Richland County presents plan for COVID-19 Response

Richland County Government released a multiphase plan aligned with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday to maintain essential services in preparation for a potential local COVID-19 outbreak.

A copy of the plan can be found on the County website, www.richlandcountysc.gov.

“We are and have been proactively monitoring the impact of the coronavirus, and this plan is the culmination of the work and collaboration among various departments over the past few weeks,” said County Administrator Leonardo Brown. “We will continue to evaluate our policies to respond to this new reality, recognizing that this plan is fluid.”

Since March 2, Brown has met regularly with members of the County’s executive leadership and some Councilmembers to discuss the County’s response to the emerging COVID-19 crisis. Brown also took part in a Midlands Coronavirus Task Force news conference on March 6.

Recent news reports that the County was withholding the plan from the public were misleading. The County intended to release a final plan to the community instead of a draft to media, which could have led to outdated information and misinformation being publicized.

Media outlets were invited to an internal planning session March 10 to help inform residents that County leadership was actively discussing next steps.

Also this week, Richland County Council Chair Paul Livingston canceled a special called meeting to discuss giving the County Administrator authority to initiate specific actions to respond to the coronavirus. Generally, a Council vote is required to enact an emergency ordinance. However, a provision in the County code can be used for emergency measures that do not require Council’s action.

While cases of the disease are confirmed in South Carolina, there currently are no confirmed cases of the virus in Richland County.

The County is operating under conditions as outlined by the CDC. No County events are canceled as of yet, but some could be revised to reduce the number of people that can gather in one spot.

Additionally, Richland County Government has expanded wellness communications to employees as the situation develops and has enacted safety protocols to include:

•         Posting information from the CDC in restrooms encouraging people to take proper precautions to help avoid contracting or transmitting illnesses.

•         Sanitizing elevator buttons and stair railings at least three times a day.