What the local response to coronavirus might look like

The Payne County Board of County Commissioners declared a Disaster Emergency and adopted an incident action plan Monday in response to a confirmed case of COVID-19 in Payne County.

Troy Choplin, Deputy Director of Payne County Emergency Management, presented the plan to the commissioners, who modified it slightly after input from District 1 Commissioner Zach Cavett.

The plan includes many of the same recommendations made by the Oklahoma Health Department for a Trigger 1 response if the person in question acquired the virus through travel.

Safety precautions include not touching your face with your hands, washing hands for 20 seconds, and staying home from work if possible.

The plan encourages people to avoid large gatherings of more than 50 people. People over 60 years of age and people with underlying health issues are encouraged to stay at home and minimize contact with others, including their families.

The Trigger 2 response would apply in the case of community transmission to a single person.

At Trigger 2, the Sheriff initiates protective measures for deputies and jailers and all special events at Payne County-controlled facilities are canceled or postponed. Electronic transactions and remote communications for county business are encouraged. Local governments and businesses would be encouraged to limit the number of people entering their buildings. Take-out and delivery services would be encouraged at local businesses.

Face-to-face contact would be discouraged.

Emergency Management Director Jeff Kuhn said a Health Department representative told him his office would be advised if the infected individual did not acquire the virus through travel.

Kuhn has not received any notification from the Health Department concerning the source of the virus.

A Trigger 3 response will apply if two or more people in the county test positive for the coronavirus. Actions could include limiting staffing in county departments, limiting Courthouse operations and allowing no public contact between county employees and citizens when electronic or remote options are available to transact business.

After input from Cavett, the plan was amended to allow elected county officials to determine responses within their own departments.

County Clerk Glenna Craig requested an emergency meeting of the Payne County Budget Board, a body comprised of elected county officers who make budget and policy decisions for the county, because the incident action plan could impact individual departments.

Craig said she believes the Budget Board should approve the plan and should be involved in further decisions as they become necessary if the outbreak continues.

The emergency meeting was scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Choplin advised the commissioners that daily decisions may become necessary as the coronavirus outbreak unfolds.

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