On Thursday, the County of Prince Edward declared a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.
Prince Edward County follows several jurisdictions in making such a declaration. This is just one of many was in which the County is ramping up their response to the pandemic.
“We are sending a clear message to all residents that they must do everything they can to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus. I implore everyone: stay home and avoid close contact with people outside of your immediate families,” stated Mayor Steve Ferguson.
The directive could not be more clear.
Ferguson came to the decision to declare a state of emergency in consultation with the Emergency Control Group.
The decision was arrived at with consideration of several key factors. These include the need to show strong support for the provincial declaration of emergency, to recognize the importance of the continuity of municipal operations during the pandemic outbreak in ways that support the health and safety of staff and to ensure the municipality can respond to the probability of flooding as water levels continue to rise well above normal.
“This declaration does not change the services the County of Prince Edward provides. We are committed to providing essential services to residents and businesses in a manner that ensures the health and safety of our staff,” said Ferguson. “While our administrative offices are closed, many of our services are available online, over the phone, or through mail. We have introduced additional safety protocols to protect staff who are carrying out other critical functions.”
Ferguson also expressed appreciation for the efforts of staff, members of council, volunteer organizations and the public who are contributing to helping the community.
It was announced that both Warden Rick Phillips from Hastings County and Mayor Jim Harrison of Quinte West would be making their emergency declarations simultaneously with the County, being partners in the provision of critical services in this region.
The declaration is just one of many in a spate of new measures put in place by the municipality. For example, on March 25th, they announced the emergence of a COVID-19 helpline.
The helpline is intended to help connect seniors, vulnerable members of the community and residents in self-isolation with essential services and volunteer delivery of vital supplies.
Councillor Ernie Margetson is lead of of the new COVID-19 task team, whose aim is to support seniors and others with accessibility issues.
“We are particularly concerned about seniors, community members with special needs and others who may not have the necessary supports to keep themselves stocked with essentials during this time,” stated Margetson.
Margetson added it is imperative for residents to follow the recommendations of public health officials, who request recent travellers self-isolate, along with anyone who is displaying symptoms, and for everyone to avoid public spaces as much as possible.
Senior and vulnerable residents, along with anyone in self-isolation, can contact the COVID-19 helpline at: 1-833-676-2148 from 8 a.m to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday. They will speak directly with staff who can then connect them to: volunteers for delivery of food and other essentials, critical community services, transportation options and sources of accurate information pertaining to the COVID-19 virus.
This helpline was established as a centralized avenue for residents to access community services and volunteers services.
Along with the above measures, the County has announced that as of March 27th, residents can put out one untagged bag of garbage per week. This measure will remain in effect until May 1, at which time it will be reassessed.
By decreasing the need to buy bag tags, this measure is intended to help families and individuals who are self-isolating.
The County is also stressing that for those who may have been exposed to COVID-19, or those who have just returned from travel, it is preferred that they store their recyclables until their isolation is over. If this is not possible, they must place all material into garbage bags and use their regular garbage collection day for disposal.
Bag tags can purchased via mail. To do so, please send your request and a cheque payable to The County of Prince Edward. Their address is: Shire Hall, 332 Picton Main Street, Picton ON, K0K 2T0.
For more information regarding waste disposal during COVID-19, please see: https://quinterecycling.org/.
For the most up to date information regarding the County’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, please see: :www.thecounty.ca/county-residents/covid-19.