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The Franklin County Board of Supervisors joined several other surrounding localities Tuesday in declaring a local state of emergency in response to COVID-19 and its impact on the community.

“We are at that point,” said County Administrator Chris Whitlow.

The declaration gives the county the ability to receive state and federal resources needed to deal with COVID-19, Whitlow said. It will also allow the county to be reimbursed for any funds used by the county’s public safety department to purchase needed resources.

Whitlow said the county is working to address the potential spread of COVID-19. Working with the Virginia Department of Health, the county created a COVID-19 task force of department directors, emergency managers, personnel from Carilion Clinic and representatives from Rocky Mount, Boones Mill and Ferrum College. The task force conducts daily conference calls to collaborate and communicate information on how to keep citizens and businesses safe, he said.

Billy Ferguson, Franklin County’s public safety director, said so far there are no known cases of COVID-19 in Southwest Virginia. “We have had folks tested here, but nobody so far has tested positive,” he said.

The task force monitors the number of hospital beds available daily, Ferguson added.

Following Ferguson’s update, supervisors unanimously voted in favor of the state of emergency declaration.

As the pandemic continues, Gills Creek District representative Lorie Smith asked that the county be aware of the financial impact it will have on businesses in the coming weeks and months.

“If there are any strategies or measures that this board needs to consider, I would hope that we would be ready to take action as needed over the coming weeks and months,” she said.

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