October 16, 2020
Noelle Bissell, M.D., health director, New River Health District, 540-585-3300
Robert Parker, public information officer, Western Region, email@example.com
NEW RIVER HEALTH DIRECTOR OFFICIAL URGES WORKERS AND WORKPLACES TO MAINTAIN BEST PRACTICES WITH COVID-19
(CHRISTIANSBURG, Virginia) – Workers and workplaces in the New River Valley are urged to maintain best practices for COVID-19 and to not relax their efforts, according to Noelle Bissell, M.D., director of the New River Health District. “Workplace outbreaks have not been a huge part of the COVID-19 story so far in the New River Valley, in spite of surrounding regions having numerous outbreaks. We would like to keep it that way,” she said.
There are currently 71 active workplace outbreaks in Southwest Virginia, according to Dr. Bissell. “The New River Valley is also experiencing a workplace outbreak this week and we will see a rise in reported new cases of COVID-19. We expect to see more new cases throughout the region during the coming days, as we increase testing and conduct contact tracing,” she said.
The most recent outbreaks in the district have been predominantly student related. “This outbreak is not connected in any way with our region’s college students and at present, we are not seeing any transmission within our K-12 schools,” Dr. Bissell said.
“This is a virus that does not take a break. Our investigations show that most cases are acquired through close social contact; that can be at work, at home, or when out and about,” she said. “People know how to handle the pandemic protocols when they are in their professional roles, but often relax them among friends and family.”
The health department reminds workers to wear masks and practice physical distancing in break rooms, in meeting rooms, anytime we are in vehicles with others, both inside and outside of the workplace. The New River Valley Public Health Task Force offers assistance and many COVID-19 resources for all businesses in the region at https://www.nrvroadtowellness.com/business-continuity-team. The Task Force’s Business Continuity Team also offers a seminar on “How to prepare your business for a positive case.”
“We know how to beat this disease with simple and consistent behavior,” Dr. Bissell said. The New River Valley successfully contained the outbreaks from earlier this fall when college students returned to the region. “Don’t give up. This is under our control. Don’t give in to COVID fatigue, she said. “If you consistently wear your mask, keep your distance and wash your hands, whether you are at work, at school or relaxing, your chance of contracting COVID-19 is very low,” Dr. Bissell concluded.
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