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Radford gets COVID progress report update, expands small business POWER grants

Published: Oct. 12, 2020 at 10:32 PM EDT
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RADFORD, Va. (WDBJ) - At Radford’s City Council meeting Monday, COVID-19 and the community’s response to the ever-evolving situation were front and center. They wanted to check in and see just how well they’re doing.

“One of the things we promised we’d do was constantly monitor where we are with our COVID response and to make sure we’re being appropriate, find out if there’s anything else we need to do and to gauge what we’re doing with everybody else,” said Mayor David Horton.

“It’s not going to get tired so we can’t get tired and we can’t get complacent and we can’t get lax,” said New River Health District Director Dr. Noelle Bissell.

Staying on top of health practices and getting flu shots were the main discussion points of Dr. Bissell’s update, but she says the rainy weather over the weekend may have made that tough.

“We’ll kind of watch over the next few weeks and see if we see any bumps or clusters coming out of that,” Bissell said.

The city saw its second COVID-related death late last week, but Bissell says moving forward it’s important to keep gatherings small and manageable.

“Regardless of a strict number, it’s to everyone’s advantage to keep it small and to keep it very manageable with your same group because the community spread we do see is where people are outside of that group they are with, and they start socializing with other folks,” Bissell said.

Right now, the city’s gathering ordinance is set to expire Nov. 2.

“We don’t want to take that for granted because someone who has an underlying health condition or even as we go into flu season where your immune system may be very weakened, COVID could be significantly worse so we have to stay on our guard,” Horton said.

Horton said he plans to make the suggestion they consider extending the ordinance in the city at the next council meeting.

Monday, council also voted to add another $150,000 to small business POWER grants from CARES Act funding. The program has already exceeded the original $200,000 allotted for it.

“The first round was incredibly successful,” said Economic Development Director Kim Repass. “I think it’s a great initiative for businesses to get additional funding. COVID is very difficult and it’s very difficult for us; it’s very difficult for small businesses and to be able to give them some money back is very important in this crucial time.”

You can use the money to pay for any coronavirus-related expenses from March 15 until Sept. 30 and get up to $5,000. For this second round of funding, businesses that haven’t received money yet will get it first, then others can apply for another round.

Repass said so far there are 45 applications and 34 businesses have gotten their money. They have been able to pay for things like installing barriers, advertisements, website enhancements and touchless pay.

The city also voted Monday night to postpone utility late fees for people who can’t afford their bills now until Dec. 31.

Guidance on Halloween and trick-or-treating should be released soon. Dr. Bissell suggests keeping it small, going to community events and distributing candy in individual bags left on the steps or in the yard.

Copyright 2020 WDBJ. All rights reserved.

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