March 13, 2020
RE: Pocono Township’s Response to COVID-19
As the Emergency Management Coordinator for Pocono Township, it is my responsibility to help ensure the township is prepared for a myriad of hazardous situations and disasters, and to ensure we are in communication with our county, state and federal emergency management agencies.
I want to provide the citizens of Pocono Township with a brief update regarding the Coronavirus (referred to as COVID-19), what to expect and how I feel our township needs to be prepared. I know many are skeptical about the true impact of the Coronavirus, so I want to try and cut through the media fluff and give you the basics.
First, the Coronavirus is classified by the Federal CDC as a pandemic. Some have questioned whether it is a true concern, versus more common (at least at this time) and widespread viruses like the basic flu. While fewer individuals have been infected with the Coronavirus to date than the traditional flu, it is true that COVID-19 is roughly ten times more dangerous for those who do contract the virus and it’s highly spreadable.
The health risk of the virus increases exponentially among older adults and, if you have any underlying chronic health conditions, the risk further increases.
Coronavirus also differs dramatically from the common flu in terms of its rapid spread. While the COVID-19 virus only affected a few people to start, we are seeing exponential increases in many places day-to-day.
This is what is known as “community spread” – where the virus is spread easily and sustainably within a community – and is the reason many public gatherings are being cancelled. This illness specifically spreads person-to-person. That is why isolation is so important for treating those affected.
In addition, the typical flu virus spreads more during cold weather months. However, it is not entirely clear yet as to whether COVID-19 will decrease with warm weather. As a new virus, we are still learning much about its features. Some have suggested that warm weather may increase the spread of coronavirus because it will linger airborne longer.
We are all hopeful that that will not be the case. But I just want to share this with you with the understanding that this is a very dynamic process as the government, science and medical communities attempt to ascertain the full impact of the virus.
In the meantime, you have probably read many sources that recommend exercising good hygiene by washing and disinfecting your hands regularly, avoiding touching your face and limiting physical contact with others. In addition, many community group functions are being canceled or postponed to limit community spread.
As emergency management coordinator for Pocono Township, I will be working with the Board of Commissioners to continue to evaluate the township’s response. Due to the international nature of the Coronavirus, certain supply lines of products and materials are becoming limited and difficult to access. We will take an active role in identifying what needed items may be in limited supply and evaluate whether emergency purchases are required. In addition, we will need to look at whether additional protective gear and supplies are necessary for township employees and particularly our police & fire departments.
This is an ongoing and dynamic effort. I welcome any concerned residents to reach out to me directly, should you have any questions or concerns. You can either reach me through Facebook messenger or via my email at [email protected].
Statement by Vice-President Commissioner Jerrod Belvin
Pocono Township Emergency Management Coordinator