening at the time of the signing, West Virginia remained the only state in the country without a confirmed case of the virus.
“We’re not overreacting, we are over-preparing,” Goodwin told the media on Sunday evening. “What we’re doing and what we have been doing for months now are watching communities just like Charleston, West Virginia. What are the best practices that they are implementing and this is one of them.”
The proclamation, which went into effect immediately after signing, gives Storage and Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Mark Strickland, along with Goodwin, the authority to issue emergency policies and direct city personnel, services and equipment to perform acts as necessary.
“The purpose of this declaration is not to scare or terrify anybody,” Storage said. “It’s to be put people on awareness and be cognizant of what is going on around the country and surrounding. This will also allow us to make sure we have the tools in our toolbox to act quickly and responsibly to unfolding events.”
Goodwin emphasized that this allows the city to help flatten the curve because she knows the virus is within the state’s borders. Because of the declaration, the city will not have to wait on the city council’s approval for spending on relief, which normally takes two weeks for every meeting.
As part of the emergency, the next council meeting, scheduled for Monday evening will occur electronically.
Goodwin also said the city is looking into everything to help make the first responders’ jobs easier during this national state of emergency. The city, Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, Kanawha County recently formed a Unified Health Command for the virus.
“The city of Charleston and the health department are working on a unified health front, health command center to make sure that is our number one priority,” Goodwin said.
“To make sure that our first responders, who are the folks on the front lines, have every single thing they need to do their job.”
The emergency proclamation will stay in effect until a similar proclamation is issued rescinding the existing state of emergency.
Of note, it does not close down any local businesses, which some surrounding states did on Sunday.
For the latest federal guidance, visit the Center for Disease Control’s website.