Blount County COVID-19 Update


-cdc.gov

-cdc.gov

School closings

All Blount County Schools and Oneonta City Schools closed beginning Monday, March 16, until April 6, or until further notice.

Other closings

County Government/Courthouse: offices are open though buildings themselves are closed to the public.County personnel at the courthouse will be available to serve the public via telephone and web-based services 205-625-4160. (See related article on page A3 for more information.)

City of Oneonta: open normal business hours, 8 a.m.to 4 p.m. Inquiries encouraged to be by phone or email. 205-274-2150 or info@cityofoneonta.us. Visitors are restricted to lobby area only.

Police and fire: normal operation, except “walk-ins” to offices will be restricted.

Park and Recreation: all facilities closed until further notice.

Public library: Oneonta and Blountsville closed until further notice. Call for temporary online access for some resources.

Senior Center: closed until further notice. Meal deliveries will continue Monday-Friday, as scheduled.

Public Transportation: closed until further notice.

Municipal court: suspended until further notice. 205-274-2126.

Building department/inspections: scheduled inspections only. Inquiries, permits, and plans submittals by phone or email. 205-274- 2127.

Human resources, revenue/licenses, accounts payable matters: phone or appointment only.

Circuit/District courts: all in-person proceedings and appearances, i.e. jury trials, are suspended for 30 days. General exceptions: trials already in progress as of Friday, March 13; matters related to protection, abuse, child protection, mental health orders, elderly or vulnerable people; the COVID-19 public health emergency; other matters approved by the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.

State agencies: As a general matter, employees of state agencies are working from home with offices manned only on a limited basis by mission critical employees.

Churches: some closed, some continuing services. Check with church office or minister. EMA hosts Alabama Public Health briefing

The Blount County Emergency Management Agency hosted a coronavirus briefing Thursday for representatives from various county agencies to meet and establish a connection with Lori Loyd, the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) infectious control officer assigned to the northwest area of Alabama. Blount County agencies represented included the county commission, municipalities, law enforcement, criminal justice, public schools, nursing homes, and others.

Loyd emphasized that all community stakeholders should familiarize themselves with and monitor the recommendations and updates available through the separate websites of the ADPH (www.alabamapublichealth.gov) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention (www.cdc.gov). The sites include recommendations specifically tailored to many diverse groups.

Loyd said test kits provided by the CDC are available in Alabama to determine whether individuals showing symptoms are infected with COVID-19, the disease recently determined by the World Health Organization to have reached pandemic proportions around the world and spreading quickly in the United States.

Loyd emphasized that not all sick individuals are infected with COVID-19, and that they must meet strict guidelines, including exposure, symptomology, and/or membership in an at-risk group (elderly and/or having chronic diseases), to be tested for COVID-19 free of charge by the state laboratory of the Department of Public Health.

Private testing through several private laboratories, she said, is available if requested by the patient’s doctor and can be arranged through the ADPH. (By Saturday, drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites had been activated in Jefferson County to test individuals with a doctor’s order for urgent testing.)

Further Alabama Public Health briefings will be conducted online or by webinar. Blount County Schools

The county school system posted on its website Friday a comprehensive guideline based on collaboration between ADPH and the Alabama State Department of Education, detailing protocols for handling the various implications of COVID-19 in public school settings. The guideline provides links to other resource documents about COVID-19, including the state education department’s “COVID-19 in K-12 Schools: A Parent Guide.”

“Please know that our faculty and staff are following all preventative measures to protect our students,” Superintendent Rodney Green wrote in his personal message to parents. … “We will continue to monitor the coronavirus and adjust our plans as needed. Please remember, the health and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff always come first. We will continue to keep you informed through our website, social media, and School Messenger.”

Blount County Board of Education is preparing to roll out a meal service for students throughout Blount County. More information will be released in the coming days. We will share details as soon as they are released. Oneonta City Schools

Statement from Superintendent Daniel Smith: “Oneonta City Schools will remain closed until Monday, April 6. This includes all classes and school activities. While no student assignments are required during the closure dates of March 16 through April 3, we hope that students will make time to read and engage in some learning activities. Any updates concerning our schools or community will be provided as needed. Please refer to the websites for our school district and each individual school for additional information. I want to thank everyone for your understanding and partnership during this time of uncertainty. I look forward to the time when we can return to our schools with students and employees.” St. Vincent’s Blount Hospital

A statement from the St. Vincent’s corporate office did not arrive before press time, but St. Vincent’s Blount administrator Greg Brown said the hospital is in a state of readiness to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. He said the hospital’s intensive care unit is equipped with six beds and has the capability to expand that number.