The New River Valley Business Continuity Team (BCT) was developed through a collaboration of the New River Valley Public Health Task Force and is employed by the New River Valley Regional Commission. The team consists of a Public Health Director, Public Schools Health Liaison and a Program Manager. The BCT offers wrap-around services necessary for businesses to operate in the COVID environment with the intent of keeping workers in the region safe and productive. The BCT team is working in close coordination with the New River Health District-Virginia Department of Health to provide employers with technical assistance from a multi-disciplinary team; providing public and employee messaging and education, reimbursement for needs such as facility cleaning, legal assistance pertaining to human resources, and public relations. The program provides immediate coordinated responses to outbreaks, consistent public messaging, education, and the development of best practices.
The BCT began working in August of 2020. Within a month and a half over 100 employers in the region were informed of the services offered, fifteen employers received consultations, and one business had an on-site consultation. Four months later, the BCT has talked to hundreds of businesses in the region, six businesses have received financial assistance, and three had on-site consultations. The variety of businesses include manufacturing, public administration, health care, educational services, agricultural and forestry, food services, and more. From August to November over 14,000 jobs were supported by businesses contacting the BCT for consultation or on-site services.
The BCT rapidly shifted gears in early January to support the New River Health District in their vaccine distribution efforts. The BCT Public Health Director began coordinating vaccines for companies in the 1b group while the Public Health Schools Liaison worked diligently to coordinate vaccines for all K-12 school employees and childcare centers. The Program Manager position pivoted to serve as the on-site manager for a newly launched NRV vaccine call center which is staffed by volunteers. The call center was conceptualized and launched within two business days. Collectively, the BCT program is a direct reflection of the collaborative spirit embraced and exercised in the New River Valley. The region has been well served by communities and agencies that work together to address our most pressing challenges.