City of Charleston coronavirus preparations as of March 10, 2020

City of Charleston Emergency Management Director Shannon Scaff will address Charleston City Council tonight to provide an update on the city’s coronavirus preparations. Among the steps he’ll be discussing are the following: 

Joint Federal, State and Local Planning Efforts:

  • Mayor John Tecklenburg and city of Charleston leaders remain in close communication with federal, state and regional officials including representatives of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), the U.S. Coast Guard and the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) on the situation related to the coronavirus.
  • The city’s Emergency Management team, along with area emergency managers including MUSC, are meeting regularly to align efforts across jurisdictions.
  • Additionally, the city has established an area stakeholders subcommittee of the Health and Wellness Committee with representatives from Medical University of South Carolina, area public and private schools and special events coordinators.
  • At a press conference yesterday, Dr. Linda Bell, state epidemiologist for the state public health agency, SC DHEC stated, “There’s no reason, at this time, to cancel any public events or take any special measures, when there is no evidence of ongoing spread in a community.” However, the city continues to consult with DHEC and area medical leaders with regard to the continuation or cancellation of all public events.
  • While the city has no legal authority over cruise ship landings or departures at the state ports authority, emergency management has been in close contact with the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and been assured that these agencies are monitoring cruise ships arriving in the Port of Charleston and have the responsibility to take appropriate steps with regard to public safety. They receive detailed passenger and crew member information, including full travel histories, prior to all ships’ arrivals in Charleston and are actively monitoring for potential coronavirus exposures.

 

Citywide Preparations:

  • The city has focused its efforts externally and internally to ensure continuity of operations.
  • Charleston Police and Fire have each created contingency plans to ensure public safety is maintained at all times, even if staffing levels are reduced significantly due to illness or quarantine.
  • Health and safety information has been posted and hand sanitizer is now available in all city buildings and workspaces. In total, 900 bottles of hand sanitizer have been ordered for use in city vehicles and shared areas.
  • Custodians have been instructed to disinfect shared common surfaces like door knobs, counters, refrigerator handles, microwaves, water fountains, vending machines, etc.
  • Additional personal protective equipment supplies have been ordered for first responders.
  • Employee work related travel has been limited only to absolutely essential travel.
  • Sick employees, board members and citizens are asked to remain at home and not attend public meetings to conduct city business.
  • When possible, staff has been asked to conduct meetings via phone or other technologies where it makes sense to reduce in person meetings.
  • Reviewing Human Resources and Payroll policies regarding those things, including sick leave.

 

City Protocols to Ensure Citizen Services:

  • The safety and health of employees and citizens are the first consideration in planning for continued operations.
  • Essential operations are being identified that must be performed under all conditions by department.  Examples of essential operations would include: public safety (police, fire and emergency management), garbage and sanitation services, payroll, accounts payable and network operations.
  • Essential personnel and tools and support needed to perform their duties are being identified.
  • Proactive measures to be taken within workspaces to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus by implementing preventative measures have been outlined.

 

Ongoing Efforts:

  • Continue review of city processes, policies and procedures to reflect all current recommendations and best practices.
  • Implementation of responsible public health measures based on circumstances and the recommendations of SC DHEC and area medical professionals.
  • Provide reliable COVID-19 resources to citizens via the city’s website at www.charleston-sc.gov/COVID-19.
  • City leaders will remain in close contact with federal, state, local and medical partners to plan and execute next steps as the situation continues to evolve.