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Cumberland declares local emergency over COVID-19

In an emergency public meeting held via conference call, the Cumberland County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Monday, March 16, to declare a state of local emergency in response to concerns about the novel coronavirus, also called COVID-19.

The decision was prompted by Virginia Governor Ralph S. Northam’s declaration of a state of emergency earlier this week.

At 4 p.m. Monday supervisors met over the phone to discuss the virus.

During the meeting Cumberland County Administrator Don Unmussig addressed the board, explaining he had over the course of the day been in several conference calls with the region’s member counties and incorporated towns/ town councils, as well as county staff and operational offices, in order to provide board members with an update on the region’s standings during the virus outbreak.

Unmussig said that in response to guidance received from the state and federal government, he advised that the board make a declaration of local emergency for the county.

“I have spent this afternoon setting up the preparations of our Emergency Operations Center (EOC) if necessary,” Unmussig said. “I have briefed and been briefed fully by our law enforcement, social services, county department of health, Piedmont Health District and our regional partners and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management on the exact posture of the region and Cumberland County right now when it comes to COVID-19. I was briefed by the health department that there are currently no COVID-19/ coronavirus cases in our region at this time.”

He continued, “I wanted to get this activation of the local emergency put in place so that I can begin making the preparations necessary so that we can start leaning forward with preparations to protect the citizens of the county.”

Unmussig added he is currently working on a statement to release to the public regarding the next two weeks of county services to the public. He reiterated that while the EOC is not open at this time, preparations have been made to activate the center if the situation arises.

The board voted unanimously to declare a local emergency.

The declaration took effect at 4:30 p.m. Monday.