By Carol Vaughn —
Northampton officials are working with the health department to provide information and guidance for businesses that may be allowed to reopen in the near future, after being closed as required by the governor’s executive orders during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Northampton County Board of Supervisors met Thursday, April 30. The board has been holding weekly virtual meetings to address the pandemic.
“As anyone who is reading the paper or looking at the news today knows, the numbers were up sharply for the county and the Eastern Shore as a whole,” said Charles Kolakowski, Northampton County Administrator.
He said the uptick in cases is due in part to increased testing and “in particular situations and in very localized areas within the two counties.”
“The health department and state agencies are focusing on those situations and are working to minimize the effects on the rest of the county — but this does emphasize the importance of continued vigilance and social distancing.This situation is not over,” he said.
Gov. Northam “is talking about changing some of the restrictions in the coming weeks, and we want to work with our businesses and our residents as much as possible before that, to make sure they are prepared to open in a very safe fashion,” Kolakowski said.
“We need to be thinking about making certain that those businesses that open up are safe, and they are run safe, because, frankly, the virus isn’t going to go away on May 8 — it’s still going to be here,” said Supervisor John Coker, adding, “…We as a county need to basically tell everyone that just because some businesses are going to open up doesn’t mean everybody can run out and not be safe anymore.”
Supervisor Betsy Mapp said she hears the most from residents about concern for when churches will be opened.
“We are talking about businesses, and of course they are very important to our county, but the churches are the thing I hear the most about, and I hope that the governor will…let churches meet agains,” she said.
Sheriff David Doughty reported two jail employees and two patrol officers have self-quarantined for the virus. “They are all doing well,” he said.
One jail employee tested positive two weeks ago, but is doing well and soon will return to work.
In all, seven in the department have returned to work after quarantining.
The inmate population decreased from 71 to 68 since Doughty’s previous briefing to the board.
Newly arrested people from Accomack County are being incarcerated in the Eastern Shore Regional Jail in Eastville for now, due to the Accomack County Jail capacity, Doughty said.
All new inmates are quarantined for 14 days in individual cells in the booking area of the jail, and are monitored by the medical staff.
Doughty said the sheriff’s office is working with Eastern Shore Rural Health about the possibility of testing new inmates for the virus.
The sheriff’s office started tracking daily usage of personal protective equipment to help maintain an adequate supply, Doughty said.
Doughty said there have been no reported additional violations of the ban on gatherings of more than 10 people.
Some court proceedings are going on in all three Northampton courts, using videoconferencing when possible to avoid the need to bring inmates from the jail to court.
“The spirits of our staff continue to be good and positive.” Doughty said.
Hollye Carpenter, Northampton County EMS Director, said no staff are currently quarantined, noting one person was the previous week, but their test came back negative.
The department has a shortage of gowns at present, and is considering making their own, she said.
“This is far from over…We’re seeing our spikes now,” she said.