Under the leadership of the Jackson County Health Department, the Jackson County Planning Pandemic Committee was reinstated. The group met on March 23 to discuss the county’s pandemic preparedness and response plan.

Wendy Staats, Emergency Preparedness Coordinator, presented the group with a detailed plan to provide guidance on the response to a pandemic such as COVID-19.

“I’ve been working on this plan for 14 years since the first pandemic committee of 2004-2006,” Staats said. “We will be as ready as it’s possible to be. We are blessed in this county with tremendous cooperation and communication, along with generous and caring citizens.”

The committee is comprised of representatives from emergency services, city and county officials, law enforcement, fire departments, recreational facilities, hospital and school personnel.

The pandemic plan of 2006 has been expanded to meet the needs of the current crisis. There are various planning stages involved, including both pre-pandemic and pandemic actions.

Jackson General Hospital will be the primary medical facility to deal with any cases. Should the number of COVID-19 patients exceed the capabilities of the hospital, two additional sites have been chosen to be set up as medical facilities.

Cedar Lakes Conference Center has been designated as the secondary site. If the situation would warrant, Parchment Valley Conference Center will be used as a “third-dary” location.

“Both locations have the potential to house a number of patients and both have kitchens,” Staats said. “Jackson General Hospital, of course, would have to give guidance and oversight to dietary needs.”

Cedar Lakes was chosen for an additional reason. There is only one way in and out which makes traffic control much easier.

A tentative plan for drive through testing has been compiled. This plan will be submitted to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services for approval.

The site for that testing will also be Cedar Lakes Conference Center. All results will be monitored and maintained by the health department. Details of this plan will be made public once approved by the state.

Staats explained that the health department addresses both prevention of the virus and dealing with any positive cases.

“We get in touch with the patient to see what contacts they have had in the county, including family,” she said. “We find out if the person worked while sick. If so, we contact the workplace. We track them for 14 days, calling or seeing them every other day to check their status.”

One final plea was made to the committee and to the community.

“We need businesses and people to donate protective supplies such as N95 masks and hand sanitizers,” she said. “We will get them to those who need it. We are the best place to donate those items.”

For information about COVID-19 or the pandemic plan, contact Staats at 304-372-2634.