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County officer recovering, scammers taking to the phones

Albemarle County officials on Wednesday said the county police officer who recently tested positive for COVID-19 is recovering and remains the only employee diagnosed.

“The employee is recovering and under care of their primary care physician. No further cases of COVID-19 have been diagnosed within the department,” said county spokeswoman Emily Kilroy.

Police announced the officer’s test on March 20 via social media and asked citizens to stay at home and keep a safe distance from each other, about six or seven feet, also known as social distancing. They took that time to announce that officers would take more precautions when needed during service calls.

Local officials and organizations continued advising area residents about the impact of the coronavirus Wednesday, from warning against scams to announcing more donations of personal protective equipment for local health care workers.

Slight bump in area cases

The Thomas Jefferson Health District reported 63 positive cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, a slight increase from Tuesday.

The health district reported district-wide demographic data and hospitalization information for the first time. A majority of the positive COVID-19 cases in the district are among people under 60 years old, according to officials.

Of the positive cases, 19 people have been hospitalized and one person has died.

Albemarle County has the most cases within the district at 28, which includes four clinically diagnosed cases. “Clinically diagnosed” means individuals haven’t been tested but are close contacts to someone who has tested positive and is experiencing symptoms.

Forty-one of the cases are people under 60 years old, 22 are people over 60 years old and 37 women and 26 men have tested positive.

Cases by localities —

Albemarle: 28 (includes 4 clinically diagnosed)

Charlottesville: 16

(includes 1 clinically diagnosed)

Fluvanna: 4

Greene: 1

Louisa: 12

Nelson: 2

ACSA warns of scams

Albemarle County Service Authority officials warned on Wednesday that scam artists are preying upon people with concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.

“[We] want to immediately warn our customers about a variety of scams related to their customer accounts and the quality of their drinking water,” Executive Director Gary O’Connell said in a statement.

“Scammers are contacting customers by phone saying they are from the ACSA and stating that if the customer doesn’t immediately pay their bill, the water will be shut off,” he said. “We have also heard from other utilities that scammers are going door-to-door to demand instant payment or else water will be shut off.”

O’Connell said that won’t happen.

“ACSA customer service staff does not take credit or debit card payments over the phone, does not go door-to-door to collect payment from customers,” he said. “In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the ACSA has stopped conducting shutoffs for non-payment of past due accounts.”

O’Connell said some scammers are trying to sell customers water filters. That is unnecessary, he said. Conventional water treatment already removes or inactivates the virus.

CFAI donates masks

Charlottesville’s CFA Institute, the world’s largest association of investment management professionals, is giving 2,800 N95 masks to local first responders and healthcare workers.

Officials said Wednesday they would give 1,000 masks to the Charlottesville Albemarle Rescue Squad, 1,000 masks to Albemarle County Fire and Rescue, and 800 masks to the Hospice of the Piedmont, which is currently serving COVID-19 patients.

The donation comes as health care professionals across the country struggle with a shortage of personal protective equipment, including N95 respirators.

CFA officials said the organization has traditionally provided the personal protective equipment for its employees traveling internationally.

As medical supplies have run low, health professionals have looked for alternate sources for protective equipment.

“We care deeply about the well-being of this community,” said Kelli Palmer, the institute’s head of global inclusion, diversity and corporate citizenship, in a statement. “We believe that we are all stronger when we work together, and we must all must do our part during these challenging times.”

Aid for city businesses

Also on Wednesday, Charlottesville city economic development officials announced several new grant and loan programs to help businesses that are being hurt by stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“These efforts are meant to help alleviate the immediate effects that closures and reduced operations are having on city businesses,” Economic Director Chris Engel said in a statement. “City businesses are eligible to apply for more than one program and can apply for these in addition to the Small Business Administration’s economic injury disaster loans and $10,000 emergency grant.”

City programs include up to $2,000 in grants for businesses in the city and loans up to $5,000 for socially disadvantaged city businesses that have encountered racial or ethnic prejudice or cultural bias, and other grants.

More information can be found at charlottesville.org/econdev.

Ting WiFi at IX Park

Ting Internet said Wednesday that it is working to create drive-up free Internet access points in Charlottesville.

The first Ting Internet Charlottesville “Park and Wi-Fi” spot is located at IX Park., the company said in a news release. WiFi access will be available between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., seven days a week.

Users are asked to stay in their vehicles, minimize social interaction and follow health officials’ recommended social distancing protocol.

Albemarle court clerk’s office to close

The Albemarle County Circuit Clerk’s Office will revise its service hours and close its office to the public, apart from appointment, per an order issued Wednesday by Judge Cheryl Higgins.

According to a news release from the county clerk’s office, appointments can be scheduled during customer service hours, which run from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Customers must call ahead at (434) 972-4083 to schedule appointments for all in-person services.

More information about changes to marriage, deeds, permits and estate matters can be found on the county’s website at albemarle.org/department.asp? department=circuitcourt.

Additionally, docket call on April 6 has been continued and all matters for that day have been moved to the June term.

Alterations to court operations are expected to last at least until April 26 and are subject to change.

PVCC, UVa adjustments

Piedmont Virginia Community College announced that it has set virtual information sessions for prospective students interested in degree and certificate programs. The sessions will also provide information on student services and other resources to help students get started at PVCC.

The online information sessions are free and open to the public. Pre-registration is required. To participate and view April session dates, sign up at pvcc.edu/outreach or call (434) 961-5275.

Earlier this week, UVa canceled in-person summer programs through June 30, and would move June session classes online. The announcement came after Gov. Ralph Northam extended a stay-at-home order through June 10.

By June 1, the university will decide about in-person summer programs occurring after July 1, officials said.

Source: www.dailyprogress.com

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