Commission Receives Reports from their CODID19 Lodging Committee
At their special meeting on Friday, May 15th, the Pocahontas County Commissioners had appointed a tourism and hospitality committee to design local guidelines and best practices for county lodging and other tourism businesses to follow in order to reopen safely following the virus shutdown.
At their June 2nd regular meeting, Dave Christopher and Sam Collins of Silver Creek presented the commissioners with the two reports generated by that committee.
The first report lists detailed and safe “best practices” for lodging accommodation businesses to use to safely reopen while protecting staff and guests. Those establishments include owner operated condominiums, hotels, motels and B&B’s. The second report also included other hospitality and tourism businesses such as food and beverage establishments, retail stores, parks, outdoor outfitters and ski resorts in addition to the lodging businesses.
The lodging best practices report addressed the following issues:
- Protocols for self-quarantined guests or long-term residents.
- Proper hand hygiene, personal protection equipment (PPE) and training of housekeeping staff,
- Handling of in-room linen and soft fabrics, including recommendations for the safe handling and cleaning of comforters, blankets, pillow shams and throws. Included was the option of requiring guests to bring their own comforters, blankets, pillow shams and throws.
- Safely disposing of trash in a room
- How to safely handle in-room maintenance requests from guests
- Housekeeping in a room after a guest has checked out, such as safely cleaning and disinfecting the room.
- Safe operations in laundry rooms
The recommendations in the report regarding all hospitality and tourism businesses in addition to lodging businesses were:
- Employee health screening
- Physical distancing, sanitation and disinfecting practices, and use of masks and other PPE.
- Posting their virus protection policies for customers and that customers who are sick should not enter the establishment.
The commissioners were very impressed by these recommended best practices, which go beyond and are more specific then guidelines provided by either the state or the CDC. They decided to forward these reports to the WV State Department of Health for possible statewide implementation, rather than for the commission to just implement them locally.
Also, at the June 2nd meeting, the commissioners took the following actions:
- They voted to contribute $5000.00 to the town of Marlinton’s Discovery Junction, which is a music venue being constructed in town. It is mostly completed except for landscaping, electrical work, and installation of a splash pad. When completed, it will host events for the Opera House, Pioneer Days and other musical events and fairs. Because the COVID19 crisis has shut down fund raising they are short of money to complete the construction.
- They approved for the 911 Center to hire Cody Balser as a full-time 911 Dispatcher at $12.00 an hour plus benefits effective June 3rd.
- They voted to send a letter to both Direct TV and Dish Network requesting that county customers of those services be able to receive local West Virginia TV stations instead of Roanoke, VA channels as their local channels. The commissioners feel they have a strong case for this because county residents need local state information because of the pandemic and in the event of a future crises. They did caution. However, this could take a while to happen.
- Effective immediately, they lifted the closure of the courthouse county offices and decided to let each office decide how many people can safely be inside their office at a time.
- Agreed to consider at their next meeting, the donation of fifteen-thousand dollars ($15,000) to the County Health Department. This money would come from the one-hundred thousand-dollar ($100,000) Governor’s County Coronavirus Grant. The Health Department would use the donation to hire a part time worker to do contact tracing of virus cases and other important virus-related duties.