Northampton EM / DSS prep for the road ahead

Published 6:50 pm Friday, March 20, 2020

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JACKSON – An emergency meeting held here Monday afternoon updated the Northampton County Commissioners on how different departments are planning to deal with COVID-19 (coronavirus) concerns in the upcoming weeks.

“We’re preparing and making sure we’re covered in the event that it does get worse instead of better,” reported Emergency Management (EM) Coordinator Ronnie Storey.

Storey said they were following the lead of the county’s health department for this situation. Health Department Director Andy Smith said earlier in the meeting that people did not need to panic but to continue to take precautions.

“We are in support mode,” Storey emphasized. “We’re trying to make sure everybody’s getting the same good information.”

He urged people to follow health department guidelines which included washing hands, sanitizing surfaces regularly, and practicing social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“I’m seeing everybody be respectful, and that’s what’s going to carry us through,” Storey concluded.

Northampton’s Department of Social Services (DSS) Director Sheila Evans reported that, as of Monday afternoon, their office has remained open. But they are continuing to practice stringent sanitation measures and they urge people to remain at home.

“Call us, and services will continue to be provided. We’ll do the eligibility over the phone,” Evans explained.

The main phone number for the county’s DSS office is 252-534-5811.

Evans also pointed out that staff who have sick children at home are already approved to take time off to take care of them.

“We’re not trying to hinder anyone by staying at work and not being able to provide services to their children that need them at home,” she explained.

Board Chair Charles Tyner asked if the county DSS office had any way to help people who find themselves out of work and need assistance.

Evans answered that the staff regularly collects food themselves to give to people in need, and would welcome additional food donations from the public if they so desire. She noted, however, the only requirement is that the food is not outdated.