NO COVID-19 IN STOREY COUNTY YET BUT CASES INCREASE IN SURROUNDING COUNTIES
COMMISSIONERS APPROVE “STATE OF EMERGENCY” RESOLUTION FOR STOREY COUNTY JUST AHEAD OF STATE LOCKDOWN BY THE GOVERNOR. THEY DID NOT WANT TO CLOSE C STREET OR TRI BUSINESSES BUT NOW IT IS OUT OF THEIR HANDS
EVENTS FOR THE NEXT MONTH LIKELY TO BE CANCELLED OR PUSHED OUT…VCTC WILL SHIFT MARKETING AND MESSAGING AS A RESULT
JOE CURTIS AND THE EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT TEAM ARE WORKING TO MAKE SURE THE COUNTY HAS ALL OF THE SERVICES AVAILABLE TO RESIDENTS FROM STATE AND FEDERAL SOURCES…..DRIVE-BY TESTING FACILITIES WILL BE SETTING UP IN CARSON AND RENO FOR OUR RESIDENTS TO ACCESS
THERE ARE VARIOUS UPDATES AND SERVICES FOR EACH OF OUR RESIDENT SEGMENTS LIKE OUR CHILDREN, BUSINESSES, SENIORS AND GENERAL RESIDENT POPULATION BUT IT’S HARD TO NAVIGATE WITH THE STATE OF COUNTY COMMUNICATIONS SO FAR.
TWO OUT OF THREE COMMISSIONERS ARE BOTH SILENT AND INVISIBLE DURING THIS CRISIS……NOT NEW SINCE THEY WERE RARELY SEEN OR HEARD FROM BEFORE THE CRISIS
IT’S AN ELECTION YEAR…. SOON WE WILL SEE AND HEAR FROM THE INVISIBLE COMMISSIONERS WHO WANT YOUR VOTES
There were two meetings. The first was the regular meeting and the second was the Special Meeting to adopt the resolution declaring a state of emergency. ** This was before the Governor’s mandate to shut down non-essential businesses.
I’ll start with the emergency summary and then follow with a separate general meeting report. THIS WAS BEFORE STATEWIDE SHUTDOWN ANNOUNCEMENT.
Joe Curtis, Emergency Management Manager, said that there was no COVID-19 in Storey County as of yet …but it’s a matter of time. Storey is part of a quad county coalition to coordinate services and responses. He summarized some of the actions that Storey has already taken and may need to take in the future:
- Event cancellation thru the end of April
- Closure of the two senior centers with capacity for drive-by pick up of meals
- School closures
- Closure of VC and TRI businesses would NOT be required since both have unique circumstances
- Drive-By testing locations ( Pods) in Carson City and Reno for residents to access…when and where TBD
During Public comment, I asked Joe what, if any, arrangements, contingencies or resources there were for the kids now that they are out of school and potentially needing their meals, for our seniors, and for our merchants who will likely need economic assistance. I noted that I had already posted the SBA Emergency Loan program but was there anything else. I also asked how many tests would be available for residents.
He noted that Superintendent Hess is formulating the plan for the kids. That we have a 1:1 ratio of laptop to student and that the courses will go online. That the meals are also being worked. That the Senior Centers are offering pick up meals and meals on wheels. That each of the testing PODs can have between 2000-4000 tests but that not everyone will be able to be tested. Lastly, he mentioned that there is a website set up by the Federal Government that has a webinar for businesses to view on the process to deal with this downturn. He didn’t know of anything outside of the SBA.
Commissioner Gilman noted that Mustang Cares will still be delivering to the two food pantry in Lockwood and Mark Twain.
Deny Dotson, VCTC Executive Director, said that in light of the likely cancellation or postponement of events that VCTC is changing its marketing and messaging… with social distancing in mind. They will be going to merchants to see what they are doing in terms of offerings, times activities, etc. Here is I what he has in mind:
- They are looking at how to promote self-guided tours thru the use of the mobile app
- There will be some events canceled but are working hard to reschedule them like Rural Roundup
- Closing Pipers and using that time to do some much needed deep cleaning and repairs
Austin Osborn, County Manager, said that the County offices had implemented several actions including:
- Travel and non-essential meetings are cancelled indefinitely.
- Employees need to stay home if hey don’t feel well
- Minimize gatherings and limit to 10
- No more than 50% capacity in buildings
- Compliance with NRS regarding office and services
- Hiring and spending freeze for non-essential functions
Commissioner Carmona and McBride both stressed the need to support our local businesses.
SIDENOTE- I am thankful, as always, for the rapid response and right focus that the Emergency Management Team takes during these tough times. I remember how they handled snowmageddon in 2017 and I am confident that they are working hard for us all. I also believe that our County employees are pulling out all the stops to deal with an ever-changing situation and keep services going for all of our residents. This crisis has enormous impacts on everyone. Bless them all.
The one thing that I would say that can defeat all of these good efforts is how they are communicated. God love Austin , but his very complete summary of the meeting with the laundry list of actions in random order isn’t an easy read. Throwing that out on Facebook and the other online sources isn’t an easy read either. Austin does his best job when in front of people answering questions….he needs to work on the written communications.
Additionally, I may be missing a lot but I never see Commissioner McBride at the helm of public meetings and Gilman does them rarely. Neither McBride nor Gilman send out any direct communications to residents in their own district. I only see Carmona sharing the County information on FaceBook and in his district. Why is that? Marshall should be on the VC Merchant and VC Facebook pages….Lance on Lockwood’s and Mark Twain’s Facebook pages. Why aren’t they?
Leadership needs to be visible and constantly communicating the reality of the situation and taking questions…..constantly. This is not just Austin’s job. You’d think that they would know that.
Effective Communications needs to reach everyone in as many formats as possible. This is in NORMAL times…we are NOT in normal times so we need extraordinary measures and realtime reporting. In the real world, an actual communications strategy is developed which uses EVERY communication channel appropriate for each segment. Channels are created and dedicated for this purpose. While using the County website is OK it is a very “busy” site….they may want to have a dedicated website for just the Emergency actions and situation reports.
In addition to social media the county may want to consider periodic mailers to every resident which summarizes the current situation and with resources that people can access to get more detail. Additionally, they may want to consider live and regularly scheduled online town halls with our county leadership giving updates and taking questions. I’ve done these before and they are effective but you have to have a structure and a good moderator.
As for Social Media and direct emails I’d suggest that the information go out in smaller segments or is segmented if it goes out in a long notice. Send it out when things change. For example :
–Current situation as of xx/xx/xx:
- State of emergency, shelter in place. Non-essential businesses to close, no more than 10 people gathering.
- Events cancelled thru end of April
- County Offices open on modified schedule
- FAQ’s and County contact numbers are at :xxxx
- Lockwood and V.C. will have drive thru lunches
- Meals on wheels still in effect and can expand…use it if you qualify
- RSVP will be operational call ###
- FAQ’s and contact numbers ###
- Online courses available on XXX
- meals for kids available at XX
- FAQ’s and contact numbers ###
- SBA loans are available go to XXXX
- Event calendar as of ### go to XXX
- FAQ’s here XXX
- If you have symptoms (XX) testing is available at the following locations XXX, XXX
- If you need help with food or medical issues call ###
- FAQ’s here XXX
I really don’t care what it looks like but in my opinion, something needs to change soon with the form and format of County communications in order to best serve the needs of the residents so they know what’s going on, know what to expect and know where to go if they have problems. It needs to be easily accessible and understandable.
Just a thought……
Be safe and be kind.