Sinn Féin Councillor Conor D. McGuinness has written to the chief executive of Waterford City and County Council outlining the approach the local authority should take to respond to the unfolding COVID-19 crisis.
“Public bodies and public representatives have to walk a fine line between alarmism and taking sensible and timely precautions.We will see a dramatic escalation in the reach and severity of COVID-19 over the next number of days.
“Whereas the HSE and state-level authorities will have primary responsibility for public health and healthcare responses to the crisis I believe the Council, under its power of general competency, can and should give leadership in addressing a number of issues that may arise as and when this crisis deepens. There are a number of actions that I believe it would be prudent to initiate in the short-term in order to be prepared for what could be a debilitating and protracted public health crisis.
“The Council should immediately convene and chair an ad-hoc Crisis Response Committee to coordinate non-medical responses to the crisis and to coordinate supports for medical responses. The Committee should include the Council’s senior management team, and local managers from the HSE, Red Cross, AGS and other agencies as appropriate.
“A key function of this committee should be the coordination of a welfare programme (in partnership with SVP, Red Cross, public health nursing, community and voluntary organisations, An Post etc.) for vulnerable or isolated persons who may require additional assistance with information, accessing medical or welfare services, or sourcing groceries, medicines and other necessities.
“I have asked the chief executive to mobilise Civil Defence personnel to ensure readiness and availability, with particular focus on personnel trained in Welfare and Casualty services. I have also requested that he ask the Civil Defence with making provision for a potential Welfare / Casualty emergency i.e. Purchasing and storage of necessary PP equipment, foodstuffs etc. The Council should also ensure immediate training and equipment for Civil Defence ambulance crew to enable them to support National Ambulance Service in addressing the spread of Covid-19.
“I have asked the chief executive to immediately begin work on a detailed plan in partnership with public health authorities and relevant civil/military authorities for providing buildings and other facilities to accommodate emergency personnel, hospital overflow, triage and testing services, distribution points.”